Sunday, September 7, 2008

When You Lose Something You Can't Replace...

Where to begin?

There is so much that I want to say, and so much I should probably keep to myself. I will say this, Thank You for your support. You guys are amazing. What would I do without you?

I can’t really talk about August 30th without talking about Pip.

At the very beginning of June, I showed up at a friend’s birthday party without Steven. Pip wanted to know where he was, and when he would be back. I explained to her that his mom was sick, and that he had gone to Phoenix to take care of her. I ended up hitching a ride home with Pip and Squeak. In the backseat, wedged tightly between two car seats, we re-hashed the highlights of the party. Pip reached into her goody bag and pulled out a green yo-yo she had received as a party favor. “Could you give this to Steve?” (Steven never goes by 'Steve', in Pip’s case, however, he makes an exception). I sent the yo-yo on to Phoenix in a care package that consisted mostly of all things ginger. Ginger is great for chemo-induced nausea.

When Pip and Squeak came over in July. We talked a lot.

Pip: When is Steve coming back?
Me: I’m not sure.
Pip: Aren’t you scared without him here?
Me: Nope. The house is safe and I have these two big dogs keeping me company.
Pip: But aren’t you scared at night, all alone without Steve?”
Me (wavering a bit) Uhm, no I’m okay.
Pip: But isn’t it scary when it’s really dark, and you are all alone and Steve is not here?
Me: Well, yeah actually, now that you mention it, I guess I am a little bit scared.

Conversation two..

Me: I’m so happy to see you guys. I just love you guys.
Pip: Why do you love us? You’re not our mom.
Me: You’re right; I am not your mom…
Pip: You are just our best friends.

Did I mention that I love Pip and Squeak?

August 30th was the monthly Ethiopian Adoptive families play date in Little Ethiopia. Steven reluctantly agreed to accompany me.

Pip completely lit up when she saw him.

Pip:(half joking in reference to the newly acquired soul patch) Are you Steve?!!!

Steve:(half joking in reference to Pip looking significantly more toothless than three months ago) Are you Pip?!?

Pip gives him a huge hug.

Pip: Wow, you were gone for so many years. How many years were you taking care of your mom? You look so old.

Steven does look older. Older, gaunt and grief stricken.

We take our seats around the messob, Pip leans over and quietly asks, “Did Steve get the green yo- yo?”

I assure her that he did.

Throughout the lunch, several tiny Ethiopians throw their arms around Steven welcoming him home. It was such a wonderful thing to see; A glimpse, hopefully of the future. The thought of these beautiful, sensitive, thoughtful kids meeting the children that we would be entrusted with, was almost too much to take.

When we got home. We had a message from our neighbors. They wanted to know if we could babysit that evening. We were happy to welcome our twelve-year-old neighbor over to our house. She ran back home early on to grab her guitar.

Steven showed her some new chords. She showed Steven how to play, ‘Smoke on the Water,’ and ‘Paint it Black,’ (which were funny choices for our very proper, very well behaved, very Catholic twelve year old neighbor.)

We introduced her to one of the world’s best movies, ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’. We ate pizza and chocolate chip cookies. She ran home to get three vanilla cokes. We finished off with a couple daring games of Jenga.

The whole day, at least to me, felt like a Future Love Paradise day; a day when we were parents at long last.

Our friend went home with her parents. We got sleepy on the couch and went to bed. We were restless and couldn’t sleep. We were talking about Chris, and I asked Steven to tell me how she would die. Mark called from her bedside a few minutes later. She had died while we were talking. Mark was there, holding her hand, telling her all about the things, we her children, and her grandchildren were going to do in the future. He sang softly to her as she took her last breath.

My husband has lost both of his parents. He will turn forty this year, and most likely will become a father.

All that I can say is, batten down the hatches.



  1. Oh, heart is aching for you and Steven right now...I have this poem that I pull out from time to time that a friend at church gave me after my husband's father passed away...

    What Cancer Cannot take From You

    It cannot take away your Faith,
    shatter your Hope,
    or lessen your Love.
    It cannot destroy true Friendship,
    invade the Soul,
    or take away Eternal Life.
    It Cannot conquer your Spirit.

  2. hope that the small people that flock to you & "steve" help to heal your hearts bit by bit. keeping you both in my thoughts each day-- Chris must have been amazing to have raised such a wonderful son. Glad he is back home with you.

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss but so glad that you had a mother/mil that was so obviously wonderful. Hoping your good memories of her will help carry you through these difficult times.
    Kerri, Medina, and Ruby

  4. I have been praying for you guys. I can't even imagine what you are going through. I'm glad "Pip" could offer some comfort at this time. We love Pip and Squeak! Wish we could've been there at Messob with you guys!

  5. I have been thinking about you, Steven, and Steven's brother this past week.

  6. Oh, Julie. What a beautiful glimpse you gave us of some very important people.

    You and your beloved are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Such incredible parents you will be. Such caring, thoughtful people you are.

  7. Julie, it shows in your writing, what a wonderful Mother and Father you and Steven are going to make. I am sure that Chris will be so proud of you both from above. Thinking of you guys.

  8. You and Steve are in my thoughts.
    I lost my best friend to cancer more than 10 years ago but our friendship makes me a better mother to this day. She taught me so much and my son is getting the benefit of all that love she gave.

    You will be magnificent parents.

  9. Julie: you are an amazing writer. This is so beautiful. I'm so sorry for this loss in your lives. Ted and I just this afternoon were talking about heaven...and this post is so fitting. I can't wait to hang out with you when we're down.

  10. Oh my God, Julie. I am crying. I am so, so sorry that Steven has to go through this right now. And that you have to go through this. So sad. I hope that you guys will find some peace with this incredibly difficult situation, eventually. Sending you lots and lots of hugs. Through this blog, and reading your words, we hopefully bear some of the weight of this with you....


  11. This is such a wonderful post. It really says it all. Thank you for sharing with us, even the grief. What an adorable picture, too, of (I'm assuming) Steven and his brother and parents. We are all going to be celebrating like CRAZY with you when that referral finally comes.

  12. What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing the good and the sad with us. I am cheering your family on and will be so thrilled to see the word 'proposal' on your blog. Chris was an amazing woman from the sounds of it and I know she will be proud of both of you.

  13. You are so eloquent and you share your grief so beautifully. What a good parent you will be! Can't wait :) (Even though we have to!)

  14. Smiled
    Thought about the future
    Cried a little

  15. So Julie I've never met you but I've been following along for quite some time. So moved by your post and have been really thinking about you a lot. You know when people talk about their dreams coming true? Often times just the trivial spills out. This may seem weird but I couldn't help but think that having the sweet love of my life singing and whispering in my ear while I passed away would hands down be one of my biggest "dreams come true". People spend their whole lives chasing after that kind of intimacy and Chris had it. Although this wretched and horrible disease took her much to soon, she clearly had what mattered the most.

    PS looking forward to you shopping for travel toilet paper too!!

  16. Came to you from Lori's blog...
    what a journey we're on here... life isn't easy, but the joy that's hidden even in the grief is what holds us up, no?
    thanks for your lovely words...
    take care...

  17. I cried after reading this, so beautiful and touching.
    You guys are gonna be awesome parents without a doubt.
    I cant wait to celebrate when its time for the kids to arrive!

  18. Julie,
    I am so sorry for both you and Steve. You have suffered a tremendous loss.
    There are no words.... you are both in my thoughts and prayers.