Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This week

This week was a hard one, and yet a hopeful one. It was another reminder of how precious life is and how important it is to make sure your loved ones know how much they mean to you. The week started out like any other and then was turned upside down when we found out that my mother in law, Suzie, was in the hospital. She hadn't been feeling well the week before and finally went in to get it checked out and got some startling news. Turns out she has brain cancer.

Suzie had lung cancer a few years ago and beat it, but the doctors said it appears that one of those nasty, little cancer cells made it's way up to her brain and just hung out for awhile. They speculate that it recently started growing and put pressure on her brain which is why she felt numbness, had balance issues, and then had vision issues.

We were told surgery was not an option based on where the tumor was. It was just too dangerous, but they could do focal radiation. Sunday she went to the hospital; Monday she received an official diagnosis; and Wednesday she completed her radiation treatment. The medical field amazes me. She has to have ongoing MRI's to make sure all is ok, but the success rate is 85% so we are hopeful. And we are so grateful for her in our lives. (Also, lots of gratefulness goes out to my father in law who encouraged her to go to the hospital.)

Jesse's brother, Rich, flew in on Monday from Luxembourg. I'm glad he could come and be close with his mom and brother. We were able to spend a fair amount of time together during the week and Riley was delighted to see her uncle Richie and spend extra time with grandma and grandpa. She knew that grandma was sick and that it was more than a cold, but she didn't really know the scope of what was happening. She was just happy to see grandma. Jesse and I even got to go to his work Christmas party for a little get away while Riley hung out with the rest of the family. I got to see Jesse cut loose a little bit after a week that I know was difficult for him (he even was recognized as a great co-worker/employee by his peers and his boss at the party and got a nice gift card for it).

By the end of the week we were preparing to see Rich off and have one last family celebration while he was still in town. Every year Jesse's family has a large Christmas party in the weeks before the actual holiday. My mother in law is one of 11 kids, and by the time all the kids and grand kids gather together it makes sense to rent a place so we can all gather in one spot. This party was especially meaningful after all that had happened this week.

Jesse, Suzie, Michael and Richie

I love Suzie's smile here and her sister in the background grinning.

Jesse and his cousin, Tatum

More smiles!

Lots of family love

Where's Riley? The little kids love to play hide and seek in this wide open room.

Just a few of the many crockpots

Patsy's amazing veggie tree

Richie's flight was set for the afternoon so Jesse left before Santa showed up to bring his brother to the airport. Riley and I stayed behind to visit with family and, of course, to see Santa. Riley's always been hesitant of the bearded guy and has refused to sit on his lap in the past. A couple years ago she agreed to stand near him, but then regressed last year when Jesse had to hold her. I walked up with her this time and she slid right on his lap. Really? Not sure what happened, but later when I was telling her I was proud of her for sitting on Santa's lap she told me she was a little "shy" about it. Totally understandable kiddo.

Riley only asked for a few things for Christmas and one of them was little princesses and princes. It's actually quite hard to find little princes (and she totally asked where they were), but finding little princesses was pretty easy. Bonus that the princesses' dresses come off and can be put onto the other princesses. She's played with these every chance she's had since Santa gave them to her.

Riley and I decided to do a little 'silly face in the ornament' picture and Jesse's cousin, Ryan, photo bombed us. Ryan is also into photography and recently started doing family sessions. He took a lot of family pictures during this gathering (like I did last year), but I decided there was really only a couple photos I wanted and one of them is the picture below - Suzie with her siblings. All of them were there -  something that doesn't always happen - so it was a great opportunity to get everyone in one picture. (Thanks to Ryan for getting everyone posed and then making them look at me when I wanted to get some shots since there were multiple photographers in the bunch.)

So that was our crazy, upside down week that ended on a good note full of hope and love and family. I look forward to many more years with this wonderful family. 

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