It Started with An Earthquake: A Cancer Journey

 

I t    S t a r t e d   w i t h    A n   E a r t h q u a k e

 

Photo Courtesy of iStock/sb-borg

Photo Courtesy of iStock/sb-borg

Thursday, January 3, 2013, 5 am.

I am awakened out of a deep sleep to the sound of Lou’s voice, rather urgent.  The room wasn’t shaking. It couldn’t be an earthquake.  “Babe, you need to wake up.  We’ve got a problem.  I think you need to go to the hospital with me.  I am coughing up blood. “

I jumped out of bed in a hurry and thought:  “Ok, let’s go see what’s going on.  Probably nothing, but you have to check.  What did I have going on today?  It was too early to call in to work.  Wonder how long they will keep us?”

 

So began the terrible journey that would forever change our world.

… In the ER on a gurney for two days.  Blood Tests, IV’s for an infection, CAT Scans of the chest, the head, the throat, the abdomen, then more specialized tests of the lungs.  They were able to get in touch with the lung specialist who was never in this area this time of the week.  He immediately came to the hospital.  He ordered a bronchoscopy of the upper right lobe of the lung and hung around after to evaluate and report for Lou and I and our daughter, April.

What he said wasn’t good.  They couldn’t even see into the upper right lobe.  What had been diagnosed as pneumonia in December was a huge mass. It completely filled the lobe and was growing out into the bronchial tubes.  He was surprised there hadn’t been a lot more evacuated blood.

By the middle of the first day, Lou asked the radiologist and the lung specialist if it was cancer and both said “Yes”.    So, there we had it.

Photo Courtesy of iStock/Madjuszka

Photo Courtesy of iStock/Madjuszka

Logic set in quickly.  Lou could live just fine without one lung or partial lung.  I used to work for Thoracic and Vascular Surgeons.  I had met lots of patients who did great on one lung.

The first step into grief began in that Kaiser Hospital on Sand Canyon.  For me, it was shock.  It was impossible to wrap my head around this.  I was a problem solver and one who comforts and consoles.  I pray for others all the time with great confidence that God will hear and take care of their every need.  This was not a problem with an obvious solution and there were no shots for me to call.

I needed comforting right now as much as I needed to comfort.  And I clearly didn’t understand a thing that was happening.  I am too intelligent for empty platitudes and so was Lou.  I would not do that.  We had to know more.

We were admitted to the hospital, but couldn’t be moved because there were no beds available.  We were 14 down on the list and that proved to be a wait that never turned into a bed.  The best they could do was locate a spare gurney for me about 4 a.m. so I could lay my exhausted body horizontal.  I was close enough that we could hold hands, in a room too bright and noisy to sleep, with all the monitors beeping and IV’s of strong medicines needing changing every hour or so.  I cried most of that night, silently so as not to disturb Lou.  I found out later he heard it all and was crying too, but for me, not for himself.

Photo Courtesy of iStock/Nico_Campo

Photo Courtesy of iStock/Nico_Campo

I knew, without a doubt, we would not be alone in this.  Looking back, God never left us for a moment.  Friends and family, even strangers came in tight around the edges.  But right there, in that ER, it was literally a dark night of the soul and it wasn’t shaped like anything that remotely fit with our plans for the future.

So began my journey of grief.  It was an earthquake.  …about a 9.5 to be exact. It literally shook my world and the rubble that remained around me was just starting to be sifted through…

 

Grief and loss are part of the human dilemma and I will continue to tell my story in posts to come, but now I want to hear from you:

For those of you who have faced shocks and life-changing moments like these, how did you handle the news?

Do you recall that first moment when you got your bad news? What was your first reaction?

 

Anne

About Anne

The youngest of 8, I was born in a tiny town in the Keeweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan in the late 40’s. My minister parents died 6 months apart around the time of my 5th birthday. My older siblings raised us in the family home until all were graduated except me. Gradually only the boys remained, so at the age of 10 I moved to other homes. My childhood was rich with experiences that sparked my young imagination. When I finally read the Anne of Green Gables series, I totally identified with Anne. I have just celebrated my 46th anniversary with my dear husband, Lou. Our daughter, April, 4 grandchildren and one great granddaughter bring our family a lot of joy and reasons to be thankful. I have worked at O’Connor Mortuary since 1996 where I handle the accounting. The Mortuary has become extended family and it is a source of satisfaction as a job I thoroughly enjoy. We attend the Village Church and that is another wonderful extended family, one who not only worships and learns together, but loves and prays for one another at the drop of a hat. We live in a retirement community and enjoy taking our two dogs, a Bernese Mountain Dog and little Cocker Spaniel, to Dana Point Harbor for Sunday jaunts. I absolutely love participating in the Mortuary Blog. I have found my voice! Thanks for following me.
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  • Becky Finch Lomaka

    Wow. Anne, you have such an amazing way of capturing emotion through words. An earthquake is such an appropriate way to describe the feeling of panic, grief, and anger that happens in a blink of an eye when you hear devastating and life-changing news. When I got the phone call about my brother’s accident, I think my first reaction was shock and disbelief but then I automatically went into my familiar and comfortable role of caring for the others in my family. I love how you talk about being thrust into a new role of needing to be comforted after being the comforter for so many others. It was a foreign role for me to allow others to offer their support. Now life is about picking up the pieces after the earthquake and learning to live in this new world.

    • Anne

      Becky,

      Suffering is universal and pain over things out of our control seems so heavy at times. I am learning it is important not to stuff it. We know how to comfort others. I am learning how to let myself be comforted. I am learning better to say what I need. Sending hugs.

      Part of your local disaster relief team.

  • Anne,
    I so admire your courage to talk about this experience in your life. I think so many of us are aware peripherally of tragic situations like yours but we rarely get insight into the pain, chaos and grief that the first-handers experience. Whether that’s because we don’t want to know or just because our society tends to be closed about these things I don’t know but I so applaud your willingness and compassion to share this story and begin connecting with others as well as create for yourself a sense of tribute as you write out Lou’s story.

    I’m confident I will have a lot to learn from each of your blogs.

    Molly

    • Anne

      Molly,
      Writing this was like cutting myself. Just like a cut, it took a few days to heal from writing it. It is good that I don’t need to do the next segment immediately, now that I know what it did to me to write this one.
      Yet, I believed, and still do, that I should write about this to some extent. Some of what one goes through, no one would want to read, but there is something redeeming in sharing difficulties.

  • Lori

    Annie,
    You sure know how to tell a story. After reading this, I feel like I was with you at the hospital. Tears fell as I thought of your love for Lou, and his for you. Both of you crying, but not wanting to disturb the other. Complete and total soul mates. I admire and envy your love story. It is a rare and precious find.
    My first earthquake came when I was five years old and too young to process it. As you know, that is when my father took his life. There are snapshots of that day that are still so hard to think about. What I have learned is that the most difficult day of my life prepared me for where I am right now. I can FEEL with families because I have experienced loss. The best thing we can do with our hurt is minister to others in their time of need.
    I know you will do this, my sweet friend. You have been ministering to me practically from the first day I met you.
    Love you so much!
    Lori

    • Anne

      Lori,

      It didn’t take me long to minister to others again. It happened all through Lou’s illness. People would come by and then it would be too much for them to handle, so shocked were they to see the ravages of Lou’s illness. My tough Lou getting and looking so weak. I would end up having to comfort and pray for them.

      I was four and five when I lost my mama and daddy.We don’t stay 5 years old, thankfully, nor will I stay in this state I have experienced over 2013. Some people see their difficult experiences as an excuse to not progress. Others use them as stepping stones to help others who experience similar pain. We cannot teach what we have not traveled.

  • Greg Forster

    Hi Anne,

    “Earthquake” is a very apropos word indeed. It conveys both physical and emotional shock. We are removed from almost every facet of our daily existence, except for our physical needs, which make themselves manifest and relevant whether we want them to or not. Any form of life earthquake may affect us for a moment, then we take a deep breathe, say “whew”, move on, slightly shaken, yes, but putting it behind us, we keep going. Major life ones, well, they make us stop. They make us feel and think or maybe make us too stunned to feel or think. They reduce our needs to the very basics. They steel us for the future. They are a tool to broaden our understanding of our own personal life story and journey. They can encourage one to value human life, or think the very darkest of thoughts.
    How do I handle my own personal earthquakes? (and I am going through one at this time):
    I ACCEPT IT.
    I accept the reality, once that I am able to recover myself. I accept changes, physically, financially, emotionally and otherwise. I accept the fact that some effects are temporary, some are permanent. I look to learn from what has happened. I explore and accept my own faults and causes if there are any. I accept the results. I resolve to move on. I will move on. God wants me to move on. There is no alternative. My responsibility is to live my life, both for myself and for others.
    These types of earthquakes change us forever. But with our own personal resolve, there is no alternative but to use them to make us stronger…to make us better.

    Thank you, Anne, for having the courage to revisit a very current wound to your heart.

    Greg

    • Anne

      Greg,
      One thing about death…there is no going back. The best we can do is immortalize them for ourselves and others. I am fortunate that I had a good man and was so well loved by him. Gives me lots of fodder for doing so. But then there is me and here I am. I can accept it, and I do, yet still have difficulty figuring out what “moving on” means to me.
      If you ever need a hug or someone to talk with about your earthquake, well I know about earthquakes.
      Anne

  • Anne

    Thank you, Michael. I know that. You and the rest of the crew are there for me. I feel the love.

  • Anne

    Thank you, Shayna. I am keying in on your comment that it is ok to show emotion. I guess I have always been brave enough to wear my heart on my sleeve. The bad part is that sometimes not so kind people knock it off and it breaks a little. The good part is that the majority of people are good and if just one of the two is willing to be vulnerable, then often the other, more careful one will entrust themselves a little and both are blessed by it.
    Every place we find ourselves in life holds lessons and growth, if we are willing to be quiet and examine it.
    I hope you know I am always here for you when you need it.
    Love
    Anne

  • Anne

    Thank you, Mitch. We learn, the more we live, just how much can change so quickly. We can fight it but that doesn’t solve anything. We can play games with our brain, but in the end, like Greg said, we have to learn to accept it and see what God has in this next chapter and learn to be obedient to it.
    I am so glad I have you and others like you. Thanks again for making the fuses right in my car when you did. Say do you know anything about jammed cd’s in a car system? It won’t eject. I have “errors”. Ugh!

  • Anne

    Thank you Shasta, for sharing about your brother. With your situation there IS more Shock, because you don’t have a warning. By the time you know something is wrong, it is already final. That is the same for both of us, but with yours there was no chance to say what you would want to. What we went through seemed impossible to be doing, slow and at times excruciating with no rest coming, but at least we got to say all the stuff we wanted to, several times. I suggested to my niece and a close friend on Father’s Day that they write a letter to the one they lost and just talk to them that way. If you haven’t already, that may be a good thing to do with your brother. I have a feeling somehow they will know.

    • Shasta Thompson

      That’s a great idea, Anne! I know I need to do that, I think it will help a lot.

  • Jenn

    “I cried most of that night, silently so as not to disturb Lou. I found out later he heard it all and was crying too, but for me, not for himself.”

    Anne, those two sentences are heartbreaking and yet so romantic and a true testament to the love you both shared for each other. Even though I never got the chance to meet Lou, I am glad I was able to participate in his visitation, I knew then that he was well loved by you and all of the family and friends who came and spoke so highly of him. Thank you for sharing your story, it is so well written and I look forward to the continuation of it, I hope you find it healing as well to put it in to words. <3

    • Anne

      Jenn
      The sentence you highlighted epitomizes my life with Lou for 47 years. He was so concerned over the effect his illness would have on me, the toll it would take as I tried to fix it, and the ultimate requirement that I learn to take on everything he always took care of and handle it all without him. I have learned to accept the misery when it shows up and embrace, not stuff it. That seems to allow me to have moments of laughter, yes even joy, when that shows up too.
      Thank you for taking time to read and comment. It means a lot.

  • Jeff Turner

    Ann with an “e”,
    I love you dearly and am so grateful that you are giving us a look inside of this most difficult chapter in yours and Lou’s life. Your vulnerability and transparency as you lived through Lou’s illness, death and now the new reality of life without him is so important for us to hear and share together. I pray comfort for you even as you comfort others. I pray wholeness of heart for you even though its broken.

    Jeff

    • Anne

      Jeff
      I accept your prayers and your comfort. I am naturally a happy person. It has been difficult, but I try to find some in every day. Everything is still overwhelming. I am squared away at work, but still have not mastered home. Writing is healing. We decided most everything together. Now, I have to decide things alone, with prayer. I am so grateful for what we had. So many have settled for much less.

  • Chuck

    Annie,
    There are certain moments in our lives that change us forever. Hearing that I was diagnosed with lymphoma/cancer was certainly one of those moments for me. Like you, there was shock, disbelief (This happens to other people not me or my loved ones) terror, sadness and concern for family. One of the images that came to my mind Anne was of Lou on his hospital bed in your house. I’m still in the middle of my journey but my prognosis and outcome are extremely favorable and I feel so fortunate for that. The ripple effect of such news is amazing, the love and support I felt and feel from family and friends has been incredible. No way my attitude would be what it is (And it is not always perfect) without this love and support. Much like your loving husband my thoughts went immediately to my family and my children. My biggest concern was and still is for them. I miss Lou and know your journey continues everyday. One of the most powerful moments was when we were at your home and Jeff asked Lou what we could pray for to help him. Without flinching in a very low voice he says “Pray for my Annie” not himself but for you! I love you and hope you regain the peace you deserve in this live.

    Love,

    Chuck

    • Anne

      Chuck
      I admit, when I first heard about your lymphoma, I had a sudden fear that we were going to have to do this again. What a relief and blessing to know you are most likely going to come out of this clear and whole.
      God allows testings to see what we are made of and to make us better people. You are right. Everyone is important but when it comes to this stuff, the family you have around you and might possibly have to leave becomes the total reason for every breath.
      Lou’s videos to me were short, but filled with concern for me. I am so thankful you and the other owners made time for Lou. He got a lot of peace out of that. He always protected me and I guess he was passing the mantle to you four. Thanks for being there. I love you back.
      My prayers have not ceased for you and won’t, until this is past and you once again smell like the living. 🙂

  • Neil O’Connor

    Anne –
    I am proud of you for sharing you story & journey. I firmly believe there is power in sharing our journeys in good time and in difficult times. The journey should never have an ending, with ceremonies, rituals, prayers, reflections, writing in journals/blogs the relationship is everlasting. I am grateful that you are willing to allow us to be a part of this beautiful journey.

    When Matthew died it hit me like no other event in my life. I will never forget that day the events that took place. I am still grieving over his death, my life has continually transformed from his life & death. Matthew has taught me more about life and death more than anyone person. Imagine a child of such a young age has such an impact on me. I look forward to meeting him again, i continue to look for lessons he keeps teaching me.

    Once again thank you for sharing your life with me, Lou’s life will always have significant impact on me. I am grateful that we became friends! I love you dearly, XOXO

    • Anne

      Neil
      Lou will never die in my heart and mind. His presence remains around me. I know what he would say on most subjects and situations if I stop to think about it. So you are right, there will be no ending. It will continue, maybe not for others, but it will for me.
      I just read an amazing story called “Heaven is for Real” about a 4 year old who died and came back. It gives great insight into the little ones who die young and are waiting for us to join them some day.
      I am thankful I have you all in my life. People don’t understand what working at a Mortuary can be like. It has been the best blessing I can imagine. People here get it and it helps in the healing process. So does the blog. I love you. xoxo

  • Fitz

    Anne,
    Thank you for sharing this intimate recount of the events and journey with Lou. I’m continually amazed and in awe of your strength and courage as you go through this journey. It is a true testament of your faith.
    I’ve had a couple of major life altering moments; when my mother was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor on Mother’s Day and Matthew’s death. Heartache is all I can say. To this day, it still hurts. As I have told many who have lost a loved one, you will never get over the loss but you will get through it. Some days will be better than others. Faith, Family and Friends will lift you up and carry your through.
    We will never forget Lou and will always be there for you on your journey.
    Thanks again for sharing. Love,
    Fitz

    • Anne

      Fitz
      Thank you for the understanding and love you have shown on the days I do falter. I will never forget the time of seeing you guys visiting with Lou and listening to him. It wasn’t a cursory “In and out” visit. You let him talk and boy did he ever that day. He was exhausted after and said almost nothing for several days, but he had things he wanted to say and I was grateful you guys were there and listening.
      I know that the loss of your Mom and shock of losing little Matthew will impact you always. And you are right. Some things we just get through, but it gives us something with which to relate to others.
      I am glad I have you in my daily world. Thank God for it, in fact. Love, Anne

  • Erin Fodor

    Anne,

    Thank you for sharing. I can’t imagine the pain you endured in this time. I lost my father and uncle and it was very sudden. I remember the confusion of emotions at the time. Not understanding, and the entire questions of why? It floods your mind. I too would lie awake at night and cry. Your love and support of Lou is beautiful. I admire you for your strength, heart, and perseverance.

    • Anne

      Erin
      Thank you for reading and sharing. I look forward to getting to know you better. When our life and our plans change so suddenly, it is so hard to wrap our heads around it. I know it has been several years now for you, but here you are with us and partly because of that. What an amazing life we have and it unfolds as it should if we let it. Hugs,

  • ctroop

    Very well written. You are taking us with you through this – as from the beginning. We grieve with you and we grieve for missing Lou in our lives, but behind it all there is the knowledge and assurance that his suffering was the gateway God chose for him to come home. We love him (not loved) and miss his physical presence and I miss our all too infrequent talks about the Lord and His Word on the phone. I say this because there is no doubt in my mind that it’s true – we did not “lose” him – he just happened to be in line a little ahead of us that’s all.
    Chuck and Connie Troupe

    • Anne

      Thank you, Chuck. Nope, having him here meant a lot more ease in my day to day, comfort, laughs, hugs, company, not to mention a lot of great meals and an amazing hand to hold, but you are right. He is just a little ahead in the line. He will make a great addition to the welcoming committee.
      Your calls and Connie’s beautiful and thoughtful cards have been such a comfort. Wish you guys weren’t ‘way over there”.

  • ctroop

    Sorry about the ‘ctroop’ – same old trouble with FaceBook again (how I hate it) all the variations of my own name were already taken – how many me’s can there be ? ? ?

    • Anne

      With your imagination you could have endless possibilities I would think.

  • Jon

    Anne,

    Thanks for sharing I can only imagine what it was like going through Lou’s cancer journey. Your earthquake analogy is spot on I can see the jolt that news would bring to you.It is amazing what comfort and help we get from having a strong relation with God. Thank you for the advice and love you have given Melaney and I, we take it to heart and keep it in mind as we start our life journey together.

    • Anne

      Hi Jon
      Thanks for reading. I hope you never do experience what we did, but if you do, I have no doubt God will prepare you for whatever the challenges turn out to be.
      I was so touched to read that you and Melany took my advice to heart. I know we weren’t that out of the ordinary, but we learned how to spoil one another and highly regard each other somewhere along the way and the results were amazing.

  • Tom

    I’ve found the best way for me to move forward is to remember my mom, who died 2009, and live for my daughter.

    • Anne

      Tom,
      Thank you for reading and for sharing. We can usually figure out what an important loved one would tell us in certain situations and it helps shape the rest of our lives, doesn’t it? And you are right. We need to be our best selves so we can continue by shaping the lives left in our care.

  • Praise

    Anne, you continue to bless me with your testimony of faith and love, as you share your journey with us. I am so touched by your desire and commitment to blessing many others through your experience. Dear Yeshua, I pray GREAT PEACE AND RESTORATION AND JOY AND CELEBRATION OF LIFE over Anne Collins, and GREAT REWARDS TO COME TO HER AND TO MANY OTHERS THROUGH THE WORDS SHE IS WRITING. Ba Shem Yeshua! In Yeshua’s Name, SHALOM! (from Wendy)

    • Anne

      HI Wendy
      Thank you for your blessing over me. I am getting what I need, one breath at a time. I miss seeing your face. I am sure you are making a difference wherever you are at the present. Peace to you.

  • amy

    Anne,
    I can’t even begin to imagine this journey you have been on. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Unfortunately I am starting my own journey with my dad. I don’t know what to expect or how I will handle it but will look to you for guidance. I admire your faith and love of God. I know that’s what will carry me thru. You are am amazing woman whom I am very grateful to have in my life.
    Amy

    • Anne

      Thanks, Amy for reading and commenting. I am here for you in any way I can be. We truly can’t walk in another person’s shoes in any way shape or form, but if we have compassion and faith, we can participate and it does lighten the load. I hope I can do that for you as you walk your walk.

  • Elsa

    Anne, I can’t even begin to know the pain and emotions you and lou must have gone through during such a life changing time. During my time serving families, I hear similar experiences that my families share with me and you never imagine it to happen to your immediate family. Unfortunately, the reality is that is does happen and there is no real way to prepare yourself. I myself think of what I would do if I was faced with something like this. Can’t even begin to imagine how I would handle something like this. I admire your strength Anne. I see you as someone that can talk and pray her way through any situation. I am so sorry that you have gone through this. I thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Anne

      Thanks Elsa, for commenting on my segment about Lou. On the surface it feels like I am doing well. Underneath I am far from squared away. I am learning a routine and how to get more done, but it is not yet enough. The pragmatic answer would be to find what works and fix it, but I know that every breath and every new day is only as good as the amount of faith I exercise, hope I experience and the joy of knowing that I will be with Lou once again, just a little ways down the road.

  • Joanna Ramirez

    Anne,

    What an amazing story to share! From listening to our families everyday, I see what grief does to people and the emotions that come out. I see you almost every single day and think in my head, “How does she even come to work”. I myself have never experienced grief. I have not lost a close family member but I know the day will come. To be honest, I would be a wreck. It is inescapable. I cannot even imaging the pain I will feel. I have learned by watching you, that you have to take it day by day. It does not mean that the grief will get easier or that you will forget about that person. You are a strong faithful woman Anne so think you for sharing your story!

    • Anne

      Joanna
      You would be a wreck. I was a wreck. Close friends who came by said “You look awful! Do something! Rest!” But what do you do? You realize you are not the important one and the one who is so ill needs you, wants only you, is comforted only in your presence, so you give it. They can’t sleep, so you don’t sleep. It is what you do. When your time comes, you will be strong enough, but if you aren’t, call on people like me, who have been there. I have received so much, from God and the angels, to all of you.

  • Anne Anderson Collins

    Hey Joe,
    You know more than many what I am dealing with. I am glad you were given the chance for more happiness and more children to love. We have a lot of history in our years at work together. Thanks for understanding when I nag you, that I definitely still care very deeply for you and seek to help you be your best self.
    Hugs

  • Anne Anderson Collins

    Chris,
    For some reason this post from you did not appear on my computer until tonight. You never told me about your Uncle Tom before. Cancer takes our strength and presence, as you called it. It takes away the appetite yet changes the cells in the body by destroying good cells to feed itself and grow while the good cells diminish. I watched this in person and read about it online and in books. In the beginning you want to fix everything, then you realize some kinds are not fixable. I am glad you were there, too. My constant presence with Lou was the best gift I could give him.

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Annie . . .
    Reading this and remembering the news brings back that feeling in the pit of my stomach that says . . this can’t be good. It was almost surreal for me when I heard the shocking news that Lou was terribly ill. First, let me say that there is no one I want more in my corner in crisis than you! I have felt your love and your prayers as I have walked my road. You now, are walking yours.

    My mom died on my 50th birthday. I had just arrived at my daughters from a birthday dinner with friends, when my son-in-law sat me down. I knew that it wasn’t good, but did not expect those words, Nana died today. The coroner just called. I remember screaming . . . loudly. I think the culmination of my mom’s death, and going through my divorce, just exploded . . . and I was unconsolable.

    In the last part of her life, my mom was a lost soul. Taken over by her dependence on alcohol, she had become a recluse, and not all that nice to be around. Alcoholism changes people so severely. I never got the chance to say goodbye, to resolve old issues, to just talk. It has haunted me that we didn’t have much of a relationship the last year of her life. But she had demons . . . and in the end, her heart, both physical & emotional, I believe, just couldn’t take anymore.

    Thank you for sharing these very intimate details of your grief. I know that as you move through this journey, you will be bringing us along. What a gift to all of us.

    I love you dearly,

    Pa

    • Anne

      Thank you Pat for your memories of your mom. Close relationship or not, she was your mom and losing her was devastating. Some try to console me with the opposite…you were so close, you had so much you shared, you got to say it all, you had him so many years…All of that is true, yet what does it matter if I am here and he is not? Love you too Annie

  • Sharon Watkins

    Anne
    Thank you so very much for allowing us to enter your heart and mind during a time that was the worst ever for you…..I know first hand that it does feel like the worst earthquake hit and your world has been turned upside down. And it takes a LONG time to begin to know how to do life again with a broken heart.
    But you are such an inspiration and example to us all of courage and strength – even though you may not feel like it. I am grateful that this experience has brought us closer and we can share love and hugs each day.
    GOD, LOVE, FAMILY and FRIENDS will get you through…..
    Love,
    Sharon

    • Anne

      Sharon,
      Yes, I suppose you are right and probably in that order. You and I have developed something special and it was death that did it. Hugs are so important, aren’t they? Thanks for yours.
      Love
      Anne

  • Diana

    Hi Anne,

    I too have faced shock and life-changing moments. They are never easy for us to go through. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Anne

    Kari
    Reading your last three sentences, by Jove, I think you’ve got it!
    You and your mom both pointed to the death of your grandma as your most traumatic death to deal with. I think it was because of the lack of closeness toward the end and then the suddenness of the call, don’t you? There was no way or time to “fix it”. We are all children, seeking comfort, love and understanding. We get that mainly by sitting at the feet of our Lord and meditating. Then we also get it by reaching out to others with a loving, open heart.
    Sending love, Annie

    • Kari Lyn Leslie

      I couldn’t agree with you more. There is nothing so sinister as not being able to say what needs to be said. There in lies another lesson. Do not waste the time that God has given you. Make the most of every day. Love, love, love.

  • Anne

    Stacy,
    First let me offer my heartfelt sympathy in hearing of the loss of your little brother. That is how it hits me too. He’s taken before he gets to really live. Have you read the book “Heaven is for Real”? It might be a real comfort to you. It is heaven from the perspective of a four year old. Thank you Stacy for reading and sharing. We need each other, that’s for sure.

  • Carrie Bayer

    Dear, sweet Anne- thank you for letting us in to this moment of your life. I can only imagine how you & Lou felt right then but you have out it into words that anyone can relate to. I remember when I learned that my brother-in-law had cancer. I felt numb & so far away from my family. Being 500 miles from them was so difficult for me & the internet really helped me feel more connected to what was going on, as it was happening. Thank you for sharing your story, I love you dearly….. Carrie

    • Anne

      Hi Carrie,
      I posted back to you several days ago, but I see it is not posted. This was so difficult to write about, but I believe I am supposed to do it. I know you are trying to get through all the emotions of losing your brother in law right now, too. It is so far-reaching. It doesn’t just affect your sister and the children. I am glad she has you too. You get it.
      Love
      Anne

  • mark adams

    Anne…..Thank you for reminding us of the wide range of emotions that our families we serve are going through……and thank you for being open to share….Mark

    • Anne

      Mark
      You have a good heart. I know how much you care.
      Anne

  • Lauren

    Thanks for sharing the start of your journey.
    I remember waking up to my dad saying in a loud, stern voice, “We need to go to the hospital now. It doesn’t look good.” I felt that I was dreaming but I could hear my own heartbeat pounding in my ears. Waking up in that surreal haze set the tone for the rest of the days that followed. Lots of anger and sadness.
    I look forward to reading your other posts and getting lunch with you again 🙂

    • Anne

      Lauren,
      We are so blessed to have you here. Thanks for letting me know we had the same experience on the hospital day. I think as time progresses we will discover a lot more sameness in our walk.
      Hugs.

  • Anne Anderson Collins

    Life goes on… Yes, that is so true, and yet I want to stop it and go back. There is no going back. All we can do is try to wrap our heads around this and figure out how to best get through it. Sometimes I don’t even notice something that needs doing for a period of time. Thank God, I do remember to feed the dogs and take them out regularly. This one thing gives me a bit of stability, along with my job. Thank you for sharing this Coleen. We don’t know the pain of our dear friends unless they decide to trust us with it. Losing both parents within 6 months of each other at about 5 years old was hard to comprehend also. Life goes on…
    Love
    Anne