Two days ago a plane landed in Edinburgh, Scotland with five empty seats. And today, after a two week October holiday Wormit Primary and Madras had three empty seats. This week 2 The Beehives will be packed up quietly as we try to explain to three boys that life is about to change again. That we are staying longer and we don't know how much longer. And because of all the unknowns, life in Scotland needs to be packed up. There is no way to explain in typed out words. Even face to face I could not possibly bridge the canyon of how far our hearts have traveled these past few weeks. Scotland was home. Luke and Levi both put it well when they say the past 16 months hold the most amazing and hardest part of their lives so far. We really believed we could board that plane. We really thought it was possible to go back to life there and not here.
When we landed, Jeff was seen by doctors at UVA. We had appointment after appointment, going through everything again. Diagnosis, scans, blood work, bad news. You would think after three times we would be ready for it. London Clinic, Ninewells, and now UVA. We weren't. This cancer has decided to leave the soft tissue alone for now and further attack Jeff's spine. Numerous lesions were pointed out, along with spreading to the ribs. Second line chemotherapy was mentioned, and radiation on the worst lesion was scheduled. Jeff struggled with new pain medicines and radiation and lost more weight. His voice became raspy and weak and he struggled to cough well enough to ever clear anything. We limped through the days as Ian counted how many more days until we could go home. When we met with the doctor last week, it was to tell him that Jeff decided to not have anymore more chemo treatments. Dr. Hall let us know he agreed and that it was time to begin hospice services. Papers and numbers were given by a nurse with sad eyes and a quiet voice. We had another talk with the boys. We explained as best we could. Levi asked if we could stop having family meetings for awhile. We cried, talked, tried to answer questions about Zoe, school, friends, the house, and where we would live now. I think back to the first talk with the boys, 9 months ago, and realize how much we have tried to shelter them from this hard climb. But we are weak legged and tired. And from this viewpoint they know too much to be sheltered in the same ways. We read the story of Jesus asleep in the boat during a storm. How the disciples woke him up terrified they would perish in the waves. And with two words the storm stopped and they were saved. "Be still." The wind and waves were stopped by two words spoken by the son of God. We prayed as a family for Jesus to wake up, to still the storm, to guide us safely to the other side. We prayed for the boys as they fell asleep still crying. The next day we decided to run away to a beach. We would find sand to dig our toes in and waves to ride and promised Levi there would be no family meetings at the beach.
So here we are in NC, with a few friends helping out and loving on us while we feel a little freedom to not be okay, and to grieve what we have lost so far. And help us as we figure out how to have tender hearts as we move forward. To remember how to thank Him for what is still given and not fixate on what has been taken.
We will stay here until Saturday and then we will move in with Jeff's mom near Harrisonburg, VA. This will also allow us to be closer to the rest of his family. We will sign more papers and close out all that we hold dear in Scotland and try to begin again. I will home school the boys for the remainder of this year and sign up for online classes to get ready to teach art in the Fall.
Lately the boys and I have talked a lot more about my dad. How going to heaven is the number one, best thing that can happen to a person. The race finished, the tears and pain gone, the aches and heart holes finally answered and filled. To meet the one who made you face to face and be at peace with all else. We have talked about how healing is the second best thing. And I really believe that with my whole heart. That Jeff will find complete freedom heaven side. That he will no longer have to walk with weak legs and a heavy heart. But I also pray every night for the second best to be given. That Jeff would be healed. That somehow the cancer would retreat and healthy tissue and bone would grow into the voids left by disease. That we would get to keep walking together as a family in this world. That his voice would become clear and strong again. That his lion heart could continue to teach and lead. That the story of the five of us together is not over yet.
I will end this post with what we are thankful for. Because today feels too hard, the losses feel too great, and if I end with this maybe the sting of loss will turn into a heart of thanks.
I am thankful for a husband that loves me, that he is and always has been a gentle father to the boys, I am thankful for my own father who led me gently in truth and love, for a mom with a big heart and the energy of ten moms, for aunts and uncles that love us and the boys so well, for grandparents that show up and continue to give even if they are tired, for the houses we have called home these last few weeks (Ian falls asleep so often asking, "why do I feel so rich?", for a Levi to remind us that everyday is the greatest day ever (or could become that if it starts off rough), for a Luke who shares such deep wells of truth when I least expect it, for a car to drive and that I can drive legally! For friends that keep sending messages and words of love when I am hiding, for all the words of hope and truth given, songs written, and prayers said daily for our little family, for the hope that others are walking in for us when it hurts to much to hold on to it ourselves, for the friends and schools in Scotland that loved us so very well, for the health of the boys as we transition and settle, for friends who are willing to watch Zoe in Scotland and pack up things on that end, for medical leave that still allows Jeff to be paid, for a boss with a heart that is so big and a willingness to help in anyway, for paid flights and luggage, and a beach house to stay in that we would never have been able to afford, for toes in the sand this week and for sunrises and cups of coffee over donuts, for early morning and late night hot tub dips, for birds that start to sing just before the sun rises, they sing in those last dark minutes, knowing it will rise....I could go on and on. We are broken but blessed. Thank you for standing with us.
Much love, Team Stables
Jeff would still love to see friends, we know the crazy arrival and settling with UVA appointments took away much of the time he had hoped to spend with others. His voice is still very weak, it is hard for him to project or talk for long so we will be in touch with when and how visits should happen. He is eating well again and coughing less. we are all sleeping well. The pain is being managed and he is getting out each day. Please message or email knowing it make take a few days for me to get back to you. We are still sorting out phones so email is the best form of communication right now.