Diario de Lauren Elizabeth Hacker
Escrito el Nov 25, 2013 10:21amLauren's 6 month check up was awesome! Her heart efficiency has improved and her blood counts were normal. She is truly a miracle! She is a testament to the power of prayer. We are so thankful for her health.
Lauren received a call from Elite and was offered a position on the regional club team. She was the alternate and when another little girl moved to a new team, they had a spot for her. She knows she will have to work extra hard to keep up, but she is glad to have the opportunity to play. We are thankful for this opportunity for her.
Our remodeling project is coming to a close. Joe is in charge of our project, under Craig Tuttle. It has been a pleasure having him here, as it was to have Bobby working here last year. All of the guys that have come into our house have worked hard and have been kind to our family. This is our dream home. Even though it has taken a year and a half to get to this point, it has not been too big of a deal in the whole scheme of things. After living at the hospital for 6 months and living in construction since then, I will say I am looking forward to hanging out all by myself in my pajamas with a fire going and a cup of coffee next week. It seems like an indulgence, but I am not going to feel guilty about it one bit. I need some solitude and I need some privacy. The kids are also so excited to have their rooms back. They are moving all the furniture into the rooms today. By the time the kids get home, they should be in their bedrooms. Now we just need to get hardware and some fixtures and we are done. Hallelujah! I am so thankful for our home!
Last Friday we went to the Creighton volleyball game to cheer our favorite team on. Lolo was recognized by the team and her story was told to the crowd. Her bravery and her faith stood out as the announcer spoke of why she was chosen as CU's Superhero! She was able to run out with the team and help them warm up. She sat on the bench with the team and was all smiles the whole time. A group of little friends and their parents joined us for some pizza and some fun in the stands and we had a great time. Lizzy, Katie, and Kelly were incredible. We were so proud of them. Coach Booth was so generous with Lauren and gave her a Creighton jersey. We are very thankful for our new friends!
For Thanksgiving, we have planned to just have the four of us. I am making a feast! I can't wait to cook all of our favorites. We love our family and we will miss them this year. But, we need to have a quiet, relaxing holiday with just the four of us in our home. We will be thinking of all our loved ones and we are thankful for our family. We are looking forward to our dinner and hanging out watching football games and movies. The rest of the holiday we will decorate for Christmas and put our house together. We are thankful to have some peace!
Lauren just saw the Hunger Games movie this weekend. She said it was the best movie she has ever seen. She is having a really good 6th grade year. Her grades are fine and she is enjoying all her classmates. They are such wonderful kids. She doesn't think much about last year. She is totally focused on the present. She is a good reminder to me of how to be, except for her sassy mouth, which we are working on. But, even though it wears me out on most days, I am somewhat thankful for that sassy little mouth.
Jonathan is adjusting to high school really well. He has a sassy mouth too. But, he is making progress all the time. He doesn't want to hang with us much, which is normal. When Lauren was at the movies this weekend, we forced him to go have some prime rib with us. He was a pill, but by dessert had given in a little. His plan was to make the night miserable so we would quit forcing him to be with us, but are on to him. We don't have much time left with him before he heads off to college and out into the world. We missed the heck out of him last year when we were occupied with Lauren's health. He is stuck with us. We will keep dragging him off the couch or whatever he is doing to be with us. He will give in. He needs us, he just doesn't want to admit it. He is playing tennis a few times a week and is on Prep's lacrosse team. He stills hangs out with the same kids and loves his high school. He teases me about being a religious nut and still is relentless about teasing Lauren. I am thankful that he is happy.
Please continue to keep Lauren in your prayers. We just heard of another little girl that has had her cancer return after only 130 days of remission. Our prayers go out to all the families that have children with cancer. May the odds be always in their favor.
We are so thankful that she is in remission.
Escrito el Nov 10, 2013 10:47amWe are approaching Lolo's 6th month appointment. This means she is 6 months out from her last round of chemotherapy. This will be a big appointment. But, I am not worried, strange as it may seem. She is getting stronger everyday. We are starting to have normal days and normal kid problems. She will have more extensive testing this time to make sure. The big one is to check her heart and see if it is starting to recover and make sure there is not increased damage. She will go in on November 13th. Please, keep her in your prayers. Please pray that she stays in remission and that her heart continues to heal and recover.
In the meantime, she hasn't skipped any beats, so to speak. She is adjusting very well to school. I have had a "hands off" approach to her as far as school is concerned. For those of you who know me, you may realize that is a huge change in me. But, I needed to see where she was academically. She needed to have some room to breathe without pressure to do her work, rest, and be with friends. Now, that we see where she is on her own, we need to fill in the gaps slightly. I have also given her more space from me, which is hard for me sometimes. But, I was right up in her grill on the time in the hospital. I had to be. She needs some time to be alone and some time to be with her people. I just watch from a distance and then hang with her when she wants me. We went on a walk yesterday together. She did my 3 mile route that I like to take. We talked and took pictures, stretched a little up at Memorial Park, and stopped into the church to pray for a minute. It was one of the best mornings I have had in a long time. It was sunny and the fall colors were so vibrant. She took some beautiful pictures of St. Margaret Mary's. I could see her being a photographer some day. I told her how much fun I had when we were walking home. She laughed and said it was kind of "boring" for her. I still think she enjoyed it.
Lauren is fighting hard to just move past last year. She doesn't think about the hospital much. She loves her iPad and has Taylor Swift songs on all day. She is so happy with her friends and her teachers this year. She is back to teaching Sunday school and loves being with the little kids. She is hoping she can gain enough confidence to babysit in the future. We don't have family around that has little kids to practice on, so I am looking for some willing volunteers. In other words, she is a typical 11 year old. But, in many ways she isn't. She finished a very fun season of school volleyball. For winter, she wanted to try out for the competitive Elite volleyball team. This is our local club volleyball program. She was strong and ready last year before she went into the hospital. She is still 11 and doesn't see that she isn't quite as strong as she used to be. I think she will be, but it takes time. She hadn't felt well the week before. Sometimes when she is over tired, she misses the morning at school and sleeps. Last Friday, she slept until 2:00 and didn't go to school. But, she wasn't sick. She was just tired. I used to never allow my kids to be late and rarely were they allowed to stay home from school. Big change-school isn't our priority lately. It is still up there. It has to take a backseat sometimes. On Sunday, she tried out for her Elite team. It was a grueling 3 hour tryout. At the end, the girls sat on the floor and numbers were called to pick the girls that made it. Lauren worked so hard and had very good volleyball skills. She could do what was required, but she lacked some strength, confidence, and aggressiveness. It was not fun watching her try out. She had some great serves and accurate, phenomenal passes. She spiked well. But, I could just tell, she lacked stamina. For the three hours of her tryouts, my mind was racing. Is she really ready for this? What if she gets her heart broken? What if I can't tell that the leukemia is coming back? Will they give her a break and know that her strength is returning? I looked around and all the parents watching tryouts seemed stressed. I realized my stress was different. It wasn't comfortable. At then end, I just wanted Lauren to be able to make the team and be with her volleyball friends. But, that isn't what happened. All of Lauren's school friends made the team. Lauren had even inspired a couple of school friends that didn't play club volleyball last year to try this year. They all made the team and she did not. She sat on the floor for the next 20 minutes while they jumped up and down and signed their contracts. Other little girls from other schools that did not make it started crying. Lauren did not have any emotion on her face. She sat there stoically and then packed up her stuff when the coaches ended it. They made the other kids wait to make sure all the ones offered positions accepted the positions. We did not talk going home. I didn't know how to comfort her. I wanted to fix it. I felt sick to my stomach. How could she endure anymore pain? How could she be separated from her peers again and not feel so isolated? How could she stop feeling different?
That eveing we didn't talk about it. She had ice cream with a family friend and played with a baby, which made her smile. She was so quiet. I kept worrying all of this was going to break her spirit. After all she had been through I was worried that she was fragile. But, what I realized was that I was fragile. She was hurt, very hurt. But, we both learned some big lessons that we needed to from that hurt. When she curled up with me that night, she told me that she had been in a lot of pain, but didn't want to tell me because she was afraid that I wouldn't let her try out. She had to go to the doctor the next morning and get checked. She had bone pain because her hips (where she had all the aspirations done) were sore from healing. She is also starting to grow and her body is busy building back muscle that was lost. Some days she is like an arthritic old woman. But, she doesn't let people see that. We also talked about how one tryout was not going to determine if she could play volleyball. She wanted to be with her friends so much and enjoy winter volleyball. She wanted that club volleyball jersey. So, we decided she could still hang with her friends, in other ways, and we would figure out a way to earn that club jersey. I also wanted her to know she was so much more than just volleyball. She said that she just doesn't want to be different anymore. I told her that she was going to have to accept that she was different. She is going to have to work harder than other kids right now. She is going to be sore. She has to pay more attention to her health than other kids her age. But, she is also very special. I was overwhelmed with emotion because I wanted the suffering to stop. In the back of my my mind I was worried that she couldn't take it anymore. But, I needed to face reality. We can't protect our children from suffering. We can't fix it. We need to teach them how to persevere. We need to honor their pain, but give them confidence that they will get through it. We need to comfort them and teach them how to comfort themselves through it. Lauren is going to suffer more in her life. I fear what kind of suffering might be in her future. I will always be there by her side to comfort her, if she needs it. But, I can't bring that emotion to each little disappointment that she faces. What I learned is she gets through each of these bumps along the way with grace.
The next morning after tryouts, she had to get her blood drawn at the hospital. It didn't go well. I had planned a fun day at Vala's Pumpkin Patch for her with a couple of friends. She got a little sick from the blood draw since it had to be repeated. I thought it would affect her day. But, not a chance. Her friends showed up at the hospital right after her blood draw. She wiped the tears off her face and was ready to go. She sang Taylor Swift songs all the way out there. I admit, I had tears as I was driving. I cried because I was so happy to look in the rear view mirror and see her smiling and singing. I cried because she had already forgotten how bad she had felt the day before. I cried because I was hoping my inability to handle this better wasn't going to affect her. She is different. Thank God! She so naturally celebrates life each and every day. When saw me looking at her in the rear view mirror, she smiled.
Escrito el Sep 19, 2013 10:30amI am writing this so that people don't worry that I am falling into the pits of despair. Actually, far from it. But, there has been so much change going on that I thought I would write about it. This is about me, so if you want to read about Lo, don't be disappointed. It is written to my friends and family that I love, but haven't been able to talk to for so long. It isn't really for all the people circling around and are close here to see this progress. Or, it isn't for people that are uncomfortable with intimate truths and feelings. I will be writing about both. Warning!
So, where are we now? How does a family pick up and move on after our life has been blown apart? The last year was more than I thought I could handle. In one day, everything that I thought was my life, values, etc. exploded. I walked out of a job at noon and instantly made the decision my career was no longer going to be in my focus at all. That was any easy decision at the time. I will get to that later...probably much later. But, in that instant a lot of other things changed too.
Once we realized Lauren's care was going to be an exercise in vigilance and prayer, that is what we did. You don't think about those things. You just move into emergency mode. Then, when that lasts for 6 months, some things fall away. It is part of the process. But, when that ends, it is hard to rebuild your life or even know what your new life is going to be. That is where we are. We are rebuilding. In many ways, literally.
I had a lot of time on my hands in the hospital to think. In fact, probably too much time. I could think all I wanted to, but really could control nothing. This in itself, if you know me very well is not the best combination for me. This caused a lot of change. It also gave me a chance to analyze the life we had as a family and find the truth of whether we were living our values or only going through the motions.
The one thing I realized is that I truly loved my children more than life itself. The feeling in the hospital of utter helplessness did make me turn to God and prayer. This isn't a huge change for me. I didn't talk about it much to people. Maybe this is a big change for people to see that this is a value I had. That is the biggest change of all. I realized I was always the person that people wanted me to be around them, not always who I truly was. It wasn't that I was necessarily phoney. I just didn't reveal aspects of myself that were important to me because I was afraid I wouldn't be accepted. That has changed. I am not in anyone's face about who I am. I just don't care if they see who I am. I actually like that person a lot more than the other version. This isn't some mid-life crisis. It is about acceptance and peace. It is just different shades of blue. It is more subtle than that. But, it does feel good. My faith is one of those aspects I didn't share. I guess I didn't understand it before. I also feel so much closer to my faith and relied on it to preserve our family. It was necessary to surrender to receive. It is also something I am still trying to figure out. I do feel the need to go to mass a lot. Phil is starting to worry that I am going to run off and become a nun or something. But, going to mass calms my mind and releases any anxiety. It takes away the pressures of today or any day and lets me focus on God and living in the this day's moments. It is what I need.
In the hospital, Lauren and I shared a very tight space. Our relationship is forever changed. We know each other on a more intimate level. You think you know your kids. But, when they need to seperate from you and find their own strength to fight for their life, you see them change before your eyes. You also see them and their connection to God seperate from you. It is beautiful and unsettling at the same time. She is a beautiful little person with such a pure heart, just like all of our kids are. What is funny is that I didn't trust my parenting before Lauren got sick. Now I feel more confident. I used to worry about making them good students, successful people, good athletes, etc. I thought if I could help them become good at these things that made them successful in the outside world that I would protect them from the things that would cause them pain. I thought these things would make them happy. Inside my heart, my values for them were to be good people, to serve others, to serve God, to know how to love and be kind. But, our life as a family was not spent doing those things necessarily. We would make attempts at it. We went to mass and we talked to the kids about what things were important. But, we didn't "walk the walk." I assumed some of these values didn't need to be practiced. I assumed they just were. But, that isn't the case. That has changed; that has changed slowly and we still aren't done. We are reinventing what our family spends time doing. It feels really good.
My relationship with Jonathan has changed. I love that kid. He is brilliant and funny, yet so deep and sometimes a bit dark. I worked so hard on making him successful and paid so much attention at his potential because of that incredible mind, but I didn't pay much attention to him. Jonathan up close can be overwhelming. So, I kept him at a distance. Of course, I never realized that. I had to seperate from him too, in order to save Lauren. Jonathan spent much of his time with the Cranes and the Dorans. He was loved by them and I am forever grateful. He spent time with his dad over the 6 months of Lauren's treatment. He spent time up at the hospital with Lauren and me. He and I went out to dinner on a few occasions. But, on the most part, we were seperate. That weighed heavy on my heart. He handled that by being difficult at times. But, that was very hard on him too. We are reconnecting. That is different as well. But, it is awesome. I have learned to really listen to him and hear what is in his heart. I used to judge what came out of his mouth and cut him off and correct him. Now I really want to know what he is thinking and feeling. I wasn't good at hearing him before. I am still learning. But, it sure has caused a change in him. He actually wants to talk to me about stuff.....some of it is so 14 year old boy stuff that I have a hard time translating, but very cool otherwise. It sure takes a lot more of my time. I am doing a lot less.
My relationship with Phil took the biggest hit. We have been married 25 years. I felt like it was ok to let that go a little and just be there for Lauren. It was ok. But, I didn't realize that I had let it go for much longer than that. The modern world does not like people being married. I was so focused on the kids and my work that I wasn't focused on us. I always took it for granted that Phil and I didn't fight or have problems and that everything was fine. We got along great. We had good discussions when we actually made the time to go out to dinner. We got along as a family. We were fine. But, I had stopped sharing what was in my heart a long time ago. I had let things get between us. When my heart was broken wide open in the hospital, I couldn't turn to him to lean on him or even truly talk about the way I was feeling. I was a good Air Force wife. I know how to kick a$$ and take names in a crisis. I could handle a year's worth of deployments and even help the other wives through it. I was tough and independent. That is how we got through all those years of wars and deployments. But, now I was too tough and too independent. I didn't know how to let him in. So, we went to Retrouvaille. It is a Catholic marriage weekend that helps you learn to communicate again and work through tough times. We thought it would be good since our work together and as a family is not over. We need to do this better. I am sure a lot of people wouldn't admit when things aren't great in their marriage. But, I think anyone that has been married for a long time knows it isn't the easiest thing. It also doesn't mean that there is something horribly wrong. He and I don't have any abuse issues or alcoholism or any of the big guns of dysfunction. But, that doesn't mean that it doesn't need to be fixed.
Lastly, I had a strong message the whole time I was in the hospital that I need to get my house in order. I have always felt this strong connection with my dad and felt sometimes that internal guiding light that I felt sometimes after he died was him guiding me. I don't know if it was him or the Holy Spirit or both. In fact, I like that idea of my dad and the Holy Spirit uniting their forces to be there for me. Even the Holy Spirit could use a good commander like my dad to help. But, anyway, I felt I needed to get my house in order. At first, I took that literally and thought I needed Hackberry Rd to get a little bit ship shape (hence the remodeling is on in full force). Then, I began to realize that our family needs to get our priorities straight and really be strong as a family. Then, I realized getting your house in order can mean yourself. We are a temple of God on earth. I am getting my own house in order emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I realized in the hospital that I have motored through all the trauma of my life with a smile on my face and determination. I don't talk too much about my life to too many people. It was different. It was hard. I come from divorced family and I was separated from my siblings and my beloved grandparents. I moved every year of grade school from one side of the country to the other. I went to 4 different schools for middle school and high school. I struggled as both my parents created new lives for themselves. I was so blessed that my mom married my step father when I was young. He was my guiding light. However, I handled each traumatic event by stuffing my feelings and trying to not be a burden on anyone that was caring for me at the time. I had a good attitude and tried to be pleasing to all the adults, including my teachers. I was a good student and athlete. It helped me adapt every year to a new climate. But, it was very hard emotionally. I often felt very lonely because of the moves and the problems in my family. I stuffed my feelings about problems in adulthood, moves, my dad's death, loss of babies, etc. But, when Lauren got sick and I thought each day might be my last with her, my heart split wide open and every pain I have ever felt came spilling out. I held on tight and knew I needed to be strong for Lauren. The awareness of how hurt I was became unbearable at times. I also didn't see ever feeling anything different. I felt broken. My love for the kids spilled out constantly and my fears that I wasn't enough to keep our family strong began to surface. I began a great friendship with Father Weeder and he led me to seek out God to find these answers. He led Phil and I to seek out Retrouvaille. He also stayed by Lauren's side the whole time. We are very thankful for him. He gave us Faith.
This process has changed me in some ways, but mostly I am still the same. I am a little raw and wobbly right now. But, I don't mind being weak in public. Maybe I hope it will help others to have that courage also. I do have some different friendships, but that isn't all the drama that seems to surround that kind of thing either. It seems natural and expected. Sometimes when friendships end it is painful, but necessary. I do have my family in a way I never thought possible. I also feel like I have myself. So, in essence, I am different now. I am maybe too churchie for some (thanks Mrs. Carlson-love that statement), too open for others, and more introverted than people knew before, but it feels good. Plus, I have a lot to do to get my house in order. I want to enjoy every minute of it. I hope people give me the Peace that I need.