For eight years I have been working on my memoire. When I was feeling up to it, I would write never having any expectations for a book, Maybe it would be a kind of history I could share with family. Maybe it would just end up in my trash.
As time went on I felt a sense of healing when I recounted uncomfortable memories from my past. And, as I transferred my pain onto the written page I began to see even more clearly how God had been weaving my life’s story.
What once seemed like a series of very rough patches prepared me for what was to come. Much of it might be shocking. A friend who edited the book said I took my clothes off and ran naked down the street! But, the many, many wonderful people I met along the way are important pieces of this story. (You know who you are!)The pain I had endured was transformed into abundant blessing. The love I received was greater than anything I could have ever dreamed of.
Soon, this book will go to press. It will be available on Amazon. If you choose to purchase it, the proceeds will go to research to help us discover an early detection of pancreatic cancer. Maybe it will save lives. Expecting to publish late February.
More importantly, my truth will clearly reveal how having a relationship with Jesus Christ will change your life forever and give you peace and comfort as you live out your own trials and pain. If you are searching for something missing in your life, maybe this book will lead you to what I discovered.
We all have a story, a testimony that we live each and every day. We can choose how that story ends, happily ever after or not. I believe we are all woven into unique pieces of fabric if we just place our trust in the one who is walking beside us every step of the way it will float through the air toward heaven and be beautiful to behold.
The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster ride for my family, friends and me. Confirming that the malignant adenocarcinoma had returned to the head of my reconstructed pancreas and having my oncologist tell us without treatment we have just months would send any human being to a deep dark place.
Having survived the absolute most fatal cancer for eight years has truly been a miracle thanks to God, you my prayer warriors, my fantastic medical team of primary care doc, surgeons, radiologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists, oncologists and the PA’s and nurses who assist them at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.
But, realistically, we always knew there would be a day when the cancer would take over.
For a time we placed our complete trust in a non-approved trial drug Herceptin Hylecta (trastuzumab and hyaluronidase-ovsk) recently used as immunotherapy treatment for early breast cancer in HER2 positive patients, with great success I might add. Tests were run to determine the DNA of my tumor and provide the best possible match for the gene therapy. The prayer was that I might be the first pancreas cancer patient to receive the treatment…and that it would destroy the cells. That was truly our only hope.
When we asked if surgery could be performed to remove the tumor, the answer was no, there has not been success in the past with patients with similar medical situations. So truly our only hope was in the trial drug. So, we began the infusions.
Entering the chemo suites that familiar smell and feeling rushed over me like a bad dream. But, I knew this treatment would be different. My oncologist told me I would not lose my hair, I would not experience nausea but would possibly have a rash. A rash? I could surely handle that. But, it was just returning to this place I had avoided for two years, that sick feeling returned. I was happy to see a familiar face, a nurse who sat with me the entire infusion watching for adverse reaction but more importantly, chatting in light conversation.
As the test reports came in my case was presented by my oncologist to the Thursday tumor board, a group of up to eighteen Mayo docs from different departments. (Get a second opinion? Why when you have eighteen of the finest doctors in the world collaborating over your MRi’s, scans, blood work and pathology reports.)
One of the surgeons attending that day probably said, “Oh this is Judi, I am familiar with her case. She is the one who defies all of the norms with her PC.” But most importantly, he thought he had a solution. He presented his ideas to the board and they all agreed.
Shortly after the meeting my oncologist phoned. His excitement came right thru the phone as he explained what the surgeon was proposing. He told me surgery was being offered to me and to expect a call from Dr. Stauffer.
When Dr. Stauffer called I listened intently to his plan. He began by stating, “Judi, we need to think outside of the box with you.” He explained they would like to surgically remove the tumor, a suspicious lymph node behind the mesenteric artery as well as a lesion that had shown up for years on my liver, but had not grown in size in any of my scans. He said, if you agree to the surgery, I believe it can work.
My reaction was, “What have I got to lose?” He replied, “You have nothing to lose and life to gain.”
I have received two infusions to date and am scheduled for a third in early August. Scans and tests will be reviewed to check results of the infusions and to be used in the open surgery that will be performed August 17th.
Many of you are praying for me and as you have heard me say in the past, I truly believe this is the explanation I have for my survival. God is listening to your payers, and granting them. For this we are eternally grateful. So, again, I am asking for your prayers for the doctors and nurses on my care team to receive what they need to have a successful surgery. Again, not just for me but to make surgery a possibility for other PC warriors with resectable tumors.
Thankful for all of my prayer warriors and thankful for a surgeon who is willing to think outside the box.
God has granted me so many miracles throughout my life. But the most miraculous of all has been the gift of eight years since my diagnosis of pancreas cancer on April 29th, 2014.
Tommy and I agree these have been the best eight years of our lives together.
Our faith has grown so enormously and so deeply throughout this journey that we count that as another huge miracle He has blessed us with. Our children experience firsthand the importance of having a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all agree we could not handle this without Him. We put our trust in Him completely to lead us through this difficult trial.
For our friends, it has been miraculous as well. They pray diligently and many daily that we can have one more day, one more good scan, one more birth, one more memory. They see Him answer those prayers time after time. I know it has deepened their faith as well.
The most recent miracle has been the success of our 6th Champions for Hope event. Thanks to our sponsors, friends and volunteers who open their hearts and their pocketbooks to help us raise EPIC amounts of money to help the disabled community and continue our research at Mayo Jacksonville for pc early detection. Thank you just never seems enough.
Yesterday we received some news. An MRI revealed a suspicious mass in the reconstructed head of my pancreas. The MRI was ordered by my oncology team due to ongoing weight loss and GI issues I have had since last July.
The doctors believe the pancreas cancer has now metastasized to my Whipple operation site. Many of you know I have mets to my lungs that have remained stable since July 2018. (Another miracle.)
They have ordered an Endoscopic Ultrasound Procedure for June 23rd to biopsy the tumor and confirm 100% the adenocarcinoma has returned to this spot. They are not able to perform this biopsy before that date due to my positive Covid test June 1st. This test would require twilight sedation and therefore must follow CDC Covid protocol of waiting 21 days from the positive test date.
My Mayo team respects my decision to forego chemotherapy as a treatment and maintain the best possible quality of life.
They are seeking a clinical trial drug that might be successful working with my HER2 (Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2–positive). No person with pancreas cancer has ever received this treatment. It is approved to treat early-stage breast cancer. When this drug works for me it could mean that other pancreas cancer patients with this HER2 gene could benefit as well.
So, we ask for prayers for another miracle. Not just for me but for the countless other pc patients who may not have access to or doctors who even are aware of this treatment.
Tommy, me, and our entire family will continue to pray we can graciously accept God’s will for the outcome whatever it might be.
But, here is one thing you can completely count on…when the day comes and my life is over…I win. I will be sitting at the feet of Jesus whole once again in heaven for all of eternity.
If you are not a believer, I pray you will accept Jesus as your personal savior and be able to turn your trials into blessings just as we have.
I love you all and I am forever grateful and humbled by your love, support and prayers.
It has been quite the learning experience since we purchased our farm in Western North Carolina’s Cane Creek Valley. Neither Tommy or I had much experience with animals other than domestic dogs or fish. The dreams of our “Biggest Little Farm” being home to sweet farm animals has taught us what farm life really is all about.
Our beautiful farm with thirty-two acres, seven pastures, an open barn with four stalls, a goat barn and pen and two chicken coops enticed us to offer a forever home to any and all types. But, we knew we needed to start slowly. We wanted to find the perfect caretaker to watch over our flock and provide the time for daily chores of feeding mucking stalls and protecting what have become our mountain pets.
Fortunately we found Danny. Born and raised in this small mountain town, he owns horses and works for other neighbors attending to their properties and animals on a daily basis. He is a great fixer and can tackle any job that might arise. And, if he doesn’t know how to fix it chances are pretty good he has a cousin who can.
We started out with seven Lavender Orpington chickens recommended by our niece who has a small farm in the Eastern North Carolina coastal town of Wilmington. She searched Craigs’ List and found a breeder just twenty miles from us. Upon visiting the breeder we purchased seven six week old unsexed chicks. (The seventh chick lived just two days.) And then there were six.
It was fun preparing the chicken coop to meet Brie’s specifications. Her Dad and brother helped us with repairs while I visited the local feed and seed to find chicken pellets and bedding she said would provide the proper nutrition and make their new home comfortable.
It would be another four and a half months before the chickens would attain sexual maturity and begin to lay eggs. Our hope was that at least one of the fluffy lilac feathered birds would be a rooster, but it was too early to be sure. It ended up all six were hens.
Most of the summer was spent watching those six chickens grow and embrace their surroundings. When we added two goats to the adjacent goat pen and barn they all seemed to live in harmony. When the grandchildren visited, especially the five youngest age seven to just months old, they were intrigued by these gentle birds. They would rush out of bed mornings to let out the chickens so they could roam free range on our fenced land.
Pets need names we agreed. But it was impossible to tell them apart and the names the children tried to attach to them didn’t seem to stick except for one name…”Karen”. There was one Lavender who was always lagging behind or on her own agenda picking at bugs and seeds as the rest of the flock quickly waddled back to the coop each afternoon when I called them to return for the night. Typical to her name, Karen was the exception.
As they matured we were thrilled to see the small brown eggs they produced. Each afternoon we would collect one, then two then four or five of the most delicious eggs on the planet. The kids learned how to gently wash the clear dry membrane from the shells and place the eggs in cartons in the refrigerator to await breakfast the next day. If the membrane was not washed clean, the eggs could be kept on the kitchen counter indefinitely. It was a personal choice.
By late fall the golden and fire-red leaves had fallen and the mountain took on a completely different appearance as winter approached, the first signs of the seasons and the circle of life at the farm. Birds of prey began to soar and dart through the sky. Red-Tailed Hawk were famous for attacking chickens, but our neighbor felt our chickens were too plump for the hawks to carry away. So we just admired the beauty of these large birds visiting our home.
Until one day in late December…all six chickens would visit our main house searching the gardens for bugs and seeds. I would always reward them with a treat of dried mealworms when they tapped on my kitchen door windows. They expected a treat from their adopted mother.
One afternoon all six chickens had made their daily visit. I was talking to Tom on the phone when I looked out past the deck to see a large Lavender laying on the grass very still! As I frantically ran to it’s aid I heard the cry of the hawk as he observed me from a nearby maple tree. I ran to the house to grab my phone to take a picture. When I returned, the hawk was back perched on the chickens back. After videoing for a few seconds, I flung my arms at the predator and he flew back into the tree.
The other five chickens were gathered under the evergreens in a nearby garden. They looked like statues as they huddled to protect one another. After removing their fallen sister, I attempted to entice the group back to the safety of their coop. Once inside they remained for three days. Now there were five.
Tommy and I spent most of January at our home in Florida as Danny cared and protected the animals in our absence. Each day I would have him report on all of the animals but mainly wanted to know if any more chickens had been attacked. Regretfully, one day he reported that one more Lavender had been lost to a predator. Now there were four.
When I returned to the farm in late February, I was sad to see the remaining flock. They seemed as sad as me. They had changed their routine, never to return to the main house and staying in the thicket adjacent to the chicken coop. But, one late afternoon as I was walking down to put the chickens to bed, I heard squawking. I noticed the goats and the donkeys gathering and looking toward the coop. As I ran toward the noise I found the injured half-dead beauty laying close to the fence. While I knew I couldn’t help her, I searched the coop to see where the other three were hiding. As I peered in the dark coop I didn’t see any signs of the others.
I ran along the fence calling the ladies and ruffling the bag of dried worms that always brought them running for a treat. Nothing! Finally huddled like a statue along the fence I found one lonely chicken. I managed to entice her back to the coop where once reunited, the two others hiding behind their food bin began to make soft sounds. And then there were three.
What we have learned in this short ten months of farm ownership is what nature provides is there for the survival of many others…all of them having a unique purpose.
The beauty, the miraculous purpose of each animal has touched our hearts. But the true lesson, all Gods creatures big and small are all part of the circle of life.
Today I saw the first sign that spring is coming. I saw a red-breasted Robin. There is always hope.
Hebrews 1:10-12 “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”
Whenever I think of it the song that plays during the marketing video created by the previous owner loops through my mind. We finally found our legacy property to be enjoyed for generations after a three year search in the beautiful mountains that surround Asheville. It had to be special. It truly is a little slice of heaven.
We dreamed of having a place for our large family to gather or even just visit to escape the heat of the Florida summers or to enjoy the winter season with an occasional snowfall and of course to enjoy farm animals or relax by the fire along the creek. And God led us to this amazing place. Something for everyone to enjoy as our forever getaway.
This month we celebrated my seven year survival from Pancreatic Cancer. There are no numbers that support this miracle. We give God the complete glory for this . I know He sees the desires of our heart. He is capable of not just answering our dreams but He is capable of complete healing.
We found a place to relax and discover more of God’s masterful creation on earth. All the while creating memories with family and friends.
While there will always be bumps in the road, we cherish each new sunrise with hope knowing today is not the day. And, we will make the best of it.
Have you ever felt you just don’t measure up as a Mother? Believe me, I am pretty sure we all feel less than perfect when it comes to being the most influential person in your child’s life, the biggest responsibility we are given. After all, as they say, kids don’t come with an instruction booklet. We are all thrust into this land called motherhood with little experience.
Louis was always a sensitive and sweet boy. He was quick to hug and kiss and always brought a smile to our faces with his dance moves and his love for entertaining all of us. His heart was pure and his spirit was gentle.
When he was around ten years old his Father decided he needed a little toughening up. He registered Louis for Pop Warner Football, a sport Louis had never shown an interest for.
At the time I was working in a management position, a very rewarding but requiring position, with a large financial services company. My work schedule was demanding. Fortunately Tom’s job as a manufacturers rep allowed him flexibility so he was available for our two smallest children. He was a hands on Dad able to pick up the slack when I had to be at the office.
We had bought a small pair of cleats and the equipment required to join the little league football team hoping to muster interest from our gentle little guy. And, the day finally arrived when he was to report to his coach and team. Unfortunately Tom had an appointment he could not reschedule so he dropped Louis off at the practice field with some encouraging words and a big hug and watched as Louis slowly made his way to the group of players assembled around the coaches.
My cell phone rang while I was at work and I picked up the call from an unfamiliar number.
“Is this Louis’s Mother?” she asked.
“Yes, I am Louis’s Mom, is he all right?” I replied.
“Well, he is but he seems a little upset at the moment. He has been sitting on a curb in the parking lot crying.” she said.
I felt my heart fall suddenly deep to my stomach. There is no worse feeling than to know your child is upset and you are a twenty minute car ride from him.
“I’m on my way, can you stay until I get there?” I replied.
The kind lady agreed and I grabbed my purse and ran to my car.
When I reached the field, I could see Louis still sitting on the curb wiping the tears away from his freckled cheeks as this angel of a Mom sat next to him, soothing him as best she could.
“I don’t want to play football.” Louis pleaded through the tears. “They want me to hit and be rough.”
That day ended Louis’ football career. But, as God would have it, he took up the game of golf, which he was perfectly suited for. And he loved it and was highly competitive.
When I reflect over the years of raising our children, there are many mistakes we have made. But, we have honed and sharpened our parenting skills over the years. And while we still make mistakes, the good far outweighs the bad.
God gives us charge over these little mini-humans and leads us along the way. If we raise them in faith and love, praying for them and providing a solid foundation, the little mistakes serve as lessons that strengthen them right along with us, as parents.
Today, Louis is the proud father of two little children and one on the way. He and his wife are figuring it all out too, just as we did and our parents before us.
Don’t be so tough on yourselves. Use each lesson as a tool to grow your skills. The rewards are greater than any other gift you are given.
October 15th, 2019 was the last time I had a Gemzar Abraxane infusion (chemo therapy) for my pancreas cancer that had metastasized to my lungs. The decision to stop treatment was one I made prayerfully and on my own. As a six year survivor of a lethal cancer with a five year survival rate of single digits, this was a bold move.
My Mayo oncologist, Dr. Mody’s reaction to my decision was surprisingly positive. Last fall I was feeling the effects of prolonged treatment and could actually taste, smell and feel the chemo that had been a part of my life since July 2017 when it was discovered the cancer had moved to my lungs. But, I had become so fatigued and ill, he agreed I needed a break. The holidays were approaching and I wanted to be able to enjoy every moment with my family and most of all my grandchildren who asked when they walked into the house, “Mia, are you in bed today?”
In January of 2018, a CT scan revealed one of my numerous lung spots had doubled in size. It was recommended that chemo be administered every two weeks. So, for as many months I had endured the treatment that would produce flu like symptoms days after and keep me weakened and nauseous.
In mid October of 2019, I contracted an intestinal virus somehow that caused me extreme vomiting and diarrhea and landed me in the hospital for five days. However, the nausea continued after the virus subsided.
The oncologist described my condition beyond the virus as nausea brought on by prolonged chemotherapy…something in my head!
If you follow my blog you know I am a faith filled person. I consider myself to be strong and able to handle discomfort pretty well. While I know the dire statistics that come with this diagnosis, I face life with confidence that God is in control. He determines when He will call me home, not the doctors who treat me with the science He has given them.
I believe He has work for me to do to increase awareness and fight for much needed research that will one day find an early detection for this cancer that kills nearly 20% of us diagnosed within one year.
In the last six years my husband, family, doctors and close friends have supported me unconditionally. They have provided the care I need, whatever it might be, along each set back. God and they have seen me thru some very difficult times.
But, this cancer, that I now look at as a blessing in our lives, has given us so many positive changes. It has brought our family closer to God, closer to one another and also empowered us to start a foundation to fund important research that will result in a simple test that could be administered to patients presenting with family history, predisposition or early symptoms that have been dismissed in the past as other less serious digestive issues.
Every six to eight weeks I go to Mayo for scans and bloodwork to determine the status of my cancer. It is always a time of anxiety and concern as the date approaches. However, I have learned to listen to my body and believe that while I am feeling as good as I can, the cancer must still be at bay.
The last three scans have reported as “stable”. This means that the 13 spots in my lungs, while still evident and growing very slowly, are not at this moment out of control.
I chose to carry on and take in each breath enjoying my family and friends in gratitude for the life we have been blessed with so abundantly until the day …
Today our family celebrates the six year anniversary of my diagnosis of pancreas cancer. With a five year survival rate of just nine percent, I stand in amazement that I am still here. In the past six weeks the world has faced the possibility of losing life. Are you celebrating each day or are you gripped with fear that you could be touched by this global pandemic? Let me tell you, the one thing that has sustained us over our journey with pancreas cancer…HOPE.
Hope comes in many forms. It may come in the birth of a child, the positive report the doctor delivers, or the simplest of things…a freshly budding flower reaching for the sun.
We have a choice every day to have hope or be gripped in fear. It is proven that our emotional state effects us physically. While there are many things out of our control, we can control our minds. I choose to have hope.
Even in the direst of situations, we can find reason to have hope. My diagnosis six years ago lifted a haze from my eyes. What appeared to be the worst news possible has become a blessing to me and to my family. We approach each day with gratitude and a new appreciation for life.
Thanking God every moment of each day for the gift of life He has graced me with. It all comes from Him.
“For I know the plans I have for you.” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.
I have a journal with information about people who have been referred to me with pancreas cancer. I keep just a few sentences about them and where they are in their diagnosis. They come from anywhere…friends around the country, family who have googled “PC” and landed at my blog. Mayo docs have asked me if they can send me newly diagnosed patients. They all have terror in their voices. I believe it is what God wants me to do and maybe even why I am still here nearly six years from the day I was exactly where they are.
You see, I didn’t have anyone but my family to help me in those early days. Of course I had my doctors, but they couldn’t help me with the fear I felt. I wanted to speak to someone who was in the battle. That is the impetus for bringing my story to others.
Faith played an enormous part in this journey. It is the first question I ask a new fellow warrior. Quite frankly, I don’t think I could have made it this far without my trust in God. Finding strength in His word, we journey on stronger and confident that no matter what, in the end we all win. We go home to Him and have no more fear, no more pain.
The pages of my journal are filled with small paragraphs. Some of them are highlighted with a marker indicating they have earned their purple wings, as we say.
Today, I added another name to my journal. A 62 year man who is expecting another grand child in June. He was given 9 to 11 months to live just yesterday. Stage 4 pancreas cancer. He is desperate for hope, for anyone who will erase that death sentence. As I spoke with him I assured him I would do all I could to help him by connecting him with doctors who saved my life. Yet, the most important thing I can do for him is to pray for him. He immediately felt our bond. And, I pray he received just a glimmer of hope from a previous day that turned his world upside down.
Last week, due to Covid-19, we were forced to cancel our fundraising event, Champions for Hope that was to take place in early June. This event enables us to fund three promising research projects seeking early detection for this deadly cancer with a five year survival rate of just 9%.
While I wonder how God will provide, I trust He will. I trust because I know this work is ordained. He will bring us others whom we may have never met to carry on His work.
We can’t wait to see the silver lining that will emerge from this enormous black cloud that hangs over the earth today. But, for this moment in time, I will continue to be led by His prompting.
Prayers will be answered, of that I am absolutely positive because that is His promise.
It came creeping into our lives from clear across the globe. We all saw the images of mask and Hasmat clad Asians fighting this intruder that came to steal lives. But, we continued living life, denying any possibility it could touch us personally, something so far removed from our comfort zone thousands of miles away.
Then it was reported there were additional cases popping up around the globe. Italy was struck with a vengeance reporting numerous cases, China began to report deaths and more European countries disclosed rising numbers. When the virus had reached US shores with active cases reported in Washington DC, New York and California the level of fear escalated. Suddenly we were forced to consider the dreadful possibilities.
Now the federal government took heed. Slow at first to respond to the world wide outbreak, it was no longer possible to ignore. The President brought together the worlds top disease control experts and heads of corporations to consider next steps. And they began to take action.
While all of this was swirling around the globe, our own little space was preparing for our annual PLAYERS party. For twenty-seven years we held a week long party for friends, neighbors and customers. Living on the perimeter of the TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley Golf Course first tee box and just steps from the guarded entrance to the PLAYERS, we loved the event and the world-wide notoriety it brought to our sleepy beachside community. Club trucks pulled into the normally vacant lot next to our house and PGA Tour golfers paraded past to see if they could change the loft of their driver or try a new putter, in preparation for Thursday’s first round tournament play. It was all very exciting.
Houseguests arrived daily, friends who had been making this annual trek for many years appeared around our outdoor bar. It was a wonderful camaraderie that had developed surrounding this event. While uncertainty swirled around us we felt removed from fear and doubt and happy to have perfect weather as we walked the cart paths of the pristine TPC Sawgrass Stadium course unaware of what was to come just days from then.
Governor DeSantis appeared on television to report the first cases in Florida and necessary mitigation steps needed to be taken to slow spread of the now deadly virus. Those with compromised immune systems and underlying health issues and the elderly were most susceptible to death from the virus. He explained the new term, “social distancing” to remain self quarantined and avoid contact with others thru hand shakes and hugs and wash our hands often.
Well, I thought to myself, I will be careful. However, accessing our group and the number of compromised or elderly invited to our home throughout the week and to the celebration of life party Friday evening, made me begin to worry and consider steps that might need to be taken to ensure the safety of our family and friends.
About forty friends and family paraded through our home Wednesday to watch the practice round. It was perfect weather to walk the grounds and perhaps sit on a hole as my father in law loves to do, watching as the pros play through. Our cares seemed to drift away with each drive of the golf ball.
Early that day the television screens in our outdoor bar turned from golf to a press conference. Jay Monahan, PGA Commissioner of Golf announced with regret there would be no spectators allowed on the course. This was necessary to keep players, volunteers and fans safe amid the Covid -19 spread. This announcement would change the complexion of the entire tournament. I was glad I had made a decision not to walk over to the tournament. I needed to be careful.
It was eerie sitting around our backyard bar with only a handful of friends. Fear and uncertainty was slowly building. Thursday however, the number of visitors began to increase, We all wanted to support the tour. We had made our plans, tickets had been bought, flights had been taken, hotel reservations confirmed. Most were here…now what do we do? We decided to make the best of it. We continued to watch golf and band together amidst this unfolding nightmare.
Then Thursday late afternoon Jay Monahan made another announcement that shook us all to our core. The 2020 PLAYERS was cancelled at the end of play of the first round. This would be the first of many cancelled tour events. And, they were cancelled not postponed. This was serious.
On Thursday I shared my concerns with Tommy about holding the celebration of life party. It was not responsible to continue our plans. We agreed to cancel.
Over the weekend our family pressed in. Beach gatherings were perfect as the children played together in the fresh air and we huddled under the sun tent sipping our beverages. Even though there was not a cloud in the sky a dark cloud was hovering over us. Uncertainty could be felt breeding fear.
Mass on Sunday was half attended. Very few children could be seen and we all prayed for discernment. No holy water, no touching with sign of peace, no wine for the Holy Eucharist, rules that needed to be followed to protect one another.
Friends and houseguests made plans to return home as further mitigation eluded to the cancelling of flights and possible quarantine. Monday I dropped my father in law off at the ghost town of an airport. There were very few cars on the road. Schools were out on spring break so no school busses. Many employers ruled employees must work remotely from home. Grocery stores had turned into scenes of chaos as shoppers hoarded toilette paper, tissues, wipes, sanitizer, water and food for what might be weeks of quarantine.
What was happening? It seemed like something from a movie…an apocalypse. A global pandemic had been declared.
Each day government authorities made more closures. School would not return after spring break, businesses cancelled huge trade shows and meetings having an impact on local economies cancelling flights, hotel and restaurant reservations. Restaurants, bars were forced to close. Nursing homes were off limits to visitors. You can find broker online if you need any kinds of investment advice. .this meant I could no longer visit my 95 year old Mother, nor could my brother. Social distancing needed to be practiced now more than ever as the arrival of tests revealed increased number of cases now reaching to every state in the US. The stock market roller coaster dips and gains grabbed us all where it hurts. Sell or continue to watch our life savings diminish?
Watching all of this unfold before my very eyes I began to see some good come from all of the negative. Parents were finding great projects online so as to slow any possible decline in their children’s educational advances. Families were preparing and eating dinners together. Our busy lives were coming to a complete halt. We were forced to slow down, press in and trust God, that He would control all of it, that there would be good coming from the chaos.
My friends began to share God wink stories. Personally, I thought of how the Holy Spirit had nudged me to make a decision to take a break from chemo last November, allowing my extremely compromised immune system to build a bit before Covid-19 hit. If this had happened in November, surely I could be even more susceptible.
One of my friends had lost her 99 year old Mother who lived in assisted living facility where she would visit her twice daily a month before Covid-19. She would never have been able to stay away from her sweet Mother nor would she understand why her loving daughter was not visiting. Surely God had taken her before these restrictions were put in force.
A beautiful baby girl was born to my dear friend’s daughter, her first grandchild. St. Patty’s Day would forever hold new meaning for this family. But, God sent them something to focus on, to ease their fears.
Seeking a deeper meaning to the situation revealed the positive results swirling around me. The world had come to an immediate halt. I believe most of us secretly longed for this respite. Families were forced to be together inside their homes for two weeks or more. Working from home remotely, virtual schooling, nursing homes and hospitals refusing to allow visitors, all sports cancelled, beach closings, churches closed and offering virtual masses, dentists offices closed, social distancing, no hand shakes, hugs or kisses. Everyone urged to wash hands frequently, keep six feet apart, no more than ten people gathering, special early hours for the elderly to grab what they needed from the grocery. Restaurants offered take out service as they closed their doors to dining in. Unlikely corporations turned to manufacture of ventilators, masks, gowns, drug companies rushing to find drugs that could be effective in fighting Covid-19.
Suddenly everyone was joining together to stop the spread of the virus as our homes became our best refuge in the storm.
But…everyone isn’t fortunate to have safety and refuge at home. Some are faced with limited food, verbal and physical abuses we can hardly imagine. While we are tending to our own, we need to pray for and consider how to help those who need us.especially the children. Maybe a phone call, a delivery of groceries or information on any options available.
The virus had effected everyone regardless of if they were infected.
Pull together by thinking of ways to fight this global pandemic. Let’s all do our part. Stay safe and pray.