November 28, 2011
The storms of life are not discriminating. We all experience them no matter our age or status. Any one of us at any time can find ourselves surprised by joy one minute and overwhelmed by grief the next. We don’t get that job we counted on. The man we love suddenly decides he doesn’t love us back. The test results come back positive. Our children make bad choices and take paths we never would have chosen for them. Someone we love dies.
A cloud started brewing over the Morris family and friends in February 2010. We became fearful as we stepped into the unknown of what lied ahead. Lindsey who was so full of hope and love, received the most devastating news of her life. Her dream to be a teacher and wife and mother was shattered. Her fear that the brain tumor may someday return became real. The “return of the tumor” consumed us all and on November 28, 2010 it took our sweet Lindz away from us.
Jesus promised that although we would face tribulation, to take heart (John 16:33). For He has overcome.
And that was only one of his promises to us. When life throws us curves, when people disappoint us, when circumstances make us question our faith, we have His promises of hope to hold on to in the tough times. Our knuckles are white from holding on… our hands are callused. During the times when I force myself to be still I can hear God saying.. I am with you.. I know life is hard.. I am here to help you.
One year. Yet we still have days when we expect to hear her voice.
One year. We wake up at night and feel her presence… we smell her perfume… we feel her breath.
One year. Some days it feels like forever. Other times just like yesterday.
One year. You forever wake up and pray that it was all just a bad dream.
One year. There are times of numbness then times when a whole day goes by and you realize you didn’t think of Lindsey… then you feel guilty. Not only guilt for not thinking of her that day… but guilt for things that you wish you would of done differently, had we known. Maybe I was too hard on her. Did I expect to much? Did we do enough? Should we have tried harder to find a solution?
She is gone. Our hearts remain fragile. We do our best to adjust as Lindsey asked that we do.
As I was cleaning Lindsey’s room, you can only imagine all the notes, pictures, etc that I found. I think Lindsey would be fine with me sharing one of these notes with you.
A Note from Lindz….unedited, typed as she wrote it.
Spiritual Goals 4 My Life
1. Pray More – everyday
2. Read Bible daily
3. Become more spiritual
4. Have a spiritual relationship
5. Become a greater prayer
6. Be stronger, have people look at me and know that I’m a good Christian
7. Live my life more like Jesus’
8. Become financially fit – OK
9. Tithe 10%
10. Memorize verses according to what I need for that week. I want to fall back in love with you.
As the family sat around the table Thanksgiving day, and the day of Lindsey’s birthday, we shared with each other the many things we have to be thankful for. Bob shared that Lindsey’s constant reminder that Jesus calls us to love has been the pillar for him this year.
The past two years have been difficult for many. In our grief, we also remember the family of Mark and Brenda Hill whose son, Michael also lost the battle to cancer. Michael was a very close friend of Todd’s. My cousin Dale and Lori Hudson, lost their daughter suddenly. John and Karen Benckesser’s son also passed away. And then, a friend of my nephew, Brett Jackson, Clint Sparks died in car accident,July 2010.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.” Isaiah 40:
The family continues to renew their strength and carry on the special gifts of Lindsey.
June 29, 2011
Please consider joining our team to help find a cure for cancer. Our team name this year is "Lace-Up, in memory of Lindz".
I've attempted to create this post many times. It's difficult. Lindsey lost the battle and the absence of her presence has been hard. The race is Sunday, August 28, 2011. The link to the website follows... http://public.eventunited.com/HFTC/hftckc/EventDetails.aspx
If you're not up to walking the 5k, please feel free to make a donation or register and just come out visit. We'd love to see you.
March 24, 2011
At Central Methodist, we have a magazine of the arts entitled Inscape. I found out last night I received the Thomas F. Dillingham Award for Non-fiction Prose. The reason I'm telling you this is because it's about Lindsey, and I wanted you to read it. Don't get me wrong, I feel honored for winning, but I didn't write to win for me. It's for her. So here it is.
Focus on that cross up there. “…and she was a beautiful young woman…” You’re stronger than this. “…her smile lit up a room…” Do. Not. Cry. Do. Not. Cry. “…she loved it when she used to visit camp…”
I lost it.
My attempt to maintain the typical stoic face I have when tragedy strikes failed miserably. Chaos filled my body, but I remained stable for my grief-stricken friends who surrounded me. Instead, I stared down at my shiny, black dress shoes.
Saturdays aren’t meant for wearing church clothes.
Drops of salty water burned as they streamed down my face and formed a puddle on my shaking hands. The pounding sound clogging my ears was not from my knees bouncing on the pews. But rather it was my throbbing heart, beating faster than a wolf’s when inches from its prey. The preacher’s words haunted my thoughts as they echoed throughout my brain… “She WAS…her smile LIT…she USED to visit…” Why did he keep using the past tense?
Lindsey Marie Morris. She was 25 years old. Stubborn and clever, Morris never looked like she’d lose a battle. Optimism sprouted from her inner core, and her face always had a smile. She didn’t frown often—only when the “damn Chiefs” would lose or a restaurant didn’t offer ice cream, her favorite food group.
She didn’t frown when the doctors told her she had a brain tumor at 13. Instead, she put her faith in God and encouraged others to do the same.
She didn’t frown when, after ten years of remission, doctors again told her she had a brain tumor.
She didn’t frown at her wedding, which was moved up several months because of her health, even though she knew her marriage to Greg, the love of her life, would be much shorter than she wanted or anticipated.
She didn’t frown when she organized and packed all of the supplies for her future classroom and later donated everything to a new teacher.
When she was still able to write in her own blog, she didn’t frown when she wrote, “Greg and I were supposed to have four kids, buy a house close to my parents, and grow old together.” Instead, she thanked God for answering so many of her prayers.
She didn’t frown when she came to camp for one evening last summer, knowing it would be her last visit.
She didn’t frown when she could no longer speak, especially to her family and close friends.
She didn’t frown when I fumbled with my words and barely hugged her on that stifling morning in late August, the last time I saw her living.
My eyes shift from the computer screen to a glowing picture on my left. The frown covering my face changes into a smile. She IS a beautiful woman. Her smile LIGHTS up my dorm room. She WILL BE VISITING camp this summer because she will be in my thoughts and heart.
A picture of Lindsey resides on my desk and allows me to never wonder if I imagined that grin.
My life is brighter because of the light of her smile.
It was nice to see the blog updated yesterday. I'd been checking everyday since last winter, so it became a habit. The past couple months I kept checking and hoping there would be a new post. I can't believe it's coincidence that I get the award the same day you update. Something little, but still makes me happy.
March 21, 2011
Our dear Lindsey. She made us all better. We grief, we hurt, and at the same time we are learning how to move forward through this time of grieving.
I have joined a support group at the Solace House. Even there I feel blessed. We had time with Lindsey so that she could tell us what she wanted, even down to planning her own memorial service. The other parents in my support group were not so fortunate. They lost their child suddenly. There was no time for either one to depart last words of endearment or to share last wishes.
We were blessed with time with Lindsey... to grant her items on her bucket list, to make sure she left this world knowing how much she was loved.
Lindsey had some requests of Greg after her passing, which he honored. I wanted to share a few. Lindsey asked that her engagement ring be given to Hannah along with a request that the diamonds from the engagement ring be placed in Hannah's future engagement or wedding ring, when and if that were to occur. Lindsey also wanted her wedding band to be buried with her. I will forever remember that day at the funeral home when Greg slipped the ring on her finger, for the 2nd time. Lindsey also asked to be buried in her wedding dress. I remember the day we shopped for dresses and Lindsey and I were discussing her wedding budget. Her response about the price of the dress... "Mom, I'm actually saving you money because you won't have to purchase something else for me to be laid to rest in. How many people actually wear their wedding dress twice?" Lindsey's "matter-of-fact" attitude about her situation caught many people by surprise... often times leaving them speechless. Lindsey also asked that no matter how sad we are, that we be happy on people's birthday's. It's their special day and it needs to be celebrated. If you knew Lindsey very well, you understand why this was so important to her. She loved birthdays, buying special gifts, getting just the right card, and she went out of her way with decorations. The picture is from Hannah's birthday. As you can see, Bob even forced a smile, just for Lindsey, on Hannah's special day. Lindsey would especially like the new personalized yoga mat Hannah received for her birthday - check out the picture... along with a personalized statement about Lindsey - "Make a Difference". (The photo is from Lindsey's wedding.)
While I've joined a support group, I'm also thinking about starting one up here locally. I'm giving it some thought...stay tuned for more information. I can tell you this....I won't be your normal support group.
How is the rest of the family doing? Bob is working like a mad-man... and he's sad and angry...he's reevaluating priorities. Todd and Hannah are adjusting. It's hardest when they come home. It's just not the same with Lindsey not here. It never will be... and probably never should be. We've honored Lindsey's request to have many pictures of her throughout the house.... and at times that makes it even harder. We miss that smile, her laugh, her touch. School serves as a diversion for Todd and Hannah... and Lindsey told them... don't stop, don't give up. Todd received great news in early March as he was accepted into MU's Sinclair School of Nursing. His program will start in the fall. This semester, Micro-biology has become his new best friend. We're so proud of him. His plan is obtain his undergraduate degree and then move on to specialize or get his Masters.
Between the fellow's program at TCU, soriety demands, and work, Hannah is staying very busy at school. The TCU Fellow's spent Spring break in New York getting some exposure to Investment Banking, The Stock Exchange, Bloomberg, etc. Between structured day activities and not so structured night-life, she came home exhausted and I believe ready to return to school.
It's been awhile since I posted anything. Thanks for checking in.
January 08, 2011
The Morris,Jackson, and Jenkin girls had a wonderful weekend at The Lodge of the Four Seasons. The Siki Spa is fabulous! Everyone enjoyed their spa treatment and the relaxed atmosphere of the spa. We shared stories about Lindsey, read from the book On "Understanding Your Grief" and mod-podged a bookshelf with some of the cards Lindsey received during her illness. A photo of the work in process is posted in this update.
People ask how we're doing... we're sad... our hearts ache... we don't laugh as much as we use to, but we're adapting pretty well, or as well as can be expected. Bob is struggling the most... he and Lindsey were so very close. Today Bob and I finalized the ordering of the headstone for her grave. Something we should of done a couple of weeks ago but just couldn't. We're considering the purchase of a bench so that we'll have a place to sit when we visit Lindz. I do find it very interesting that two of the latex balloons filled with helium from her birthday(Nov 24th) are still floating in her room.... One purple, and one pink. And these types of balloons normally only last a couple of days.
Hannah returns to school tomorrow; Todd will return next weekend. Their departures, and the house all to ourselves will be another adjustment and a reminder of our loss. We look back on the year and it's so surreal. I often ask myself... "did this really just happen to our family?" Yes, it happened... and we're adjusting.
Thank you for checking in.
December 26, 2010
Our hearts continue to ache as we mourn the loss of Lindsey. I am reminded of a quote of C.S. Lewis, "The act of living is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread all over everything." I could not sleep Christmas Eve. Lindsey was on my mind.
Christmas traditions were altered this year. Those who were up to going to church, went... my parents spent the night, Santa arrived and we opened presents.However, the trees were not decorated, no stockings hung on the mantel. We surpassed on the annual brunch with the Jones family and the big family Christmas dinner. Instead of taking time to prepare our own family meal, we volunteered at Emanuel Community Center on Friday and Saturday. Friday we set-up, decorated and wrapped presents. Saturday we served a sit-down meal to approximately 300 people in the community. Todd in his tuxedo pants and white shirt, Hannah in something similar, taking orders, filling plates and serving others. It's the type of thing Lindsey was so good at... it came naturally for her.
During this time we are reminded of the Bible verse... "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." I'd add to this, blessed are those who learn self compassion during times of grief, for they shall go on to discover continued meaning in life. Death puts life into perspective.
Part of the self compassion for the females in the Morris/Jackson/Jenkins family will be a girls weekend get-away at the Lodge of the Four Seasons, the first weekend in January. We'll spend Saturday in the Spa and the rest of the time doing whatever we need to do to grant our self time to reflect. Part of the time will be spent mod-podging a memory table of our sweet Lindz. The boys will most likely take part in some indoor car race event.
As I close this update, I'd like to share a couple of notes from the book I'm reading:
* "Death ends a life, not a relationship"... by Jack Lemmon. This quote served as a good reminder for me to focus on the relationship I had with Lindsey.
* Borrowed Tears - You cry because your heart and soul are hurting and your emotions are tender. Your heart is broken now and anything that touches your heart even slightly may hurt. This statement explained why I'm finding myself more tearful than usual.... it's why the commercial about the dad telling the daughter to go change clothes makes me cry.
We hope our readers had a wonderful holiday with family and friends. Thank you for checking in.
December 21, 2010
December 19, 2010
While I'm learning a lot from this book, two things have stood out... the books definition of grief and mourning:
Grief: the constellation of internal thoughts and feelings we have when someone we love dies. Think of grief as the container. It holds all of your thoughts, feelings and images of your experience when you are bereaved.
Mourning: is when you take the grief you have on the inside and express it outside of yourself... or "Grief gone public" or "the outward expression of grief." Talking about the person who died, crying, expressing your thoughts and feelings through art or music, and celebrating special anniversary dates that held meaning for the person who died are just a few examples of mourning.
A major theme in the book is rooted in the importance of openly and honestly mourning life losses, in expressing your grief outside of yourself. Over time and with the support of others, to mourn is to heal.
"Sometimes when one person is missing the whole world seems depopulated." That's the feeling this morning....
December 14, 2010
As we reflect upon Lindsey's goals and desires to be a teacher, it seems there may be an opportunity for us to "teach" so to speak, or more appropriately, share what we're learning as we begin to understand our own grief. In addition, as we're reading through the hundreds of cards, occasionally we find an extra note, or comment that really touches our heart... one that we would like to share with others as it keeps Lindsey's legacy more alive. What follows is a note we received at Lindsey's Memorial Service, from a person we know, but don't know well. What wonderful insight and perspective she has on Lindsey's journey.
There are no words to express my sympathy in your loss of your beautiful Lindsey. So many times during her fight and since her passing she has been on my heart and in my mind. I can't help but think that she has reached her ultimate goal and she continues to teach daily. I imagine her with children sitting at her knee listening to all she has to offer them. It came to my mind that there could be a book written called "Lessons from Lindz". Lindsey not only taught us how to live, she taught us how to die to this world and live forever with our Savior. She further taught us to:
1 - Rant and rave, get over it and get on with it.
2 - Smile and put on a good front but share everything, the good and the bad with those we love.
3 - Love God with all we have to offer.
4 - Live by example.
5 - Fight for what is good and right.
6 - Play the hand we're dealt with style.
7 - Never give up or give in.
8 - Adapt, adapt, adapt.
9 - See the beauty all around us.
10 - Enjoy the simple things.
11 - Curse the Chiefs.
12 - Praise God.
13 - Love children.
The list could go on and on.
Vicki Foulk and family... thank you for sharing what Lindsey taught you. This is beautiful. These lessons will serve as a constant reminder to me personally everyday going forward.
December 06, 2010
Lindsey Marie Morris-Elwood, 25, known affectionately by friends and family as "Lindz," went to be with our Lord Jesus Christ on November 28, 2010. She passed peacefully at home after a courageous battle with brain cancer. Lindsey was born in Independence, MO and lived her entire life in the Lee's Summit, MO area.
Lindsey graduated from in Lee's Summit High School in 2004 and was a 2010 graduate of the University of Central Missouri where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree. Lindsey was employed by the HyVee in east Lee's Summit for the past eight years where she enjoyed her co-workers and especially her customers. Lindsey also enjoyed counseling the campers each summer at Lee's Summit Parks and Recreation's "Camp Summit." In addition, Lindsey was a substitute teacher for the Lee's Summit School district, spending many summers as a paraprofessional and numerous days in the classroom during the school year.
Lindsey's faith was her anchor throughout her life. She enjoyed all the activities in the church, especially youth groups and summer camps. She spent many summers as a counselor at the United Methodist's Wilderness Camp in Lawson, MO. She loved being with the children and teaching them about faith and being a good Christian. She taught through her words, but especially by her example.
Lindsey's battle with brain cancer began at the age of twelve, a battle she fought with enormous strength. Although she had some post-treatment physical and cognitive disabilities, she worked tirelessly to accomplish her goals. Lindsey was passionate about children and loved to teach. Lindsey was a kind, compassionate, and giving young woman who simply loved to love others, especially children.
Lindsey is survived by her husband, Gregory James Elwood; her parents Bob and Sandy Morris; brother, Todd and her sister, Hannah; her paternal grandparents, Dr. Jay and Mary Ann Morris; her maternal grandparents, Bill and Jan Jackson; as well as her aunts and uncles, Charles and Janet MacLeod; Mark and Joann Jackson, and Mike and Nancy Jenkins; her cousins, Brett Jackson, Megan Alberg, Erin Johnson, Kelsie and Cole Jenkins and C.J. MacLeod.
Lindsey's memorial service will be at 3pm, December 11, 2010 at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 350 SW 150 Highway, Lee's Summit, MO. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Hope for Life, c/o Lindsey Marie Morris-Elwood, 1000 E. 50th St, KCMO 64110.
Fond memories and condolences for the family may be left at www.dwnewcomers.com (Arr: D.W. Newcomer's Sons Floral Hills Chapel, 7000 Blue Ridge Blvd., KCMO 64133, 816-353-1218
November 30, 2010
We grieve...our hearts ache,we are extremely sad even though we know our sweet Lindz is in Heaven and no longer suffering. We miss everything about her. For the last 10months our focus was on Lindsey, her illness, her desires, her wishes, and for the last four months caring for her as she could not care for herself.
It's hard to leave the house... no matter where I go I see something that reminds me of Lindsey...holding back the tears and my emotions is impossible. I know this time will pass.. it will get easier. Greg is suffering also and we grieve for him as his family is not there to provide comfort and support. If all goes as planned, Greg should arrive from Japan on December 4th, with 10 days of leave before he needs to return.
Plans for Lindsey's Memorial and Celebration of Life were finalized today. Her obituary will be in the December 5th Kansas City Star, and the Lee's Summit Journal. Lindsey's memorial service will be at 3pm, December 11, 2010 at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 350 SW 150 Highway, Lee's Summit, MO. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Stowers Institute of Medical Research, Hope for Life, c/o Lindsey Marie Morris-Elwood, 1000 E 50th St, Kansas City MO, 64110. (This was Lindsey's desire... Giving Hope For Life® to Others. The Institute is built on the desire to offer hope for a variety of diseases, including cancer.)
The community has helped us through this with ever-loving acts of kindness and support. We are indeed blessed. Thank you to everyone.. the list is very long.
November 29, 2010
At approximately 11:22 pm last night our beloved Lindsey was released from her broken body and allowed to enter God’s kingdom. God must have needed a new teacher, one who understands what people, especially children, sometimes have to endure during their earthly existence. We as a family are obviously devastated and saddened by this loss, but because of the enormous faith Lindsey displayed during her life we have to hold onto that same faith and be happy that she is indeed in a much better place, free of suffering and sorrow. She can fulfill her dream, albeit in a different place, of teaching children. During the times that I sensed she was very sad and very frightened I would try to comfort her by reminding her of the numerous small children we had met during her treatments who had indeed lost their battle at a very young age, these beautiful children I told her were not finished learning and would need a teacher in heaven too. This statement seemed to comfort her, seemed to make at least a tiny bit of sense of what was happening to her because perhaps she would indeed be able to fulfill her ultimate dream—to teach and make a difference to kids.
Lindsey enjoyed twelve “normal” years before the battle with brain cancer began. She was playing competitive soccer and doing quite well; three weeks later she had been diagnosed with the brain tumor and was headed to New York for surgery. I am aware that this information is already well known by most but I repeat it because it shows what Lindsey is really all about, it shows how she made adjustments with grace and dignity when her world was turned upside down in an instant. After the surgery she couldn’t walk, talk, or care for herself, she was in tremendous pain and yes she cried, but she never complained. She taught herself to write left-handed as her right hand no longer worked. She relearned simple tasks like tying her shoes, clasping her bra, simply walking and even though she walked with a limp, she never complained. The love and compassion she showed for others during this time was truly amazing. She told Sandy and I on more than one occasion that she was glad she was the one in the family who had the tumor because she simply couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her parents or siblings suffer. Lindsey described herself choosing the words kind, caring, and compassionate and I have to agree whole-heartedly. I would readily add the words strong and tenacious.
Although Lindsey had cognitive impairments following treatments she refused to give up. Yes, she would become frustrated by the extra time she had to invest into studies while her peers and siblings seemed to excel with relative ease, yet she stuck with it and in fact was on the honor roll repeatedly during her high school years. I am especially grateful to Lindsey’s peers at UCM who realized that although Lindsey didn’t have enough hours for her education degree she did in fact have enough for her Bachelor of Science. Thanks to these wonderful students and several of her professors after seven hard fought years Lindsey fulfilled her dream of earning her college degree and was able to walk across the podium with enormous pride and satisfaction from a job well done.
Lindsey was filled with excitement because she was about to begin her final semester of college, complete student teaching, and work toward acquiring employment. In January however the first of two car accidents occurred, within two weeks a second accident occurred and we knew we needed Dr. Allen, her neurologist , to evaluate. We took Lindsey for the needed MRI and then waited………, two days later Sandy got the call from Dr. Allen. Lindsey asked that my father, Dr. Jay Morris, accompany us to her appointment with Dr. Allen for the results. We were all taken into a dark office where the disk of Lindsey’s brain scan was inserted into the computer. Although Dr. Allen was carefully describing the regrowth of the tumor I looked to my right and saw my father’s face illuminated by the computer’s glow and I knew instantly that my beloved Lindsey was about to receive the most terrifying news of her life. After viewing the scan we were taken to an adjacent examination room where Lindsey received the prognosis of the images we had just seen. I’m quite sure that her screams could be heard throughout the entire office. Numb, I observed in total disbelief as Sandy and my Dad did their best to comfort her. I was at a total loss for words, I simply put my hand on her thigh and turned my head as the tears streamed down my face. The prognosis was dismal.
What followed next is what I believe was a shorter than usual “WHY ME!” grief period for Lindsey. She wept, she was angry, she ranted justifiably over the fact that she was so very close to earning her teaching degree and marrying the man of her dreams and now it was seemingly being jerked from her grasp. “ Why, why,why,why, me , I’ve already been through this and I thought after ten years I was safe. Please tell me why!! “ It wasn’t long however that Lindsey displayed an acceptance of her situation. What she did next speaks volumes about the person she had become. We witnessed her going to her study and her storage area in the basement and carefully organizing, categorizing, and boxing up all the teaching supplies and tools she had saved for the day she got her own classroom . Once she satisfactorily completed the task she phoned our neighbor’s daughter who is employed by Lee’s Summit R7 school district and asked her to please use them in her classroom. This was a very mature and selfless act which made me very proud. A hand made poster from the students who received the supplies hangs in Lindsey’s room which has a circle of the children’s hand prints surrounding a picture of all the books and supplies she had donated and the words, “your gifts have fallen into good hands .” Lindsey also had Aunt Nancy help her get pictures enlarged which she knew I cherished. They took them to be framed and brought them to my office where they now hang and remind me daily of the love we share. Also on the office wall there is a school assignment Lindsey completed entitled, “My Hero,” she wrote this paper referencing me but I certainly believe it pertains to her so much. The following is a quote from the paper………
A hero is an everyday person who can change the world for the better. It could be simple like helping one person out or by helping millions.
Responsible, honest, trustworthy.
Courageous and Brave - Is willing to take risks, stands up for his/her beliefs.
Intelligent - logical, sees the big picture, identifies the problem and plans a solution.
Selfless and humble-puts others first, doesn't seek rewards or prasies.
Has a sense of humor
Mentally strong and self confident - fear, mistakes, problems don't stop him/her.
The difference between the first and second battle with the tumor was hope. The first go round there was always hope and optimism, the second time there was none. Watching Lindsey slowly deteriorate from this disease has been gut-wrenching , I won’t repeat the information documenting the downward spiral because Sandy has done so already in this blog. It just hurts and hurts to the very core of your being to watch your child, your twenty-five year old daughter decline day by day.
Lindsey's only request was that she be able to die at home and I gave her my word that she would be able to do so. Dr. Taylor said it would take an army to accomplish this enormous task but that it could be done. I have to thank my wonderful army, the core of which was Sandy and Nancy. Our trio learned to do many tasks that hospice normally does which certainly helped Lindz feel more dignified and intimately loved. You allowed me to keep my word and I will be forever grateful to you. To the rest of my little army I say thank you so much, we did it.
I will end by quoting something my mother said when she was here last, she said as she wept, " I never knew anything could hurt this much." I couldn't agree more.........This HURTS!
Information about Lindsey's memorial will be shared at a later time.... a private family graveside service will occur for immediate family members prior to the memorial.
November 28, 2010
Hannah is not returning to school until next semester. She only has a couple of weeks of classwork before finals. Todd returned to school this afternoon as it is much easier for him to get home if things change.
We know many people are checking in daily... we'll do our best to post daily updates.
Thank you for checking in.
Will Jesus call her home tonight? We don't know... but if Lindz is, she'll go out of this life just as she came in, surrounded by family who love her dearly.
November 26, 2010
Fast forward a couple of hours... we realized Lindsey's bed looked odd. Somehow the plug to the airbed came unplugged and the mattress was going flat. Ugh... and it will not refill with someone in the bed. It took four of us to move her to another resting place while the bed refilled with air. We changed the plug to another outlet to decrease the chance of this happening again. Sorry Lindz.... you're back resting peacefully now.
November 24, 2010
November 23, 2010
Jump forward 25 years and while many things have changed, the pillars have not. Our family and friends continue to be present as we love and care for Lindsey during her fight with brain cancer. One pillar I've not spoken much about is my brother, Mark. It's become a joke in the family, did Bob marry me for me or did he marry me so he could spend more time with Mark. Either way, it's a sweet deal. I got a wonderful man, Bob got me and another friend for life, Mark. Mark spent the majority of his day here keeping Bob occupied... they worked on many projects around the house together. I now have a new automatic door closer on the entry from the garage, a new doggie door for Brady,replacement trim on the garage doors and I think they even attempted to clean up the brush around the pond. While Hannah and I were caring for Lindsey, Bob and Mark were ensuring that our support structure continued to be strong. Mark... he's a kind,generous and gentle person who is incredibly talented and successful. Mark - thank you for everything. We love you. Thank you for the countless hours you've spent at the Morris house being our friend, advisor, counselor, mechanic, repairman, and stand-up comedian.
Lindsey had a peaceful day. We've stopped all medications except for the morphine patch. All foods and liquids have been stopped as she is not able to swallow or keep foods down. I know she can hear us... today as I swabbed her mouth I asked her to open wide and she did. She occasionally will open her eyes and look around for a short time, particularly when people are talking to her. We enjoyed visiting with her friends from Hyvee, and the Smith family. Thank you for stopping by.
234.... unbelievable. Lindsey has 234 visible acts of love to look at on her wall. Thank you for sending the birthday cards and for checking in.
November 22, 2010
November 20, 2010
Hi friends... as you can see from the photos, Lindsey is being "showered" with birthday cards. When she's awake, she stares at all the cards, looking from the wall, to the ceiling, to the other wall where a friend sent large, colorful Happy Birthday letters, which is perfect for someone who has partial vision. Todd arrived home Friday night and he'll be here for a week. I love these pictures of him reading Lindsey her cards. Hannah will be home late Tuesday evening, just in time for Lindsey's birthday on Wednesday.
Thank you for sending cards, Lindsey is enjoying looking up at all the "love" that is coming her way.
November 19, 2010
Next week immediate family members will come by for (I'm sure you can guess what I'm about to type), ice cream. For Lindsey's birthday though we will have Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake as that is her annual traditional request. A friend from Lee's Summit Community Christian Church is giving her his gift of music.... he will come over to play his guitar and sing. When this offer was made, I asked Lindsey if this is something she would like and her response was "Yes please. That is nice." Thank you Bryce Anderson for this offer. We're being very respectful of Lindsey's desires on who she would like to come over right now....we hope you understand.
We believe Lindsey had another seizure Tuesday morning. Her responsiveness and appetite has seen some decline. Taking medication is also becoming more difficult for her. We continue to keep the pain under control which allows her to rest comfortably.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. We're looking forward to having the family together next week during this week of Thanksgiving.
November 16, 2010
Lindsey was tearful as the social worker commended Bob, and the rest of the village that is helping us, for the love, support and care provided to Lindsey. The social worker shared... "you're doing an amazing job... we see it and we can feel it when we're here." In their experience, most families utilize the services of The Hospice House. As one of the cards Lindsey received today displayed "May all the seeds of kindness that you've spread along the way, return to you and multiply on this, your special day." Lindsey is a giving and kind person. She is a person that always puts the needs of others before her own. The love she has displayed and shown to everyone is coming back to her. We are doing for her what she would do for us. We are honoring her wishes.
To the VanDeusen's, who sent the card referenced above, you are right, Lindsey's light does shine brightly - Matthew 5:16. Bob and I are looking forward to the day when we might get to know you better.
In closing, I think about the magazine ads that say "Got Milk?" Change one word slightly to "Got Faith?", and that's my question of the evening for our readers. Open up your heart to God’s grace, and God will give you faith as a pure gift. Rather than resist God’s grace yield to it, and you too will have "faith". It's a great thing. I quite honestly can not imagine life without it.
Thank you for checking in.
November 14, 2010
This morning I was catching up on some reading, "HBR's 10 Must Reads - On Managing Yourself." The 2nd article is a subject I've often wondered about "Resilience". Why are some people more resilient? Why is it that some people seem to move rather easily through tough times? Resilient people snap back quickly from dark days... I've often wondered is this a born characteristic or can it be learned? The author of this particular article, "How Re silence Works" claims that one can learn to increase their resilience. The following key points where shared:
Resilient people possess 3 defining characteristics:
* They coolly accept the harsh realities facing them
* They find meaning in terrible times; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values
* They have an uncanny ability to improvise, making do with whatever's hand
The article goes on to talk about how to cultivate resilience. While nothing profound was shared, it was reassuring to read that people can incorporate ways to increase their resilence. Having this skill and the capacity to be robust under conditions of enourmous stress and change can help people be more effective at work and in their personal lives. Two quotes from the article that stood out to me:
We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed.
Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not. This is the nature of resilience, and we will never completely understand it.
And... if you find that you're in need of developing your resilence you could always sign up for a class at the Hardiness Institute in Newport Beach, CA. An institute that was founded by a University of California, Irvine psychology professor, Salvatore R. Maddi. Who would of guessed that there's an entire institute teaching organizations and people how to develop life skills and attitudes to get them through tough times. :o)
Now off to reading article #3 - Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. - How to significantly increase capacity to get things done. This should be helpful as I've been challenged in this area lately....to many distractions.
Have a great week and thanks for checking in.
November 09, 2010
It was a wonderful weekend with Todd, Hannah and friends in the home. Our friends fixed us up with all kinds of wonderful goodies to eat all weekend so we could spend as much time as possible together. Thank you friends. Everything was very tasty!
Lindsey's 25th birthday is November 24 and I could use your help. I'd like to do a "card shower" for Lindsey. The plan is to display all the cards on the wall by her bed so she can visually see all the people who love her and are praying for her. (If you don't have our address, send me a message at email@example.com) Thank you to my good friend Mary Nelson for the suggestion! Lindsey will love this and it will be perfect!
Lindsey's other very cute comment this weekend occurred when Hannah was telling her good night. I was laying with Lindsey so Hannah couldn't get close enough to give her a kiss. Hannah asked "If I blow you a kiss can you catch it?" Lindsey said... "catch it". It was precious.
So this week.... catch all the kisses you can, be blessed by the presence of family, friends and those who care about you, and make it a great week!
November 02, 2010
Our family fortunately has all three. Yes, while some days are difficult. It's our faith, hope and courage that will get us through. Today I chose to make it a good day. To look for the good. To focus on the positive. To find something to make me smile.
Faith, Hope Courage... Have faith, have hope, and have courage.
October 31, 2010
There have been noticeable changes over the last 5 days. Severe cramping and pain in the right legs, difficulty responding to questions, increased sleep patterns, and this morning our dear Lindsey got sick while in bed. While awake she continued to have mini-seizures....with little response to questions. Her appetite has significantly decreased.... meals today consisted of 1 slice of toast and a chocolate shake. Bruises are appearing all over her body... with new ones showing up on her backside today. This can be a side affect of the steroids. She has also developed a large blister on her right heal. Where this came from or what caused it, I have no idea. She is required to sleep on her back with her right leg elevated now to prevent cramping and pain. We are keeping the oxygen on her while she sleeps to aid in a more restful slumber.
Bob and I are tired.... we're sad, devastated, empty, numb, .. and we're ready for Lindsey to be relieved of this awful cancer that is eating away at her brain. We're wondering just how we will move forward without our Lindz.... In my readings I discovered the following words of wisdom:
Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that you don’t “recover.” Instead, you learn to incorporate their absence and memories into your life and channel your emotional energy toward others. Eventually, it has been said, your grief walks beside you instead of consuming you.
In a 2006 interview with The New York Times, Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes described having two children die before they turned 30. “You go on,” he reflected. “You bring the person you love inside you. That is how you cope. You make him or her live within you.”
“In general, bereaved survivors shouldn't’t think of ‘getting over’ a loss, but develop ways to get used to it,” says Prigerson. “Even years after someone dies, pangs of grief may come out of the blue, and feelings of heartache and missing the deceased are rekindled. That’s normal.”
I also finished reading the book "Two Chai Day", by Irene McGoldrick. Two Chai Day is a compelling true story about embracing love and loss, realizing there can be laughter in the midst of sadness, and learning to appreciate the ambiguity of life. This book is beautifully written and the excerpts from her husband's journal adds a perspective that is often missed in books such as this. Anne B, thank you for sharing this book with me... and thank your sister for writing it.
My sister, Nancy, celebrates a birthday on November 1. As I was wrapping her present this week, I asked Lindsey if there was anything she wanted me to pick up for Aunt Nancy from her. (Birthdays are a big deal to Lindsey... she always went out of her way to celebrate a persons special day.) She stared at me for a long time, then said the word Bible. I displayed all of Lindsey's bibles in front of her so she could pick out the one that she wanted Aunt Nancy to have. I then brought Lindsey's jewelry box over to her to see if she also wanted to give Aunt Nancy a piece of her jewelry. Lindsey selected a black, rhinestoned watch. I can't help but think that Lindsey selected this piece to thank Aunt Nancy for all the fun times and for taking time to be with her. So to my sister, Nancy, Happy Birthday. This world is a better place because of you. I love you.
Thank you for checking in on Lindsey.
October 27, 2010
Greg called at just the right time. After the phone conversation, Lindsey closed her eyes, went to sleep, and this morning I find her still in a peaceful slumber.
Greg's hoping to have his internet connection up and running today so the FaceTalk feature on the iTouch can be used. It will be wonderful for the two of them to see each other.
HyVee - thank you for dinner, the goodies basket and cards for Lindsey. Your thoughfulness brought a smile to her face. The teddy bears you sent found a place in her bed last night.
Thank you for checking in.
October 24, 2010
It's great to see and hear the bantering occurring in the Morris household about college teams. The picture is from an exchange of Facebook messages between Todd and Hannah.
The Tigers beat the Sooners last night; TCU beat the Airforce. What will that do to the rankings? With Todd at MU and Hannah at TCU it makes for some fun conversation... if only TCU would be invited to the big 12, then we would truly know.
Lindsey had a good day on Saturday. She joined me in the kitchen while I cooked most of the afternoon...my stress relief. Then she came back down for the first half of the MU game. Lindsey loves watching football. I'm hoping she'll feel up to watching the Chiefs today.
Hospice delivered an air mattress on Saturday which will help relieve pressure on the skin, thus reduce the possibility of bed sores.
Thanks for checking in! Go Chiefs, Tigers and Horned Frogs!
October 20, 2010
What is the significance of three doves? Some say it can represent the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost; Others say the doves represent Hope, Freedom and Good Wishes or a symbol or message of love.
We received the doves in the mail today from a friend. They are precious.... do I hang them from a tree or put them on the mantel with Lindsey's "Keeping the Faith" award? The arrival of the doves brought a sense of peace for me at a time when life was going to change a bit. Thank you Ann. I passed on your note of "love" to Lindsey.
Greg departed today for Japan. Lindsey was emotional this morning. This afternoon she is doing better. Signs of a potential large bed-sore is displayed on the right upper thigh. Sleeping/resting positions will need to be rotated more frequently to protect the skin from a sore. We're adjusting schedules so that we can have two people at home during Lindsey's awake times.
I was trying to be a good friend today by attending the funeral for a son that passed away suddenly last week. Mistake. I had to leave at the point the Pastor referred to the young mans span of life as a "dash". I know he meant no harm. There will be no reference to "dashes" at any funeral I plan. I found myself walking to the Garden of Courage at the cemetery, to a peaceful place on a rock, by a pond, with a friend. My friend, Karen, had followed me out. We cried, we talked, we laughed, we gathered courage and went about our day. This is what one does when life doesn't make much sense. You figure out ways to hold on to your faith even during the hardest times.
We were blessed by Greg's presence for 30 days. While a difficult decision for him, he is off today to serve our country. This week Greg purchased the 4th generation Itouch for both of us so that we could use the new FaceTalk feature. FaceTalk allows you to see the other person through the iPod.
Lindsey is doing as well as can be expected with all that she is going through. She chuckles at funny stories, she comprehends all that is going on around her, and if you don't give her enough ice cream she will frequently say "more", "a lot more."
I only wish I could climb inside her mind and know what she is thinking. For now though we cherish the smiles, the giggles, the beautiful brown eyes, and honor her desires for ice cream.
Thank you for checking in.
October 13, 2010
Fall is one of Lindsey's favorite seasons. She loves to pull out her pink Navy sweatshirt and enjoy the cooler weather. Most of her time now is spent in bed, however we have opened the windows so she can enjoy the crisp fall weather. This week we asked Dr. Taylor about the steroids... should we be doing anything different based on Lindsey's desires. That's certainly an option, should Lindsey want to move through this time she is in more quickly. I couldn't bring myself to discuss this with her tonight. She was already emotional; she does not want to discuss being anywhere but home with those she loves. Tonight she struggled to tell me "Don't talk about it. No gone talk." So... we will make no changes.
I was out of town for 3 days and returned home to find my sister, my mom, and Greg thoroughly cleaning my kitchen; everything had been moved, the windows were washed, and they were in the midst of putting things back in place. It was a wonderful surprise for me. While they were cleaning, Lindsey was asleep in my bed, and had been asleep for some time. Hospice delivered oxygen this week and the use of it helped Lindsey to rest more peacefully. I crawled in bed with her for awhile... she opened her eyes for a short time before dozing back off.
Greg's best man from the wedding, Chris Mead, and his darling wife, Christina, will fly in on Friday morning for the weekend to spend time with Greg before he leaves on the 20th. Todd, who has been coming home every weekend, will try to have a normal college weekend at MU. Hannah booked her next flight home for November 5th. College life is a little disruptive right now for both of them.
Thank you for checking in and for your continued kind thoughts and prayers. I hope you enjoy the song as much as Lindsey does.... take care.
October 10, 2010
October 04, 2010
Hospice. An organization with staff who fulfill needs, spoken and unspoken. From the delivery man who brings Lindsey her weekly meds, to the social worker who calls to check on how we are doing, the Chaplin who is there to listen, support and console, to the nurses who stop by now twice a week to tend to the needs of Lindsey and those of the family. Beth, you know our needs and the needs of Lindsey. When Hannah was home last weekend, you knew to spend time with her and ask "What questions do you have for me?" Now that Greg is here you reach out and make contact with him as needed. You prepare us for what's to come; you give us strength to carry on. When we cry, you cry with us. You allow us to grieve, you lift us up and you give us what we need when it's needed.
We know there is much more to Hospice than what we see... nurses, doctors, telephone operators, social workers, file clerks, drivers, etc. I imagine that in this particular work of service there is a deep soul... a soul that is filled by living with such incredible meaning and purpose. To those at Hospice, thank you. Thank you for what you do each day to make our days more manageable.
Speaking of manageable.... I've been in an emotional slump the past week. I'm recovering now but for some reason last week was hard. I can't figure out why. Was it the fact that October is full of many family birthdays, one of which is Bob's? Is it that Lindsey's 25th birthday is just next month? Is it due to all the activity in the household and my time with Lindsey is now shared with many others? Or is it simply due to the fact that this is all very sad. Seeing Lindsey decline, assisting with basic needs, carrying her from bed to chair, seeing her breathing become labored and swallowing becoming more difficult, knowing that where she is right now is the time she dreaded most. She use to tell us... please let the good Lord take me quickly when I get to a point of being unable to care for myself.
I must share that it's so sweet and special to witness Greg's love for Lindsey. The way he tends to her bed sores by cleaning them, bandaging them, and coddling them (as they can be temperamental), to the way he carries her from her bed to the wheelchair, to helping her enjoy favorite fall activities such as an evening around the bonfire roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. Pray for Greg. Tuesday will be a difficult day as he meets with the funeral home. Tuesday will be a day that we again say, why Lindsey? Why now?
Thank you for continuing to check in. As I wrap up this post, I look on my bulletin board and read the following...
I think it's true what they say. Life really is a journey - and it's not always easy to know which maps to trust or what to pack for the trip. But whatever the weather, where ever the road leads, I think the best possible traveling advice would be this. Bring a friend.
We are blessed with many family and friends. Dr. Taylor was right when Lindsey asked to be at home until her time on earth is complete. Dr. Taylor said "yes Lindsey, you can do that." Then she looked at Bob and me and said "It will take a army to get you through it, but yes it can be done." Thank goodness we have an army of friends and family. It's because of this army that Lindsey's desire will be done.
September 27, 2010
The last few days Lindsey has been busy with everyone coming and going. My mother (Leona) has come to visit and help out around the house; my father (Clair) has even stopped by to see me and Lindsey for a short time.
Hannah and Todd came in this weekend making it a full house. It is a blessing having everyone home and here to help, and to just visit.
With all the extra mouths to feed; God answered another prayer. People brought food; so much food that we almost didn't have enough room in the refrigerators for it all. A BIG THANKS goes out to everyone who helped make this possible!!!
Yesterday was a good/bad day for Lindsey. It started out great with most of the house hold going to church. Bob stayed behind to man the fort and to watch after Lindsey. After church Megan stopped by for a short time, but would return soon. A little latter that day, Grandma & Grandpa Jackson stopped by, and when Megan came back she brought the rest of her family to say hello. While Lindsey has access to the first floor of the house now, she spends most of her time sleeping in her room. She'll usually come down to the kitchen to eat, then ask to return to her bed to rest. Friends are very considerate of how Lindsey is feeling when they come by to visit. We keep it quiet in her room, and friends will go up to chat with her or sit with her as she rests.
The sad part of the day is when Hannah & Todd had to leave. It was emotional for all. They fear that something will happen when they are not home. Lindsey and I, had a hug and a heart to heart moment. I had to remind her after they had left, that Hannah would be back in a two weeks and Todd would be in next week. This time will fly!!!
I know how they feel when they leave and how hard it is to step away from the whole situation. The only way I live with it and myself is by knowing God is in control and that I am also leaving Lindsey in the hands of people I trust, respect, and love. I hope this helps you , Todd & Hannah.
As for today, my brother Daniel and his daughter Sam are coming in, and will be staying until Wednesday. My mother will be making the drive home with them back to Ohio.
In closing, Lindsey is still doing well (as well can be). She and the family still need every ones prayers and blessings.
Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and may you have a blessed day....Greg
September 20, 2010
I want to thank you for all your thoughts, prayers and support. It helps Lindsey and our family to stay positive and determined to push through each day. I also want to thank my sister and Bob for allowing me to be a part of Lindsey's journey. I will cherish this time forever.
Additional misc updates...
We'll have a housefull this weekend...
Greg is flying in on the 20th and he'll be here for thirty days! Greg's mom is also coming in on the 23rd for five days, and Todd and Hannah will be home. We'll see if Lindsey is up for a visit to Octoberfest in downtown Lee's Summit, a favorite fall tradition of the Morris family. Last weekend Lindsey had a surprise visit from her father-in-law, Claire Elwood, whose truck route brought him through this area for a stop over.
September 14, 2010
This week the Morris house received new additions. We now have a bath lift which allows Lindsey to sit in a chair and be lowered down into the tub. We also have a stair lift which will make it much easier for Lindsey to go between the 1st and 2nd floor of our house.
The last two nights have been different. Normally Lindsey awakens when I arrive home and we spend 2-3 hours together. Last night she slept until 8:30 only to wake up awhile for a bath and to spend time reading messages on the computer. It's currently 8:30 and she is still asleep. I even sat in her room for 2 hours with the light on working... still she slept.
Lindsey will awaken to good news. Leona, Greg's mother and Lindsey's mother-in-law, will be visiting Sept 23 - 28th. Greg will fly in on the 20 or 21 and he will be here for 30 days.
Please pray for an uneventful weekend for both Lindsey and Bob. Todd and I are heading to Fort Worth to visit Hannah for the weekend. It's TCU's family weekend and Todd's first trip to the campus. Last year Lindsey and I went down to visit Hannah. It saddens me to think about how things have changed since that time.
September 12, 2010
People will say to the Morris family, "I don't know how you're doing it."
Talk to any Christian who has been through a valley, a deep life trauma, and you will hear much of the same thing: "I don't know how I did it, but somehow I made it through."
While the journey of Lindsey's "Return of the Tumor" continues, we push through. There is no question that it's difficult and uncertain. In the blink of an eye things changed for us like a rain of brimstone. The diagnosis has at times left us weak-kneed and shattered. However, these are the moments faith is made of. The Bible supports this. The more we need faith, the more faith we are given. The more we completely trust God, the deeper that trust grows.
Faith and power are gifts that go hand in hand, and they come from the source of all power, the Holy Spirit. Call it what you will -- stamina, courage, tenacity, hanging on, resilience -- it is that touch of the divine miracle, when we feel like we can't take another step. But, then we do. We were somehow strengthened beyond our understanding to stand a little longer, to take one more move forward, or to go a little beyond the totally helpless feeling of being out of control.
God's gift of faith and power are always adequate, no matter how desperate our situation has become. Exhaustion and frustration may have burdened us down so that we wonder if we will ever recover again. The pain unrelenting, the anticipated loss overwhelming, the void of a child damning. But God's power is great enough to get us through this desperate and challenging period of our life.
We are finding that we can and will go on. We will pick up the pieces and face our fears. We can find peace in the rubble. And, we can have courage.
We see acts of Jesus daily. Acts such as... my sister, Nancy who has reduced her work schedule to spend time with Lindsey during the day; friends who stop by to bring Lindsey her favorite food or Mom her favorite bottle of wine... a cash gift to help loved ones travel... 180+ people who participated in the Head for the Cure 5k to support finding a cure for cancer... businesses that sponsor fund-raisers or donate space to host events, a continuous stream of cards, notes, and messages.. employers who are supportive and understanding... and a family whose continued love and support lift us up everyday. The list goes on, just like the love of Jesus that never stops.
Pain was the topic during the middle of the week. We were having trouble getting out in front of it which effected Lindsey's ability to rest. In addition, Lindsey was having sporadic, little seizures. Adjustments to the meds occurred and by Friday things were much better. Lindsey was also more verbal on Friday which was a nice treat for all of us. We love hearing her voice, seeing that twinkle in her eye and her smiles. She is frustrated by her inability to easily move about the house, and to go places. As she said to me Friday night... "You by my chair during the week is fine. Weekends are for going. I want to go, to lay in the hammock, to get out." On Saturday, the getting out consisted of spending time on the first floor of our house, instead of her room (which requires someone to come over and help carry Lindsey downstairs), lunch with a couple of friends that stopped by, and time basking in the sun on the deck, along with a chance to wash Lindsey's hair while she lay there quietly enjoying the beautiful fall day. We offered to take her into town in the evening but her day had been full. She was ready to have dinner and get ready for bed. She slumbered on the living room floor so that she could enjoy another day "out" on Sunday.
In the hubbub of of our lives, God is with us -- He opens the door for us to love one another and to bring light to someones darkness. The Morris family greatly appreciates everyone who is lightening the burden for us. You're helping to heal our spirit that is wounded. Thank you.
September 08, 2010
September 06, 2010
September 02, 2010
As the hospice nurse told us yesterday, we're in a holding pattern right now. We saw a dramatic decline after the seizure this past weekend but no further decline has occurred.
Last night our friends from V's Italian Restaurant dropped off dinner - yummm... their lasagna is the best in town. Lindsey and I decided it was okay to treat ourself to not one, but two of their yummy brownies.
Enjoy time with friends and family this Labor Day weekend.