On this day last year Mom and Jamie and I were sitting in the ICU at St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver trying to decide if they really could save Dad’s hand, trying to decide, quite frankly, if they had any idea at all what they were doing.
Dad was lying there in a lot of pain, with a lot of tubes and totally out of his mind. He was certain Casey was on TV and I had to say “no, Dad, that’s Will Smith, not Casey…”. He was mad at me for leaving Joe at home with the kids when he had “all that ice cream to sell.” And he was certain we had him locked in Coliseum Motors. It was a really long week….
Our time at St. Luke’s ended with some tough conversations with administration and an escape plan was hatched. Followed by a flight to the Mayo Clinic and surgery that did indeed save his hand. Followed by a collective sigh of relief.
And then there was a DVT in his leg. It was discovered in time, no need to worry, they said, about any clots traveling anywhere else. Another sigh of relief.
And then there was a Pulmonary Embolism. And they all stood around scratching their heads because it really shouldn’t have happened but since it did he really shouldn’t be alive and so what do to next…… Dad always has to push the envelope. This time there was no sigh of relief, our guard would stay up for awhile….just in case.
Six weeks later, all quiet on the western front, it seemed. Perhaps we would start 2012 with a clean slate. But not so fast. Mom would have her turn now. She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on Jan 3rd.
And then Dad fell and broke his wrist, the same one that had just been saved. And then I was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma, which can at times be invasive and aggressive. In the whole scope of things my cancer was barely a blip and was an easy fix but the timing of it only reinforced the feeling that a little black rain cloud was following us around. There would be no sighs of relief, no letting our guard down for a very long time.
And then there was surgery, for Mom and me, radiation and chemo for Mom. Severe chemo reactions and long term radiation side effects. And also, heifers to calve and cows to feed and kids to raise and jobs to attend to.
And then a huge ray of sunshine, though we hardly dared to breathe at all, a baby on the way. And then Jamie was diagnosed with Pancreatitis and was very, very sick. A dangerous situation for her and the baby and so another air ambulance flight to Denver. She and the baby made it home but we would all stay on high alert, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
And then a summer of fires and smoke and drought. Sometimes nothing is easy.
Looking back at the past 365 days it seems, at first glance, to be a hard luck story. And there were definitely some hard days in there and none of us ever want to relive a moment of it. But honestly, that’s not the first thing that I think of when I look back at the past year.
The first thing I think about are the family and friends who carried us through it. You don’t make it through a year like that without a little help, or lot of help and a lot of prayers.
There were family and friends here in Minnesota who took care of my kids and responsibilities here so I could be there.
There were family and friends in Denver (and those that flew in from Las Vegas) who were at our beck and call, 24/7. One text and we had whatever we needed, lunch, breakfast, dinner, a driver, an errand run, a break.
There were family and friends in Casper and Bates Hole and Alcova who made sure Casey and Chad had whatever help they needed to keep ranches running. One phone call for help to arrange a plane to Minnesota that ended with “the pilot and plane are on their way”. Doctors who answered their phones in the middle of the night to advise us on what to do next. Meals were dropped off, cards and letters of encouragement, prayers and offers of help that have never ended.
It is truly amazing and humbling to realize the friendships that my family has been blessed with.
We know it all could have ended very differently. We’re all still here and in one piece, more or less. Some new scars but those just add character – even though some of us had plenty of character already….
And we have added a new guy to our ranks! And so glad that he’s finally here safe and sound.
If you are one of those friends who walked through the passed year with us, thank you is not enough but know that we are truly grateful. Thanks for showing up with your big ol’ heart.