February 28, 2019
Healing Time in Nuevo, Mexico…
There is much to be said on grieving, yet not much at all. One goes in a circular motion of missing the beloved taken from this earth who is just beyond reach and being in the depths of despair, to feeling alive again, if just for a small bit…though the missing him never goes away. But for the grace, comfort and healing of God in my life I doubt I would be further along in the process for it is easy to get stuck and stay in a pit. I don’t let myself, but it is very easy to go into that pit. All it takes to cry is looking at Glen’s picture, viewing the pictures from the Celebration of Glen’s Life, viewing the video that my friend made up of the burial service where I literally am feeling and looking…broken.
I can get empathetic feelings for the woman in the pictures bent over her beloved’s coffin ready to be placed in the ground…wondering what she is feeling is really quite evident by the posture… A posture of grief and alone, of feeling robbed of life. Yet in that grief there are pictures of others standing with her. Her Dad is there who came to comfort her and place his arm around her whilst all others stood by unsure what to do. How grateful she must have felt at his presence! The picture of Pastor Dave Schaeffer who came from Texas to do the service for a dear friend who had passed away to the next realm who stood by the grieving woman at the coffin a second time… the widow who just didn’t or perhaps in that moment couldn’t let go… Again, the gratefulness of this woman must have been intense. Pastor Dave asked the woman, “What is Jesus telling you right now?” The woman answered without hesitation through the tears that ran without stopping down her sad face, “He is showing me that Glen is crying too and Jesus is wiping away his tears. He misses me too.” And then I know, of course I know all along, that this woman who is bereft of her soul-mate, her partner in life, her beloved, the woman is me and was me all along.
Life is beyond surreal. When I look at Glen’s picture, it feels like he should just be around a corner. Surely he will walk in at any moment and life will go on as I believe that it should! But he doesn’t walk in. No one wakes me from this new reality, which is either an ongoing nightmare, or one big opportunity for new adventures in learning how to live life with a completely new norm. I choose to see it as such yet that is not without great effort on my part. Over many decades I have always chosen to choose positive, to choose hope, to choose life and joy in HIM. It is a brain habit that was well worth developing and to see me now I think I do look joyful and indeed do feel joyful most of the time. Yet I know well from many years of counselling and dealing with my own grief that one can indeed feel joy and deep sorrow at the same time. One can smile and still be missing someone deeply. One can even be happy and excited, yet still be in deep mourning and loss. It is a journey of the “bittersweet”. In psychology we call it “didactic”. I am acceptant of the bittersweet and know I can dwell in both at the same time.
I am here in Nuevo, Mexico out of the goodness of a few amazing friends hearts and their own nudging from the Holy Spirit that we, me and my boys, needed a place of warmth, sun and ocean breezes to heal…and they were absolutely right. This is such a place. It’s all bittersweet yet I still find myself reveling in the new adventure of it all. It’s a new adventure of discovering that I am ok, even if the “ok” has a new meaning, a new definition.
I have been reading CS Lewis book, “Observing Grief” (I think that’s what it’s called). I relate to most of it and I think it’s because Lewis never intended to publish it. It was his writings that came deep from an anguished soul after losing his wife to cancer. I feel deeply with him. His hearts cry is vulnerable and reaches the depths of my own grief. He puts it all into words and echoes my journals that are also never meant to be published. I’m not sure what CS Lewis thinks of his journal on grief that was published after his death, but I am sure that I am thankful it was published so that I could read it and know that I am not alone in my grief. Even his expressing that his sons don’t seem to grieve their mother as deeply as he is grieving her hits a note with me. My boys are grieving to be absolutely sure, but it is coming out more in their absolute exhaustion and lack of motivation. We talk, yet the talk is becoming less and less and it seems to me, though I don’t know this, that they don’t want to talk about it as much anymore… Yet that is boys, as Lewis says. At the same time my boys are being absolute rocks for me. I was happy to be able to tell them, when they do break down, that I am also there for them. We all grieve differently and as one is down the others can help and walk alongside.
A paragraph that stood out to me from C.S Lewis says this:
“Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but history, and if I don’t stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there’s no reason why I should ever stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I’ve already noted, not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn’t a circular trench. But it isn’t. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn’t repeat.”
Today someone also sent me a link to a Facebook post on grief that went viral. I shared it on my Laurel Hildebrandt Facebook page. It compares grief to a very large ball that is inside a square. The square has a “pain” button and because the ball of grief is SO large the pain button is constantly being hit – which is exactly how it feels. In the first month or so EVERYTHING is concentrated on the missing beloved. Their face, their voice, their being is missed so very much that everything hurts beyond what one thinks that can be born. The losses are tremendous when you lose a spouse. You lose your spouse. You lose your soul mate. You lose your best friend. You lose someone to bounce ideas off of. You lose someone at the end of the day to debrief your day with. All those wonderful kinds of things that a spouse is, you lose. Your kids lose their Dad, which means that I am now their “everything” and they are my everything (of course God is in there but I am talking about the physical world for a bit where it feels like ALL is lost when you lose your spouse). Then there are the very practical losses of which you don’t even recognize until they hit you. You lose the person who, in my case, did most of the handy work and heavy lifting – because I don’t have the strength or know how. You lose the person who knows how to change the furnace filter and cells and clean them (which I know now!!), the person who is strong enough and knows how to change the whole house water filter (which I now know but am not strong enough to accomplish…). You lose an entire income and suddenly become a single parent. You even lose, and in my case had to repay the disability cheque because they literally cut it off the exact day the person passes away. I kid you not! I received a letter in the mail informing me of their condolences and if I could kindly repay them for that month…yes there is something really wrong with that picture. You lose the person who you go travelling with, camping with…and oh don’t even get me started on camping! I don’t know how to hook up and pull an RV let alone back one expertly into a camping spot without wrecking many things, nor how to make sure everything is working with it! Yes, I do have a plan to learn but at the moment I may as well have a plan to fly to the moon because it feels overwhelming and extremely daunting. I have lost the one who made me brave…
On feeling brave. I always thought I was so brave. Now I’m not so sure. I have relied on Glen probably too much for this bravery. I think in my pre-Glen days (were there really any of those? We’ve been together and known each other so long that I barely remember those days!)… But in my pre-Glen days, because there certainly were some, I would go out and shingle the barn roof with my Dad. I would help him pound fence posts into the ground (well…in all honesty my “help” was standing on the pounder to give it extra weight!). I would drive our acreage tractor, even with the trailer hooked up to it (but I don’t actually remember backing it? Maybe I backed it?). I had no qualms about driving our big van filled with youth kids to the ski hill in Saskatchewan that was two hours away in the snow when I was only 16 years old. I travelled to New Zealand and Australia with a friend when I was 19 years old. I travelled to Europe and did a short missions trip to Norway when I was 21 years old (again with a friend)…So do I have some bravery left? I must. It must be in there somewhere because this is still me even though I do feel that I lost a large part of me…
On that loss… My last blog post I told you about the vision of Glen and I looking like one lion. We were one. And Glen was physically ripped from me. Wrenched from me unwillingly on both our parts. John and Christy, and Danny and Sonja were over for supper the other day and I asked John to bring his guitar so we could worship together. We were singing the “Lion and the Lamb” song and I got a good vision of Jesus making me as a Lion whole again because Jesus was filling in the gaps. You see Jesus was always the whole Lion. Glen and I were just a part of the Lion making it one whole. Glen was physically wrenched from me but he is still a part of me, my heart will always hold him dearly to me and that makes him a part of me. My spirit and Glen’s spirit are still connected. Jesus continues to heal me, to heal my broken heart, to heal and regrow my missing leg, missing arm, missing half because He fills in the gap with HIMSELF. I do hope that makes sense! So, Jesus is the One who makes me brave… He always has been. It’s just that Glen was the human who made me brave and now it will take many humans to make me brave and walk alongside me, and I alongside them, as we lean on Jesus for bravery together.
Today, March 3, 2019, as I finish writing this, was a good day. The boys and I are in Nuevo, Mexico and we have met new friends whom I already love. They drove us around (thus helping us step past our un-brave comfort zones) and showed us some of the countryside. They encouraged us to surf or paddleboard. We rented paddleboards for the first time, which for me doesn’t constitute bravery because I love that sort of thing but for some going on the ocean is being brave. We ate Mexican food together with them and conversed on the way home about my dreams of a counselling and healing ranch that still seems beyond reach but perhaps with the wise counsel of others who are better at business than I am…perhaps this dream that I do feel God keeps pushing me towards even without my Glen…perhaps it could be a reality. Only God knows. I know that I can take one step at a time and face each hour with bravery from friends supporting my boys and me physically, and God supporting us constantly.
And so the grief ball gradually gets smaller. When it hits the pain button it hurts just as much and the pain is just as deep but because the ball is smaller it won’t hit it as much so one is not constantly in active grieving pain. Today the ball was smaller…
February 5, 2019
This is what I wrote on December 13, 2018
“I can’t imagine life without him. I know that people say, “You’ll be all right.” I’m not so sure. I’ve been through a lot of loss in my life. I guess we need to define “all right” then. I would function. I would choose joy. I would “go on.” But my heart would forever (on this earth) be separated from the love of my life, my soul mate, my lover, my best friend. I don’t forget. I am sensitive and would mourn him a long time if not the rest of my life here on earth. I would never stop missing him. I mourn those whom I have lost still so the thought of losing someone most dear to me breaks me. It makes me feel like I am dying on the inside yet am forced to go on. Go on, I would – because I would choose it. It would be the most difficult choice I would be making each and every day to go on with joy without my man. “God please!” I beg and I claim and I pray a million moments a day, “Please heal my man!” That others love my man and are broken by this illness I completely understand. Because I love him more. We are one and that will be forever.”
I stand by those words. Am I ok? Not really. Am I functioning with it being not even a month since I’ve had to let go of Glen? Yes. The first day I was forced out of bed in the afternoon because I had to go to the funeral home and make decisions already. Iona and my boys stayed the night with me. I didn’t sleep much. Eating was almost non-existent for a few weeks. I tried. I knew I was hungry but I couldn’t swallow past the lump in my throat. I was losing weight and didn’t care. I knew it would come back eventually. I’ve been down the path of grief before quite a few times but this…this was worse. I’ve lost me. I woke up a few days into the grief and looked at my suddenly too long fingernails and the thought that came to me was quick and involuntary. “How can fingernails grow when I’m dead?”
Yes, it sounds ridiculous but I was feeling that I had died. Glen died physically and is very much alive. I just died. I was numb with deadness and felt I must be dead. That was my spirit that was completely devastated. I don’t feel dead much anymore…but sometimes it creeps back up. I have begun choosing joy again on a daily basis, which doesn’t mean I’m healed and ok. It means the years of habit are a good thing and I am choosing to think right. I know that the Lord is shielding me from even bigger pain than I am even feeling. He has told me this. He has told me that this loss for me is even bigger and more devastating than I know and that He is shielding me. I would hate to feel if He were not shielding me as this is bad enough.
At the burial I knelt beside Glen’s coffin with my hands on it, my head in my hands and wept bitterly. What I saw very clearly was Glen weeping too and Jesus wiping away his tears as it says in Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4. Glen also mourns me and our boys. Somehow that brings comfort…
A friend sent me these words recently as she is sending me a word every day that she hears from the Lord for me…
“VIOLENCE. Lamentations 3. I see you were as a Lion with Glen. Two people but your appearance was a Lion. You were like one being. You were violently attacked and Glen ripped from your body. It’s like I watched a kill. You are now feeling left with half of your body. As though Glen being ripped from you in such a terrible way, has left you with one arm, one leg, one eye. You have been violently robbed from a tremendous tearing away of your body.
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
“I want to say to you Laurel to rest to heal but what I’m seeing is not that right now. I see you rising up in a VIOLENT way, like taking the kingdom, your kingdom, your body…by force. Your energy is way better spent by fighting for yourself to be healed and restored, rather than expend energy in asking why, what if, what should I have done, what’s going to happen to me…etc.
Take back what’s yours in a VIOLENT way. That might be as simple as managing your own thoughts. God is still your Defender and yes JESUS has already fought and won the victory for you. But in your present reality you have to also fight for yourself. Be your own best friend and slam the door on the enemy’s face. You can hurt him by resisting.
You will one day feel whole again, it will come. The bleeding won’t last forever, your bones will function. We don’t like to talk about that side of God but He is a violent God. For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men. Lamentations 3:22
And another word for you…KIND. Please be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break, lavish yourself with love. Nurse your shredded body and VIOLENTLY take back what is yours to own. Your own self. You are worth fighting for. And you are not alone. Many of us are standing with you, even when it doesn’t feel like it and you don’t see it. Angels also are standing with you and fighting for you. Your fight is in the resistance of your thoughts.” S
That is exactly how it feels. Glen and I had a rare love story, though I do know there are others out there too. I think we had an argument or two but it wasn’t about anything more than me having low blood sugar or me worrying about him when he had long trucking days and we didn’t have cell phones…that hardly counts! We were in unison with each other. We could stare at each other across a crowded room and “know” where the other was at. We knew each other intimately and passionately in every way. Our love grew for each other daily. Perhaps I am romanticizing it more now as I remember but I don’t think so for I remember feeling and thinking it then too. In fact I wrote in my journal about our love and our story. We have had numerous people comment on our incredible love, our incredible story. I am so very thankful for the love we had and will continue to have one day in heaven, whatever that looks like.
I do still feel one in spirit with Glen and of course with Jesus, but that the robbery of Glen from me was absolutely violently ripping him from my very body leaving me bleeding and in massive shock is absolutely true. I will heal and am healing but it takes time. What God has joined together let no man tear asunder…I think I hear God saying that we are still partners, still one with much to do. We are working on the same thing though. I’m working here on earth and Glen is working in heaven. Then finally, we will be together again, working together as one. It just looks different now. It’s very hard to accept that reality… I still don’t like the plan. I still choose the joy of the Lord as my strength. I choose to glorify God and be thankful.
January 9, 2019
At home… Pain filled days…
It has been a particularly difficult last four days. Again they are blurring together as one long nightmare with bits and pieces of sunshine breaking through. The pain that Glen is experiencing because of the bowel obstruction is beyond measure – though when we do measure it at its worst it rings in at a 10 out of 10. Sunday night was particularly painful in many ways. I woke up with a terrifying nightmare of a demon standing in our bedroom and screamed so loud and long that Glen was surprised the police didn’t show up. Then I couldn’t stop crying. When one has the active imagination that I do and is in a sleep state everything is very real and getting control of one’s emotions, especially when your loved one seems to be dying right before your eyes no matter what you do, is crazy difficult. I was crying because Glen is the human who makes me strong. Glen is the one who for all our married years has calmed me when me dreams get out of control. Glen is the person who is always there for me, who understands me extremely well (not perfectly but close!). Glen literally has caught me mid-air in the past when my dreams are especially out of control as I bounce out of bed in the wee hours of the morning from some sort of strange dream. Glen is the one who holds me when the world is spinning. Glen is the one who I have fun with, dream the most with, stand with and for. Glen is my man. Glen is my soul-mate and we were perfectly matched to be put together by God’s design. Glen is the one who held me while I wept over my mother’s death, my Dad re-marrying someone I didn’t know within three months of dating her (he knew her from his younger years – we didn’t of course but we do now and it’s all good). Glen is the one who brings stability – yet now I am the one. I am the one who has to make sure he takes his meds. I am the one who is responsible for many decisions. I am the one who over the years of relying on Glen know little about the operation of car maintenance, or how to change the house water filter…I sprained my wrist this past week trying that one. The reality is that I’m just not physically strong enough to do some of these tasks even if I knew how. My friend commented that most men like the helpless female. That’s all good and fine except for two things – I hate being a “helpless female” on things I know very little to nothing about and don’t have the strength for, and when one is in that position and her man is more helpless than her it sucks. So that night when I was still not fully awake I was terrified of losing Glen, my “one.” Glen couldn’t even get out of bed to comfort me. All he could do was try to muster up a weak voice to calm me down. I did calm down, prayed and asked for more angels and protection around us. I hopped into Glen’s hospital bed with him for a bit so he could hold me… Then two hours later Glen was awake and in pain so I got up and gave him a dose of the hydromorphone. Another two hours later (by this time 6AM) he was in massive pain measuring in at 10/10. I gave him another dose of hydromorphone and changed his fentanyl patch early. I didn’t know what else to do… I gave him NAET treatments and held his hand for an hour until he fell into a restless sleep.
By 8AM I had to wake up to give Glen the octreotide injection. He looked stable so I headed to the barn for chores and back home again to see five clients that day. At some point I had to return to work and it’s very difficult to decide when is a “good” time. Right now there is no good time. I am conflicted because of course Glen is priority yet I also know people are coming for counselling for a reason – they need the help. Fortunately Val and Jocelyn, my contract counsellor’s who work for me, were able to help out. The day went fine in spite of the lack of sleep. God must have carried me – in fact I’m quite sure that He did!
Brian has been coming to give him natural bioenergetics treatments and Linda has been working on Glen from afar. I don’t completely understand all of that except that it is quantum physics and is quite helpful. Both are also strong God-fearing people whom I respect and trust because we wouldn’t let just anyone into that personal space.
Today has been another very difficult day. Two of my clients cancelled, which though sad for them ended up being a God-send. I saw a person at 10am, then when I came upstairs Glen was again in terrible pain. The mistake I made was suggesting that he try eating an egg on his sourdough toast. The obstruction is too bad and he couldn’t handle it so the pain has been excruciating all day long. I spent time on the phone with the home health care nurse, the pharmacist (I doubled the fentanyl patch because the doctor had doubled the strength) and gave him extra hydromorphone; Brian came for the scheduled appointment to treat Glen and still he is in excruciating pain. I saw another client at 3pm while Brian was still here with Glen and then Donovan took over sitting on our bed watching Glen. I can’t imagine what Donovan is going through with seeing his strong Dad go through all this pain, confusion and weakness. When I walked in from my counselling session I needed to give Glen his octreotide injection, more pain killers and the enzymes that he’s supposed to be taking in high doses to eat the cancer. Glen was so loaded up with pain and pain killer that he asked me three times what I was doing and why I was interrupting his rest. Poor Donovan just sat on the bed observing. No tears except the silent ones. Last night we got the chi machine for Glen and Donovan and I had to help Glen lie on the floor, and then we literally had to get him up by lifting him together because Glen couldn’t get off the floor. To see your Dad in such a state of weakness has got to be traumatic and I can only hope that he is talking to others more than he is to me. I know that he doesn’t want to trouble me more. I know he sees my tears as I sat on the floor with Glen because they were streaming down my face. Glen didn’t see those one’s because his eyes were closed and that’s ok. He was actually joking around about how silly weak he is… Silent tears are ok because we need to let out the sad emotions. We would not be human if this didn’t make us beyond sad.
Glen is a good man. Glen is a man of greatness. Glen is called by God to do more than he has already done. Glen is learning to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and is becoming more intimate with the Trinity. Relationship is what it’s all about. God is not religious. Man is. God is about relationship. That’s why He created us to begin with – because He wants relationship with us. God is enthralled with us! Just read the Song of Solomon – God is literally quite taken with us! Crazy, but true. Glen is learning even more to be a little crazy too – about God. Learning to let go of human logic and reasoning in order to embrace the crazy and “reckless love” of our Lord and Savior (this is a good love by the way lest anyone take offense of that term!) It’s just hard when pain is taking all your energy and you can’t eat. Really hard.
So again, we are trusting. We are trying to shove enzymes down Glen’s throat so that they can act like little diggers from the inside clearing away the cancer that obstructs everything – obstructs life. We are trusting the treatments that Glen is receiving. And most of all we are trusting in God to heal Glen and restore him to even stronger and more purposeful than he was before. So in the midst of this hurricane gale of a storm against us, in the midst of the spiritual battle, in the midst of the physical battle, we raise our voices to praise God. No matter what we feel we will praise and give God the glory. This story is not over just yet. And no matter how this particular chapter ends we choose to trust God and give Him glory.
An hour after writing this in the presence of Glen while he rested he then woke up. I read it to him and I’m not sure how much he heard. He nodded and gave me a little smile. He then said, “Honey, I know you don’t want to hear this, but I’m not sure I can keep fighting. The pain is intense.”
Linda had been messaging me that I needed to let him go. My heart sunk when Glen said those words. My mind screamed and endless “NO!” I looked at my now literally skeleton man. His full lips were gone not even able to wrap around his teeth. His head looked like a literal skull. He was at the most 130 pounds if not less than that. He was tough but who could endure like that? Brian and I helped him to the bathroom so yes, he’s still mobile but the cost is huge. He didn’t have the energy to wipe or walk back so Brian and I helped him back to bed – and he was able to walk back with help. He must be incredibly stubborn. The tears started streaming down my face. I knew I had to release my beloved into the arms of God but oh my God!!! Why?! How?! God save him…
“Mon Cherie… with all my heart I want you to keep on fighting…” I stammered out between tears… the rest was much more difficult to say and it came out as a whimper and a whisper… “But I understand.”
I climbed into the little hospital bed with my beloved man. My partner in life and in literally everything. I hugged him as best I could trying not to hurt him. He was in so much pain.
“I think it’s time for palliative,” Glen managed.
“Ok,” I responded and grabbed my phone and hopped back into bed with him. I called the nurses and left a message because they never actually answer.
By this time Glen’s breathing was in short breaths.
“I love you Glen. Always and forever,” I said gazing into his pained but beautifully deep blue depths of his eyes.
“I love you Laurel,” Glen responded looking deeply into my eyes. “Always and forever. To eternity and beyond.” He looked deep into my eyes and held my hands tight. “There really are no other words.”
I burst into tears and hugged him. We lay like that as long as we could but his pain was too great. His breaths were coming in short gasps. I called Linda to see if she had any advice. I knew that he was beyond fragile and would not be able to handle going in ambulance to emergency. He would surely be ok until I got him into palliative care, wouldn’t he?
As I was sitting on his bed talking to Linda, holding his hand, he looked up into the corner of the room. I gasped and ended my conversation with Linda. I waved my hand in front of his eyes but they didn’t move. His breaths were coming less and less frequently. I full on panicked… I screamed his name over and over. I shook my Glen and pounded on his chest to bring him back. I screamed over and over, “Don’t leave me!” through a flood of tears that would not end. I screamed to God to save him. I dialed 911 within thirty seconds and they instructed me, still flooding tears, in CPR. I continued CPR for 10-15 minutes until the ambulance attendants pulled me off my beloved… “Sweetie…let us take over…” and they tried to lead me into the living room to sit down. I just kept popping up out of the chair they were trying so hard to put me in…
“What do you want us to do?” was the question…
“Save him!” I managed.
“We are already starting and trying. Does he have a DNR?”
“No…they talked about it at the hospital but didn’t give us anything to sign…”
“So nothing in place?”
“No,” I sobbed, “he just didn’t want his ribs broken…” I managed.
I wandered back into the bedroom unable to keep myself from seeing my Glen. He had tubes and such and they were charging the machine to shock him.
The attendant led me out again.
“When did I call 911?” I asked through the tears that would not stop.
“6:45pm,” came the answer.
“What time is it?” I asked not wanting to hear the answer.
“7:15pm,” came the answer.
I put it together rapidly and began to sob even more. “He’s been gone for half an hour…if you can bring him back what are the chances of brain damage?”
“Your husband was very sick,” he answered gently. Such a young man trying so hard… “There is a 1% chance of bringing him back and very little chance that there won’t be brain damage.”
“He’s been gone half an hour,” I said again… “I don’t want him to suffer…” I mustered.
“The doctor just called it,” the young man informed me.
I all but ran back into the room.
All eight of them looked at me. All I could see was my Glen, lifeless on the floor with his eyes still focused on that corner…Glen…my Glen…how could this be when we trusted and hoped and prayed and did everything in our power to heal him here on earth? Glen…
They covered him and removed the tubes. I sank down to the floor in utter shock and disbelief beside him. I held his hand to my face and caressed his face with my other hand.
“Have you got family here? Have you got someone you can call?” one of the ladies was asking me.
I was numb. Did I have family? I don’t know. “I have two sons,” I answered without taking my eyes off of Glen. The tears were still unending and my mouth was incredibly dry.
Someone handed me my phone and I dialed Joshua’s number because I knew Donovan was in class. No answer. I dialed Donovan’s number. He picked up right away which brought another fresh flow of sobs. “Donovan,” I mustered.
“He’s gone. Get hold of Josh and come home.”
“We’ll be right there,” said a weak voice back.
“Please, drive carefully,” I managed as I couldn’t bear the thought of more trauma that night.
My Dad was in Winnipeg. I called my friend Iona.
“Well hello!” said the upbeat voice of my friend.
“Iona…” I sobbed again. “He’s gone.”
I could hear the intake of breath. I could feel the shock my words were imparting. Silence. Then, “We’ll be right over.”
I nodded and hung up. I’m not even sure if I said goodbye. The ambulance lady stayed in the room with me.
“Did you want victim services to call you?” she asked.
I shook my head no. What were they going to say that I didn’t already know… these were my irrational thoughts. “I’m a counsellor,” I ventured. “So was he,” I said softly still holding Glen’s hand and gazing at him. It didn’t look like him as he was so skinny.
She smiled. “Sometimes, as you know, it’s good to talk to someone else…” it was a nice try but wrong timing… I just nodded. Maybe. Nothing and no one could ever make things right again.
“This wasn’t the plan,” I mumbled to her and to Glen. “He broke the contract. He was supposed to get better.”
It was nonsense and most of me knew it but I still believed every word I was saying. I wasn’t angry. Not in that moment. I was in shock and I knew I was in shock. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t making sense and the counsellor part of me was somehow guiding me through by self observation.
“God,” I prayed silently. “You can still bring him back.”
“To that body?” came to my mind whether it was God or me I do not know.
“So heal the body!!!” I screamed to God in my mind. “I know you can!”
Silence. Then, “I took him home to me and healed him more completely than you can understand right now my child.”
Fine. Then know that I am ticked with this plan right now God, and perhaps will be for quite awhile…
Donovan and Joshua walked in and knelt beside me and Glen on the floor, holding me and crying with me. The police were there now. The ambulances were being moved out of my driveway to make room for others to come in. I remember thinking how kind they were. The police said something about not touching or moving anything. I wasn’t even allowed to wipe the blood stains from my beloved’s face. His beautifully handsome face that I would never be able to gaze upon again in my life on earth save for photo’s. The tears just kept coming. I had a pile of Kleenex beside me that I also wasn’t able to move according to the police. I ventured some humour as I pointed to the pile and said, “That’s all from me,” but it wasn’t really funny at all…
Iona and Rob came in, followed later by their two sons Eli and Sasha. We have been friends since we were both pregnant with our oldest boys and now all our boys are the best of friends too. Finally the police came and told me that the coroner didn’t actually have to come because it was obvious how sick Glen was and why he passed away. Usually when someone dies at home there is an automatic investigation. I didn’t care.
Then the policeman told me that the Abbotsford and Mission morgues were full so they have to take him to Vancouver. A fresh flood of tears began rolling down my face and all I could manage to do was shake my head no with vehemence.
“Do you have a plan in place?” he asked kindly.
“Yes,” I said. “The plan was for him to get better.”
He smiled. I was serious.
“Do you know a funeral home?” he asked again but with equal kindness as before.
“I’ll call my Dad,” I said. “I liked the one that took care of my Mom when she passed away.”
I dialed the number and when he answered I again burst into sobs. “He’s gone Dad,” I said.
He’s a bit deaf so he said, “What?” I’m sure it was also disbelief.
“Glen. Dad, he’s gone,” I sobbed. I’m sure my words were barely understandable.
Again, disbelief and shock on the other end.
“I’ll book a flight home tomorrow,” he said.
“Ok,” I sobbed. “Who did Mom’s funeral?” I managed. It seemed like a weird thing to ask at this time yet necessity was driving the question.
“Wiebe and Jeske,” he replied.
“Ok. Thanks.” I was short on words.
“See you tomorrow,” he said.
I nodded. Hopefully I said something…
Iona took over and dialed Wiebe and Jeske. I’m not sure how she got hold of anyone but that’s her part of the story. They were behind tonight because it was a busy night – sounds awful – so it would be a three hour wait before they picked up my Glen. Good. I would have fought anyone off if they had tried to come sooner.
I lay down beside Glen on the floor and cuddled up as close as I could get, knowing that finally he wasn’t hurting when I touched his body. It would be the last time we would have to be close and I didn’t care who was watching. I knew that his body would begin to stiffen soon enough but right now he was still warm and I needed that feeling once more… We had been robbed. Months, years of robbery where Glen was tied to the bathroom; where we couldn’t be as physically close because he was hurting or had to run to the bathroom – plain and simple we had been robbed…and now we had the ultimate in robbery…the life of my man… My mind couldn’t make sense of it just yet. I was reeling. All the Snair’s, my boys and me were in my bedroom surrounding Glen and remembering the many wonderful memories of Glen. Eight of us together for the last time with Glen. Seven of us remembering the wonders of Glen. I couldn’t help but flash back to sitting around my cousin’s dog Fergus who died the night before my Dad’s wedding to Margaret after my Mom passed away. He also lay on the floor and I made tea for us. Me, Glen, Lori and Uncle Menno sat in her bedroom where Fergus died and talked about Fergus. I remember thinking what a funny flashback that was, yet it was there. It was my experience with someone dying in a bedroom. Grief is strange. I alternated between sitting up and holding Glen’s hand close to me and lying on my side beside him for a few hours while we waited for them to come and pick him up. I barely got up to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t leave his side.
Eventually the inevitable happened. The people arrived. I asked for a moment. The Snair’s vacated the bedroom and my boys and I were left behind with Glen. They surrounded me and I began to sob again. “I’m so sorry!” I cried out.
Donovan and Josh were confused. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t see it! I don’t know why I didn’t call the ambulance sooner! I’m so sorry!”
Donovan rebuked me at once. “This is not your fault Mom! That is a lie from the pit of hell and we send it to the pit of hell and rebuke that in Jesus’ Christ Name! This is not your fault! Don’t believe that Mom! Ever!”
Josh also joined in speaking truth over me but my irrational mind was blaming me. As I write this it is not quite a month since my Glen has passed from one realm to another. In conversations with the Holy Spirit, and with Donovan, we have come to understand that the Lord blinded us all to the seriousness of that day. Even Brian who had been there hours before didn’t see that Glen would be leaving us that day. I believe the Lord is saying, “I blinded you all so that I could take Glen that day and end his suffering. The enemy had more torture in mind for my servant, my child Glen. I couldn’t allow that so I took him home and healed him here. He has much to do in preparation for when you arrive as I have much for you to do together. You are one. You are still partners. You are called together. I know this hurts you child and I cry for you. Glen cries with missing you and I wipe away his tears. Work on what you have to do on earth. Glen will work on it from here. And one day again, you will be working together.”
Does it help? I guess so. Some. I am honest with the Lord. I don’t like this separation plan at all. I probably never will. He’s ok with that. He knows it hurts me and God doesn’t like to hurt His children. There is a bigger plan in place than what I can see. I still have times of thinking it’s my fault and I remember my son rebuking me for that. I’m so proud of him for that! My boys have held me tight and are walking with me.
… Finally, I had to let him go. Physically at least. I looked at him and lay beside him again wrapping my arm around him as best I could. I knew he wasn’t really there. “I love you Glen. Always and forever. I’ll see you soon, k?”
The boys said goodbye. Eli, Sasha, Rob and Iona said goodbye. Strangers wrapped him up in shrouded cloth, lifted him onto a gurney, and wheeled him away. I collapsed then into Iona’s arms. I cried again for a long while whilst everyone stood around not knowing what to do. My grief was intense and all encompassing. My legs were giving way so I headed for the couch and asked my boys to sit beside me. We all sat in the living room and prayed.
Glen and I were told that this illness was for God’s glory. Though I’m not sure how yet I know we don’t have the full story nor the full picture. I give God glory for healing Glen, not as we would have liked, but healing him. Glen is more alive than any of us. He is running around with a bigger and better body. He is singing praises to God. He is singing destiny over me, Donovan and Joshua. He is interceding for us before God physically. There is much work to be done here on earth. And apparently in heaven. From the glimpses and few words I’m getting from the Lord, Glen is learning more and becoming so intimate with the Lord. Glen is working hard at whatever it is that he was called ahead of me so very early, too early, to prepare…so that when I get there I can join in the labor and the fun of something well established that has a lot to do with something I am doing here. I don’t get it. I don’t claim to get it. I promised though and with all my being I give God glory. I trust the plan because I trust God. I am learning to accept that plan. It doesn’t mean that I like the plan. God tells me that it’s ok to not like the plan yet. Eventually, when I’m there and see the full picture, I’ll like the plan and it’s ok if I don’t like the plan of being here without Glen for the remainder of the time I’m left here on earth. Good. Because I don’t like the plan!
The reality is that Glen’s story is far from over. I can’t wait to join him and hear all about what he’s been doing in that realm that is right there but just beyond my reach… Did I mention I still don’t like this plan?
Glen was not only a good man. Glen was a great man born to humble greatness. Glen was welcomed with great anticipation and excitement to Abraham and Alma Hildebrandt on August 23, 1968. He has an older sister Donna and older brother Brian. Glen was born in Didsbury, Alberta and grew up on his parent’s farm. He had a good life and many good memories there.
His pastor’s son Lewis Froese was born the day before Glen and they shared a bassinet one time. They were best friends and had many adventures together building in the sandbox, playing lego, playing in the barn and much more. Glen was very happy to re-connect with Lewis these past few years. Glen also has many happy memories of dirt biking, three wheeling and biking with friends from church or by himself. Apparently he was the best driver of the three- wheeler! Glen was always happy to be with people and happy to be by himself to spend time in reflection, in meditation and with God.
Some stories from his childhood…
When Glen was about nine years old he scared Mom by driving up beside her in the field wanting her to unload the grain from the combine. Mom made him stop and after they loaded the truck Glen took off with the grain in the big grain truck all by himself driving through the fields and off to the granary. This was typical Glen. He was pretty invincible and incredibly capable. If there wasn’t a normal way to get something done Glen would simply find a way. He was born to drive and loved to drive anything. Glen and Laurel spent many happy hours driving around the country side either in their vehicle or by motorbike, another passion of Glen’s. He also enjoyed taking things apart and most of the time he was able to put them back together.
Glen and Lewis apparently were caught throwing stuffed animals at some girls staying at the Hildebrandt house when his older sister Donna got married. Donna has some “good” memories of Glen as a baby and a little boy. He adored her and showed it by waking up his teenage sister in the morning by jumping on her.
Donna did a lot with little Glen. He was able to repay the favor when he would spend summers with Donna and her husband Danny on their dairy farm in Rosthern, Saskatchewan where he was able to spend time with his nieces Lynette and Melanie. Glen also worked for Donna and Danny during those summers and for his first year after graduating grade twelve in 1986. There are a few stories from those days like when Glen hit the side of the barn with the front-end loader. Glen always respected Danny who he described as incredibly patient with him and teaching him well. Glen’s soft heart was seen very clearly as he would take a long time to do the milking because he would spend more time playing with the cats than milking!
Danny called Glen their “rhinoceros” because he would make the bales really tight (as requested by Danny) and check how tight they were by throwing them, then make them heavier and tighter. He would end up making the bales 120 pounds so no one but Glen could lift them thinking that it was “light”. Glen was always a gentle giant and a cuddly teddy bear. He knew somewhere in his mind how strong he was, but probably didn’t realize how weak the rest of us are!
Glen also got in trouble with his gentle natured parents because at one point him and some friends decided it would be a good idea to start a bale on fire in the middle of the road. In his words, “What could go wrong?” and “We were clearly not thinking…”
Glen was very musical. That’s probably an understatement. His voice was like an angel and was always very soothing. He could sing in any range from bass (his preference) to tenor with ease. Not many people knew that he was also very talented on the piano. He only had grade two or three piano – which was as far as his parents could bribe him into practicing for – but he had the capacity to be a concert pianist with his musical talent and long agile fingers. His hands were twice the size of most men (or at least very large!). Glen picked up playing the guitar during his days at Columbia Bible College and went from that to playing the bass guitar in the last ten years. He loved being part of any worship team with his bass guitar – though his voice was underused because of his fun with the bass guitar! He truly enjoyed any jamming session and found it especially touching when he could play along with our son Joshua who is also very musically gifted. Glen sang in the chorale while in Rosthern Junior College for high school, sang in the chorale with Laurel at Columbia Bible College; sang in a male quartet with his CBC friends; and together with Laurel sang in the Valley Festival Singers. When time was too short to sing in choirs Glen and Laurel enjoyed singing together on worship teams in church. Getting together with his good friend Ray Rempel was always made even more fun because the two of them could burst into harmony and remember words of songs to sing them in entirety at any second.
Glen’s sense of humour was the absolute best. It was a wry sense of humour with a touch of sarcasm but always with kindness and love. Even throughout the difficult journey of cancer Glen would find a way to joke about things and lighten the mood. In his last hours he was even cracking jokes – while in mass amounts of pain. He would look in the mirror and see that his body and even face had become skeletal and joke about how his lips didn’t fit him anymore. Because it was rectal cancer that stole Glen’s life from us we had many running “rectum” jokes in order to make it through life and lighten a really tough situation…. Glen would say, “My rectum rectumed me”… you get the idea. He was the king of one-liners and if you weren’t listening you may have missed it. Laurel found out early in their dating years and especially marriage what a goof he was. They enjoyed such times as sliding back and forth on the floor in their basement suite to see who could slide the farthest and other such fun memories.
Glen went to high school for grade 11 and 12 at Rosthern Junior College, a Mennonite boarding school in Rosthern. This meant he had to leave his Alberta school after being there his entire life. He was surprised when his classmates threw him a going away party. That was Glen. He was so humble and never thought anyone noticed him. He never realized how loved he was nor how much his gentle, loving and kind nature stood out to people. He always thought he could just be in the background blending in. Glen was a big amazing man – he couldn’t blend in and not be noticed even though he thought he could.
RJC was known for sports and musicals. Glen wanted to be a part of the musical “Finnian’s Rainbow” in high school thinking he would work behind the scenes. Glen was cast as the main part of Finnian and wowed everyone with his amazing singing voice and accomplished Irish accent for the part. Glen also played volleyball, basketball and badminton both at RJC as well as CBC. He was very athletic. He had thought that he might play football at RJC but decided against it when he got there. Glen and Laurel enjoyed playing slow pitch together in a church league for a few years (until Laurel got hit in the head fracturing her zygomat bone and decided not to play anymore!) and then Glen enjoyed playing with a fine group of men in the “beer league”. There he got teased for being the only one wearing a helmut but he wore it in honor of Laurel’s hit on the head and said he didn’t care if he stood out.
The first year after RJC he got baptized (1986) and worked that year for his sister Donna and Danny Zacharias. He lived in an old schoolhouse on an amazing property in the middle of nowhere in Saskatchewan and loved every minute of it. He would tell stories of having to catch mice for quite a while before it was clear of mice (if it ever was!). He was also able to host some fun parties there (Godly one’s) because the roof was so high they could play sports in there. At one point they ran out of fuel for the furnace so he found a way to take care of it. One always felt safe, secure, strong, and cared for in the presence of Glen…He was confident and competent at everything he put his hand to. He had a calming presence on everyone that was deeply valued.
In 1987 Glen went to CBC (Columbia Bible College) in Abbotsford, BC. It was here that he met the love of his life, Laurel Friesen. God had already been working at getting the two of them together. Laurel remembers Glen in his role of Finnian and from playing sports against RJC. Glen had seen Laurel riding her horse in the ditches near Osler, Sask where Laurel lived. Glen heard God tell him way back then (around the age of 12) that Laurel was the woman he was going to marry when he saw her as a young girl riding her horse in the ditch. Laurel also had significant “God” moments where God told her on a number of occasions after Glen and Laurel had met, that Glen was the one for her. Glen and Laurel were divinely appointed to be together, serving God together and living in unity, functioning as one, ministering as one. Both had prophetic callings in many ways and used those gifting’s gently in helping others come closer to Christ.
Glen’s whole purpose in life was to be a helper and speak Godly truth into people’s lives. He always looked for ways to serve and help others. CBC was a place of grounding and learning more about God as well as falling in love for Glen and Laurel. Both were always very busy at CBC and on through the rest of life but spending time together was always a priority. Often in their married life they would be awake extra late because they would lie in bed talking.
Glen and Laurel graduated together from CBC in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in Church Ministry. From there Glen and Laurel moved back to Saskatchewan for a couple of years. Glen was happy to go straight into directing the Rosthern Youth Farm Bible Camp the summer of 1990 while Laurel did a Missions internship in Europe for the summer. Though the summer was individually fulfilling it was very difficult to be apart for those two months.
January 1, 1991 Glen and Laurel got engaged. Glen borrowed a friend’s 4X4 truck while visiting Laurel’s parents in Abbotsford and off they went to enjoy the day. Glen drove to the monastery in Mission, a special place for both, got down on one knee and declared his undying love to Laurel, asking her to marry him. She scared him a bit by bursting into tears and laughter, then finally saying yes – she was just too excited to talk! They entered into marriage on July 20, 1991 officiated by Dad Friesen (Laurel’s Dad) at the West Abbotsford Mennonite Church where he was pastoring at the time. It was a beautiful day and the two of them couldn’t keep their eyes off each other – something that never changed in their amazing 27 years of marriage. Marriage was never difficult for Glen and Laurel. They were almost always in sync with each other and always had each other’s backs. Their prayer almost every day of their lives together was that God would let them fall more and more in love with each other and with God each day, with God as their center and God protecting their marriage. That was a good prayer as their love matured and grew each and every day. They never lost the butterflies when they saw each other and if one observed they could be caught staring into each other’s eyes with love, oblivious to the world around them. Being in each other’s arms was the best place to be – always.
Glen and Laurel had a lot of fun together and with their amazing boys, Donovan Glen, born August 15, 1997 and Joshua David, born June 22, 1999. They enjoyed a lot of camping together and with friends, boating, snowmobiling (when they got to snow in Alberta or Rose Lake), building snow forts, ice skating, down hill skiing, playing games, golfing, dirt biking (more of a Glen specialty!), and on occasion a horse back ride (more of a Laurel specialty). Highlights were house-sitting for the Giesbrecht’s on their twenty acres where they did a lot of swimming, walking in the forest, playing with the chickens and cows, dog, cats and horse. They also enjoyed outings to Rose Lake very much as a family during the summer or winter months where they stayed at a very generous colleague and good friends “extra” house at the time on an acreage on the lake (Don and Marie Fritz). An impromptu family trip to Los Angeles to enjoy Disneyland for the first time and a family trip to Las Vegas where they saw the Grand Canyon were also highlights. Of course there were at least two trips a year driving through the mountains to visit the Hildebrandt family in Alberta where Mom and Dad, as well as his very beloved brother Brian and Dianne and kids live. Glen always made golfing with Brian and whoever else wanted to come a priority and treasured the friendship he had with brother Brian very much. Visiting Donna and Danny at their Besnard Lake Lodge Fishing resort a few times were memories to treasure. Both of his siblings, nieces and nephews, and in-laws are extremely important to Glen and Laurel and will always be loved very much – on both sides of the family.
Trips to the Island and hanging out with Laurel’s brother Jonathon were always fun, as well as visiting Ray and Deanna (like a brother to him) along the way. This past summer Jonathon blessed Glen and Laurel by bringing his new to him sea-doo over to the mainland for them to try. It was truly a beautiful last memory of being on the water with Glen. Seeing him smile as he roared through the water enjoying driving the sea-doo was an absolute blast.
Glen and Laurel thoroughly enjoyed all ministry together including the privilege of youth pastoring together for a few years at Wellspring Christian Fellowship Church. The youth there were and continue to be very special to both Glen and Laurel holding an immense part of their hearts. They were on fire for God, inspiring to be with and a great deal of fun for two young people to lead and disciple. Going to the Giesbrecht’s property at Canum Lake for youth retreats was always a highlight where they all got to enjoy Vic and Christa’s generosity in sharing their place on the lake, boating and cooking for our group.
Glen got dragged to more than his share of weddings of people he didn’t know as he came to be a support for Laurel officiating and her “driver”. Glen loved to drive and never seemed to get lost no matter where he went. He supported Laurel through the Masters of Theological Studies: Counselling program by driving truck and working many long hours. Laurel will be quite lost, literally and otherwise, as she tries to navigate on her own… Glen was always happy to be plugged into weddings video taping or otherwise helping out at the weddings.
Glen had a few different jobs throughout his too short life and impacted many. After his summer job of directing at the Youth Farm Bible Camp he went on to be a Dean of Men at Rosthern Junior College for two years from 1990-1992. He enjoyed this job very much. When Glen and Laurel moved to Abbotsford from Rosthern he enjoyed local truck driving for a few years. His dream job was being the BC Conference Youth Pastor for the General Conference of Mennonites BC (now the Canadian Mennonite Conference). He did that for three years. Within that time and as a part of his role he also led the YES program which was a Missions discipleship program where he helped organize and train young people and sent them out to different countries for mission work. It was during this time that he got to visit Germany and Puerto Rico.
Glen received his Master of Counselling degree in 2002 and went on to work with Dr. Don Fritz specializing in concurrent disorders. He then got on with Fraser Health and in the last few years he worked as the Coordinator of a mental health team. Glen has many beloved colleagues and clients who will miss him from Mission, Abbotsford and Chilliwack Mental health. The one dream of running a counselling ranch together with Laurel didn’t happen for them together and he was very sorry to not realize that dream.
Glen was an amazing Dad as well. Glen and Laurel were beyond excited to welcome Donovan and Joshua into the world and walk through life with these amazing boys. He loved to hang out with them, loving on them and trying to teach them how to be good men. He gave them an amazing example of what it means to not be religious, rather to have a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. He was saddened to have to fight the disease of cancer and though he had faith and hope right to the end that he would be healed here on earth, he was resting assured that he had done what he could to that point to raise two amazing men of God. He is confident in our sons to follow in his footsteps of service to God through serving others and even go beyond what Glen did here on earth. Glen and Laurel are very proud of their sons. Glen will be loving them and Laurel as a part of that great cloud of witnesses and cheering us, and you on.
Glen and Laurel did everything earthly possible and much prayer and spiritual warfare to fight for him to keep living on this earth longer. We never gave up hope and always wanted to be sure that no one else did either. Glen didn’t lose the battle. We just don’t understand the battle and see only a very small piece of the story that Glen’s thread has been woven through. We know that though Glen is no longer on earth with us he will always be in our hearts and more alive than the rest of us here on earth as he lives eternally with Christ in heaven. His story continues to influence and impact people and as a family we choose to glorify God even in the midst of our intense grief and loss. Glen was a man of greatness in everything he was and everything he did. His stature was, and continues to be one of regal bearing as he led the way in showing us what it means to be a child of God, a prince of the Most High – Glen knew his identity and who his heavenly Father was and he walked in that to the best of his ability and by the grace of God all the days of his life. Glen will never stop being missed and loved by us. His memory will live on and we look forward to being reunited one day. Until that time we choose to keep glorifying God and our wish, Glen and Laurel’s wish, Donovan and Joshua’s wish, is that no one would lose their faith in God over his earthly death. Glen’s spirit simply moved from this realm to the next and we can’t see the big picture. May Glen’s life move you closer to a living and vibrant relationship with the God who cares and loves us more than we can comprehend.
We value your prayers and support now and throughout the coming days and yes, even years. We love you. May the God of peace and comfort always walk with you and bless you even through the grief that we are sharing. Thank you.
Laurel, Donovan and Joshua Hildebrandt
Day 33, 34, 35 & 36
December 6, 7, 8 & 9th, 2018
Last Day in Santa Barbara
Travel Days & Home
Thursday, December 6, 2018…
Glen was exhausted. The night was the same as usual – brutal. We wanted to make it to the comic book store together so Glen gathered all his strength (and I truly do mean all his strength) and together we drove to the comic book store. We browsed a bit but Glen was almost falling over so the browsing was limited. We picked out a whole lot of “Marvel” comics and while I went to pay Glen went back into the Santa Fe to rest. I then went to the “Youth Initiatives” store where youth make paintings, jewelry, leather goods – all kinds of crafty things – and sell them. It is an initiative to get youth at risk off the streets and doing something good and productive. It’s an initiative I don’t mind supporting when buying gifts for the friends who have helped me out so much. It’s too bad money is tight because I couldn’t buy the things I wanted – but I settled on a nice pottery piece for my “personal assistant extraordinaire” Rowena and a silver shell necklace for her daughter and my friend Genya who has also been so helpful and generous with her time! They even set up the Christmas tree downstairs in my client waiting area. Above and beyond the call of duty are friends like that! We made another stop at the pharmacy to pick up some pharmaceuticals for Glen. This took longer than anticipated because they weren’t allowed to give it out until December 11 – could we wait until then? Well… no actually! We are leaving tomorrow… The pharmacist made a call to Dr. Kim and then thankfully over rode the State law!
We drove back to the Casita where I made a quick lunch and then ran out the door again. I had to go to “Ross Dress for Less” and buy another suitcase for the extra gifts, extra supplements and a few border worthy food items we were taking home – yes, an entire suitcase for that! Walking in there were hordes of people and I remembered that people were actually doing Christmas shopping! Imagine that! It’s almost Christmas and it feels nothing like Christmas to me with the warmer Santa Barbara weather and the pain of seeing Glen so very ill and near death… I don’t much feel like celebrating a “season” – yet I am still so very thankful that Jesus came! It’s a weird mix of feelings for sure.
I grabbed a suitcase as fast as I could, then ran to another pharmacy to pick up items Glen needed for the trip that the other pharmacy was out of stock for. I hopped back into the Santa Fe and found myself speeding for a few seconds and thinking “Wow! I must be feeling at home here in Santa Barbara!” and promptly slowed down. It wouldn’t be wise to get a speeding ticket nor into an accident because I was rushing around! I made a quick stop at Whole Foods Market and bought a few grocery items (one of which we forgot in our Casita when we left – the Glenn flour sour dough bread! ☹). I also said goodbye to the young man I saw most of the times I went into the store. He was always very friendly and asked how Glen was doing. Saying goodbye to people is actually really hard because for the most part we know we won’t see them again.
I made a beeline then for the Issels Clinic to pick up more of Glen’s supplements and bring back our Kangen water bottles. Doris could tell I was rushing and feeling stressed. Saying goodbye to her was hard too… I drove back to the Casita and hurriedly unpacked the groceries and then was out the door again to my appointment with Katya with the magic wand (lymphatic wand) treatment. Ah! An hour and a half to relax before I packed everything up and tried to figure out which suitcase to put what! Walking out of Katya’s there was still some light left so I took another drive to Trader Joe’s to pick up a bouquet of flowers for Jan and Joanna.
I arrived back to the Casita and got the flowers ready. Joanna wasn’t feeling very well but was ok for me to stop in quick. I wanted to say an in person goodbye and thank you. Delivering the flowers and a thank you note I was met by Shelby, their golden retriever dog who is only 9 or so months old. She is the sweetest dog and immediately stuck her head into me for a good pet and began licking my fingers. I love animals and golden retrievers are definitely up there on the list! We said our goodbye’s making sure that they knew that they have a home with us in Canada if they ever come for a visit. They are very sweet people and we are absolutely blessed to have met them and been allowed to stay with them on their property for close to four weeks. I know that everyone we met, including Jan and Joanna, were preordained by God. It was a huge gift from God to stay in such a place of peace and solitude.
I went back to the Casita, made supper, and spent the rest of the evening packing. Glen was not well…hopefully he would be okay for the trip tomorrow. His stomach was now hurting and this was something new. “It’s just the treatments,” I kept telling myself. “This will get better. In Jesus Great Name, this will get better! Glen will get better!” I will strike the ground for Glen a million times in prayer because I know a God who heals!
Friday, December 7, 2018
We awoke to a sunny morning in Santa Barbara. This makes it all the more difficult to leave because we know that it’s raining at home in Abbotsford! I hauled the four suitcases to the car and we both did a last minute check. Glen ate a very sparse breakfast because he was worried about his bowels – I don’t blame him!
We made it to the airport with no problems and after standing in line at Enterprise handed back the keys and got the bill – yikes! I was taken in by the “extra insurance” that I’m sure, in hindsight, I didn’t need. Glen told me I didn’t need it but the guy convinced me that my credit card insurance would not be enough. Live and learn – to listen to Glen!
Next we stood in line to check in. Glen managed to stand there because it was reasonably quick in the small Santa Barbara airport. It reminded me of Abbotsford airport. Santa Barbara is actually only 88,000 people (I think that’s right) so definitely not as big as I thought it might be. We waited for our plane and then boarded with a request for a wheelchair when we got to San Francisco. I’ve never been to any of these places but the quick change from plane to plane in San Francisco doesn’t really count! It was another half hour before we boarded the second plane. Glen was doing decent but was definitely tired and still a bit feverish. As always, I was concerned. I gleaned the window seat on all the flights because the planes were very small and Glen still needed frequent trips to the small little bathroom on the little plane. There were only four seats across on all our flights with the aisle separating those four seats down the middle so it was a tight flight. I watched the scenery change from blue skies and sunny beaches to colder weather and then to snow topped mountain peaks and rooftops as we landed in Calgary.
By the time we got to Calgary it was dark and local time was 5pm ish. I was beyond exhausted and Glen looked about ready to pass out. Though we both just wanted to keep flying home we were thankful that we just had to make it to the airport Marriot hotel for the night. I hijacked a wheelchair for Glen because they forgot even though all along everyone said they would have one for him. I then pushed him to customs where I filled out the forms making it through the customs with no problems. I think it helps when we both look so utterly helpless though that’s certainly not how we were trying to appear!
I gathered all four of our suitcases and loaded them on a cart while Glen sat in the wheelchair – helping where he could of course. Then the daunting task of pushing all the luggage AND Glen. Oh boy! Sadly, though we asked directions to the airport hotel people were more than willing to direct but no one offered to help me push the heavy load. Glen was too weak to push himself in the chair so he held onto the luggage airport cart and I pushed all of it all the way to our hotel room. This was no small task as the hotel hallway turned into rug and was extremely difficult to push around 350 pounds all the way there. We walked in and I collapsed on the bed exhausted and thankful to make it that far. Glen collapsed in the bathroom and shower also completely exhausted. The pain level in his stomach was getting worse and worse in awful cramping waves.
I ordered supper and then welcomed Glen’s parents and sister in law Dianne in for a little visit to our room. Glen is originally from Alberta so that was part of the reason for staying in Calgary a night as well. The visit was good, just heart breaking because we are all so concerned about Glen. I am holding to the hope that the treatments in Tijuana and Santa Barbara will actually work and that Dr. Kim is right – that the cancer spiking will then decrease just as rapidly. It is difficult to hold onto hope when what you see with the naked eye is really bad. This is nightmare material. We are literally warring in the spiritual realm and physical realm for Glen to not only pull through but to be completely restored to better than before health, strength and wellness physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Our precious family left and we were left alone with our thoughts and words. We talk a fair bit but at that point our words were not much. Glen fell asleep on top of the covers of the bed so I got ready for bed. I tried waking him but it was an hour after I climbed into bed that he roused himself and crawled under the covers. I lay awake a few more hours until sleep finally had mercy on my brain.
Saturday December 8, 2018
We both awoke around 8:30am after a few times of being awake during the night. I called the number we were given for breakfast, a direct line to the kitchen. It appears it is no longer possible to get a simple breakfast, as everything is so gourmet. We would love gourmet but just can’t do it so I was able to order a breakfast of just plain eggs and plain toast…it’s the best they could do and we were thankful for it. I did however send the man back for jam – I’m plain but still need jam! ☺ He was gracious in running back and forth and making that delivery.
We packed up quickly because we had not unpacked much and headed downstairs. I had already checked out so we just needed directions to the West Jet departures. The concierge looked at the heavy load I was again pushing. “Do you need help Ma’am?”
Why yes I certainly do please! He pushed the luggage cart and I pushed Glen all the way to West Jet which was a huge blessing in many ways as then I didn’t have to figure out where to go as well! We checked in for our flight while having a conversation with the check in lady about her elderly mother who has cancer. She took a fall and looking at the picture it didn’t look pretty. Everyone has a story. I love hearing people’s stories even though it is heartbreaking I am glad to be able to listen with a caring heart and hopefully give encouragement.
The flight was again on a small turbo prop jet plane. Apparently it’s more economical. We were sitting right by the propeller so it was a loud flight. I was thankful for a short flight. Our son Donovan met us at the airport and I was again thankful that he is a strong man. He hefted the suitcases into his vehicle and off we went. Home. Home is a wonderful thing when you are sick and haven’t been home for awhile. We walked in and took in our surroundings. We have a beautiful home and the best part was that both Donovan and Joshua were there with us. Josh had come home from CBC and was waiting to see us. That blessed my heart more than anything ever could in this world.
I spread out lunch, which consisted of a cooked chicken I had picked up on the way home from Save-On-Foods knowing I, if no one else, would be hungry. We visited and I ate, Glen ate some, and the boys had already had leftover pizza. Glen retired to the easy chair for the next twelve hours collapsing into sleep except when he had to run to the bathroom. Other than that he was out. I changed into my barn clothes and drove to see my horse. Other than my boys my horse was deeply missed by me! I was met at the barn by Lauren who enveloped me in a big, long hug. It was wonderful and made me feel very loved. I then walked into the field to see DeOrro (after saying hi to Zoe who came running to stick her head into the aisle when she heard my voice – the rest of the horses were outside). DeOrro looked up as I walked purposefully towards him. I think I may have even broken into a jog a bit and then remembered he’s still a horse and they don’t like to be run to. He looked for a bit as I came towards him and then he walked quickly to me and nuzzled my hand, then nuzzled into my neck a bit. That was all I needed. The smile was huge as I hugged my buddy and communicated to him how much I missed him. We “talked” a bit and then I walked around the pasture with DeOrro freely walking beside me and following my every move. I love it when he “joins up” with me and follows without a halter. Some days I have to work harder for that to happen but not this day. He missed me too, which warmed my heart to swelling. I put his halter on after a bit and lunged him, then walked into the barn to grab his bridle and my helmet (safety first!). I couldn’t resist a ride. I hopped on and felt his body energy swell and said a prayer for safety. I don’t have time to be injured. The other horses by now had heard my voice and come running so DeOrro’s energy was up more as well. I chose to just ride in the pasture. I had already brought Shorty in, the little cute as a button pony that is also at the barn. Because we all help each other out in our awesome self board barn Shorty and all the horses are deeply loved by all of us. He also seemed happy to see me and was following me around. This is unusual for Shorty because he gets less pasture time (ponies tend to gain weight quickly which is detrimental to their health) when he is outside he generally just eats and does not pay attention to anyone else. This time I was honored that he was indeed happy to see me.
As I rode it was clear that DeOrro had a lot of energy. He wanted to run but I know that he has a fair bit of pain from navicular (his navicular bone under his hoof is degenerated which is very painful) so he tends to buck when we go into a canter. I took the advice of my very good friend who also is a horse trainer and sold me DeOrro and asked for a canter riding in a small circle. It’s harder for a horse to buck going in a circle and I was riding bareback. Sure enough he gave me a few little bucks so I slowed him down right away. I knew I would be stiff just from having not ridden in five weeks and now holding on tighter. I hopped off after twenty or so minutes with a smile on my face and walked along beside him for a bit. He was anxious to be beside me so I brought him into his stall. It was close to supper anyway so I brought him his food and then cleaned out Kenny and Shorty’s stall. It was cold and dark by now so all the horses wanted in. Lauren had already done my stall. I love all my friends at the barn! So supportive! I then let them all back into their stalls and they all gave me snuggles (except Kenny – he can be a bit stand off-ish sometimes especially when he is mad at you and sometimes horses get a bit miffed when you haven’t been around for awhile – he’ll warm up again, the silly boy!). Chilco, who just had to have his eye taken out, came and greeted me too. He doesn’t see very well with the other eye either but he is such a beautiful and gentle big boy. Elizabeth was there before I left and I got and gave another hug. She informed me that Zoe was sold and leaving tomorrow or the next day. She was heartbroken and I was feeling her pain and loss right with her. Saying goodbye to our beautiful animals is always difficult even if the reasoning is logical. I mourn Zoe with her.
I headed to the other barn to give Susanne a hug and was again enveloped in a bear hug. I feel loved and supported by this barn family. I am very blessed to have so many people in my court.
Sunday, December 9, 2018
I awoke after a restless sleep. Glen was still in bed so I simply assumed he was not well enough to go to church with me. He had passed out into a sleep on his favorite chair half an hour after we got home only to be awakened by his bowel and the pain. There was no way I was going to wake him up. I headed to church feeling uneasy about leaving Glen and the week of work that was planned for me. He was not well. Glen was in a lot of pain and not eating unless I brought him food and drink. How was I going to care for him while working and seeing clients? Arriving in church a few minutes late I looked for a place to sit. Donovan was by himself to the side, probably waiting for me as his friends were sitting farther down. I plopped down beside him, grateful for his presence. Half way through the service Josh came in on my other side. Better late than never and I was feeling surrounded by my boys, now young men who felt protective and loving over me. My friend Iona was speaking on this advent Sunday about hope. It was a good sermon that I enjoyed because hope is what I have right now. Hope is the thing keeping me going. Hope that God will do a miracle for my beloved man who I can’t bear to even think about being without.
The service ended I chatted with people trying to give a positive update but the reality is still that Glen’s cancer numbers are up and now he is even more weak and in pain. We are still holding onto the hope that Dr. Kim said – that the numbers will start to go rapidly down. And that God will intervene. I made my way down to Iona and as with any good friend who loves you I felt safe so the tears began to flow and flow hard. The entire church I’m sure witnessed me breaking down. I sobbed on my friend’s shoulder and the worries for the week and care-taking Glen all came out. She cried with me. She empathized with me. She put to words some of what I was feeling – utterly and completely alone and helpless. We feel God and then we’re numb at times. That’s ok. I know He is holding us.
I went home to find Glen somewhat conscious. I went out to do chores and enjoyed my time at the barn. Dad and my step Mom Margaret came over for a bit when I got home to see us after our time away. I thought of going to see Aunt Melinda who lives in a nursing home and I am her POA (Power of Attorney) so I take care of her. I was too exhausted. Tomorrow would be a busy day with chores, a doctor’s appointment for me (the dermatologist checks me every year for cancer spots because my Mom died of melanoma in 2010), and then six scheduled clients. I tried unpacking and making sure things were somewhat in order for the next day but the house still looked in disarray when I collapsed in bed with a still very tired and in pain Glen. Lord, hold us please! Heal my man! We petition before the throne and the courts of heaven, heal my man and extend the boundaries of Glen’s life to a healthy old age!
December 5, 2018
Issels Clinic – The Last Day of Treatment in Santa Barbara
Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
The day dawned again. They tend to do that. Somehow the two of us had trouble dawning today. We were both exhausted. Glen had been up and down too many times to count. I had “slept” in a very restless state as a result and woke up at 6am with an excruciating migraine. I had also been having my usual migraine night with multitudes of dreams; sleep talking (telling Glen to keep his eyes open) and doing spiritual warfare in my dream state. This is not abnormal for me when the pain is that bad. I began using the chiropractic laser on my head and neck pretty early and did that for at least an hour before it calmed down even slightly. I moved from that laser to standing in front of the mirror with a normal laser pen and a round black belt on my lower stomach moving the laser in clock-wise circles inside the black circle on my stomach. It’s also a real chiropractic treatment that causes whatever is touching the mirror to “want” to go back into place. I do both lasers pretty much daily in order to function but today it was really bad and not wanting to budge. Today I was wishing for a chiropractor because that seems to be the only option when it’s that excruciating. I ended up taking a migraine pill once we got to the clinic, which today only took the edge off the pain. I’m still thankful for all my tools or I wouldn’t be moving at all today!
Glen was also moving slowly having not slept much all night. He was weak and shaky. Having had another mistletoe shot yesterday he was again feverish last night. Glen is feverish most nights because in order to heal they are actually inducing a fever to stimulate the immune system. It seems very wrong and is hard to observe night after night but it is the right way of waking up the body to fight. We arrived at the clinic and Glen was led away for more testing because one didn’t work out quite right yesterday. It took awhile because there was a line up for testing. Star did the testing again today. I didn’t watch today because I didn’t want my “magnetic personality” to shut down any machines! I plopped down on the couch and waited while talking with Ken, Jimmy and Wileen. As we all talked my “personal assistant extraordinaire” Rowena, texted me asking if the 11am would still work to “see” a client. I almost forgot! Good thing she asked – so I moved onto the floor in the hallway and talked with a sweet client.
By then it was 12pm and I walked to the back to see how Glen was doing. Glen was not doing well. His body was done with treatments – I think because he was so exhausted and the complete lack of sleep that does not help one heal! Roberto was trying to find a vein that worked for the IV as his catheter line had started leaking! It took around 20 pokes to find a vein so that Glen could get his last set of IV’s today. The IV’s were the only treatments on the agenda today besides meeting with the doctors one more time. I couldn’t stand to watch even though Glen is extremely tough. Most people would have refused the IV after poke seven. In fact I witnessed them refuse because they are almost screaming in pain. I’ve had a lot of IV treatments in the past for Lyme Disease and my veins kept popping the needle out with the last one I had so I’m a little nervous about doing more as well! Sadly, IV therapy is one of the big protocols for Glen when he gets home. Poor guy! Good thing those pokes don’t bother him!
I had lunch at the Casita and then packed up all our laundry to go to the Laundromat, then rushed back to the Clinic because apparently Carly the nutritionist was skyping again. I like her so wanted to be there for that. I missed the first half hour but at least got the last half hour and got to say goodbye to Carly. Today I learned that “tiger nut” flour is not a nut but rather a root. I had never heard of tiger flour but it’s a good substitute for nut flour that I will be looking for because I am very allergic to nuts.
I waited at the Clinic until Glen was done the IV so that we could talk with Dr. Kim and then Dr. Issels. The first meeting was with Dr. Kim. We were hoping beyond hope that the blood tests from yesterday would show that the cancer markers were going down. Our hearts sank when Dr. Kim shared that the cancer markers were again going up. Really?! He pulled up a chart to calm our fears.
“We used to panic when the cancer markers went up so quickly instead of down. If you look at this chart of another patient you can see that the cancer markers spiked, and then after a few weeks went rapidly down. We think that the spiking is because the many treatments are causing the cancer tumors and cells to break down and fill the blood stream with cancer markers. This means that the treatment, according to experience, is probably working. We will want more blood work done in about three weeks,” Dr. Kim explained as he wrote down the exact things he wanted our doctors back in Canada to check for, “And then make sure I get the results. I am only a phone call away.”
Wow. Dr. Kim is amazing. He is often in his office researching and I wonder if he’s in there praying a lot. He went over the home program and different pharmaceuticals to look into if what we’re doing isn’t working. Since we live right on the border if our doctors don’t co-operate we can always have him send stuff to us in Washington – but hopefully our doctors back home will be on board and work together as a team. We’re praying for that outcome! Glen got up and went to the bathroom and I asked a few more questions sharing how disappointed I was that we couldn’t see the markers going down while we’re here. Disappointed is an understatement. He understood and shared in our obvious hope of wanting evidence to keep the hope alive. I remain hopeful. My roots are firmly grounded in Christ and so are Glen’s so this will not make our hope go dry. If God said Glen will be healed then Glen will be healed.
We then met with Dr. Issels who confirmed that according to his tests Glen is looking better. He also affirmed what Dr. Kim said. We have so very much to remember! Dr. Issels is also just a phone call away. He prefers phone consults so that he can ask more questions and be more helpful – he would just prefer that we book it with the front desk so that he’s ready for us with file in hand. I certainly understand that. I was also wondering if we have to pay more for consults and the answer is no! We have these doctors for the rest of Glen’s life and what we have paid is all-inclusive – unless of course we come back for more treatments in Santa Barbara. I guess with that being said it’s not a bad deal and it’s a deal we will certainly be utilizing!
Dr. Issels then explained that he needed to go home because he lost his wife this past summer and there were some people coming to pick up some kitchen equipment. Talk about a bomb drop!! I knew there was something that just didn’t add up and grief certainly explained what that something was. He was doing an amazing job in spite of dire circumstances. He was still doing what he has been called to do. We will continue to pray for him. Now we know how to pray more specifically.
Saying goodbyes at the Clinic were bitter sweet. We kept our “Kangen” water bottles (perfectly balance PH water to help the body become alkaline) so I have to bring those back tomorrow but we wanted to say our main goodbyes today. The staff and the patients we met have become very special to us. We have bonded at a level that is very deep and happened very quickly. I’m not even sure that we, even now, know a ton about each other (depending on whom we hung out with the most), yet when you bond on a life and death level with dear people like these it is for life. We have exchanged email and phone contacts with most of them. It is our desire to stay in contact with them. Jimmy and Jennifer said if we need anything out here to just contact them. They are from Los Angeles and are also believers. Ken and Ada are also leaving for home tomorrow. They are amazing and I will truly miss them all! Jimmy and I were both the comic relief at the clinic. It was my goal from day one to make everyone smile – staff and patients alike. If I can come in and tell a funny story about how my hair suddenly got curls and make everyone smile, why not? Life is way too serious and these people, though in pain, know all too well that life is too serious. They don’t take life as seriously in a way. They know life is fragile and treat it with respect. They smile when the world thinks there is nothing to smile about. They find purpose and reasons and look at life different. Life is too short to live bitter. These people live better and I have a high and huge respect for each one of them. We all have to go sometime…and it’s hard to let our loved one’s go. I think that for most at the clinic God has more… He’s just teaching us all a valuable life lesson on what is important.
I dropped Glen off at the Casita and made my way back to the Laundromat. I was definitely looking forward to doing laundry at home! I can’t believe how blessed we are. Back home I have two incredibly amazing sons, a crazy amazing horse (boarded out), a huge house that also holds my growing counselling business, supportive friends and family – and it’s all because of Jesus. The years have been filled with trials and I am thankful that Glen and I have been able to face these trials and grow together in Christ. They have also been filled with much joy. May He grant us the keys not only to Glen’s healing but also healing to many more who come through our door. By the grace of God we grow those roots deeper in Christ and thrive. Without that grace, we are nothing. “Thank you Jesus for adopting us! Now we again claim healing on Glen and expand the boundaries of his life into a healthy old age in Jesus Christ Name! Amen.”
December 4, 2018
The day dawned with blue skies but sadly by noon it was starting to cloud over. I know I shouldn’t be complaining but I was really hoping that our last few days would be warmer, bright, sunny… so yes, I will stop complaining! We spent the sunny morning at the clinic. Glen was getting more testing done so instead of hitting the beach while the day was warm and sunny I stayed with him to hear the results. The testing went very slowly today – probably because I was antsy to get to the beach!
The testing was everything he had tested on day one to measure the progress results. This time I wrote it down…. He had “digital body analysis” (AO); the ESTECK scan that scans the body with four plates to read pretty much everything that is going on in the body. Dr. Issels said it doesn’t tell us if someone has cancer but they look at things on the scan that are missing or prominent. He also had the ZYTO scan done which is the same scan my naturopath Dr. Tracy Park uses. This one scans a hand and also is a great tool to see what is going on in the body. Today I also asked more about what each therapy does. The BRT (Bacon, relish and tomatoes?)…just kidding – it’s a “Bio resonance therapy” which actively gets the cells to communicate with each other. This is the therapy that Roberto jokingly said was like marriage therapy. The CC otherwise known as “Cellular Communication” is the passive way to get the cells to communicate by “clearing” the pathways of junk in the way (that’s my words minus the passive word…my weird way of trying to understand what it does!) Glen also had “Acoustic light wave” therapy sessions done quite often – it also facilitates cell communication. This basically means it’s all giving the body a little kick and saying, “Seriously!? This is cancer. Cancer is not your friend. Now start fighting it!”
We met with Dr. Issels and I planted myself in the farthest corner of his office to not disrupt his computer system for another test…I forgot to ask what this one was. These are not blood results but according to all that testing Glen has improved. The extreme exhaustion is his body getting better and detoxifying as we keep targeting the cancer, which is apparently the only thing wrong with him. Getting better is hard work with any disease. I definitely understand that with all the hard work I’ve done and will continue to do to ditch the Lyme Disease. People ask me if you can heal from Lyme Disease. The answer is that it depends on to whom you are asking the question. Just the same as the question, “Can one heal from stage 4 terminal cancer?” If you’re asking me, the eternal optimist who is always filled with hope, the answer is yes – to both questions. This song from my childhood comes to mind: “Because HE lives, I can face tomorrow! Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know who holds my future…And life is worth the living, just because He lives!”
Jesus is the great Physician. Jesus is the Word that was made flesh and was with God the Father creating the world. (John 1) Jesus the Son and God the Father made us in their image (of course with the Spirit of God there too), so if we are made in their image we are made perfectly. Our bodies know how to heal. Yes, we live on this imperfect earth. Yes, bad things happen all the time – believe me – I think I may have heard most of them already in my 23 years of counselling. Bad things happen because we have an enemy. God doesn’t give us bad things. God uses those bad things for good for those who love Him to mold us and make us more like Him – to “sanctify” us is what that means. Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and we are called to be stronger. We are called to work out every day not only physically (a good idea) but spiritually! Flex those muscles of trust and faith! Flex those disciplines of prayer and reading the Word! Flex those muscles of listening to the still, small, peaceful voice of the Spirit giving us words of absolute life. And man, are we flexing out here in treatment and on this roller coaster ride of cancer coupled with Lyme Disease!! God has called us all to flex and become strong men and women for Him. Battle on!
When I finally did make it to the beach the wind was so strong and the waves rushing in one on the other in rapid succession – I was actually cold. There were no surfers out today for the first time since I have been coming here. In an effort to remain as adamant as possible to take in the free negative ion treatment from the ocean I took off my shoes and socks and waded along the shoreline walking for around an hour. It was still breathtaking even though the water was shocking my toes with the chill! God has made some amazing scenes!
I made it back to the clinic and visited with Jimmy and Ken in the waiting room for a bit before moving into the IV room. Jennifer’s numbers are looking better! That is so awesome! I’m not sure about Ada but I am hoping her numbers are looking up too. She is such a sweet woman with a gentle nature. She had a rough day today with a sudden onslaught of nausea, headache and throwing up. I am praying she’s ok for her last day of treatment tomorrow!
Though Glen started the day exhausted and barely moving he certainly perked up by the time we came home. That was unusual but we will take it! He had a little nap and after a supper of the fresh salmon I landed at the “Fish Market” (almost as good as real fishing when you pay $4.82 for enough salmon for two!), Glen even had some coconut milk ice cream for dessert. He needs it. He’s down to 160 pounds, which for his frame is skinny.
Tomorrow is also Glen’s last day of treatment. As we started today with blood tests again we will get those results before going home. I think we may be holding our breath…
December 3, 2018
Glen had a better night even though the extremely low dose chemotherapy caused his feet to go red with rash and on fire on only day 4 of taking it. When he took the same type of chemotherapy in 2015 the entire bottoms of his feet went fiery hot and peeled off entirely. Glen didn’t take it again this morning. When we told Dr. Kim he said just stay off of it entirely for now – probably for good – as Glen is obviously very sensitive to it. He is still on the “Tykerb”, another pharmaceutical that is supposed to be a non-psyto toxic chemo agent and will also attack the cancer without all the nasty side effects. I pray that it does. Whatever Glen is taking I, and an army of prayer warriors, God’s children, are also praying for his healing through the means of doctors or direct intervention by the hand of God.
We arrived at Issels Clinic slightly after 9am because I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. I took an allergy pill to sleep and once I fell asleep I was out until my alarm at 7:30am this morning. Of course when it went off I promptly turned it off and rolled back over falling asleep again! As one who suffers from insomnia forever it is really hard to get up most mornings. When I was in Bible College my roommate and I would regularly turn the alarm off in our sleep and not even remember doing it. That made it pretty hard to make it to an 8:00am class but usually I made it by rolling out of bed by 7:55am, throwing on sweats and a sweatshirt and running to class! Strange method of survival but that’s what I did! One morning I was so very tired that I got up and walked across the room to turn off my alarm – my solution to turning off the alarm in my sleep – and then sat on the floor of my room and fell asleep sitting up. Wish I could fall asleep at night so easily!
This morning Glen went straight into the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. I decided to park on a farther away street where I could leave my vehicle for longer and go for a walk to the comic book store to buy our boys each a comic book. I ended up parking a fair ways away and then just started walking, connecting back up with State street. I got to the comic book store turn off but everything was closed so I kept on walking. I was also looking for a store where they had winter looking suede jackets on sale (polyester really, not even suede!) because my jackets were done being useful and it sure would be nice to have something a little bit warmer for the trip home! I walked through an outdoor mall that I had spied from my vehicle trips driving down State Street, then arrived at the bridge which is really close to the beach so I figured I may as well keep on walking! I arrived at Stearns Wharf and eased myself down onto the sand removing my shoes for good measure. The seal popped up and down again but didn’t hover anywhere in the water for too long so I just enjoyed watching him pop up and slide back gracefully into the water. The sun was wonderful and I just enjoyed sitting there. Eventually I got up and waded in the water a bit but today I just needed to rest my feet!
After a half hour of soaking up the sun I made my way back up to the sidewalk. Stopping at the man who “works for tips by creating art” I asked him if he could be in the picture with the sand sculpture of the paramedic helping another man he had created. It really is a work of art. Though he moved very slowly because he forgot his cane (I wouldn’t have asked him to stand had I known how hard that was for him!) I think he was proud to be in the picture. Of course I gave him a “tip” but felt pretty cheap as I had put other small cash in my pocket to hand out as I walked back down State Street. There are so many homeless here, as in other cities. It really does break my heart no matter what city I’m in.
On the long walk back to the Clinic I found the jacket I wanted to buy for really cheap so didn’t feel too bad spending money. I then got handed a sample of moisturizer and got enticed to walk into a store. I ended up getting my hair curled entirely by “GO Royal” (pronounced G-O) who was trying to sell me either ridiculously priced skin care or the ion flat iron he was using to curl my hair. Once I explained that every spare cent was going for cancer treatments for Glen and necessities he became a real person and started telling me more about him. He recently lost his mother because of liver disease. He was about to finish production on an album – he has a really nice voice, I know because he was singing – when he met a really big star that he was not allowed to tell anyone about…yet. This “big star” is debuting him in a massive concert on December 11 with thousands of people and helping him finish his album! I kind of felt bad not buying anything but he didn’t push it after knowing my reason for being in Santa Barbara for which I was very thankful! I made it back to the clinic having given all my spare change to two different homeless people and buying a smoothie because my blood sugar was pretty low by then!
I walked into the IV room to show Glen my new curls before finding lunch but Glen and Ada both gave me their chickpea salads so I figured that should suffice for a light lunch. Glen had to finish up his IV’s having already done various other treatments including a new one called a “hemo” shot which involved them taking his blood and adding something to it and then re-injecting him with his own blood again. Weird stuff but Lord please bless it! Visiting with Kim, who had to leave tomorrow after only a week there, I only walked back into the waiting room when all the chairs were filled. In the waiting room I met Willene who was new there.
“I thought I was the only woman here who wasn’t a patient! All the men went out for lunch,” she said in a Southern drawl. Her and her husband Bill are from Missouri near Arkansas. I laughed. I could have joined the men she was referring to but I prefer to eat cheaper food back at the Casita as my norm. The men would have included Ken (Ada’s husband), Terry (Kim’s husband) and now we finally met Jimmy who is Jennifer’s husband. I found Glen again to see how long he would be then took off for Trader Joe’s to buy a few groceries. By the time I got back to the Clinic I was probably more ready than Glen to get back “home” because I was so hungry my head was going into a migraine.
The evening brought us chicken for supper instead of fish, and another calm evening of writing, a movie “Ant Man”, and spending time with my beloved. It was a day where God had to instill more hope in me through a friend who has lost her beloved texting me and giving me encouragement. This is a journey I would not wish on anyone yet too many walk through it. I am so very thankful that we do not walk this journey alone. The verse of the day echoes in my mind.
Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.”
I believe. I trust. God is our refuge.
December 2, 2018
Rest Day, Santa Barbara
I took a muscle relaxant again last night so finally – I slept through most of Glen getting up and down. He said he slept really well last night too in spite of getting up around seven times. The nights are consistent with Glen’s bowels being nightmarish yet we are very thankful that he is able to fall asleep quickly virtually every time he has to do the up and down thing. Glen was still sleeping when I woke up at 7am and ducked back under the covers to warm up and shade my eyes from the sun. Glen was still sleeping when I awoke again at 8am. This time I lay as still as possible so that he could sleep longer. I gently rolled over to grab my laser and began aiming the chiropractic strength laser at my head, then neck for the next hour. It really helps my pain levels as it works a few centimeters down to relax the soft tissue. Finally at 9am Glen woke up and headed for the bathroom – which meant I had to wait for the bathroom! Oops!
Glen was again exhausted but slightly less exhausted than yesterday so after a lazy morning I made us some plain and simple turkey gluten free wraps (mine a little less simple with added lettuce, mayo and Dijon mustard – sorry honey!) and we headed for the beach. I headed down to the beach while Glen went to the public bathroom. I finished my wrap and was about to go for a walk having given up on Glen joining me when I saw him slowly making his way down the steeper pathway to the beach. My heart lit up when I saw him coming! I knew he wouldn’t be able to walk with me today but if he can sit in the sand with his bare feet and soak up some 17 degree weather sunshine I was sure it would bring some semblance of healing to his body and perhaps his soul too. Glen gave me a kiss and sent me on my way for a walk in my bare feet again while he settled into the sand.
As I walked I began to warm up a little. I was one of the few wearing shorts on the beach but as it was the surfers’ area there were quite a few of them in their wet suits enjoying the waves. To my great delight I saw dolphins swimming across the shoreline again! This time there were at least three sets of two to three dolphins swimming side by side in perfect synchronism in and out of the water with a grace unequaled. I was again mesmerized and watched as long as I could see them before walking along the beach again. Today I walked further deciding to dip my feet up to my knees if need be to get around some rather large jagged rocks jutting out of the sand and water. I walked carefully here because I could see that at certain spots I would land hard in deep holes of water and crash my foot and leg against a sharp boulder so wanted to avoid a broken foot or leg for sure!
I love the ocean. It is mesmerizing and puts my soul at peace even though it is thunderous with the constant waves and surf coming in and out. The wind whipped my hair around as it blew directly into my face. I chanced taking my hat off to feel the wind whip through my hair more thoroughly and feel the hand of God kiss my face with His strong wind. I prayed as I walked. I listened to my Father God, as it’s been heart breaking to see Glen so sick and tired. We know if it weren’t for those nasty improperly working bowels Glen would feel better but so far that healing isn’t seeming to go anywhere – at least not that we can see yet. There is so much that we don’t see that goes on in the spiritual realm. It is that unseen battle and unlocking of those healing doors that we are literally counting on to save Glen’s life.
“Next year will be different,” I hear. “Hang on child. Trust Me.”
How many times have I heard my Father God tell me to trust Him? A lot. I do trust Him and He knows that His heart is safe with me. I appreciate the reminders to consciously trust Him with all things. My mind wanders as I see birds, dogs chasing balls their owners are throwing for them (not a lot of people here but enough to keep my squirrely brain occupied!). I see large birds in a tree and try to take a picture. As I’m walking through the water I see ocean life attached to the rocks and try to take a picture. I keep listening to the sounds of nature, of the ocean and of my Father God. He’s whispering how much He loves Glen and me. He’s speaking almost in a voice I can’t understand yet I do understand it – it’s like a massage for my mind, my soul, my inner sanctuary is being buffered for whatever is to come next. I know there is more coming for this world that isn’t going to be pretty. Just like the storm changed the landscape here on this beach, more storms will come that will continue to change our landscape in the world that we know. I know that God is preparing us. I am thankful that I am His child and on the winning side. I know that He is coming soon. How soon only God knows but I am choosing to live ready. When He comes He will make all things new again…I can’t even imagine what that will be like! The world is already so beautiful and yet this is just a shadow of things to come. The words of the song, “I can only imagine…what it will be like…” come to mind. What is to come will be beyond our imaginations capabilities and I have a pretty good imagination!
I arrive back to find a very relaxed Glen sitting in the sand listening to music. Chris Tomlin is playing “How Great is Our God” in his ears so he graciously puts one of his ear buds in my ear to listen and praise Jesus together.
The afternoon involved Glen crashing between bed and bathroom, yet I am so thankful for the little bit of time together on the beach! At this point I will take what I get even though I am missing more cuddles because it is uncomfortable and verging on painful for Glen – I am thankful he is here and for every kiss, cuddle, hug and touch I get. I love him so much and really can’t imagine life without him.
I settled outside for a bit to try to finish up an online counselling course on “Somatic Experiencing”. It was an hour and a half of video, then a test. Two more videos to go. It’s ok but it is not what God has taught me in Levelling Prayer Technique, which is so powerful in setting people free from trauma big and small. God is so amazing! But, I have to do “Continuing Education Credits” every year so I have to put in the time and find things to glean and learn each time.
Supper was fish, potatoes and zucchini again…And again, it tasted fantastic. There is nothing like fresh! We spent the evening the same – writing, sports on TV and then found Captain America on TV to watch together. We are grateful and we again claim healing for Glen is Jesus’ Great Name.
December 1, 2018
Glen had another rough night. It seems to be the norm right now and we now know for sure, as if we didn’t know before that, why people choose to go back to an ileostomy bag. Glen is not getting the sleep he needs which makes it very difficult to heal. Of course with me being a light sleeper when I’m able to sleep, it doesn’t help me sleep either. Glen is also reacting to the dendritic immunotherapy shot he got yesterday. It was made out of his own blood, cultured and trained to kill the cancer cells. I still believe yet the belief is more and more difficult when the cancer markers have gone up and not down. I choose to believe that this is working, that Glen is healing, that Glen being feverish and exhausted and having a rash from the injection site is the treatments working. I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE!
We were both hoping that Glen would be up to going out today but that was not to happen. He was absolutely exhausted. We figured that he would probably not be doing well but it was a calculated timing for the immunotherapy vaccine. If we left it for before we need to fly home next week he would not be functional at all and I don’t think I can do all of that on my own…so he has a rough last weekend here. Sad. That’s the only word for it. On the other hand though, as I force myself to be positive, Glen needs his “cave” time. The clinic at Issels has been extremely busy this week and he was the only male patient there which meant that there were a lot of women there who visited more…which is awesome…It just meant that Glen didn’t get his quiet time to nap – which is his saving grace because he doesn’t sleep much at night.
We both love the new people at the clinic. Kim and her husband Terry are both Christian people and it is very refreshing. Martha is also a Christian and is at the clinic without a person there to support her. They are both fantastic. Simmon and her husband Ki drive in from Los Angeles and they had amazing results – her cancer markers are completely down! They are praying for us as well. Then there’s a woman from China there who is a retired pediatrician (I can’t remember her name). She is there with her daughter in law whose English name is Fiona. Jen from Los Angeles is still there as well. She scared us last week when she didn’t show up on Monday because she had been in the hospital. She had some stints put in and was there from Tuesday on. It is always nice to see Jen. She is obviously in pain yet smiling, positive, kind and empathetic. I never cease to be amazed at cancer patients who just embrace life and choose to live. The Issels Clinic has that picture of the frog with his head in the stork’s mouth yet his arms trying to choke the bird whose trying to eat it. Never give up! That’s the motto along with “Keep Sisseling with Issels”. (Catch the Issels imbedded in there? ☺)
Because the morning dawned bright and clear with blue skies we sat out on the patio where the wind is not so windy. We were able to be together when Glen was not in the bathroom. We were able to talk with Donovan and I was happy to hear that my wonderful friend and “personal assistant extraordinaire” at Wellspring Christian Counselling made him two lasagna’s so he would be ok. He loved it. He is also tired…he’s worried about his Dad and I don’t blame him. It’s been a long journey. We talked again about how God has this – yet as he said, it’s hard not to worry because we are human. We choose to trust and believe and if Donovan is anything like his mother and other human beings we need to choose it over and over. Some days it’s easy. Some moments it’s easy. Other moments it’s a definite choice. Today for me it’s a definite choice. I do believe Glen will be healed. It’s just hard to see that when he’s not doing so well…
By noon I was pretty sure that Glen was not going to be able to join me and I actually had to go out. We were out of enough groceries that I was forced out the door. Looking at my tired beloved I decided I would take my time. The Casita is wonderful but if I’m around I’m keeping him awake. I headed for the beach for a walk to begin my afternoon adventure. The ocean waves had picked up again with a thunderous velocity. The landscape at the beach has drastically changed. I made it past the point I couldn’t make it past yesterday and walked in the water and sand barefoot (very detoxifying and healthy) for about twenty minutes and then my sandy beach became rockier and more difficult to traverse. I took more pictures as I stood atop a rock. I’m in awe of nature. This place is so beautiful. I told Glen that when he’s better we should take every November off and come here.
Getting back to the car I hopped in and drove only a mile or so. Stopping at the harbor I parked in a 90-minute spot and hopped out. I was in search of the fish market. Kaitlyn, a receptionist at the clinic, told me that you could get fresh fish for cheaper by asking for “trimmings”. I ended up walking another half mile before getting close. A homeless woman asked me if I could spare a dollar on my little excursion. I stopped and smiled and said, “Can you give me directions?”
Her face was sunburned and peeling and my heart broke for her. I don’t know why she’s on the street begging for money but I just find it so sad to see all the homeless and how skinny they are.
“Sure,” she replied smiling back.
“Where is the fish market?” I asked as I dug in my wallet for some change for her.
She pointed me in the right direction.
“Are you hungry?” I asked as I handed her some money.
“Yes Ma’am,” she said politely.
I nodded. I bet she was. I would be dead as a homeless person. I fetched the tangerine out of my pocket that I had packed along because my blood sugar tends to drop rapidly and I need something quickly. I had just picked it before coming to the beach. I handed it to her.
“Freshly picked,” I smiled.
It looked like she almost burst into tears. “Thank you. God bless you,” she intoned.
“God bless you too,” I said and quickly kept walking before I cried.
I stopped in a little store and tried on a cute sweatshirt that said “Santa Barbara”. It was adorable but somehow I couldn’t get myself to spend the money in light of my recent encounter with that sweet homeless lady…
I did manage to find the Fish Market. I did manage to buy a fair amount of fresh white fish and some fresh salmon for $20.00 in total. Looking at the prices of the fresh fish I’m pretty sure I scored a really good deal! I headed back to my car walking with my bag of fresh fish and ice in hand. Driving back down Shoreline Drive I turned down the street I knew – State Street – driving down the downtown core slowly (cause that’s what you have to do), and found a gas station. Searching for the magic button to press to open the Sante Fe’s gas tank, and, I might add, finding it – I hopped out ready to fill up the tank. But of course the machine told me “no – go see the cashier” so I walked into the gas station and purchased the gas. Filling up a tank shouldn’t be newsworthy but it was refusing to work and a gentleman beside me came and did exactly the same thing as me, and it worked. I’m just impressed that someone noticed and came over to help this poor maiden in distress!
I hopped back into the car and drove all the way to Whole Foods without the aid of google maps – yay! By this time I was getting really hungry so quickly bought what we needed and looked for the young man at the till who I’ve seen every time I’ve been at Whole Foods and who always makes me miss my boys. He wasn’t there which, weirdly, made me feel sad. I got back in and drove to CVS, the pharmacy to pick up some stuff for Glen, then drove back to the Casita having forgotten to buy bananas. Back out I went again but just drove to the little deli across from Issels this time. I was starving and still had to make supper but Glen really needed bananas for the protein drinks I was encouraging him to drink because he just keeps losing weight. He’s down another five pounds making him 165 pounds too light for his frame so I will go back out into the now weather turned wind and cold and buy him bananas!
The evening was chill with me writing after making and eating supper, Glen crawling under the covers and going back and forth to the bathroom. I rubbed his poor neuropathy ridden feet that were freezing and we enjoyed watching a whole pile of TV… there’s not much else to do here so I write and Glen kind of watches TV on and off. And by the way, the fish was amazing! I love walking out the door to pick a fresh lemon for dinner.
So today, though it’s rough, we again choose to believe.