Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas, 2009

Merry Christmas!
I put off writing this letter because I didn’t have anything worth sharing. My wonderful sister-in-law Wanda had warned me that the second Christmas alone is worse than the first, and it proved to be true. Last year, I had adrenaline, busyness, friends, and family to help me through, but this year the reality finally set in.

Other years, I’d have my tree up and decorated the day after Thanksgiving, but this year it took two weeks longer, and the rest of the decorations took another week. Fortunately, I had already done most of my shopping, so I was more prepared than I thought.

Last night, my sister-in-law Carolyn called to share her Christmas joy with me. She had been to the VA hospital in Reno to visit her husband, my brother Ken Horn, who is doing much better than expected. He is eating more, is putting some weight back on, and most of the time has control of his muscles.

Ken dropped a magazine on the floor, and managed to bend down and pick it up. Not bad for someone who just a few weeks ago could move only his eyes! He doesn’t laugh, but he does get a big grin, especially when something funny happens. And when their son Eric left his room, Ken told him, “I’m not dying yet.” We can all learn from his determination, especially me.

We’re still praying for Duane Koski, my daughter-in-law Sarah’s dad. He’s in a nursing home and getting treatment and physical therapy to regain his strength. He and his family still need our prayers and God’s help.

Let’s all make this a great holiday with loved ones and remember the reason for Christmas: God sent His son to live with us and die for us so that we can be with Him forever. One of our church choir’s Christmas songs says it all, “Start at the manger, then go to the cross.” I hope and pray that you do the same, start at the manger this Christmas, then go to the cross. What a gift, feely given and received.

Merry Christmas to all, and God bless us, every one!

Monday, October 26, 2009

First anniversary

Well, I survived the first year without Bryan. One year ago, on October 24, 2008, Bryan passed into the arms of his Savior to live in eternal joy. He is no longer in pain, no longer sleepless, and totally cancer-free. And I know that one day we’ll be reunited.

My sister-in-law Wanda e-mailed me on Friday to let me know she was thinking of me, and that the anticipation of the day is usually worse than the day itself. She was right! She quoted Psalm 119:49-50 -- "Remember Your word to Your servant; You have given me hope through it. This is my comfort in my affliction: Your promise has given me life."

Thanks to my wonderful family who made sure I wasn’t alone at all that day. My mom (actually my first mother-in-law Loretta, who calls me her “other daughter”) came over Friday and spent the night. Then, my son Brian and his wife Sarah came over and we all watched a Ken Davis comedy DVD. Boy, it felt good to laugh! And to top it off, my sister-in-law Ann got us tickets to the Colorado Avalanche hockey game, which the Avs won! It turned out to be a good day after all. The tears didn’t flow until I was alone on Sunday.

I’m officially retired now. Many were concerned that I would spend too much time alone, since I’m home writing all day. However, in the three weeks I’ve been retired, there was only one day that I didn’t get out and see people. And now that rehearsals for the Christmas program at church are under way (and I’m the pianist), that’ll get me out of the house six times a week!

Work is coming along on my book giving practical ideas and suggestions for each step of the cancer journey. I’ve written seven of the 50 anticipated chapters. I’ve put my personal story on hold for now, as people facing cancer need these ideas to get them through one day at a time; my story can wait. The words just seem to flow out of me when I write, so I should have the first book completed well before the end of the year. Re-writing and editing, however, that’s another story!

My trip to Ohio for my sister Barb’s funeral went very well. There were a few difficult moments, as people deal with grief in different ways, and may not understand when someone responds differently. I’m so glad I had that visit with Barb in August. And Barb’s daughter Patti came back to Colorado with me after the service to attend my nephew Fred’s (her cousin’s) wedding in Grand Junction two weeks ago. It was a joyous time and a great trip, and we had time to grieve together.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My sister Barb passed into eternity

I had planned on sending a retirement update, with a countdown (three working days left) before I start on my new career. However, life has a way of changing course for you, like it or not.

My older sister, Barbara Jean Carr, passed away suddenly this morning in Ohio of an apparent heart attack. I don’t know all the details, but we are understandably in shock.

Remember the Bucket List that Bryan and I were creating when we first got his cancer diagnosis? There were things that we had always meant to do, but didn’t get around to. Well, one thing that I won’t regret is taking the opportunity to go to Ohio last month prior to my writers’ conference in Philadelphia. I got to visit with Barb one last time, not realizing it would be the last. We had a good visit, probably the best we’ve had in a long time, although it was short. We had a heart-to-heart talk about life with and without Bryan and moving on after death. Little did we know it would be our last conversation.

Please pray for Barb’s family and for her husband Bill. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year, so he’ll have a major adjustment ahead of him. Also pray for family members traveling to Ohio this week for her memorial service, and for support of one another. We know that death of a loved one tends to bring out the worst in folks who are all hurting, so we’ll need an extra dose of grace to deal with one another.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy Labor Day! I don’t know what you have planned, but I hope it has nothing to do with labor! I’ll be going to a picnic with family & friends Monday afternoon.

I’ve gotten numerous requests for an update, so here goes. I was updating once a month, but I’ll try to keep you posted every couple of weeks instead, so you know how to pray for me. Lori Proffett, a dear friend from Arvada Covenant Church, offered to set up a BlogSpot for me, so hopefully I’ll be posting my updates there soon.

My retirement date is still scheduled for September 30, 2009. I may need to work a few days longer to help train my replacement, if and when he/she gets hired, but I’m going to a Colorado Rockies afternoon game on October 1, so at least I won’t be working that day!

Contrary to popular opinion, I won’t be a “lady of leisure” when I retire from Qwest. I’m starting a new career and a new business, so I’ll probably be even busier than ever! I’ve set December 31, 2009, as the deadline to have my first two books written. One is my personal experience going thru Bryan’s cancer and death, and the other is a step-by-step handbook for anyone facing the cancer process as a patient or caregiver.

God never ceases to amaze me! When I tell people about my new career and ministry, I get offers of help and contacts that I never expected, but appreciate greatly. It’s quite obvious that this is where God wants me, because all the right doors are opening. A speaking and writing ministry has been my dream for 40 years (yes, I’m older than 40; I’m retiring after 37 years at Qwest!), and I can hardly believe it’s finally coming true.

"God does not begin by asking our ability, only our availability, and if we prove our dependability, He will increase our capability.” (Neal A Maxwell) I have made myself available and dependable, and I know He’ll make me capable. He can do the same for you.

Thank you all so much for your encouragement, prayers, help, love, e-mails, phone calls, hugs, tears, and everything else you are sharing with me. I don’t feel like I’m going out totally on my own; I have hundreds of supporters who love me and want to help me succeed. Thank you!