I’ll Be Seeing You

It’s crazy how one moment you can feel so alive and awestruck by the world. Then in another moment realize how harsh and cruel the reality of life can be. While I have been relishing in my day to day adventure filled life, I have been selfishly unaware of things that are far more important than myself. I have been self-seeking in my happiness, not fulfilling a promise I gave to a dear friend awhile back.

Back in late August of 2014 I went to Nashville for work and had the opportunity to use my night off to catch up with an old friend from back in my early High School days. He was coaching soccer down the road from my hotel, so I walked to go watch. We caught up over dinner and drinks and laughed at each other over how much we had changed over the years. We had always kept in touch, but we hadn’t seen each other in so long, so much was different now. Nevertheless I felt like I was hanging out with a close friend, teasing each other about work, giving out relationship advice… basically him giving me advice ha! It was awesome! Only briefly did he mention this weird pain in his jaw that he was having his dentist look at soon. No big deal, we barely talked about it.

Middle of September I was heckling him on the soccer pictures he was posting to Facebook. As a goalie myself we have always been supportive and critical of each others performances. It was lighthearted and fun, typical soccer banter. This was our friendship.

In October everything changed… He had a biopsy, surgery, and was ultimately diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) or cancer of the muscle. Dr. said that this cancer is very curable and responds well to chemo and radiation. She was very wrong.

Early November the Dr. said that the PET scan showed some spots in his bones (left hip, shoulder blade, mid-back) where the cancer had spread. Team Caleb shirts were made a few days later to raise awareness and money for Caleb’s fight. I bought one immediately. The end of November was the beginning of a long trek through Chemo and Radiation. Words I am all too familiar with. I donated more money to help with the bills. I wore his shirt often.

December 17th was his birthday, he is now only 28 years old. I wish I was there for your birthday… I’m so sorry I wasn’t.

January 5th thru 9th, was pretty brutal. He became weak, feverish and his blood counts dropped a great deal. While at an appointment with his oncologist it was decided he needed to be admitted to the hospital, on January 13th.

On February 11th he had an appointment, follow up with Renal docs from the long stay in the hospital, and  Caleb’s kidneys had fully recovered!  The appointment with the oncologist showed that the spots in Caleb’s hip/shoulder had started to die and scar over. Also, the jaw tumor showed dead tissue within. All of this, positive news.

On March 10th, Caleb and his girlfriend Bethany headed to Vanderbilt university, more chemo.

May 27th, Caleb’s jaw tumor has grown. It’s bigger and closer to the opening of his mouth. It has grown up towards the skull. This means that at some point, the chemo regimen had stopped working. Then his Dr. said she no longer thinks she can cure Caleb’s cancer.

I text Caleb that day. Told him I was praying harder than ever, told him I was there if he needed anything, told him “If my boyfriend and I get a chance we will come visit”. Why didn’t I book a plane ticket then?

June 15th, Caleb’s jaw tumor has gotten bigger still, just in the last week, and he was very uncomfortable. His oncologist was concerned with the growth and they were scheduled for a “debulking” surgery the next afternoon.

July 3rd, Caleb and Bethany head to NYC to visit Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center which resulted in being referred to Provision Proton Therapy Center for treatment on July 23rd.

August 3rd, Caleb proposed. He was going to get married November 1st, 2015! I texted him the next day, congratulating him on the proposal, the ring, and for being a hopeless romantic. I said how excited I was and  how “you deserve all the happiness this life can bring”. I really meant that.

August 18th, almost exactly a year after seeing him and things were looking up!

Then September 24th came. I woke up from a dream of being at his wedding to Bethany, it was beautiful. A very calm, warming feeling to wake up to. Then I saw a post about them needing prayers… it felt urgent and scary. I texted him immediately, “I wish I was around to help, but I want to visit soon and help you and the lady any way I can. Let me know if you’re free the weekend of Nov.6-8th, would love to fly down.”  There was silence. The buzz of a thank you never came. An open armed invitation to visit never arrived. Then I read about it…

Bethany wrote- “Caleb had a bad night last night that led to a 3am trip to the ER. He collapsed after using the bathroom and we had trouble getting his breathing under control. He’s got fluid build up in his abdomen that is just related to the cancer in his body. They are running other tests for now and trying to decide the best way to keep Caleb comfortable and allow him to rest. His body is fighting hard but it’s really getting knocked down over and over again. We were moved from the ER to ICU and he’s stable right now. We don’t know what the future holds for us over the next few days. We do know that becoming a married couple is one thing we wanted. So our beautiful family, friends, and nursing staff set up a sweet and perfect wedding for us. We are now Mr. & Mrs. Hanby!”

I messaged his mother on Facebook. I needed to get down there. I would go this weekend, cancel all my plans, I’m going.

“We would love to have you visit, but truthfully, we don’t think he’ll make it through the night.”

I didn’t know what to say… “I’m so so sorry. Thank you for welcoming me down during such a hard time. I don’t even know what to say, and I’m sorry for that. Caleb is a dear friend, my first real high school boyfriend, I’ll always have a special type of love for him. I hate that I didn’t visit sooner… Please tell him I’m sorry for that.”

Caleb died on Oct.1st 2015. I would not see him alive. I didn’t make it. I would not get to tell him all the things I still needed to say.

Immense feelings of sadness and guilt overcame me. Why didn’t I make the time for you? The time I promised I would make. Why did my excuses make sense when I made them, but now seem so pathetic of me?

Why didn’t I just go…

I only have the option to pray and hope you can hear me now. I don’t get the reassurance of your voice, I don’t get the response of your shy smile. I will always admire that smile though, the way it shot across your face when my brazen honesty made you uncomfortable. The way it stretched through your cheeks every time we saw each other. Your honest grin made everyone feel so welcome in your presence. Making you smile is my first memory of you and it will be my last.

So my prayer to you now is to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry I broke your heart in high school… twice. If I’m honest, I never felt good enough for you. Being your first kiss is something I will never forget, and I will hold it dear, but you were deserving of someone who loved you unbridled, open, on fire. I loved you then, but it was so quiet. At the end of it all, I am glad we stayed friends. I cherish that friendship.

I’m sorry I wasn’t a better friend through the other years. I remember our summer ice cream dates to catch up during college and the chats when you were heartbroken. I can’t tell you now how honored I am to have been a voice of strength for you when your heart was hurting. I should have been around for more every days, and not just the hard moments.

I’m sorry I didn’t come see you when I said I would… I know you wanted me to get to know Bethany . I know you wanted me to see your family. You wanted these things to happen, and sadly they came to be at your funeral. I was able to catch up with Cory, we tried for years to hang out with him, all together again. Although it’s been 8 or so years since I saw him, we were able to comfort each other.

I pray today for your memory to live on and for the comfort of your family when times get hard, because they will. I pray for Bethany and her peace, her heart and her soul moving forward. Her love will be a huge part of your legacy. I pray for the healing and acceptance of every single friend you touched, all of your new and old friends, Cory and even my own.

I beg today for forgiveness, from you and from myself, for letting little things come between me being the friend that I should have been to you. For not being there when I said I would. I know you never held that against me, but I will be a while working on the forgiveness of myself.

Thank you for teaching me so many things that I needed to learn. I’ll be seeing you.

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On The Death of a Friend

Elliott

I am so incredibly blessed to have known Elliott Orr as long as I have, although the time is never enough. Growing up in the church together, coaching soccer together. The memories I will cherish forever. There are so many people that have been touched by his laughter, his selfless love, and unwavering faith. Such a beautiful soul through the hardest times. His journey has touched so many lives and inspired me to see beauty in dark hours. I pray for peace and strength and comfort to his family, wife, friends. God bless you and everything you have brought to this world.

May you be at rest with the Lord, Coach. Your memory will forever be in my heart.

Death is not something I have ever been able to process easily. From losing my mother at a young age, to countless relatives and more friends than I would care to see go. Cancer has taken so many from me in such a short span of life. I find myself always struggling to process the emotions that flood me in these times.

I seem to always begin with a selfish regret… “I should have been around more, I said I would visit, I wish I would have held that friendship closer and done more to be a support system.” After the regret I move fiercely in to anger. I don’t think there will ever come a time when I will not feel angry when someone loses their life to cancer. It’s a nasty thing and by God I do not understand it. Maybe it’s a lack of knowledge and understanding, and honestly I should have sat down with Elliott a time or two and simply asked, “You are a young, vibrant, amazing young man who had so much passion for life. How do you not let yourself become angry with God? You praise his name daily and ask for prayers for others before yourself! How do you find the trust in him that this is his will and his plan for you is greater than what we can comprehend?” It takes every fiber of my being not to curse him in this hour. I never preach to be the best Christian by any stretch of the imagination, but my biggest struggle is when he tests me to keep loving him when good people are taken from this world, in my opinion, way too soon.

Following anger is the incredible heartbreak, a sadness from loss that can not be described. You feel so much that it physically hurts. Now if you know me, you’re aware that feelings of sadness are not emotions that I am willing to wear openly. I don’t cry in front of others, I stand strong, hold fast, show no weakness if you will. I’m the tough one in the face of difficult times. But loss is a sadness I can’t conceal. Tears will flood my eyes beyond my control.

But once the tears subside I will come to find a place of acceptance. Acceptance for the  bigger plan. Acceptance of the comfort in Heaven that the suffering can now feel. Through all the anger and regret, I always find solace that the departed have left to be with the Lord.

“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.” – Henry Thoreau

It’s a testament to my friend Elliott that over 700 people showed up for his funeral. I can also promise that many were still missing. But the truly miraculous thing to watch is how peaceful and blessed everyone who knew him continues to be. myself included. I find myself laughing at the things that used to infuriate me, “my truck has been recalled?! HAHA of course it has, I’ll call next week”, “I can feel cold air leaking in through the kitchen window now, the door wall can’t get fixed till spring, I definitely need to add insulation to stop all the freezing on my roof, guess I better start saving and planning”. My reactions in the past would have been much more aggressive, angry, full of cussing and confusion on why and how this is all happening. It’s interesting to me how one single human can drastically make you reevaluate your priorities and what you find important enough to fuss over.

So more than anything, through all the processes of emotions I must land my final emotion on a feeling of thanks. A thank you to a kid who was able to bring so much perspective to my world, so much more evaluations of being thankful as opposed to being irritated. Positivity above anything else.

Thank you Elliott, coach, friend. I will forever be grateful for your mark on this world.

Contributions in memory of a wonderful man can be made here:

Elliott Orr Mission and Scholarship Project Fund, c/o Scott Orr, P.O. Box 248, North Branch, MI. 48461

Cancer and Batman Underwear

I will be stripping to my Batman skivvies and running around in the frigid temps this February, all in an effort to raise funds so kids like Jack Burke can grow up happy and healthy. Jack is the kind of kid that immediately becomes your best friend – such a character, a great big brother and just happy as can be.

…but Jack’s journey is a tough one. He was diagnosed with NF (neurofibromatosis) at two-years-old and, along with other tumors, he has a plexiform neurofibroma (a complex tumor) just behind his left eye.

And now, just this September, they discovered a new tumor on his brain stem that needs immediate intervention. So, as you are reading this, he will have started 15 months of chemotherapy. An 8-year-old going through chemo!

NO CHILD SHOULD HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS, so I am running in my Batman themed undies in the freezing cold because I will do whatever it takes, no matter how ridiculous, to help find a cure for NF!

Your donation, whether it be $5 or $500, will provide critical funding to the Children’s Tumor Foundation and allow for clinical trials, treatments and ultimately the cure we desperately need.

I sincerely thank you, Jack thanks you, and the millions of families who will benefit from this effort thank you.

100% of donations go directly to the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

DONATE HERE: http://hopecur.com/amandahouse

CTF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization rated 4-stars by Charity Navigator and priding itself on spending 82.4% of its revenue on program expenses and less than 8% on administrative costs.

Husband Took Photos Of His Wife: Captured Love And Loss Beautifully

A Husband Took These Photos Of His Wife And Captured Love And Loss Beautifully.

This is moving and heartbreaking… I don’t know what it’s like to lose a lover to cancer, but I did lose my mother. Several of these photos remind me of exactly what I saw and to a point experienced myself as a daughter.

This is a haunting reminder to love life, love everyone in your life and never waste a moment telling people just how much you love them.

Help Support Elliotts Fight! | Medical Expenses – YouCaring.com

Help Support Elliotts Fight! | Medical Expenses – YouCaring.com.

 

The Newlyweds

 

On Wednesday, July 10, Elliott met with an oncologist after she had read all of the scans. The results were positive for tumors in two places in the pelvis, a rib, the heads of both femurs, and the lungs. It is confirmed that the Osteosarcoma is back and has spread via the blood stream.

There are numerous questions that have subsequently come up and many decisions yet to be made. We will try to inform as much as possible what is most likely going to occur at this point. Elliott will be starting a blog soon as well which he will link to Facebook and other media outlets to try and keep everyone in the loop, so be on the lookout for that if you want to follow him on this journey. For now, this is what will be happening:

1. Elliott will shortly be dropping out of Michigan State University and leaving the East Lansing area permanently. He will not be obtaining a degree.

2. He will be starting chemotherapy in the next couple weeks depending on new wedding arrangements in the works.

3. This chemotherapy will be in three-week increments: five days straight for 8-10 hours per day followed by two weeks of rest and recovery. The first “session” will likely be eight cycles.

4. Because the cancer has returned, there is likely a mutation that has grown resistant to the previous chemotherapy. This new type of chemotherapy will be focused on controlling the spreading of the cancer; however, it is not extremely effective in killing the cancer, especially permanently.

5. This chemotherapy will be administered indefinitely. Likelihood of ever removing all of the cancer is extraordinarily unlikely.

We understand that this is a lot of information to take in. For now, he asks for prayers for healing, patience, wisdom, peace and many other things that he vehemently believes only God can bring.

As of late, Christina and Elliott are feeling exceptionally loved by friends’ and families’ generosity, sacrifice and affection, and wholeheartedly wish to thank everyone for their contributions. What a great community.

Obviously, there is much more to say and will continue to be more to say as life continues. However, he wanted to take the time to let everyone know this information. If you have any questions, comments or anything, please feel free to call, text, email, etc.

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/eorr

 

On Wednesday, July 10, Elliott met with an oncologist after she had read all of the scans. The results were positive for tumors in two places in the pelvis, a rib, the heads of both femurs, and the lungs. It is confirmed that the osteosarcoma is back and has spread via the blood stream.

There are numerous questions that have subsequently come up and many decisions yet to be made. We will try to inform as much as possible what is most likely going to occur at this point. Elliott will be starting a blog soon as well which he will link to facebook and other media outlets to try and keep everyone in the loop, so be on the lookout for that if you want to follow him on this journey. For now, this is what will be happening:

1. Elliott will shortly be dropping out of Michigan State University and leaving the East Lansing area permanently. He will not be obtaining a degree.

2. He will be starting chemotherapy in the next couple weeks depending on new wedding arrangements in the works.

3. This chemotherapy will be in three-week increments: five days straight for 8-10 hours per day followed by two weeks of rest and recovery. The first “session” will likely be eight cycles.

4. Because the cancer has returned, there is likely a mutation that has grown resistant to the previous chemotherapy. This new type of chemotherapy will be focused on controlling the spreading of the cancer; however, it is not extremely effective in killing the cancer, especially permanently.

5. This chemotherapy will be administered indefinitely. Likelihood of ever removing all of the cancer is extraordinarily unlikely.

We understand that this is a lot of information to take in. For now, he asks for prayers for healing, patience, wisdom, peace and many other things that he vehemently believes only God can bring.

As of late, Christina and Elliott are feeling exceptionally loved by friends’ and families’ generosity, sacrifice and affection, and wholeheartedly wish to thank everyone for their contributions. What a great community.

Obviously, there is much more to say and will continue to be more to say as life continues. However, he wanted to take the time to let everyone know this information. If you have any questions, comments or anything, please feel free to call, text, email, etc.

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/eorr

– See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-support-elliotts-fight-/73234#sthash.215O77UQ.dpuf

On Wednesday, July 10, Elliott met with an oncologist after she had read all of the scans. The results were positive for tumors in two places in the pelvis, a rib, the heads of both femurs, and the lungs. It is confirmed that the osteosarcoma is back and has spread via the blood stream.

There are numerous questions that have subsequently come up and many decisions yet to be made. We will try to inform as much as possible what is most likely going to occur at this point. Elliott will be starting a blog soon as well which he will link to facebook and other media outlets to try and keep everyone in the loop, so be on the lookout for that if you want to follow him on this journey. For now, this is what will be happening:

1. Elliott will shortly be dropping out of Michigan State University and leaving the East Lansing area permanently. He will not be obtaining a degree.

2. He will be starting chemotherapy in the next couple weeks depending on new wedding arrangements in the works.

3. This chemotherapy will be in three-week increments: five days straight for 8-10 hours per day followed by two weeks of rest and recovery. The first “session” will likely be eight cycles.

4. Because the cancer has returned, there is likely a mutation that has grown resistant to the previous chemotherapy. This new type of chemotherapy will be focused on controlling the spreading of the cancer; however, it is not extremely effective in killing the cancer, especially permanently.

5. This chemotherapy will be administered indefinitely. Likelihood of ever removing all of the cancer is extraordinarily unlikely.

We understand that this is a lot of information to take in. For now, he asks for prayers for healing, patience, wisdom, peace and many other things that he vehemently believes only God can bring.

As of late, Christina and Elliott are feeling exceptionally loved by friends’ and families’ generosity, sacrifice and affection, and wholeheartedly wish to thank everyone for their contributions. What a great community.

Obviously, there is much more to say and will continue to be more to say as life continues. However, he wanted to take the time to let everyone know this information. If you have any questions, comments or anything, please feel free to call, text, email, etc.

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/eorr – See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-support-elliotts-fight-/73234#sthash.215O77UQ.dpuf

On Wednesday, July 10, Elliott met with an oncologist after she had read all of the scans. The results were positive for tumors in two places in the pelvis, a rib, the heads of both femurs, and the lungs. It is confirmed that the osteosarcoma is back and has spread via the blood stream.

There are numerous questions that have subsequently come up and many decisions yet to be made. We will try to inform as much as possible what is most likely going to occur at this point. Elliott will be starting a blog soon as well which he will link to facebook and other media outlets to try and keep everyone in the loop, so be on the lookout for that if you want to follow him on this journey. For now, this is what will be happening:

1. Elliott will shortly be dropping out of Michigan State University and leaving the East Lansing area permanently. He will not be obtaining a degree.

2. He will be starting chemotherapy in the next couple weeks depending on new wedding arrangements in the works.

3. This chemotherapy will be in three-week increments: five days straight for 8-10 hours per day followed by two weeks of rest and recovery. The first “session” will likely be eight cycles.

4. Because the cancer has returned, there is likely a mutation that has grown resistant to the previous chemotherapy. This new type of chemotherapy will be focused on controlling the spreading of the cancer; however, it is not extremely effective in killing the cancer, especially permanently.

5. This chemotherapy will be administered indefinitely. Likelihood of ever removing all of the cancer is extraordinarily unlikely.

We understand that this is a lot of information to take in. For now, he asks for prayers for healing, patience, wisdom, peace and many other things that he vehemently believes only God can bring.

As of late, Christina and Elliott are feeling exceptionally loved by friends’ and families’ generosity, sacrifice and affection, and wholeheartedly wish to thank everyone for their contributions. What a great community.

Obviously, there is much more to say and will continue to be more to say as life continues. However, he wanted to take the time to let everyone know this information. If you have any questions, comments or anything, please feel free to call, text, email, etc.

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/eorr – See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-support-elliotts-fight-/73234#sthash.215O77UQ.dpuf

On Wednesday, July 10, Elliott met with an oncologist after she had read all of the scans. The results were positive for tumors in two places in the pelvis, a rib, the heads of both femurs, and the lungs. It is confirmed that the osteosarcoma is back and has spread via the blood stream.

There are numerous questions that have subsequently come up and many decisions yet to be made. We will try to inform as much as possible what is most likely going to occur at this point. Elliott will be starting a blog soon as well which he will link to facebook and other media outlets to try and keep everyone in the loop, so be on the lookout for that if you want to follow him on this journey. For now, this is what will be happening:

1. Elliott will shortly be dropping out of Michigan State University and leaving the East Lansing area permanently. He will not be obtaining a degree.

2. He will be starting chemotherapy in the next couple weeks depending on new wedding arrangements in the works.

3. This chemotherapy will be in three-week increments: five days straight for 8-10 hours per day followed by two weeks of rest and recovery. The first “session” will likely be eight cycles.

4. Because the cancer has returned, there is likely a mutation that has grown resistant to the previous chemotherapy. This new type of chemotherapy will be focused on controlling the spreading of the cancer; however, it is not extremely effective in killing the cancer, especially permanently.

5. This chemotherapy will be administered indefinitely. Likelihood of ever removing all of the cancer is extraordinarily unlikely.

We understand that this is a lot of information to take in. For now, he asks for prayers for healing, patience, wisdom, peace and many other things that he vehemently believes only God can bring.

As of late, Christina and Elliott are feeling exceptionally loved by friends’ and families’ generosity, sacrifice and affection, and wholeheartedly wish to thank everyone for their contributions. What a great community.

Obviously, there is much more to say and will continue to be more to say as life continues. However, he wanted to take the time to let everyone know this information. If you have any questions, comments or anything, please feel free to call, text, email, etc.

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/eorr – See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-support-elliotts-fight-/73234#sthash.215O77UQ.dpuf