Pockets of Joy

Low expectations. Two words I could’ve never imagined to be associated with my approach towards Christmas. Our goal this year was literally to survive Christmas. Survive! Survive the most magical time of year. So twisted and yet so real. I’ve been in writing hibernation as we’ve tackled this holiday season. One part because we’ve run ourselves into the ground in keeping busy, one part because my body has revolted against me in the form of colds & flu that had I gotten them last year at this time, I would’ve been hospitalized and one large part because words could never do justice to the daily power struggle between the magic of the season and the absence of Hallie.

As this holiday weekend was approaching my Mom texted me to keep low expectations and to face each day as if it was a normal day. They weren’t holidays, they weren’t special days. We took it to heart, gave ourselves permission to do it all one step at a time and promised each other to stick close together and to check in. You never know when or what could or would set either of us into a wave grief.

The result? Those low expectations delivered a few days full of incredible memories with family and friends, old & new, laughter until there were tears in a (accidentally) wildly inappropriate game, a new found love for onesies as adults, reflection on the big moments of 2017, a #1 fan photo shoot for our fave CMU lax player, a legit Christmas surprise from Kevin in the form of bikes and one freaking beta fish that Kevin won in our family white elephant that well, I think is gross. But, I guess that fish, Coach Q, is the greatest representation of our Christmas season – it truly is the simple things in life that make you happiest (as he is Amazon priming a way too aggressive habitat for this thing….).

Pride is something I feel right now when I say that we didn’t just survive Christmas, we truly enjoyed the festivities. It sure does not mean we didn’t have to power through difficult moments and it certainly doesn’t mean we wouldn’t trade it all in to have had the Christmas we should’ve had this year with Hallie, but while conquering yet another milestone, we were able to find pockets of joy that we are so thankful for. Turns out, low expectations are quite powerful. And so taking that fulfilled feeling despite our circumstances, we look forward, with hope, to the idea of what Christmas 2018 could look like for our family.

We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas with those closest to you. And while I hope Santa was great to you, I hope even more that you were surrounded by those you love most. We send you so much love!

Christmas Season

My favorite moments of the Christmas season are often the quiet moments – early in the morning before the world starts moving. I love having Christmas music playing low and it’s usually my time to let my mind wander. My mind this morning wanders everywhere. I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m hopeful, I’m joyful, I’m numb. I’m also still very much in the processing phase of what our lives looked like a year ago. This week, last year, actually makes me laugh. In the span of five days we closed on our home, moved into our home, wrapped up our CHI apartment, I had my port surgery, fainted after my port surgery, wore my last pair of mismatching socks to the hospital ever (sock shamed) & successfully shopped for a wig I’d need in three short weeks. How did I even function? All of this while recovering from major surgery and preparing for chemo/radiation, which started the following week. I’m shaking my head at it all – one because we are probably a little crazy, but more so because I can’t believe that was our life. I’m so deeply grateful that I’m healthy this year and not going through all of that right now.

And while I feel that level of gratitude that I’ve never experienced before, there’s a piece of me that wants nothing to do with the holidays this year. Bold statement from a tried and true Christmas lover like myself! The holidays are a stark reminder of what’s missing in our life. These quiet mornings that allow my mind to wander are so needed for my sanity but also pierce my soul as they should be mornings filled with baby giggles and Christmas jammies. I’ve found grief to be impossible in so many moments, but I had no idea what was coming for me as the calendar ticks closer to December 1st. Grief is obviously difficult at the pure fact of Hallie missing from our earthly life but what makes grief nearly impossible is the way it creeps in with no warning. And I feel like it’s magnified mightily during the holiday season, when days are usually filled with so much joy. We should be stockpiling toys and yet, ‘stuff’ doesn’t interest me one bit this Christmas season. I actually find myself resenting it a bit, to be honest. It all seems meaningless when we would trade everything we have and all that we are to have Hallie terrorizing our Christmas tree ornaments this morning.

That’s all obvious, though. Or at least for us.

What plagues me even more are the moments that you just don’t expect. Moments you can’t plan for. And when you’re a planner, my oh my, it can sure be paralyzing. At the risk of sounding dramatic, those moments are truly devastating. And they’re usually so random! You would think it’d be the obvious- seeing a baby girl in her mama’s arms, or a comment that is said and is just a total miss (regardless of intentions, which I know are usually always good!). We are actually pretty good at smiling and nodding through those moments, while silently cursing the world. If together, Kevin and I make eye contact and move on. If they happen while we aren’t together, we’ve actually amazed ourselves at our ability to rehash them, find a way to laugh and move on. You have too! But it’s the moments that something so small goes so wrong – I’m talking like fry sauce spilling or plans changing and suddenly your world tailspins. And then you feel stupid that something so small can trigger such a tailspin. And then you just realize how sad you are, how off you are. And then you realize again how much you’ve lost and changed physically and how frustrating it is to not even be able to function normally on top of it all. I call these moments, these days, my, “just go to bed and try again tomorrow” moments. I’m learning to not be so hard on myself but that is insanely easier said than done. This, y’all, is grief.

I had one of those nights last night, while out on a date night with Kevin. I hate it. I hate all of this. But I woke up this morning to Christmas decorations starting to take over our home and in the same breath that I say Christmas is so hard, it’s also such a savior. If none of this makes sense or doesn’t add up, I think that’s the whole point of grief. It doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t add up. Ever! It makes you feel a little crazy sometimes. All Kevin and I can do is keep talking, keep finding a way to laugh, and somehow keep being grateful for our second chance at life. And of course, keep praying for that baby of ours out there!

Here’s to making the most of this Christmas season as we try to navigate it all. 🧡🎄

Hospital Sunrise

Who has the app Timehop? It’s been both a blessing and a curse in my life. On the good days, it’s fun to walk down memory lane. It can sometimes be helpful to have a perspective reset that in the span of our lives, the past year has been just that, one year. But then on the bad days. The anniversaries. The unexpected moments that trigger a deep sadness, it’s a curse. A curse that I equate to a car accident on a highway – you know it’s going to be brutal but you just can help but look. 

I’d say each day for the past couple of months has been more of the latter for obvious reasons. Nothing like starting the day with a punch to the gut at what should have been. But just as there are unexpected triggers of sadness, there are posts that stop you in your tracks for the good. This was from yesterday: This won’t mean much to most of you and if we are speaking honestly, you’re probably pretty underwhelmed by this photo. But the story behind it? That was from my hospital room last year. The 6th floor and it was early. I remember the moment vividly. The nurse had just come in for rounds (aka shots, aka the worst). It was so dark in the room, Kevin was sound asleep. It was a rare moment alone and I remember glancing over and that sunrise captivating me. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a totally cheesy human, a total sucker for things to take as a sign. I took this as a beautiful sign amidst so much heartache and loss in those days. Amidst so much physical pain and setbacks. I snapped a picture, wanting to remember that moment. A sign from Hallie (a sign from God) that even through the darkest days, the fiercest storms, the sun will always rise. And when it does rise, it shines down on us, completely different people, changed forever by our circumstances but with a hope that carries us through. This belief is exactly why Hallie deserved her name, Hallie Hope. 🧡

We broke out of Loyola after nearly a week, a year ago today. I use the words “broke out” generously. I really mean we wheeled reaaaally slowly, took three steps and a break. One stair per five minutes. But eventually we made it home. We also shared with you all, for the first time, our little girl and her most perfect footprints and handprints.  One step in front of the other. We’ve conquered another day. 

We have officially entered the season of Thanksgiving and as I reconnected with an old friend last night, a nurse herself, it made me realize that I wanted to take a moment today to express our immense gratitude for our doctors and nurses at Loyola. That hospital stay was hard. It doesn’t need to be described and yet the care for my body and our hearts was simply incredible. Those nurses of mine, heroes. Real life heroes. And my doctors. I’m 370 days cancer free because of their expertise, giving us the ability to hope. We left that hospital with empty arms a year ago, a life we could’ve never imagined but just as there is always hope in that the sun will rise, we cling to the hope of the life in store for us and the baby out there that is meant to be ours. Hopefully sooner than later, of course. 🧡

HHH💖

This. This was our last family photo. Truth is I have zero recollection of taking this photo. At that point I had already been sedated prior to the epidural. According to Kevin I asked for it, saying it’d be our last family photo, and a whole lot of tears from the entire pre-op staff ensued. So I’m told.

It’s been 365 days since we lost Hallie and not one of those days makes sense. Those days have been filled with incredible loss and unbelievable circumstances. As we distance ourselves further from the physical treatment of beating cancer, it seems as though our loss becomes more tangible. Today, it just feels numb. Today, more than ever, my heart just wants to know the earthly why. My best attempt at articulating what today, what this week has felt like is paralyzing. It’s like we’ve been held hostage to these dates and the cost of what they all mean. Ever since this nightmare started, so many people have reached out with their favorite verse or sent me incredibly thoughtful words. I’ve kept an ongoing note on my phone where I have saved every one of them. I’ve referenced it more times than I can count over the past year. Today, I fixate on Philippians 4:7.

I read a blog the other day about interruptions in life and how no matter how small or how big they are, they are meant to seek our attention. To get us to slow down. To open our eyes and to give us the opportunity to identify those we should hold close when they need it most and to recognize when we ourselves need to be held. There is power in both. I’ve never been good at the latter but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned the past year is that there are just days you don’t have to be ok. You simply have to let go and allow yourself to be held by God’s grace. Today is that day in the biggest of ways. 

You left incredible footprints in this physical world Hallie, but your true footprint lives on forever in our hearts and in Heaven sweet girl. We would give anything to have your laughter fill our home these days. We can’t wait for the day that we will finally get to hold you. 💖 I will never let you go when I finally get that opportunity.  

As for us today, we are off to the airport to get off the grid for 48 hours with two of our best friends. Two people that have been so incredible to us and who we love so dearly. Two people that have walked this journey with us every day and who would’ve undoubtedly been the greatest honorary Aunt Noelle & Uncle David to Hallie. She totally would’ve had her first Taco Bell experience with them. We are honored to remember Hallie with them today and we are grateful to call them family. 

And although we are numb today, we believe to our core that Hallie would’ve been the happiest, funniest, biggest bundle of energy possible. We believe her legacy is one of love and laughter. And bravery. Find a way to honor her today. Hug your family and friends a little tighter. Be grateful for all you have in those closest to you, as that is what matters more than anything. And as we tried to do even in the hardest of moments, be brave enough to find a moment of laughter, a glimmer of hope on her behalf. And as always, share your stories with us when you have a moment that it just had to be Hallie. We love them! 

Love you Hallie girl 💖, forever and always. 

One Year Ago

One year ago.

One year ago, life was normal. Sure, we had an appointment the next day that could be stressful, but there’s no chance it’d play out that way. We’d been reassured over and over how normal this type of test result was.

One year ago our biggest concern was what room we’d make into the nursery of the home we would soon move into.

One year ago our biggest concern was Kevin’s desire to trace insanely large (and creepy) animals on the nursery walls. Where did he even get taste like that?!

One year ago our biggest concern was who’d be good cop, who’d be bad cop. What kind of child care would we choose, what type of car seat was best. All legit things to be worried about!

One year ago we were nearly halfway there to having our first baby. We didn’t know the gender yet but it didn’t matter. We were so, so excited.

It is insanely hard to play this game and yet every day we wake up these days, that’s our game to play. Tomorrow, we enter the world where every day moving forward takes us back to some sort of dreaded memory. It all started tomorrow with that first colposcopy. And each day after, another appointment, another opinion, another crushing blow to every hope and dream we had for life, our little family’s life, our daughters life.

It is really weird/hard/insane/crazy to process. Does it feel real? Most days, no. I mean, it hurts, bad. There are still physical limitations, so yeah, it is real. But like, did this really happen, real?! Can we truly comprehend it? No. I’m not sure we ever will. And yet, I can’t wait for tomrorow, if that makes any sense. It’s been so hard reliving the days of, “last year, our life was perfect!” The what if’s. The, “there’s a million pregnancies a year with no issue, there’s no chance we are the one that this happens to,” mindset. I think the lead up to the milestone is often times worse than the milestone itself. So. Many. Emotions.

So what do you do on a night like this? Christmas music. Yes, lots of Christmas music. Any other year you can tell me it’s too early, but this year? Give it to me!!

And you focus on the good. There is good! So much good. We are surrounded by people who love us so much, who pray for us constantly, who carry us through. We got to be part of my sisters engagement this week, a moment that we will cherish forever. (I legit squealed louder than her in the moment, I think! 😂) It was so perfect. We have the most handsome nephew in the world. I’m alive. We will find a way to be thankful always, I promise you that!

Thanks for your continued prayers as we press forward in this coming week specifically and the insane emotions that we are about to endure. Another chapter to #halliestrong – forever our driving force! 💖

#halliestrong

We are rolling into the time of year where every day presents a, “last year at this time…” 

Today?

That one stings. Especially as I see those same shoes today, sitting next to Hallie’s footprints. 

What’s funny about that announcement is we delayed it, because of that phone call we got a couple weeks prior to it last year. Standard practice in today’s world is to share your exciting news at 12 weeks, when it’s considered safe to do so. I remember checking off each week- 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. I remember making it to 12 and breathing a huge sigh of relief with Kevin. This kid was ours to keep! But then 12.5 weeks brought that call. Abnormal test results. No big deal. Pregnancy causes it. We will wait until the second trimester to explore it, when it’s safe for the baby. We went to Giordanos that night to shake it off. Pizza, of course. True to the Hart/Conrad way.

We went back and forth on whether to announce our pregnancy. There is so much joy to be had in that, especially as the first grandchild in our families. Truthfully I was the one who delayed it. I asked Kevin that we hold off in telling people. Somewhere deep down in me that “what if ” nagged at me. So we waited. We passed a couple more weeks. We finally decided to bank on those test results being nothing and took a gamble on the joy of announcing our exciting news carrying us through the remaining couple weeks until we knew for sure it’d be nothing. Kevin wanted to do a Prego jar or a bun in the oven (literally) but we settled on Bears shoes and our puppies to announce it.

Overwhelmed, we were, by all the love. I think Baby Hart was overdue by a lot of people’s standards. Carried us through it absolutely did. 

I am a very firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I believe with all my heart that all things work together for good, for those that love the Lord. It doesn’t mean I don’t wonder why we waited, why we finally decided to take a risk in announcing it. Cancer is impossible in and of itself – it’s incredibly difficult to speak too, and it’s impossible to relate too. But the loss of a child because of it? I am so thankful we felt that nudge too because Hallie has become our source of courage as we fight. How people fight cancer without hope, I will never know. You can’t survive it! Our hope has been beyond bleak on some days, but even on those days we have Hallie in our hearts. We fight because had we not had her, who knows what today, September 22nd, would’ve looked like for me, for Kevin, for our families. 

Every day is another “last year at this time” moment for us and as we near October 20th and November 4th, it’s going to get harder and harder. You think the emotions one year removed would be easier to deal with but they’re an entirely different set. Thanks for thinking of us and for your prayers as we continue to tackle each day. It all has to mean something, we do believe that! We are admittedly anxious for a day that it does start to really make sense. Until then, we remain #halliestrong! 

A Diamond Earring 

My hair is officially that of a Pomeranian, or perhaps Simba as a little lion. The struggle of short hair + crazy curls + humidity is real. Very, very real. Especially when you aren’t a gifted “girl.” Where’s the ponytail option?! But at least it IS turning red again. 

Rewind to a few weeks ago, we were in PHX and my trusted stylist Kaela took me headband shopping. You laugh at how silly that seems but headbands are totally outside of my comfort zone! We tried on a few & she walked by my side that next morning into work, telling me over and over to just be confident while rocking it. I still never know what are real compliments and what are sympathy compliments but I made it through the day, got lots of love and now I’m obsessed. 

Fast forward now to a couple nights ago. I had gone on an Amazon shopping spree for headbands. Can’t put a price on a new found confidence that had been missing for a long while since having to shave my head. There was a 10 pack of vibrantly colored headbands, perfect for me. 

They arrived Wednesday. I tore the package apart to find the 10 headbands, but they were very, very different than the ones I had ordered. For those of normal emotional capacity, no big deal at all. For me, in my most vulnerable state, I was crushed. And of course when I read the listing, it said, “you will get a variety delivered, not necessarily those pictured.” Read, Beef, read! 

I started trying them on one by one. Going through my mind? “Ok, they aren’t that bad.” “Alright, that one is actually really cute.” “Oh I really like that one!” At some point I heard a faint clank but made nothing of it. I tried on a few more. I was actually kind of happy with them!

I heard another clank. It registered this time, I thought maybe my necklace fell off or a diamond fell out of a ring. Both were there, I continued on. 

One more clank and this time I saw my diamond earring on the sink top. 

I quickly put it back in my ear after a slight heart attack. That’s when I realized that my other earring was gone. That was the clank. 

I called Kevin in for a stage-five-emergency.  We searched high and low. He took apart the sink piping and found the back of the earring but not the earring. 

You see, these diamond earrings aren’t just diamond earrings. They are so, so special because of their story. Those who have followed my story know that the day I had to shave my head was one of the lowest of this entire fight. I never could’ve predicted it but that crushed my soul. My Mom gifted me with a pair of her earrings and I wore them the entire fight. Yes they were beautiful, yes I adored them, but what I really adored was her act of compassion. Those earrings were a symbol of the lengths my Mom went too to get me through this nightmare. I loved having that piece of her. 

And now one was gone. Just like my hair. Just like my daughter. Just like our normal. 

And it was gone because I was trying on headbands to try to best my circumstances. It was gone because I got the wrong headbands and I was trying to make the most of the situation, prove to myself it was ok. 

It was losing an earring, a diamond one at that! But it was also so much more than losing an earring and such is life as a cancer survivor & grieving mom. 

Bless Kevin’s heart.  He tore our house apart and consoled me, knowing how special those earrings wore. Knowing how it was so much more than just the earring.

During treatment, my bestie Hilary forwarded me a devotional that eventually led me to an app called First 5. It’s meant to steal the first five minutes of your day, five minutes that I usually fill with social media (which is fake, am I right Noelle?! 😂). When I downloaded it, the devotional series was a study of Esther. Pretty cool, right? Now it’s moved on to a study of Job, who lost all of his children. I can remember many, many moments over the past 9 months feeling guilty that I’ve asked God why. Why cancer? Why Hallie? Why my earring!! What I’ve learned is that God is big enough for our why’s, He wants us to articulate our why’s. But the chaos of life all makes perfect sense in His plans, as much as it hurts in the moment. I’ve clung to this. Even when I want to cry uncle and scream, “when do we get a break?!” – as I did that night. And as I articulated to God the next morning. And then an amazing thing happened. A friend reached out to me, in the most thoughtful of ways & with a specific purpose: to mark that day with me, as it was 6 months to the day from Hallie’s due date. She wanted me to know Hallie was not forgotten, Kevin & I were not forgotten. And boy, did it show me that yes, we have lost so much, but we have gained even more in so many ways. In true friendships, being one! And in faith, for sure.

And so, you move forward, gratefully, as best as you can, because it will all make sense one day. Even if it is with short hair. Or scars. Or tingly feet from chemo. Or with one less beautiful earring. 

We are 10 days away from my 6 month scans. Crazy, right? Time continues to fly. Scanxiety is a very, very real thing but I’m challenging myself this time around to not let my feelings dictate my faith. And to help, I am currently in the midst of a 4-airports-in-5-weekends stretch, which included a sister weekend that was so, so good for the soul. And for this weekend, you will get a kick out of this. All you wives out there, tell me this isn’t the best trip ever: this weekend our bestie Moe is cooking in a professional BBQ competition in Kansas City and Kevin is his runner. They hit the road at 3:45 this morning and will be camping at the BBQ spot all weekend, with the final judging on Sunday. Me and Sheila? We are flying down this afternoon and staying in a hotel near the competition. We are joining the boys tonight for BBQ festivities and hitting the town for girls days tomorrow. Brilliant, right?! It’s going to be an incredible weekend with the best of friends. Free therapy at its finest. Wish Moe luck!!

Kevin and I ask for your continued prayers as we head into those scans. Thanks so much for always making time for us. We love y’all! 

Good

Kevin & I were coming out of Union Station this morning on our way to work when a woman tapped me on the shoulder.  You could see that she was taking a chance, she clearly had something to say. She said to me, “I ride the train every morning with you and I have noticed you. I’ve noticed your hair growing more each day.” She then pointed to her own short hair. She said, “I’m cancer free, one year next week.”

It melted my exhausted heart. I freaking love the courage of a cancer survivor. So much. I love that she took a chance on me. I love that her hair looked so cute and I loved hearing that hers too came back curly and a different color. I love that she shared that she gets her cute look by straightening it. Lord knows I’m helpless in the fashion/hair department.

We went a little deeper and we exchanged what types we battled. She looked at me and said, “You’re just so young. So young.”

She then asked me such a simple question, with such a soul-warming smile on her face and with the most genuine look of concern,
“…but you’re good?” 

It felt like 5 minutes but I’m sure it was a 2 second pause. Am I good? Will I ever be good again? No, I’m not good, this life is so unfair. Yes I’m good, there’s so much good happening despite it all. Such a simple question. And simulatenously in that moment, I was processing how I felt so understood, so accepted, so encouraged by just those few words. After all, this lady gets it! She gets that pause. She gets the million ways to take it. She knows the journey.

I blurted out, “Yes. I’m good. Thank God, I’m good,” because good to a cancer survivor means one thing: being cancer free. And suddenly you’re hit with perspective. No problem, no hurdle, nothing can touch that. How easy is it to forget how lucky you are to BE cancer free. To be alive. To get to have “normal problems.” I found myself lost for words after, as we parted ways into the seas of CHI commuters hustling to work. 

The past two weeks have been a horrible flashback to how this all started for us. Nothing is wrong and I am healthy (!), but a PAP done during my scan appointment returned as showing abnormal cells. I got a phone call while at work. Holy deja vu! What was completely lost in translation and what would’ve been really nice to know before that phone call is that this is totally normal because the damage from radiation causes it. (In fact, some doctors don’t even do PAPs after treatment for awhile because of this.) So yes I’m horribly downplaying the experience, but all that matters is I’m fine, I’m good, all is well. However, add that to things you don’t do to a cancer survivor! And thanks to my good friend Ashley for taking the brunt of that reaction. ❤

So yeah, I have a million reasons to not be good. I have a millions reasons to ask why, or to be angry and don’t get me wrong, God gets a lot of that from me. But He also gets a ton of thanks from me for the exact reason that this woman was sent to me today: I’m alive. I’m healthy. I’m good. He seems to always get through to me when I need it most! Good is relative, good is what you make of it and good is not to be taken for granted. 

And what else is really, really good? We are officially on profile for adoption. Our book is live, as well as our online profile, as of this week. I’ve seen so many of you share it on Facebook already and you don’t know how much that mean to us! Quite the journey, eh? We pray for that baby out there that God has created to be ours & we also pray for that baby’s Mom, whatever her journey might be. We can’t wait for the day that our paths cross and change all of our lives forever. We so, so, can’t wait. 

So here’s to being good. And keeping the faith! And here’s also to that courageous survivor & her one year anniversary! 
 

Having Hope

I’ve created a new tradition for myself – Saturday morning boxing class followed by a solo trip to Panera for a soufflé and a coffee. Yep, I’m one of those that exercises to even out the calories I consume, instead of working out to ya know, get in better shape. I wish somebody could motivate me to eat healthy! But egg, cheese & bread, you can’t beat it.

I’ve found myself needing alone time more and more these days. Sometimes I just need to reflect. Sometimes I just need the quiet. Sometimes it’s because I just don’t have the energy to let anyone in that moment. Sometimes it’s just easiest to sit and be quiet. 

I think I had this idea in my mind that if I could get through Hallie’s due date and then the stretch of Mother’s & Father’s Day and then my birthday, (and ya know, beating cancer in all of that), I’d somehow find a peace with this new life of mine. I understand (I think?) that normal will never be normal again, but I had this hope that something would feel better. I’m not sure what that meant, but I kept my focus on, “just make it to July.” And then I woke up one morning this week and it hit me like a brick wall, last year at this time, I was pregnant. 

And here we go again. I laid in bed for a good 10 minutes as I played it all out.

I realized in a week is my best friends wedding anniversary, where we arguably took our first family photo without even knowing it. 

And then we came home, and I surprised Kevin with the news. 

And then we spent all of August telling our families and best friends.

And then we spent September going to our first appointments, starting to stockpile the cutest onesies, talking baby names, and for me, throwing up a lot, ha. We threw around so many ideas of how to announce to the world we were pregnant. Kevin was insistent on a literal picture of a bun in the oven or a jar of Preggo. His humor is something else. We settled on the most adorable pair of Chicago Bears shoes next to our puppies paws. They’d all be best friends after all. 

And then October came, and we started pinteresting nursery ideas. I had to crush Kevin’s dreams of elaborate murals – like either of us have that type of talent! For once I was the simple one. It’s weird the things you remember. I remember texting my mom on my bus ride one morning something along the lines of, “we only have five months left, that’s so soon!” 

And then October 20th. 

And then….

When I played all of that, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. Again. There is no “get to” date. Every day I wake up will be spent re-living this nightmare over & over. I’m not sure I can describe the emptiness in that reality.

I try to balance that weight with hope. Hope that something has to give. Hope that we will get that call sooner than later that a mom has chosen us to be the parents of their child. Hope that cancer never crosses our path again. Hope that God really did have to send Hallie to save me, hope that her life wasn’t in vain, hope that I will hold her one day. Hope that this isn’t just an “unfair” situation for nothing, that something has to come of it. I don’t think I ever knew before this how much having hope is a choice. Hope doesn’t happen naturally. Faith, is a choice. I’ve learned that you don’t claim faith or hope once in life and you’re covered. True faith, true hope, you choose over and over and over. Fear, doubt, guilt those are the natural emotions. And they will crush you over and over if you let them. They are the devil! Faith, hope, it’s a choice you have to make in the darkest moments in order to get out of the darkest moments. It’s hard work! And hard isn’t exactly something you want to take on, but I try. I try over and over. Some days I feel like I’m doing ok at it all and other days I feel like I’m failing miserably. I wear a simple bracelet every day that my mother in law gave me that simply reads Hope to remind myself that I’m here, I’m alive, God has a plan for me, and that even though everything hurts like hell, there is hope in the reason that I am here. There just has to be something more to all of this.

Our schedule as of late, I’ve tried to outrun, overplan & overdo to beat the emotions that happen when things slow down. But I’m also forcing myself in these alone times to slow down and work through them. I know I have too. I appreciate the continued prayers as I continue to try to navigate it all. Pray that I can continue to see that there is hope, there is a reason for all of this and everything this body of mine has endured since 10/20 will be for something. 

Beef 

3 Month Scan: NED

How can I best describe yesterday? Cruel and unusual punishment I think is fitting, maybe even an understatement actually! Seriously!

Imagine getting into a car. Your destination is a place where you first had to digest the news. Where you lost so much. Where you spent so many days receiving treatment. Where you spent painful days and nights. A hospital. What’s waiting for you there is Scenario 1: another new lease on life or Scenario 2: well, you just can’t say it out loud. You wait to be called back. You then sit in the room for a half hour. A half hour! Your stomach is in knots you’ve never known before. You look at your watch to see your heart rate consistently at 100 BPM. It’s different this time around. The first time you had no idea what treatment meant or what it’d do to you. This time around, you know exactly what that second scenario would mean physically, emotionally and mentally. The room is silent because you just can’t muster any words, your brain is too transfixed on the what ifs. 

And then within 10 seconds of your doctor walking in, he tells you your scans are all clear and you feel a wave of relief that can’t be described. 

Thank God for that. Seriously, we are so, so thankful for clear scans. It isn’t lost on us that clear scans are a huge deal. There are zero guarantees with cancer. Zero. My goodness. Cancer is so cruel. I’m not sure what’s worse – the treatment or that process yesterday! I pray it’ll get easier every time because my goodness. 

But. 

It’s clear. We are clear! Thank you a million times again for all the support this past week – especially to Moe & Sheila who hosted and fed us two late nights in a row to keep us busy and laughing. We celebrated last night with a Beef special: pizza, a glass of champagne and an 8pm bedtime. We will pop that Dom Friday (Kelly, for the win on that!). 🙂 I am exhausted in so many ways. Physically of course but mentally and emotionally even more so. This life is really hard. We just keep waking up each day, grateful for another day, and move forward. Some days it’s forward two steps, other days it’s two miles. We even have days of 200 miles. Make the most of every dang moment, that’s all you can do! 

On the up & up in other news, my birthday is Monday. Another bittersweet day. We booked a last minute trip to New Orleans for it. I could not be more excited to get out of town with Kevin. No agenda, no plans. Eat, sleep, drink, laugh, people watch, repeat. I look forward to a lot of fun, off the grid. I need it. We need it. 

Love you all so much. So grateful for all of you. So grateful to wake up today NED! 

Beef