Welp, here we are, well on our way into this New YEAR (2016!! What?!?! Seriously though, where’s my flying car? Rosie Robot, where are you to brush my teeth and make my coffee?) …and I’m still in the spaz category, lagging behind, just now showing my face in the blog world, or cyberspace at all really, for many reasons:
Like every new year, it’s a good 6 months before I can truly (well kinda) get my act together and, for one, stop having hand spasms while trying to train myself to write the date (with new year) on my check. (Wasn’t it just 1997, like 2 years ago?)… Denial is just a river in Egypt, right? 😉
Because I both cherished, loved, snuggled with, and after LOTS AND LOTS OF RAINY DAYS ran around
like a social butterfly on speed like the social mama that I am with my crew to family events, park playdates, and get-togethers… I’ve fallen into a zombie like exhaustion, disconnected from cyberspace on most levels. (As a college pal put it on Facebook, “Is it just me, or have my kids been off of school for like, 5 years?!” … YAAAAS!!!)
Since New Year’s Eve morning, after chatting with a dear friend, a chemo buddy of mine and many many… MANY others, I was taken back and utterly lost for words at his response.
As many of us were preparing to head out and shoot out fireworks and celebrate a fun-filled new year, and I, myself announced to my kids just the day before that we all felt it we had a GREAT FEELING about 2016, I flew out of bed at 3:30 am with a sinking feeling in my gut. Something was up with my buddy. He’d been battling a loooong tough battle with a rare form of cancer for a good 22 months. Since the last big hug he gave me on Dec. 23rd at Mary Bird Perkins, I knew we were saying goodbye. I messaged him quickly to let him know I was praying for him for whatever was up, as we’d done back and forth during our journeys side by side this past year; although, his took him travelling all over the country and had started much sooner. We offered up surgeries, chemo, you name it. But we always seemed to know when something was up with the other and would text each other when we “felt it in our gut”. This time he messaged back, “It’s been a struggle as of late, yet it’s clear God’s plan for me, and I’m really okay with it. I’m cool with it. I’ll be ok.” Gulp. Double gulp.
I said a prayer and responded, “You’re something pretty amazing, Buddy. I won’t stop praying.” And later proceeded with my usual corny, TERRIBLE joke (some from the kids, some from me) with each prayer that I said for him that day. Yet this time, he didn’t ask for the punchline (I don’t give him the punch lines til he asks). With a lump in my gut and tears in my eyes, I went a head and sent him my last punchline, at least, I had a pretty good feeling it was. I then proceeded to check my messages like a hawk for the rest of the week to see if he had “seen” it. … Nothing.
I, too, remained fairly silent on Facebook and on my blog. I didn’t know how to say anything about my New Year or my appointments, our events, or anything at all as this was my first experience of losing someone who’d sat next to me as we both battled cancer, we’d both organized our doc visits to coincide together, we’d both tried to stir up the infusions suite (him with his Hawaiian shirts and me with my chemo ninja, Incredible Hulk tee, or whatever other quirky motivation “costume” or wig I was feelin’ for the day).
I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t’ know how to face his mom, being a mother myself and watching her come with her son day after day. I didn’t know how to feel still being here and knowing that he wasn’t after we both sat next to each other giving it our all. I’d give him the shirt off my back and my infusion chair as well if he sill wanted it.
But he didn’t. He told me he was ready. And he was. We all knew he was.
And at 4am on January 4th,
after much preparation in prayer, and surrounded by loved ones, he passed.
Ya see, Ben Blanchard, was a friend to EVERYONE. I only got to really know him for a short while and first truly saw the man that he was when he sacrificed his anti-nausea patches for me when I was hospitalized in my first round of chemo and couldn’t begin my second round without them. We couldn’t get a hold of any of these special patches, and my stomach wasn’t as tough as I wanted to be. He gave me a warm welcome and that glimmer of hope was exactly what God was telling me “Every little thing was gonna be alright“(my motto), and him, “Never Retreat, Never Surrender“(his motto).
And what God told us both has led us both to exactly where we are supposed to be.
We’ve both gained the prize meant for us in God’s plan at this time.
His prize is Heaven already! (The ultimate prize!) While mine is time with my family that still needs me to raise them, and a husband that needs me to experience it all with him… I clearly still have some more work to do on myself as well. God ain’t done with me yet. I’m still a lil’ rough around the edges!
I also learned these past few weeks that’s it’s not about winning and losing, as much as my thoughts were getting so wrapped up and distraught over that feeling of loss and overwhelming guilt over having “won” when a loved one is “losing ” right before your eyes. They’re not!
It’s about Hellos and Goodbyes.
I felt that in my morning prayer the morning of Ben’s funeral last Thursday, when God woke me up…
With A BEATLES TUNE.
(song link is there, click to listen for the lovely lyrics…
or watch video for a good laugh at the FAB threads, as we’ve all seen in pics,
pretty sure Ben’s worn a few suits like this!!)
When we lose someone, are diagnosed with an illness, lose a job, are faced with any new challenge , big or small… we have a choice to say GOODBYE or HELLO! SINK or SWIM? STAY DOWN or GET UP.
I’m not saying that we cannot say Goodbye and that it isn’t healthy to cry, mourn, and to stay there in that suffering for a time. However, there’s a beauty in the suffering and the tears.
There are blessings that come with each challenge.
With every “Goodbye” that we say, with every loss that we suffer…
We say “Hello” to a new beginning.
Ben was one of a kind. And his zest for life and concern for others was contagious! You could see it in the near yjousand people who attended his funeral, the matched or more #s at the wake yhe night before, & the thousands that flooded the internet w stories of how he’d chang r d their life! /p>
In fact, I’m amazed when you walk in to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and many of the other cancer centers around the country or read the youcaring sites and youtube videos and news stories of all the good things that people against tremendous odds have chosen to say HELLO to the greater blessings in their life when it appeared that doors were shutting all around them. They choose NOT to say GOODBYE, but to continue to say HELLO over and over and over again to new beginnings even when it appears their lives are at the end… they continue to LIVE!
I know Ben, the friend to ALL, lived well and died living. Never retreating, and never surrendering, but courageously accepting God’s next journey for him to LIVE on ETERNALLY, and that’s all we ever could ever hope for.
“In the end you have your FAITH,
and Your Reputation.
All are hard to build and easy to lose.”
Hello to all the new beginnings, blessings, joys and challenges you have in store for us. Our family, our friends and our community are closer than we’ve ever been before and are a TEAM! TEAM BUNA…”Buna” meaning “Good”. We’re ready to seek Good in all things, Hope for and Believe in Goodness in All things. Whatever you have in store for ANY of us, we can get through it together. And as we’ve learned, that WITH YOU…
Every little thing is gonna be alright!
Goodbye to the sick times, the sad times, the struggles and the losses that we faced this year. I don’t wish to forget you, for you made us all who we are today, and we’ll never go back to the people we were before. We are forever changed. We are forever stronger. The scars are deep, but they have brought us together as a family and a community and for that, I thank you, 2015. Thank you, God for enlightening us to see the silver lining in every storm.
God is GOOD …. ALL the time.
As my grandmother taught me… no matter what lies before us, ANYTHING CAN BE…