Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jack Jr. is Published...

When Cash was diagnosed back in February 2010, Jack Jr. was 3 and a half years old. At 3 and half years old (or any age for that matter), the response to a sibling that is sick can obviously vary. We've seen kids whose sibling is sick and he/she will act out and try and pull some of the attention their way. Other children will go inwards and get quiet. What Jack did, however, was extraordinary. He became tender, compassionate, loving, funny, silly, kind, and basically just awesome. Just say AWESOME.

We spent months and months either in the hospital with Cash, at appointments, etc...Cash and I even moved to Houston for months without Jack before he joined us towards the latter part of our stay there. He spent the night at our siblings' houses, cousins, grandparents, and friends during Cash's treatment. Even through all of these adventures, he remained awesome. He was/is a gift from God. He encouraged Cash, made him laugh, and helped him however he could. He brought him books, milk, M&M's, Kleenex, 'barf bowl', etc. He was truly a blessing to our family and I know for a fact that Cash loved him, looked up to him, and appreciated what Jack did for him.

Wendi wrote down all the sweet things Jack said, and took note of all the ways in which he helped, and 'Jack's book of good ideas' was formed. Jack Jr. hopes that the book would help other siblings in their response to a sibling that is sick; to give them ideas of What to do when your brother (sibling) is sick.

I'm excited to announce that Jack Jr.'s first book, "What to do when your brother is sick." is published! We sought out a publisher for the book early on in the process, but if you've tried to publish a book you'll know how difficult it is...With a gentle push from Wendi's sister, Laura, we were able to self-publish with (it will be available on in March).

It was a tremendous effort to get to this point and it took many people to help - Wendi and Hana worked on the artwork, Isabella wrote the text you see in the book, Jodi worked on the photography, obviously Jack Jr. put the words to the book, and Laura readied the book for publishing and worked tirelessly the past few weeks to get it ready.

Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to families who have kids with cancer here in our community, Relay for Life, and the Seattle Run of Hope. Wendi will be giving copies of the book to Seattle Children's Hospital in the next few weeks with the hope that Jack's words will help other families. We'll also be ordering a bunch of copies to sell at Cheeks Jeans and Willemina's (availability mid-February).

We are thankful and excited to be able to have the book published - Cash's journey continues to leave a lasting impact on us and if other families can benefit from Jack Jr's journey with Cash I'm even that much more thankful...

Thank you for your help and support as always!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Short Visit and Tributes

We went to the cemetery this morning to visit Cash's grave - we brought flowers, Steph brought balloons, and Hana handed out M&M's (which was very sweet and probably at the moment when I started to cry). We didn't spend much time there but we did release all of the balloons and once they were out of sight we quietly got back into our cars and went home. It was a fitting tribute to the day...

Speaking of tributes...there have been multiple additions to the Cash of Hope tattoos in the past few months...below are the pictures and owners of the tattoos, starting from the newest (my mom's) to the original (my dad's)...

My mom's tattoo (done last week in Hawaii)
Jeremy's tattoo (done in Las Vegas)
My second tattoo

Karly's tattoo

Hana's tattoo (recently updated with dates)

My first tattoo (done in Houston, TX)

The original - My dad's (done in Houston, TX, May 2011)

Roger's drawn-on tattoo (done while driving from Seattle to Houston, TX, May 2011)

I'm certain I've missed one or two tattoos - email me the picture so I can update this listing...It's clear that Cash has left a lasting impact on our lives - for those with tats it's also a daily reminder of his life.

I view today, the one year anniversary of his homegoing, as one more year I'm closer to meeting him again...Thanks as always for your prayers and stay tuned for an exciting announcement that I'll blog within the next few days...:-)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Reflections +1

As I would believe most of you know and remember, tomorrow (Jan. 28) is the one year anniversary of Cash's passing.  I think back to my Zion days and we would not use the word 'funeral' to describe the event...instead we used 'homegoing'.  So let me rephrase...tomorrow (Jan. 28) is the one year anniversary of Cash's homegoing.  He's been with Jesus for a whole year and there are moments when we desperately wish he was still with us and others in which we're incredible thankful (and dare I say jealous) that Cash is in Heaven.  He doesn't have to deal with the trials and tribulations we face and as a family, we're that much more excited to join him when the day comes.

Jack Jr. told me tonight, "Dad, I believe in Jesus and tell him over and over I can't wait to get to heaven but I don't think he's listening because I'm not there (with Cash)..."  I reminded him that it's amazing that he believes in Jesus and when it's his time, God will call him and then he'll be able to hang out with Cash.  I thought it was very sweet and even to this day, if you ask Jack what Cash is doing in heaven, he'll give you a response.  Cash has done quite a bit, according to Jack, and we love hearing his stories...:-)

It will be two years ago on February 8 that Cash was diagnosed.  Some days that feels like it was forever ago and others it feels like it was yesterday.  That is also how the day he went home times we're able to compartmentalize the day so-to-speak and quickly move on when a wave of grief comes...other times we can see, hear, and feel that day like it was yesterday and it's not as easy to move on.  Wendi and I have dealt with the grief much differently this past year - I cannot look at pictures and videos of Cash while Wendi uses those as reminders of his sweet little face and laugh.

With all of the emotions and coping mechanisms that we put in place, life continues to move forward.  This past year Kingston turned 1, Jack is 5, we moved into a different home, and were pleasantly surprised to discover that Wendi is pregnant and due with our fourth child on July 1.  I know I've blogged this in the past, but the phrase God works in mysterious ways is abundantly clear to us...over a decade without being able to have kids, then God blesses us with Jack, Cash, King, and baby #4.  He takes Cash to be with Him but the blessings do not cease.

I was reminded today of the continued fragility of life when I found out someone else we knew passed away.  My old boss at Zion (Bro. Doug) and I spoke today and he told me something that really struck a chord in my heart, he told me that he's been focused on the 'moments' that occur throughout the day, recognizing that we have many many opportunities each day to stop and recognize the moment and give thanks and be joyful for that moment.  I immediately went home to my family and started to recognize these moments and find joy in them (even in the not-so-great moments).

We are thankful for God's grace this past year and He continues to give us the strength to move ahead, racing towards the prize, which doesn't exist here but is in Heaven.  Wendi and I look forward to that day and in the meantime, we continue to remember and celebrate Cash's life, love our children and family, and walk in the path that God is leading us on with the goal to be together as a family once again in heaven.

Thank you for supporting us this past year with hugs, emails, texts, and words...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Back!

Many of you who frequent the blog would have noticed it's been down for at least the past month.  My gmail account was hacked and Google disabled it, which subsequently disabled the blog.  I did pull a backup of the blog back in March of 2011, however, it didn't contain any of the wonderful messages from everyone who commented during Cash's journey. 

I facebooked a plea for help and many got back to me with contacts at Google and a co-worker in the Northeast put me in touch with someone at Google.  The Google employee didn't work in the gmail department but I think he brought to light our situation and this morning I was checking emails on my phone, and I started getting emails again!  Then as soon as I got to work I checked the blog and it was back - phew I can't tell you how thankful I am to Matt and my new friend Ovidiu (@ Google)...

I'll post later this week, Saturday marks the one year anniversary of when Cash physically left us to be with Jesus.  There are many thoughts and emotions that both Wendi and I have and I'll share when time allows.  We continue to be thankful to God for His blessings and appreciate your prayers!