(Post written one month before Bart’s passing. . .)
I have always loved hymns. Especially Christmas and Children’s hymns. They are filled with such warm, wonderful memories of my past. I realized tonight, that one hymn in particular can bring The Spirit in to my heart more than any other hymn has.
Tonight, after a VERY long, good, but stressful couple of days (I will expound on this in a min) I was rocking my little Isaac and he wasn’t wanting to sleep. I was getting a little frustrated because I am so tired and ready to just have some “me-time” to sort some thoughts out. I normally sing lullabies or Children’s Hymns to my kids, but I started to sing Come, Come Ye Saints. What a beautiful song. This song has so much emotion attached to it. From the lyrics to the melody. It truly was an inspired hymnal.
The early Saints (Mormons) were seeking religious freedom so they headed west toward Zion. Where that was, they weren’t exactly sure. But they had unwavering faith that The Lord would lead them there. All left most prized posessions, loved ones, and family they were sure to never see again. They KNEW in their hearts they were making the right decision. I have many ancestors who made the difficult trek across the plains. To read their accounts always brings me to tears. These men and women I am positive wanted to give up. Those poor mother’s who had to bury their babies, or husbands. Many went without food. Countless illnesses and injuries. And extreme weather. They did it. They did not give up and this song embodies all of their struggles. When I sing this song, it brings me back. It humbles me. If these men and women could go on this extremely difficult journey, relying solely on faith, so can I. I can do hard things! We all can. If we are but faithful, the Lord will pour out his blessings on us.
This last week has been a little tough on our little family. It seemed as if we were getting disappointment after disappointment. A week ago, last Thursday – Bart had stayed out late with his friends the night before and decided to stay home from his naturopathic treatments in Idaho. I was a little grumpy about it, but knew he needed his rest so I didn’t make a big deal out of it. The boys and I went to the park for our Ward Play Group. On our way home I decided I would head to the store really quick so we were headed North on Harrison Blvd. As I went through the GREEN light on 20th, a elderly gentleman failed to yield to me and made an illegal left hand turn right in front of me. I thought for sure I was going to miss him, but I didn’t and slammed into the back of his van going 45 mph. Before I could realize what in the world happened the airbag had hit my chest and my arms were on fire! The boys were just fine. Caleb was really scared because of the impact and the noise. But Isaac was looking at me like, “OK, why’d we stop – let’s keep going! I was about to sleep!”
What I found out, is that there are some amazing people in this world. I had a wonderful RN who immediately came and washed off my arms so the chemicals wouldn’t continue to burn. And she checked out the boys and I had two younger guys out there with yellow vests on directing traffic since I couldn’t move my car. A sweet kid name Yang snuggled Isaac for a while.
Here is my Tender Mercy Moment — because Bart stayed home from treatment. He could come rescue us and help with the boys while I filled out all the exchange info and talked to the police officers. Everything happens for a reason. I am sure of that. I was so grateful that we were close to home, and Bart was there to take care of the kids while I got my bearings and laid down for a min. I am so grateful everyone is ok. We are still waiting on knowing what the damages are and if they totaled it. I am so glad I got to witness the kindness of others – complete strangers that I likely will never meet again. I hope I can pay back some of that kind of Christ-Like service soon.
Bart got an MRI on Saturday at a local clinic here in Ogden. He normally gets them done at Huntsman or the U of U but they were booked out 3 weeks so we did some calling and made sure they had what they needed to have a good comparison. We weren’t sure whether we would go to Huntsman or have our Dr in Idaho go over the results. We got the results on Tuesday, late afternoon – but the clinic in Idaho wasn’t able to go over them at that time so they gave Bart the records and we were going to schedule another follow up. We let that be for that night and then the next day when I picked up the scans from the clinic, I noticed on the report it said that there was a mass extending from T8-T12. A TEN CENTIMETER mass in his T-Spine, right in the exact location of the other tumor. To make things worse, it said his spinal cord only had 2 MILLIMETERS of room left before total impingement. I frantically called Bart and he headed home from Idaho a day early so we could figure out what we needed to do. The last thing we needed is for him to have major problems with his legs and be so far from help or family.
The weird thing was — he wasn’t having deficits to match that size of a tumor. Sure, he’d been having a little right leg numbness and tingling. But his strength and overall feeling in both legs were fine. Nor did he show any signs of bowel or bladder problems. He was walking without trouble. But we needed to err on the side of caution, just in case. We have seen the devastating effects the tumor can have and how quick it can take his ability to walk/or feel his legs.
He got home and I had made arrangements for the boys, called his Dr in Idaho for advice, called some friends that I work with at a local hospital to see if our beloved Neurosurgeon was on that night, then met Bart at his moms. We talked things through and kind of waited it out. He was feeling great! We kept reading the report and we also looked at the images, but we weren’t sure what we were looking at so, that didn’t help. We saw one series that looked like there was a mass, but it was cloudy – not solid like the other tumors. So we were lost.
This morning I called Huntsman bright and early and they were able to get us in right away. We headed on out with a million questions. With Bart not choosing to do Chemo or Radiation anymore — we didn’t know how we would be received or what they could even do for him. Dr Colman did the regular strength tests which Bart rocked at. Then showed us the images. He started with the neck – I thought he’d start with that massive tumor in his T-Spine! He said the tumors in his neck have remained unchanged. Hmmm! Then he went to the T-Spine (midback) and showed us a couple new small 5×7 MILLIMETER tumors. Ummm there was no 10cm mass to be found. He read the report with us and looked through the MRI slice by slice and really wasn’t sure where that radiologist got those numbers. He does have slight cord compression, however it looks worse than it is because the cord where the original tumor was is more narrow from scarring and whatnot. That would explain the absence of symptoms! He was fine! All other areas seemed stable!
We spent another hour discussing his opinions and thoughts on natural treatments. He discussed possible non or low toxic options for Bart to consider. We were glad to hear from him that he would continue to follow Bart no matter what method he chooses. We will take all of these recommendations pray about them and take them to Dr West on Monday and make any adjustments to his plan as needed.
I’ve learned, or I guess I have been reminded, that we need to move forward with faith. Bart is getting stronger every day. We have full confidence this is the path we need to be on and are so unbelievably grateful for the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is aware of our struggles. With blow after blow this week I was getting pretty discouraged. Rowdy boys screaming while I am trying to make important decisions and phone calls made it hard for me to find inner peace. With my husband gone, and not having a car I had to rely a lot on others for help… I am so thankful I have family and ward friends that will drop everything to come be with me and listen to me. And never once complain that I am taking them away from their own lives.
We can do this, when all is said and done — we will look back on this time and see how much we have grown, and remember the love and all the acts of service we have received. And we all will be better for it.
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
‘Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! All is well!
[“Come, Come, Ye Saints,” Hymn, no. 30]
Questions to Ponder:
- What tender mercies from the past help you get through your struggles today?
- How do you have faith and trust God even when the outcome is not what you desire?