It was just Monday that we were told not to leave town due to Tara’s infection. It was a big bummer to all of us, but the kids handled the disappointment well. After I told them I tried to play a silly game where each of them had to find a reason they were glad they were not going. It was met with silence. Until Andrean said with a waning frown, “Well at least I won’t miss my field trip to the bowling alley.” Then Lewis said, “Now I can have a birthday party with my friends.” And the tone in the room began to change. Each of them said something they were happy about and the night continued as if nothing happened.
Of course we were concerned that there was more inside that they weren’t expressing, but that is okay, I guess. The next day, a dear friend and her college-aged daughter offered to take the kids to the Mall of America, Nickelodeon Universe, or whatever it is called. We gladly accepted knowing that we could not do that for them. That was today. And the kids loved it. They got to miss school, eat too many sweets, ride rides, and spend time together. It was awesome, so I hear.
Tara had a procedure today at the Clinic to see how the drain tube is working and how much fluid is still inside, I think. I felt like were getting a decent handle on understanding the cancer stuff. But this fluid, infection, bacteria stuff is really foreign to us. We don’t even know the right questions to ask. Tara feels like she is along for the ride. I think the test went good and that things are going the right direction. There is even talk about removing the tube on Tuesday.
I am glad this week is over. It was one of the hardest ones yet as I look back. It was hard to find God in the midst of it. But now we are here. Tara is improving. We have a long weekend to recoup and it feels quite different. We need continued prayers for Tara’s healing, comfort and strength. We need to keep our focus narrow as we move forward. One day at a time. But we need to keep our perspective broad as we look back, seeing the big picture; how Tara is improving from 2 months ago; how God has provided for us; how we are making it.
The weekend begins. Thank God.
We were amigos. Three of us. Dubbed Lucky, Dusty and Ned, after 3 men in the greatest movie of our era. I was Lucky. And ‘amigo honor’ was our sacred vow never to be broken; punishable with a ruthless punch wherever it may strike. It kept our friendship honest.
Only once do I remember amigo honor used when it shouldn’t have been. And it led to trouble. The lyrics of “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” were being discussed and a disagreement arose. Amigo honor was used to stake the claim…..of both of us. And only one of us could be right.
There was no Google back then, so it took some time. But sitting around a campfire playing cards one night, the truck radio started playing the song. Cards in hand, no one acknowledged the song playing in the background. We were eerily silent, as if studying our cards, still playing our hands. But the moment was tense and we all knew it. When the lyric that was in question played, I struck Ned with a swift and righteous blow, as was customary for breaking the honor. But Ned, being Ned, swung back and then fists were flying. Enjoying the brawl and laughing, Dusty eventually broke us up. Blood was shed that night, and a friendship deepened. We finished the card game.
It was our attempt at accountability. Friends calling the others’ BS and not tolerating it. That is part of true friendship. Call it “iron sharpening iron”. For the last 20 years Tara has been my primary BS filter. She’ll not take it, and I won’t take hers. Sometimes it is painful even though MOST of the time it is dealt in love. It keeps us living in the world of reality. If I start talking about my perspective on an issue and I am wrong, she’ll not strike a blow like I did to Ned that night, but she won’t tolerate it. She’ll swoop in and call my BS. Like a true friend. Iron sharpening iron.
Lately I haven’t been sharpened as much. I’m getting away with BS that she is not able to correct. I look forward to getting her back in full force. It is in the horizon, not too far away. This day has put us closer to that point.
Just a quick update tonight. I am sitting here in the hospital room with Tara. She is sleeping. I will be too in a few minutes. They have started the antibiotics and are anticipating her release tomorrow (hopefully). She is feeling much better but desperately wants to get home. The hospital is not the most exciting place to be.
Today was Lewis’ birthday. While Tara and I didn’t have big plans, his sisters got him presents (mom and dad will do that later….poor little fella). They loved on him and made him feel like a prince. He will hang out with some friends this weekend to celebrate again. Earlier, he got to spend the afternoon with me while I was working. He wanted so bad to help and even gave one customer advice on her trees while I was talking with her.
So just another day in the life of the Maiers. The one hundred and eleventh day of viewing things from the tree tops.
The summer after eighth grade a friend and I started a window washing business because we knew some people who needed theirs washed. We worked about 10 days over the first month of business. One day someone asked us if we could paint his house. Why not? So we said yes, officially ending “Homeboy’s Window Washing” and welcome “Homeboy’s Painting”.
I remember that first deal. The guy asked us “How much?” We took a minute to walk around, not so much to look at the house, but more like trying to put some perspective to money. We were only a few years past learning how to count money, much less knowing how to value it. So we decided we would each pick a number and split the difference. We had no idea. The spread was wide between my number and his, but we decided on a number which would have been a gold mine for two nearly ninth grade boys. I had the responsibility to tell the customer. When he said “When can you start?” we tried to hold back our laughter. To no avail. We must have looked silly. I am so thankful he hired us. But he must have also been elated to have someone do it for that amount.
I have always loved entrepreneurship. Seeing a need and finding a way to meet the need that is valuable to someone. The entire focus is on people. Their need. Valuable to them. We are made to derive satisfaction from serving others. Business should be built on that premise, and when so, it is typically successful.
I am sitting by Tara’s side in the hospital room. She already looks and feels better. The drain is in. The antibiotics are getting pumped in. I pray this is the course that will give her more energy and strength. We are hopeful. I feel the weight of entrepreneurial responsibility at home. My family has needs and I must serve them in a way that is valuable to them; in the way they need the help. But when I have spent all my energy doing that at work, i am tired and all I want to do is rest. I may try to meet their needs, but in a way that is convenient to me. And it doesn’t work.
The entrepreneur finds a way to stay focused to be successful. So I need to keep digging in my heels at home and save my best efforts for my family. They are the customers that matter most.
In March, we felt a clear answer to a prayer. We were concerned about how our kids were coping with Tara’s illness, and from our knees we prayed, asking God with pure intentions to give us wisdom. Within days, we got a call from a friend who is involved in Inheritance of Hope, an organization that helps families who have a parent with a life-threatening or terminal diagnosis. We were offered a Disney retreat with other families in the same situation. That is what is taking place this weekend. There is counseling for the kids and the parents. Perfect.
Today we learned that Tara’s persistent fevers were from an infection in the fluid pockets in her abdomen. She will need a drain tube installed, which could be permanent; as in the rest of her life. Also she will need intravenous antibiotics. The tube will go in tomorrow morning, the antibiotics will begin Wednesday or Thursday. Florida is out. “No chance!” say the doctors. “Tara’s life would be threatened.”
I was dead wrong about that trip being an answer to prayer. It sure seemed right. I don’t understand. Someone said with good intentions, “You have to ask yourself, ‘What is God trying to teach you?’ ” Tara’s response was, “What do you mean? This isn’t about me.” God is sovereign, meaning that he is right just by being who he is. Who are we to question his plans or motives? He cares deeply about us but he knows our ‘best interest’ has everything to do with him.
We are in tough place right now but we are certain to make it. Time won’t stop for us; we have no choice. The sun will rise tomorrow while the world keeps turning, and then the sun will set, and that is one more day down. It will happen. And we will still be here, and that means we made it, right?
Work keeps going with its ever-present demands. The kids still need us for love, training and encouragement. Tara’s health is becoming more and more complex, with the most life-threatening pieces right now not being cancer. But God is faithful and he will provide for us somehow….again. Maybe it will begin with a glimmer of hope from an encouraging word or a sunny day. Maybe the word of God will speak to us again in a perfect way. Stay tuned, because I am sure it will happen, even though we can’t see any way right now.
This last week tested our resolve. I pray this week is better. Some improvement on Tara’s condition would be great. But if not that, at least some encouragement; a word from God that it will be okay; that at some point soon Tara will have the strength to enjoy life again. From others who have been through chemo, I hear it will get better. It just seems for now that it will never end.
Tara has apologized a few times lately saying, “I am sorry I have been angry and mean.” Well first of all she hasn’t been that bad; think about it. Tara, mean? Second of all it would be understandable if she was angry and mean. She describes to me the frustration of extreme, ravenous hunger coupled with nausea. And weakness that won’t allow her to go down our stairs to the car. I have to carry her when we go somewhere.
So pray for healing, encouragement, strength, endurance. Pray for peace and rest. Pray that the doctors will get to the bottom of the specific problems going on right now.
In the fall of 1988 an interesting discovery was being made just north of Kansas City along the Missouri River bottom. Sunk on the river in the 1850s, the steamboat Arabia sat preserved under 45 feet of silt. The river channel shifted nearly one half mile over the 130 years and the remains were discovered in the middle of a farm field, 45 feet deep.
This was our territory. This is the river that made us men. So when we found out about the discovery early in the process, we knew we needed the inside scoop. So we approached the dig site one afternoon with only one acceptable outcome; a close examination of the site. Security was tight and we had no credentials. In fact until someone asked us why we were there, we didn’t even know we were writing an article about it. It just came out. We were welcomed and showed around.
I don’t know what I expected. Maybe guns or dead people or something more exciting. There were only crates of butter, china, salt, and other items intended for general stores up the river. That was really about it. No one even died. Because it was still there and buried with all its cargo, it tells me that life just went on without that boat. There was nothing special about that era. People wanted butter then just like we do now. They were just dudes.
People will look back 130 years from now at artifacts we leave, and will perceive something about us. Will they see only butter and dishes? Likely so. When looking at skin, bones, butter and dishes, it will be pretty much the same. It will all still be here buried and rotting.
But we want to leave more than skin, bones, butter and dishes. We want to live well. And die well. We want to leave something that our kids and their kids will talk about. Legendary stuff. And it isn’t stuff…..it is a faith that finds action in the reality of hard life. So simple, but not easy. Now here’s the chance. So man up.
There was no right or wrong decision. With Tara’s fever continuing off and on throughout the day, and her inability to take much water, and her feeling like crap, we thought it best to get fluids via I.V. and to get the same set up for tomorrow and Sunday. We waited to put the kids to bed, then we went out for our midnight escapade to the ER. It is not a big deal.
Even now as the I.V. is dripping, she is starting to feel better. Her blood counts were good again when checked tonight, which is great. We wonder if it was really necessary to be in the ER for something like this. But if she feels better and gets some rest tomorrow as a result, it will be worth it. Additionally, this is Tara’s first trip ever to the ER. Congratulations Tara! To celebrate, at midnight, to satisfy a craving she had, we ordered a Topper’s pizza; for her of course. She had four bites and I had four pieces. Uh oh!
Keep praying that Tara will feel like a champ come Thursday. That is the day we head down to Florida. My gut feeling is that no matter how she feels, she’ll get on that plane. And if she is going to feel bad, it might as well be down there.
So don’t feel bad for us this night. Tara is okay. The discharge papers are in hand and we just have to get the rest of the I.V. into her body. Then the weekend is here and I can devote my time to pampering her and spending quality time with the kids. Life isn’t so bad. God has been faithful again today.
This treatment process has continuously been two steps forward and one step back. Today was the step back. No big deal. Tara woke up with a fever. I was gone early so I had no clue. When I called to check in, she was recovering from fainting. She felt it coming and got to the carpeted floor without crashing hard. When she woke she gathered some strength and made it to the bed.
I came home around 7:45 to make sure she was okay. She needed more than I knew how to give. So we called on the doctor. They took blood to make sure her counts were okay; fortunately they were. Still nauseous and too weak to walk, she was wheeled to a different building to get an I.V. and take an antibiotic. The doc thinks she has an infection of some sort and since the blood counts are okay, we can try to let her body fight it with the help of the antibiotic.
Now she is laying here with a 102 temperature, a high heart rate, and feeling miserable. We keep wondering if we should go in. We may yet. We’ll see.
Implications? My sister and her family were planning to come for a quick visit this weekend. That won’t happen. Also no chemo this week, which means there will be 2 weeks in a row without it (because next week we will be in Florida).
So I’ll keep you posted as to what happens tonight. Tara is fighting hard. There have been so many days of feeling better that this setback is somewhat expected to fit the pattern of the last few months. Maybe it was meant to be so she wouldn’t have chemo this week and she could feel better next week in Florida.
We are tired. The candle that has been burning on both ends, is eerily close to meeting in the middle. We need strength to carry on.
As a teen, my parents gave no curfew. I gave them no reason to; other than a “little” adventure. Each night, Mom and Dad unplugged the phone so no late-night calls wouldn’t wake them. One night I had come home and was locked out. My brother in the basement was my first attempt to get in. I lightly tapped the small egress window to get his attention. Little did I know that inside, a series of now-famed events would follow.
My brother thought robber. Obviously. With a single pump BB gun in hand, he dashed across the dark basement and face-planted firmly into a metal pole mid-room. Dazed, he continued upstairs to exclaim to my poor sleeping father, “Dad, there is a robber?” Heart rate instantly at 150, Dad takes the BB gun with his pants still around his ankles, trying to prioritize pants or pumps. He rapidly pumps it about 20 times then fumbles to get his pants up without tripping. Mom picks up phone to hear no dial tone and screams, “Honey, they cut the line.” Who is “they”? Scared senseless, they hear the knock on the door. They anticipate the climax of their fears…..only to hear me asking them to unlock the door.
All the craziness, all the worry, all the thoughts of potentially bad things, all the lies in my head, the misconception; Why? It is a lie. False. Not true. Life is a gift and out of the last 100 or 1000 or even 10,000 years, who has added a single minute to their life by worrying. God has a plan for us and he started the good work a while back and He will be faithful to complete it; and not a minute too late.
So I should put the gun down and quit tripping over my pants and relax, it is handled.