My love and me at the pumpkin patch and Duane with all his monkeys. We're enjoying a burst of energy. We take advantage of those.
Dawn was my favorite cousin, technically she was my mom's little cousin but she was my age. I loved spending summer's at woodhaven with her, watching Dirty Dancing, singing our hearts out and even playing a little Ouija board(shh, it's not a fond memory). She even convinced me one summer that she NEVER tooted, and I believed her and was jealous! Dawn passed away 8 years ago from colon cancer at the young age of 28. This was my introduction to the cruelty and silent killer called colon cancer.
Today is the one year anniversary of Duane's diagnosis with stage 4 colon cancer. A happy sad day for the Summers family. We are thrilled beyond belief that he is here with us. Thrilled to touch his hand, rub his back, kiss his face, look into his yellow eyes. Thrilled he was able to cuddle with Grace today, give Ben words of encouragement, and just tell each one of his monkeys "I love you!". We are sad today to celebrate the lose of his activity, the lose of innocence we once had that nothing would ever happen to us, sad to loose freedom from CT scans, pet scans, chemo, doctor's visit and everything nasty associated with cancer.
Last year he entered the hospital thinking it was maybe a gallbladder problem and came out knowing he had cancer in his colon, both lobes of his liver and his lungs. It was a harsh, cruel, wakening to a new reality. The pain he felt was severe, the pain I felt was equally painful but in a different way. He doesn't remember much about those first few days in the hospital, I can't seem to forget. Drugs were his best friend, probably for the best, he didn't need to be smacked with so much reality along with all the pain. I will say though, through all the heartache I never felt more love and compassion in my entire life.
One memory often passes through my mind, one of my friend Jen and her husband coming up that first night in the emergency room. She was the first I had seen, the emotions that poured from my body to this day brings tears to my eyes. She held me so tightly, the type of hug I know my Father in Heaven would have wanted to give, but it was her arms he was using. She will never know of the impact that had on me that night, probably never will. It is a wonderful memory amongst hard ones.
All our family in town came up that night to the hospital, my dear best friend stayed with my babies as we all rallied around Duane. The doctors were all marveled at how many loved ones came to his side, even commenting how he wished others could have the same support. That struck me as so silly! That's what family is for, we come to each others side, hold them up when they can't for themselves. Of course they all came, he was their son and son in-law, brother-in-law, and grandson in-law. The weeks brought a brother and an uncle, with cards and letters from all distant loved ones. That's what a family does, that's what they do.
More support than I can even begin to mention poured into our lives. Our church family took care of us. They fed us, cleaned for us, tried to bottle feed my nursing 4 month old. Anything you can think of they did for us. One night I called home from the hospital and heard the voice of a sister from church that I really did not know that well. I young energetic sister with her own family struggles, her voice was music to my weary ears. Service sounds like dear sweet Heidi's voice. Someday I hope to bring that joy into someone else's life like she did that night.
I don't think time will ever fade my memory of those first few weeks after Duane's diagnosis. I did hope this first anniversary would be a more jubilant occasion, one with a party, maybe dinner out, but I will settle with holding his hand, kissing him, and telling him that I will never give up on him. I will never leave, never stop praying, never stop hoping. I will happily celebrate his one year anniversary fighting cancer with a promise that I will always fight along side him, my love, my life, my superman.