Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rocks (AKA--Rock Bottom)


Next week Harrison goes back in for his follow up scans.  He is currently NED (no evidence of disease) after two bouts with cancer, but we never know when or if that will change. He is now 17 and trying to enjoy his Senior year of high school.

Last week we were on vacation at the beach, and his dad and I took a little time to sit with him by the seashore and share some of our thoughts with him. With Harrison's permission, we thought we would share them with everyone else here. My words are in black, and Darren's are in blue.

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I am sitting here on the balcony of the condo, watching John play big at the edge of the ocean. Your dad is not too far from the edge of the shore, sitting in one of those little chairs that are impossible for me to get out of anymore. It makes me smile to see them, and I cannot help but think of 'our' beach times.  YOU are the one to wave jump with me on red flag days. YOU get my own excitement about being able to navigate ocean waters after having leg/balance issues.

You are painting with Grandma and Travis. I cannot wait to see your tree. It will be cool and creative, and unique--just like you. Will you incorporate Grandpa in there somewhere? I would not be surprised if you did. You are just kind of neat that way.

Before we leave this amazing gift of a vacation, your dad and I wanted to do something just for you and with you. Cancer has already stolen two of your years, and with scans coming up soon, we do not know if it will take even more. Regardless of the results, there are a few things we want you to know--things we want to say before the reality of life outside of these amazing condo walls comes back to us tomorrow.

I totally agree with all your mom has said.  She is so gifted with writing and I am hard pressed to add much more.  Yet I do have some things to add.

Why rocks?  Because they are solid; permanent--here before us and here after us. The words on these rocks are like that. You didn't invent them and you will not have to last ideas about them. But you are a part of the meaning of each of these for us all.

                                                     
                                                                       



This one is easy--I hope you never have cancer again. I hope you grow to be old and healthy and happy.  I need you around to help take care of me when I am old, because I am not so sure that John will, and Travis has already told me he will help some but not all the time.



I hope you get married and have babies (in that order!). I hope you make it to the Prom and that you have a blast. I do not know if your body is going to allow those things to happen, but I hope and pray that they do.

You bring hope to so many people. The way you fight this stuff instills hope in all that know you.


                                                                       



Peace in the midst of cancer seems impossible, and it is easy for me to throw out phrases like 'the Lord provides peace' when it is not my body fighting against itself. I am sorry that your is. But I do have peace knowing that God cares. He may or may not intervene the way I pray for, but I do know that He cares.

I wish that peace for you.

You amaze me at the way you have shown so much peace in all of this. Of course, I knew you would, because you have always live life bigger than just you.


                                                                   



Oh, this one is easy. I cherish every single moment with you. Seriously, even before your diagnosis I knew time was not a given and life can change on a dime. Because you have always been so good, and funny, and easy going, you make it easy to cherish your Harrison-ness.

I hope cancer has not or does not take away your ability to cherish each moment you are given, even the ones spend doing menial or boring things. Even if you live for 80 more years, I hope you never take for granted the gift of each moment.

I love being your dad--always have. You have amazed me and shown me so much. I cherish all the time we spend together and I cherish all that we will.

                                                           
                                                           


So many people think putting their heads in the sand and saying 'I believe I am healed or will never get cancer again' will make it so.  I believe God can heal like that, but I KNOW reality does not always work out that way.  So, what do I believe?  I believe that:

     --God is love.
     --Cancer stinks like mayonnaise.
     --Life with you here is better than life without you here.
     --There is a place better than this one, and if you get there before I do, I will count the days until I meet you there at that heavenly lake house--the one with no snakes or gnats, but with unlimited wi-fi and black-eyed pea dip.

What we believe matters. Your mom and I spent many hours talking about that when we were dating.  We just don't get people who don't know what they believe or just don't care. Pursue right beliefs.  Here's what I believe--that God has you here for something so much bigger than just you. You will change the world. I believe that fully.


                                                                   


Wow. The biggest rock, and my biggest wish for you.

I hope you live--for a very, very long time. Methuselah old.

In the meantime, between now and whenever, I hope you live to the best of your abilities, and not let the threat or reality of cancer suck your energy for living, even if you have to fight this monster many more times.

This one is easy. It has been my most prayed prayer since you were diagnosed with cancer--

That we would live in such a way that we glorify God.

So live to the full for His kingdom. Be ready at all times to give God the glory. In the ups and the downs.

                                                 
                                                         


Live big.
Laugh long and loud (but not after I go to bed at night).
Love true.
Trust your heart.

Be dangerous.

We love you and are so proud of you.

Oh, and you--without a doubt--most certainly ROCK!




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And because both my husband and my son are boys, they could not resist changing the rocks to look like this...


Yes, yes they do look like little booty rocks.



Cancer can take away all kinds of things, but for now the silliness remains.


Now go. Live big.




Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Goodbye, Randy -- Revisited


This was another of my old Facebook notes, from 2009.

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I had wondered where he had been. I hadn’t seen his truck for several weeks. So, when I came over that last hill on my way to church this morning, I was happy to see his truck in its same old place. Then I noticed one of those big flower arrangements you only see at cemeteries. It had a big banner on it that simply said “Randy”. And I started to cry.

I’m not really sure why, either. I have only known Randy as ‘the Peanut Guy’ for a couple of years. I had seen his truck parked in the same place for years—on the side of Highway 25 in Rankin County, right before you get to 471. We started stopping by every other Sunday (after payday, when I was most likely to still have a little money on hand) to buy our lunch for that day – a large bag of boiled peanuts. It was a drive around type of thing, so we weren’t ever there very long, just long enough to say what size bag we wanted and to pay our $5.

But, I never failed to drive away feeling a little lighter somehow. In that minute or two, Randy found a way to smile, make eye contact, speak, remember trivial details, and otherwise make us feel special. As we drove off, he always said, “Hey, you have a good day now, you hear?”. There were many Sundays that I had more of a real connection with Randy than I had at church that day. Not to mention that his peanuts were hands down consistently the best boiled peanuts I ever had.

That was really all I knew about Randy, until today. It turns out that two of his brothers were the ones who had brought his old red pickup truck out one last time. By the time I saw it, several people had brought flowers and people were steadily stopping by to pay their respects. I pulled in with my boys, and was greeted by one of Randy’s brothers. He was giving everyone who stopped by one last bag of peanuts that they had boiled for Randy’s customers. He asked if we had a couple of minutes to look at a photo display that they had put together of Randy. We absolutely did.






What we saw was an amazing insight into a man I barely knew. I still don’t know his last name, but I did learn some new things:
--Randy served in the military (Vietnam?) and was an absolute cutie in uniform.
--His gorgeous sister died less than a year ago.
--His brother’s voice is almost identical to his.
--He was a big time music promoter and one picture showed him at an outdoor venue with over 100,000 attendees, where he was introducing Van Halen, and later Aerosmith. There were numerous pictures of him with Rock legends.
--He was asked to move to New York in the early 80’s to become a main player in a new experiment called ‘music television’, but was convinced that it would be the downfall of music as he knew it. Since he had more money than he would ever need, he quit the business and never looked back.
--He had been selling peanuts out of the back of his truck in the same place for 11 years. I don’t know why – it obviously wasn’t for the money. Apparently he just wanted to brighten people’s day.
--His life blessed many people. This was evidenced by the many tokens that people left today, and by the comments we heard in the few minutes were visited with his family - people from different walks/places/backgrounds – all somehow touched by this unassuming man.

Well, I drove home and poured my last bag of peanuts into a bowl and settled down on the couch to begin watching the Saints whup up on the Giants. And you know what? These peanuts, so generously boiled and given out by Randy’s family, were OK, but they in no way matched what Randy used to make every week. And, somehow, this just seemed fitting.

Goodbye, Randy. I’ll miss you (and your peanuts).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Weren't There Thousands More?

I went to a prayer vigil/walk for James Craig Anderson tonight.  My husband and two youngest kids were with me.  And so were hundreds of other people.  As we were walking down a main street in Jackson, singing 'We Shall Overcome', I was struck by the sadness of the situation.  Why in the world are we still dealing with this mess?  I know racism is about as old as mankind itself, so I don't know if there will ever be a lasting solution.  I do know that I don't want to be part of the problem.

What that looks like exactly, I don't know.  I'm pretty sure I'll be fleshing it out here, though.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"--Edmund Burke

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Borrowing from Dr. King--(Mr. Anderson, I am so, so sorry)

Yesterday I wrote about the movie "The Help".  I think both the book and movie have the potential to open some doors to conversation and possibly healing of deep down hurts and prejudices.  At least that is how I hope it all goes down.  The enthusiasm of the crowd that I saw at the movie theater was contagious and encouraging.  I liked it.

Then, today I find out about a story that happened just a few miles down the road from that same theater.  A couple of months ago, a 49-year-old black man named James Craig Anderson was killed in what was assumed to be a hit and run accident.  Well, it turns out that two truck loads of drunk teenagers purposely drove one county over, with the expressed intention of 'messing with a n*****'.  It was all captured on a security camera, and is absolutely gruesome and heart-breaking to watch.  Based on witness accounts, there is absolutely no doubt that it was completely racially related.

 How in the world is this still happening?  And, what can be done to stop it?  I want to tell his family that no, this is not how all white people are.  We do not sit around in the privacy of our homes and call people horrible names.  We don't secretly wish that we could go out and do the same thing.  Our hearts break that this happened.  At least mine did.

No wonder the rest of the world still considers Mississippi an ignorant, third-world hell hole.  It really isn't.  Tragically, however, some people still perpetuate that stereotype with their horrible actions.  I want to do all I can to shatter those stereotypes and make my world a better place, where people truly are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.