It’s been a wild few months for our family. Many of you may already know that my husband, Chris, has experienced a relapse of his cancer. This means that we are now looking at life-extension treatments rather than cure. There are no words for how devastating that news was for him, for his family, for us all.
As has been our experience every single time we’ve faced one of these trials, every community in our lives rallied around us with love and support and care. We are deeply grateful for the people of St. James UMC, who have lived our unpredictable story of hope and grief alongside us so faithfully. We are so grateful for Woodland Heights Elementary School, for St. James Kindergarten, and for the churches and individuals all over South Carolina who have held out arms and gift cards and financial gifts and praying hearts to surround us.
The next steps appeared before us with swift clarity. Chris applied for disability, and I began applying for jobs back in Indiana, close to my family. More quickly than we thought possible, I was offered a meaningful job in a supportive environment (my new workplace is the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance – obviously I don’t speak for them at all on this blog, but I am thankful to be part of this group of people who are working hard to support philanthropy in Indiana). Immediately afterward, we purchased a beautiful home in the neighborhood adjoining my parents’ – in the community of New Palestine, IN, just across the county line from Indianapolis and an easy commute to my downtown job.
To summarize, here was the timeline: February, Chris is diagnosed with the relapse. March, I accept the new job, we make an offer on the house, we sign a contract on the house, and he and I take his “bucket list” trip to New York City. The beginning of April, he preaches his final Easter sermon on Sunday, and then Monday I drive my mom, the children, the dogs, and the fish up to Indiana. Chris joins us Tuesday, we close on the house that afternoon, and I begin work Wednesday. The children start school that next Monday.
Here is where provision continues: we have been welcomed here as well with open arms and hearts, families loving us with gift cards and special we’re-glad-you’re-here treats for the children, people going out of their way to surround us with hospitality and support. The family from whom we purchased our home has loved us generously. A dear friend from college has made introductions for us and coordinated precious expressions of caring. We are reconnecting with friends from many stages of life. We are being loved well in Indiana, as we always have been in South Carolina.
The girls are attending New Palestine Elementary School, and we are again, so very grateful, to have come from a wonderful, loving environment at WHES and to land in another wonderful, loving environment. They are making friends quickly, enjoying riding the bus, and had a great time at the carnival yesterday!
Erikson is attending a lovely preschool that is located right at the entrance to our neighborhood. He, too, is making friends, and while full-day “school” is an adjustment, he seems to be making it gracefully.
After school the children go to Nana and GDad’s house for snacks and snuggles. There is currently a nest of baby bunnies in the front yard, which the kids want to check in on probably far more often than pleases the mama bunny, but it’s very special. 🙂 Chris picks them up and brings them home, unless he’s sick or receiving treatment, in which case I grab them after work.
Many of you have asked how Chris is doing. He is being incredibly brave, as usual. He’s staying very busy at home, doing all the logistical and paperwork requirements of all the many transitions, keeping up with the cooking and unpacking, playing with the children after school when he’s up to it. His mama has been with us this past week to help, because he had the first chemo infusion of this second cycle on Monday. He’s managed it well, but is definitely feeling the slump part of the cycle. The doctors are weaning him completely off steroids to allow the donor immune system to do all it can against the lymphoma, and that’s naturally causing some fatigue as well. As far as what’s coming next, we won’t know for a while. He will have another chemo treatment Monday, then two Mondays off, and then at least one more full 4-week cycle. The doctors may be moving toward a donor lymphocyte infusion, which we’d mentioned on Facebook, but we can’t know if that’s the path or not yet for a variety of reasons.
Always, one step at a time is a wise rule.
I have been reevaluating the sort of music/writing/speaking work I have been loving lately, to see what might continue to fit, to see what might have to be placed aside for a while. I don’t have answers right now, but clearly that part of my vocation will be in transition. So, I’m going to use this blog as a tool to help us stay connected to the people in SC who love us, to help provide updates about the children and about Chris. I’m going to work hard at my job, and work hard to care for the people at home, and that may be all there’s space for for a while. And that will be enough. But I hope that there will at some point be space to keep playing around with the music and writing. I’ll let you all know. 🙂
Grace, peace, love to you all. We’ll keep in touch.
Elise and family