Sorry, there’s no adoptiong news. There’s an update on our family, then some pretty depressing stuff that’s been going on. So if you want a cheery e-mail don’t read past paragraph two.
Fall is in full swing, and life is crazy around here. Eli and Caleb are both playing flag football on Monday and Thursday afternoons. They have both started a World Drumming class at the university music department. Their instructor is a fabulous drummer and teacher, and they are both loving it. While they are in class, Titus and I get to spend some time together just the two of us. We walk around campus looking at the construction or go to the library. It’s really nice to have some time to focus on just him. He’s been kind of pitiful this year since Caleb has started having to do a good bit more school work. Caleb and Titus are big buddies, so Titus seems kind of lost while Caleb’s doing school. But whenever Caleb’s done, they get dressed up in costumes and off they go on some grand adventure.
A funny: A few weeks ago I was about to read a book to Caleb and Titus called Where Do Babies Come From? When I read the title, Titus quickly responded, “I know…from China!” How sweet! I love that he thinks it’s just a natural thing that babies come from China!
So life has been good, just extremely busy. Then we got hit with two bombshells, one last week and one this week. Several weeks ago I went to Jackson with my mom for her to have a hysterectomy. She was not having any problems, but we have a lot of breast cancer in her family. So a couple of years ago when my 31-year-old cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer, the doctor suggested that we all have genetic testing. There’s a detectable genetic mutation that causes breast and ovarian cancer. So mom was tested and tested positive–she had breast cancer over 20 years ago. Her doctor strongly recommended that she have her ovaries removed because of the difficultly detecting ovarian cancer in the early stages. And, of course, at her age, they wanted to go ahead and do a complete hysterectomy. She had the surgery done robotically, and let me tell you that this is the way to go if you ever have to have this kind of surgery. She had the surgery on a Thursday and went home on Friday with only 5 puncture wounds so small that they put band-aids on them before we left. She did fantastic and did not even need me to stay with her Friday night. She was mostly resting but was able to get up and get whatever she needed. So she’s been doing great. Then she went back for a follow-up visit Wednesday of last week, and she was just blown away to find out that she has fallopian tube cancer. It is an extremely rare cancer, but they think they caught it in the early stages–she was having no symptoms. She will have to have chemotherapy and radiation. I am going with her next Monday for her first treatment. Her treatments are six hours long. She will have three treatments three weeks apart, then several weeks of radiation, then three more treatments three weeks apart. She is doing pretty well since recovering from the shock of it all. I would greatly appreciate any prayers lifted up on her behalf.
Then just today we found out that my cousin who lives 30 miles away committed suicide on Tuesday. Her body was just discovered today. It’s a really sad story. My cousins Pam and Penny had their lives forever changed when their mother died of breast cancer when they were just six- and four-years-old. They grew up in New Hampshire far away from the rest of our family. We saw them for a few weeks every summer when they would come to visit. Most of my memories of them are playing with them at my Mamaw’s house. We would hear stories from them of how bad their lives at home were during these visits. But they were just kids and no one knew what was really true. As they got older and began to get in trouble for shoplifting and other things, several family members including my mom and dad tried to get custody of them so that they could live here. But their father would not give up custody. Pam lived in a foster home, had her first child at around 17. Penny ran away from home at 16, and I believe she lived on her own after that. Over the years they would send letters and photos to my Mamaw, and sporadically they would come visit. Pam had another daughter not long after the first, then later got married and had a third daughter. Several years ago when my Mamaw died we had to make many phone calls to track them down to let them know. At that time we found our that Pam had committed suicide about a year before. Her dad and stepmother flew to Florida where she lived, had her cremated, scattered her ashes, and left. They did not let any of the family know. This was really a blow to us because we are a pretty close family. At that time we also got in touch with Penny who was living in Florida as well. She came for a visit that spring, began e-mailing many of our family, and it was at that time that I suggested to her that she move to Mississippi to be close to family. She said that she would think about it. Penny had a history of drug abuse and a problem keeping jobs, so after she lost her job and had no luck finding another she moved here. My family let her live in my Mamaw’s old trailer so that she wouldn’t have too many expenses starting out. The trailer is where my Mamaw’s house used to be–the one where Pam and Penny would come visit every summer. Penny always said that the best memories of her childhood were the times at Mamaw’s. So I thought it was such a good place for her to make a fresh start. She found a good job and started dating a guy and seemed really happy. There were times when we would hear about her missing a lot of work, or problems at work, or other problems. She was on medication for bipolar disorder and would have times of extreme depression. But whenever we talked to her, she would be open about the hard times, but she always said that she was doing better and things were going good. Whenever we asked her about drug use, she always adamantly denied it. Well, she was suspended from work for several weeks (we found out today that it was for a positive drug test) and was supposed to go back yesterday. When she did not show up and could not be reached, someone from work called the family. So this morning her body was found in her trailer.
I was talking to my close friend, Angie, about Penny this morning. We began discussing ways to help people like Penny who will not let you help them. My first thoughts when I found out about Penny were that I should have called her more, kept in touch better. But the more I think about it, the more I believe that it would not have made a difference. I feel like Penny and I had gotten to be pretty close since she moved here. We would get together periodically, and we had great conversations. She was very open about her past and about how she was trying to follow God now. But she was never open about how she was really doing now. Things were always good or getting better. So Angie and I were trying to figure out how to love people like Penny. Angie and I have been close friends for almost 20 years, and we discussed the “dark secrets” in our lives that we have been afraid to share even with each other. “What we are really afraid of, ” Angie said, “is judgement.” We are afraid of that even from people who we know love us deeply. So how much harder for Penny who was shown very little love in her life and most of the people in her life were untrustworthy. Does anyone know how to love someone like that? How do you convince somebody that you love them unconditionally? Anyone with answers please let me know.
Anyway, I do believe that Penny is at peace now. She knew God and tried her best to follow him; she was just always haunted by her past. From what Penny told me, her sister Pam came to know God and is actually the one who introduced Penny to God. Although I will miss Penny, my hope is that Pam and Penny are finally at peace and with their beautiful mother who loved them dearly.
My counsin, Debbie, Penny, & I last year on what used to be the steps to my Mamaw’s house
Penny and her Great Dane, Jacob
Pam, their mother Sissy, & Penny shortly before Sissy died