Love of my Life

Love of my Life
Happy moments... Praise God. Difficult moments... seek God. Quiet painful moments... Trust God. Every moment... Thank God.

November 30, 2010

Lindsey's Memorial and Celebration of Life


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

Final thoughts from Dad

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

Lindsey Update

Lindsey made it through the night... today has been similar except the BP is so low that the machine will not register it.

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.

Sleep-over... in Lindsey's Room

The family is camped out in Lindsey's room tonight. Bob on the floor mattress where he has been for the last month, Todd on the floor, Hannah in the large chair and ottoman, and me in bed with Lindz. Lindz' bp has been low, heart-rate at 135, breathing is very light and this evening sounds of congestion has begun with sporadic little coughs.

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


Much to be thankful for.... this afternoon Lindsey opened her eyes for a short while. She was tracking with the conversations, following the voices, and Greg picked up FaceTime in the early morning hours in Japan so he could talk with her.

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

Happy 25th Birthday Lindsey!

God at work again.... Todd headed into town today to pick up the traditional Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake for Lindsey. There was only one left. It was trimmed in pink icing with pink and purple circles all over it. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Lindsey rested peacefully today while friends and family gathered around to listen to music from Brice and Jack Anderson. The music was beautiful. Emotions were heavy as we embraced those that we love and thought about our dearest Lindsey.

More cards and flowers arrived today. Thank you again for helping us make a visual display for our Lindsey.

Thank you for checking in... have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

November 23, 2010

Lindsey's Birthday Eve

As I sit here thinking about Lindsey's 25th birthday tomorrow, I find myself reflecting on the events of this night 25 years past. I clearly remember it... I was four days past my due date, it was a Saturday, and we were spending the evening with our friends Mark and Anita Warren. We had beef stew for dinner. I didn't know then that by 5:30am the next morning I would be at the hospital for a long day of labor pains. I clearly remember our friends and family members being present most of the 12 hours we were waiting for our baby to arrive. My mom was in the delivery room with Bob and I as we experienced the joy of Lindsey's arrival. The family continues to chuckle over my mother's announcement to all "It's a girl!"

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

Life Ain't Always Beautiful

Tough day on Sunday. Couple bouts of stomach issues, difficulty swallowing, while awake at times, little acknowledgement and response. Please keep us in your prayers.

November 20, 2010

Birthday Card Update

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

Celebrating Life

One way we celebrate life is by recognizing birthdays. That special day when parents are blessed by the birth of a new baby. The special day that as the child grows older others become blessed by their presence, gifts, time, interactions, etc. It's a day we say thank you for being who you are. Lindsey's birthday is November 24th and plans are underway to make it a special day for her. Many of our readers are a part of this as Lindsey has received around 70 cards. All of which have been individually opened, read out loud to Lindsey, and taped to the walls and ceiling. It has become our evening ritual.

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

The Chicken Dance Card

Funny story... as you're probably aware, Lindsey is starting to receive birthday cards. One was hand delivered yesterday by Ms. Vicki Coy and the card perfectly represented both the giver and the receiver. The giver (Vicki) loves roosters... and on the front of the card is a rooster! The receiver(Lindsey), loves giving and receiving musical cards, and this particular card played the "chicken dance" song. Of course, opening the card brought a smile to Lindsey's face. But, even funnier... I taped the card to the wall next to her bed and twice last night the tape pulled away and we had magical music. The first time it happened I found myself charging up the stairs wondering what in the world is going on. As I was talking to myself in Lindsey's room, I look over to her bed and she had awakened, with a smile on her face. Even funnier though was the story Bob shared with me this evening. Today while the nurse was here having to do lovely things like clean out the catheter, and eventually replace due to all the "sludge" build up(I know.. lovely term... you're getting a little insight to daily rituals in the Morris household), the nurse kept "bumping" the card and the room would be filled with "the chicken dance" song. The music brought on a chuckle from the social worker, the nurse, and dear ole dad. As the nurse was leaving today she asked, with a smile on her face, can we please move the card? She was having a hard time "taking care of business" due to the chuckles in the room.

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

Lindz Update - It's been a good week.

The week of November 7th has been good... no major changes, a few days of more awake time during the day, and the appetite remains strong. We're starting to see birthday cards arrive in the mailbox and the display around Lindsey's bed has begun. It's been fun for all of us to see who is following the blog. Lindsey is enjoying looking at the cards and hearing the comments written.

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 many distractions.

Have a great week and thanks for checking in.

November 09, 2010

Damn Chiefs

"Damn Chiefs"... that was Lindsey's comment on Sunday as the Chief's lost in overtime. While Lindsey's voice is something we don't hear often, it's comments such as this, which occur occasionally, that tells us she is very aware of what is occurring around her.

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 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

Better Day

Today was a better day.... word of advice for everyone.. find something to bring a smile to your face everyday.

Monday and Tuesday have been a little better than Sunday. While it takes Lindsey a little longer to respond to questions, we are getting an answer. Tummy issues are better today also. While pain medication helps to provide relief in one area, it can cause major issues in other parts of the body.
The appetite was better today also. A waffle for breakfast, applesauce and frozen yogurt for lunch, raisin bran cereal and Greek yogurt for dinner.

We keep missing FaceTime calls with Greg. It's a great feature on the 4th Generation iTouch. However, with the time difference, we are missing each other. Lindsey is up at 9am, which makes it 11pm in Japan; bedtime rituals start around 8:30 and it's 11:30 am in Japan.. and Greg is usually at work during that time.

Todd and Hannah will be home this weekend. We'll see if their presence prompts a request from Lindsey to come down to the first floor of the house for awhile. The last time she ventured outside her room was October 23rd, for the MU football game.

A card received from a friend reminded me of what it takes to endure this journey...

Faith, Hope Courage... Have faith, have hope, and have courage.

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.

So what was good about today?

As I left this morning, Lindsey opened her eyes so I could say "I'll see you tonight"... I had another day of working with talented, passionate and committed staff members... I received good news from Bob about Lindsey's day, skyped with Todd, exchanged chat messages with Hannah, spoke to a couple of friends, and received 2 beautiful mums from another, I spent time with Lindsey during the 45 minutes she was awake in the evening; I also allowed myself to have a good ole fashion PB&J on regular bread! I topped off the evening with a glass of Relax wine. I also looked at some vacation photos... the three below brought a smile.. Lindsey daring to try some seafood, Hannah doing yoga on the beach without a care of who might be watching, and Todd enjoying a favorite youth activity.
As I close for the night, I'm reminded of a situation Lindsey encountered in third grade. She was not happy with her third grade teacher... a teacher who was about 5 years overdue for retirement. We moved into our new home over Christmas and Lindsey had a chance to change schools. I offered Lindsey the opportunity... I could see her thinking about it. The next day I asked if she had made a decision. Her decision, "I'm staying". I was surprised... her response.. no kidding... "Life doesn't always deal you a good hand. You need to play the hand you have."

We're playing this hand, the best we know how. Pray for my kiddos.... they are struggling. I will be glad to have them all home this weekend. And as a co-worker at work has recorded on her voicemail message "Make it a great day."