We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's October?

    I had to start by reposting this note from one of the wonderful teachers at Rincon Vista.  We knew Mrs. Christensen for many years.  She taught at Cottonwood - she is amazing.  I just loved her line about the 'classic Kim smile'...which I see every time I close my eyes...

No thanks necessary. I am the fifth of six kids and this is what big Catholic families do, make soup and share it! I also know there is little I can do to help Kim other than think good thoughts, pray and help feed her family.

My love to all the kiddies and give a special hug to Kim for me. I can't wait to see her out and about again with that classic Kim smile on her face.



On Oct 27, 2010, at 9:57 PM, <conca5@cox.net> wrote:
Hi Monica,
We would like to say thank you for the incredible Italian veggie soup you made for our family! Everyone absolutely loved it - Autumn 'won' by eating 2 HUGE bowls!! Thank you so much for taking time to make this delicious meal for us and all of your good thoughts and prayers. We really appreciate it!
Kim had a good day today and was moved out of ICU! She is off oxygen and her pain medication has been reduced daily. We took her first walk, the length of the hallway, since last Wednesday and she is able to sit in a chair for a period of time. We know her road to recovery will be a hard one, but she is an amazing person and so positive - that will be her edge!
Thank you again! Dave
               Just another example of good people who supported us!  Monica is incredible.

On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 1:38 AM, <conca5@cox.net> wrote:
As for the bambini's, Autumn had a great interview today for the job of photographer at Biz Town, which is next month. She looked so beautiful in her suit and was not alarmed that I was the one who had to do her hair this morning - talk about supporting her dad...after I was done, she said I could be Zohan. We had practiced her interview over the last week and she felt confident - her teacher, Mrs. Rudzena, took extra time with Autumn to help her put together a great resume. Tonio has been practicing for an upcoming musical on November 2nd. He is really looking forward to it. Cody is learning about Andy Warhol in art, who's exhibit we got to see here at the Tucson Museum of Art over the summer. We also recently received a letter from Desert Sky Middle school congratulating him for make the honor roll last quarter. These guys have been great. Today, after I picked them all up, we further discussed Kim's situation and let them know that the adenocarcinoma, tumors, mass, etc we have been telling them are in Kim's left lung and liver, are a form of cancer. They asked many questions, and when I could point out many people in their lives that they know very well that are cancer survivors, they all had great attitudes about it. Right now, they are Kim's best medicine and certainly are an incredible source of energy and inspiration for me. They feasted well again today, special thanks to our friend Janene, who had filled us up with spaghetti chicken a couple of days ago, and today brought us a tray of home made macaroni and cheese and sloppy joes (can't get that Adam Sandler song out of my head when I say 'sloppy joes'). She's a great cook and a great friend. Monica Christensen, who used to teach at Cottonwood Elementary, where Aut and Tonio go, and now teaches at Rincon Vista Middle School, where Kim works, made us a batch of Italian veggie soup (Autumn can't wait to start eating it!) to keep us in food the next few days.
We found new stairwells today, as Kim is in a new building. These kids no longer want to ride elevators! The sub-culture in the stairwells is much more interesting. Autumn challenged a nurse to a footrace to the 4th floor today and we lost. It was only embarrassing because the nurse was wearing Crocs...not exactly the footwear choice of runners.
Even though Kim has been blessed with three straight great days, that brought us positive news about her recovery, we know that we will face a roller coaster of a ride, with good days and challenging days and it will be a lengthy ride. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up with a daily update and will send what I can when I can. But your positive thoughts and prayers have obviously made a difference. Thank you. Leaving me to end Kimmy's update with another person that I find truly amazing, have read most of her books and is a Kim parallel:
"Yesterday is gone; tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today."
- Mother Teresa
Love, Dave
              By now, Janene had gone into full battle mode - ensuring someone from her family was visiting us at St Joseph's, and making sure we had food on our table at home.  Our neighbor Amy, coordinated with all of the teacher's at Rincon Vista to help with the food, too.  Our fridges were full!

            And there was this:

 Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 22:19:25 -0700

It's funny how fast time passes, we can't believe it's Thursday already and Kim is still at St. Joseph's...but, four days in a row now, Kim has shown progress! Her Oncologist, Dr. TaetleAtikinson stopped in - he has met with us everyday since Kim has been in the hospital, I guess he does not take days off? We are thankful for that! He likes the way Kim is coming along, but said her blood values looked a little high. They will retest them tomorrow and if they remain high, they will do a cat scan to see if she has an abscess where the gall bladder was removed. If so, this may push chemo back while they put her on antibiotics. Either way, we finally have an end to her hospital stay in sight!

Two of the nurses from ICU came down to visit her today. They noticed there were no Halloween decorations and that I did not have a comfy chair. They left and returned a short time later with pumpkins, a basket of candy, juices and other snacks for the kids and had pushed a large recliner all the way from ICU for me. Kim is well loved in the hospital, as well as out of it!

Bambini's were well taken care of again today. Autumn's teacher, Mrs. Rudzena had offered to help Autumn with some homework and said she would watch Antonio. Antonio's teacher, Mrs. Schrantz, decided to stay after school and help Antonio finish his too. They both put in an extra hour and a half with these guys - their teachers have been incredibly supportive. Mrs. Rudzena's mom, Patti, who controls the front desk at Cottonwood,  who brought them down to the hospital to see us...they all took the back staircase up to come see us. We talked over breakfast about Lance Armstrong's amazing defeat of cancer and agreed that their Mama is even greater than Lance in many ways and never had to take steroids to achieve super mom status!

That's all for now, Kim continues to be amazing, I cannot keep up with her and need to sleep now. Thank you all for the positive energy, all of the help you all have given us and prayers you are sending our way!

Here's a verse that exemplifies Kimmy:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

- John 1:5

Take care,

Love, Dave

          In my memory, my mind's eye, that walk we took...arm in arm...down the u-shaped hallways of the 4th floor of the woman's center at St. Joseph's...well, it was like a walk in the park.  Seriously.  Kim was smiling.  I felt so good, so full of life and so alive, having Kim holding my arm, like we had not a care in the world.  We may as well have been taking a stroll through Reid Park, enjoying the trees, the birds, the sunshine.  Seriously.  That's how it felt.  It was magical.  She was inspiring...

      As were our community, where the support kept pouring in:

"Keep up the good fight!

If you need anything, don't hesitate to call.

We are here for you.

On Oct 27, 2010, at 9:34 PM, <conca5@cox.net> <conca5@cox.net> wrote:

Hi Micah, I wanted to thank you for taking time to give me a call about Kim and her condition. I really appreciate it. I've meant to call you directly, but it seems when I get a chance, it is always 9 or later and I don't want to disturb your family. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers! Kim had a good day today - she received a 'clear' report on a brain MRI (the Dr told her the good news - her brain is still there!) and a 'clear' report on a bone scan today - these were HUGE wins for us and really buoyed Kim's spirits. She is such an amazing and strong person, which will be her edge in this long fight we face. It gives her strength when good people such as yourself, reach out with good thoughts and prayers. I'll try to keep you guys updated on Kim and her progress. Thanks again, Dave"

And from Deb Bryson, the little ones principal at Cottonwood:

"Blessings to you, Dave! During this difficult time for YOU, you continue to inspire ME!!! Heartfelt thanks for sharing the updates about Kim and your positive responses.

How can I be of support to you all? Having the bambini's spend some time with me? A meal? Anything........

At CWE we are collecting some resources and determining dates to bring meals to you all. When you have a chance, please do some brain storming with the kids as to their "favorites" we would love to provide things you all would enjoy!

Hugs to you all,


  And from Jenny Rienstra, Autumn's 3rd grade teacher and Tonio's 3rd grade teacher to be:

Hello Conca's! I didn't want to stop you when you were with the kids,
but I just wanted to let you know that you are definitely in my
prayers. I hear that things are starting to look up, and I am so
happy. You guys are so wonderful, and we are so lucky to have you in
all of our lives. I'll be happy to see Kim's smiling face back around
soon! I'll be praying for you and sending you lots of positive energy!
Jenny Rienstra

  And Tonio's 2nd grade teacher:
Hi Dave! Just wanted to let you know that Antonio's homework is completely finished-even the reading log! We even had time to sneak in a little root beer and popcorn-he tried my hot sauce on his popcorn and really liked it. I told him that you will never let him stay with me again! :) I hope Kim had another good day. See you tomorrow...


Grammie and Grandpa Jim:

Hi Dave and family,

I was so happy to speak with Kim. She was so proud of Autumn going to Phoenix so I was wondering how Autumn did. I am hoping someone took pictures of her. Tracy wrote me a nice note today, and I answered. She was very happy to speak with Kim also. She is coming to PA over the weekend.

Has Kim had any other tests? Today I mailed a box for you to enjoy this Halloween. I hope it arrives on time.

 Please keep me informed of any other goings on.

 Love to all of you,

 Grammy and Jim
My sister:
Omg, this is great news! Tell Kim we are praying...and cheering!...for her. I am glad youse have such an awesome support system and great bunch of friends. Please remember yo' sistahs are always here for all of you, too. Holler, and we'll be there in a heartbeat.
I think it's awesome that Aut's school has the kids doing interviews- what a practical learning experience. She must've looked adorable in her suit.
I enjoy reading re your adventures in the hospital stairwells- your creativity, even in the face of adversity- is endless!
Love you all-
Patti, mom of Casey, Aut's teacher, who patrolled the front desk of Cottonwood for decades, keeping us all in stitches:
Hi Dave and Kim,
First off, thank you so much for the opportunity of taking Autumn and Antonio home. I have to say, Antonio is just like us!! He was so funny and Autumn was adorable, she took everything that Antonio gave her with a grain of salt. Anytime you need someone to take them home, I am there. I promise I did not swerve the car and then act normal when we saw another car! I swear!!
Another thing, I think we should take Kim's old gall bladder and frame it because I think it saved her. You guys do have a guardian angel.
Monday is the day that we start kicking butt and taking names. I am going to dig out my Green Bay Packer knit cap and I think you should really think of getting rid of the Red Skins one.
After Scott passed, I pretty much lost my faith. I believe it is returning. With each scan that comes out clean and that fact that we are going to beat this, has truly made me start believing again. We had a great 2 days and we are going to continue to kick butt!!!
I love you guys and I don't think we say that enough!!
I will see you in the morning!!
   I thought we'd made up some ground.  I thought Kim would be coming home to us, so I could lovingly care for her and nurse her back to health - as she had done for me, countless time, dragging me out of the gutter, cleaning me off and making me want to do better...for her.  Now, I could attempt to pay her back.  We were so excited...
     More tomorrow.  On the homefront, an impromptu Halloween party broke out today.
                  Autumn won 'Cutest Contest' for her Hot Dog costume.  Hadley won "Most Creative" costume for her Mustard costume, Mitch won "Scariest" for his Soul Eater costume, which he transmorgified into Harry Potter for this photo and Tonio won 'Coolest' costume for his Capt Jack Sparrow costume!  They bobbed for apples, played hide and seek for candy, watched movies, etc.  And I made pasta.  For dinner. 
                  I don't try to pretend that I understand what we're going through.  And, I always listen to what people think, believe, perceive.  I can tell you that I am doing all that I can to keep standing.  Making sure that the bambini are priority and trying to keep things as normal as I can.  Please see that.
I'm not sure who I am yet, but I'm working on it!


Still Running

          In the absence of stairs, we find other ways to run...

At the southeast corner of our development, is a barbed wire fence.  Designed to keep the cattle in, and me out.  Someone was kind enough to stretch the barb wire.  A little.  I caution Bella to hold still as I pour her through the hole and quickly follow...
And then we run...

By now, I was running the stairs with vigor, several times a day, I don't know.  And despite how frightened I was, there are actually still some good memories of these times...

Here's a couple more of the emails I was sending out at this time:

"Another good day for Kim! If she were a hockey player, we would say she has scored a 'hat trick'! They removed Kim from oxygen this morning around 8 and she sat in a chair to eat breakfast and until about noon, when they moved her out of ICU and back into a regular room! Her pain medication was further reduced today and she went most of the day on Vicodin alone, getting a dose of morphine before I left around 9, to help her sleep. We took her first real walk since she was admitted to ICU last week, the length of the hospital hallway. She moved slowly, but was determined to make it the whole length and back - she did great! We then sat for about two hours together, at her window and watched the sun set over the Catalina mountains. Kim's Oncologist, Dr. Taetle and surgeon, Dr. Atikinson, feel Kim needs a couple of more days rest to allow her gall bladder to heal. They plan to administer her first dose of chemo before allowing her to come home. There is no real time table, as they wait and watch Kim's progress from the surgery. Her big 'luxury' today was being able to take a shower - they gave her 10 minutes and she took 20! She had an echo cardiogram, to make sure the blood clots in her lung had not affected her heart - the test results showed her heart is fine - another win for the day.
Even though Kim has been blessed with three straight great days, that brought us positive news about her recovery, we know that we will face a roller coaster of a ride, with good days and challenging days and it will be a lengthy ride. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up with a daily update and will send what I can when I can. But your positive thoughts and prayers have obviously made a difference. Thank you. Leaving me to end Kimmy's update with another person that I find truly amazing, have read most of her books and is a Kim parallel:
"Yesterday is gone; tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today."
- Mother Teresa"

To the principal at Desert Sky, who kept a close eye on Cody for us, which was so comforting...

Hi Micah, I wanted to thank you for taking time to give me a call about Kim and her condition. I really appreciate it. I've meant to call you directly, but it seems when I get a chance, it is always 9 or later and I don't want to disturb your family. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers! Kim had a good day today - she received a 'clear' report on a brain MRI (the Dr told her the good news - her brain is still there!) and a 'clear' report on a bone scan today - these were HUGE wins for us and really buoyed Kim's spirits. She is such an amazing and strong person, which will be her edge in this long fight we face. It gives her strength when good people such as yourself, reach out with good thoughts and prayers. I'll try to keep you guys updated on Kim and her progress. Thanks again, Dave

And 10/27/10
> Yo B...I'm doing what I can, my man. Kim had another good day today...moving out of ICU, off oxygen and less pain killers! We walked the halls together, her first walk in a week. You guys are doing so much for us - there's no way I could do it with out you. Kim needs another day or two of recovery from gall bladder and then should receive her first chemo - then she can finally come home! She's incredible and staying positive.
> I've discovered a whole sub-culture in the hospital stairways. It seems that nurses, techs and Drs. traverse the hospital via stairways and corridors. I've had some great conversations with these folks and seem welcome in their fraternity. I've seen no other 'regular' people using the stairs. I like the exercise and the old stair wells have character and remind me of some great Dirty Harry movies and the like. I've got the kids hooked on them, too. They no longer want to ride the elevator. Today, Autumn challenged a nurse to a foot race up to the 4th floor. We lost, and the hardest part to swallow was not being beat by a nurse, but one wearing Crocs...hardly considered fine running wear.
> Anyways, Kim and I sat for about two hours at her window watching the sunset over the Catalinas...it was nice. Hoping for a day we can get her home and back to health.
> Thanks again for everything! Dave"

And the support kept rolling in...I had email from Mrs. Bryson, then Cottonwood's principal,  Mark Williams, Angie's husband, Apryl Schrantz, Tonio's 2nd grade teacher, Jenny Rienstra, Tonio's 3rd grade teacher and Autumn's 3rd grade teacher (who we got to go visit today and see her 2 mos old baby boy Nathan!!),  my sisters, Kim's Mom, etc, etc.  They were inspiring in a dark time.

  I try to help others who have been through similar situations and give them perspective.  And hope.  Today, one of the gentleman I've been helping, who lost his wife to cancer in 1983 (when Kim and I were graduating high school together), turned the tables on me and helped me! First, he told me that the toughest times are those that we find when we are alone (my drive to Barnes & Noble...I reach out to talk during these times. He's right, being alone is when the mind really goes down paths it need not.)  He talked about the tremendous faith his wife had (like Kim), and related stories that helped prove to him that she was in Heaven...it was amazing.  I thought it was even neater, since, over the months, I've been the one listening and trying to give him inspirations, and when I least expected it, he took over and inspired me!

   There are many of you out there who have done the same for me and the bambini.  Thank you!


Is the desert as therapeutic and soothing as the stairs, I've been asked?  Yes.  No.  Sometimes.  It's different.  The desert is certainly more beautiful to the eye.  We always see something...sometimes it is simply a roadrunner.  Other times, a coyote or javelina.  One time, we got trapped by the herd of cattle that roam this piece of land and had to do some serious end around maneuvers!!  Bella and I enjoy this time to run off our energy...it is peaceful...We do not know if we are coming or going...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kimmy's Dinner Photos

       Thank you to Annette and Kirk Perrini and Ami Bunch for taking photos at Kim's dinner Saturday!!  It was such a fun night!!

       Here are some of the wonderful people who's hard work and enthusiasm made the evening a fun success!!!

The Perrini's!

                                           Three generations!  Patti, Casey (Aut's teacher) and Kay.  Patti and Kay traveled to Viro's to get us more supplies, while Casey spent the majority of the night serving, after helping to decorate!!

 Lupe and Angie selling raffle tickets, preselling Kim's cookbook and bracelets!!

Kirk, Dave Hopkins, yeh me and Manny conduct the raffle.

Andrea's family won three prizes!

But Alyssa Perrini walked away with the big prize...an autographed Derek Jeter ball!!

The Bunchkins had a blast!!  Hunter, Colton and Ethan are so cute and entertained us all.  They are so good!!

Brinley and Emilio Montes.  Brinley is such a good little baby, and beautiful!

Tammy and Sarah LaPlant helped everywhere from start to finish!

Dave and Denise Hopkins helped us close down the event.

Will and Olivia Rivas with the Castillo Family.

Micah had a ball! (sorry, couldn't resist.  He really did have fun on the jumping castles!)

Monique, Bella and Joe Longo - who sweated it out in the kitchen!

Manny, Lupe and Monsi Barrios - from set up to clean up and selling raffle tickets, wristbands and cookbooks!!

And, of course, my Southwest family!  Angie, Mario, Andrea, Breanna, Andy, Rashon, Kim, Maleah, Janene and Bryson - selling tickets, raffle tickets, wristbands, cookbooks, collecting donations, clean up and moral support!!

None of this could have happened with out the support of Desert Sky Middle School principal, Micah Mortensen, who graciously opened up his campus for us and was pivotal in planning the event!

Actually, Cindy Petersen, Office Manager at Desert Sky Middle School, really did the planning while Micah and I talked sports.  Cindy also orchestrated set up, decorations and clean up!!

Tonight, we went to Viro's to tally everything up with Vito...we walked away with a check for $1802.00 to go to Kimmy's Foundation!!!  John Gimmler attended the dinner to talk about where this money will go - towards helping build a new chapel at St. Joseph's Hospital.  Actually, it will be $6,802, thanks to Len Riggio's generous donation of $5K!!  I spent a lot of time in their make-shift chapel and can say that a new chapel is so needed/necessary for the mental well being of patients, visitors and workers.  A place to find peace...and hope...

Once again, I am completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.  Mentally, physically, emotionally - all of these people, and so many more that were not pictured (Cheryl Devitt, Melissa Grossheim to name a few!) worked hard to pull this off.  For Kim.  I feel like this keeps her spirit of giving, unselfishly, alive.  There are no words to express how important that is to me and how much all of your help means to me.  And the bambini.

Thank you!



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Running. Tired.


          "Hi Kimmy.  It's me.  How are you?  I'm so tired honey, so tired..."

         And so it goes. We thought there was some progress being made on Sunday, Oct 24 and Monday, Oct 25, 2010.  Kim needed less oxygen.  Was switched to a less powerful pain killer.  There was talk of moving her out of ICU!  This is what we had been hoping for.  This is what we had been praying for.  It had only been a couple of days, but, it already seemed like an eternity and we knew it was going to be a long road to recovery.  So we dug in and readied ourselves...

"Hello everyone, Kim had a good day today, spirits higher, she got out of bed twice to sit in a chair next to me for an hour or two and took her first solid meal since being admitted! Also, her oxygen level and painkillers were reduced. However, she is still in ICU, as she need the oxygen, due to the tumor and blood clots in her lung. We had a nice time sitting together talking and watching movies...if I haven't mentioned it, I truly enjoy her company and she is the most amazing person I've ever met.

Tomorrow will be a challenging day. In the a.m., she will have an MRI of the brain. At two p.m., she will have a 'power port' installed, just below the skin, high on the left side of her chest. This will allow the medical staff to draw blood and administer treatments without having to constantly find a vein. I've read that often, the medicine used to treat tumors can destroy tissue around the vein, this port will prevent that. They are timing it with the blood thinning medication switch from Heparin to Cuminin(spelling?), so they don't have to stop the thinners later to insert the port. We should also get the Thyroid scan result and are praying our hardest for clear results!!

Thanks your for all of the calls (I may hire a staff to try to help answer them as the phone rings non-stop and petition Sprint to lower the cost of my minutes - I only get 500/month!) - I'd answer them all if I could, but between lousy reception, focusing on my wonderful wife or children, sadly, I am unable to, but you know, I'll do my best! Hey, maybe the East Coast could switch to Arizona time, where we are blessed to be totally Daylight Savings Time free!!

Also, thank you for all of your prayers, support, watching our children (and feeding those hungry little guys!), food (Vito and Rosa, you ARE the best!), etc, etc, etc - you've all been great and Kim, Cody, Autumn, Antonio, Bella and I all appreciate all you do! Through Him, all things are possible!

Love, Dave"

      "Pretty great Monday for Kim today! First, this morning around 9, she had an MRI to check out her brain - the results were clear - a HUGE win that really buoyed Kim's spirits. At 2, she had the power port installed that will be used for future blood draws and to administer treatments. This surgery went well, Dr. Atkinson, her surgeon was pleased and Kim bounced back in record time from the anesthesia. The ultra sound on her thyroid showed two cysts, that will be biopsied tomorrow. Other progress today: Kim was removed from morphine drip and is taking percocet (spelling?) and the dilaudel (spelling again?) at a reduced level. Her oxygen level was reduce too, but she remains in ICU. She will be taking off of the heparin tomorrow and begin cuminin(spelling?) for a blood thinner. She is also off the contingent of drips giving her liquids and nutrients and had two solid food meals today! Special thanks to Ursula and Sam, our neighbor, Betsey's, folks, who delivered a beautiful rosary, blessed at the Vatican, that we have put to good use - it's working!
A psychologist poked her head in today, Dr. Selz, and offered her services...Kim's infectious personality and strong attitude chased her away in record time! At 5 pm, a EKG was performed on her heart -we will get results tomorrow. I left Kim's side just after 9 and she was comfortable and in the best possible mindframe for the situation. The nurses and staff have really taken excellent care of her, as she has shown to been an extraordinary patient.

The bambini's are doing very well too. The leadership at their schools have stepped forward to give us an extra hand in making our kids feel loved and make sure they are on top of their lessons. Their teachers have put in extra time to help them with homework, give them rides to our neighbors houses and have let us wander in late to school to get the kids an extra hour of sleep. Our neighbors,  continue to pick the kids up at school so I can stay with Kim, help them with homework, pack their lunches, get them ready for bed and clean house. Today, a friend of our family, Janene, cooked two huge trays of chicken pasta for our family that will keep the kids in dinners for a few days.

Thank you all for the prayers, positive thoughts, offers of assistance, etc - it is all so appreciated! Our good friends Kirk and Annette Perrini

Love, Dave"
           By now, I was running the stairwells at least three times a day..."I'm feeling sleepy Dave.  If I fall asleep will you run downstairs to get me a fruit salad?"  Kim always knew when I needed a little break.  She was so perceptive and intuitive.  Those steps were my salvation.  I needed to run to clear my mind and to think of what to do next.  For Kim.  And the bambini.  Those stairwells became my vacation getaway.  A kind of warped combination of Afghanistan meets Jamaica.  And Kim knew, like she always did, how to chase my dark clouds away...
          That 9 month old terror Border Collie, Bella, has truly been a remarkable transformation.  I remember Kim commenting on how she had changed from a non-stop, Taz type of pup, to one who wanted to be petted and gave kisses.  Kim would have been so pleased to see how, over the last few months, Bella has become one of the most affectionate and well behaved dogs that we have had.  She still jumps a lot, but, besides that, she had graduated to having the run of the house to herself.  She is alone for at least 8 hours a day, with no accidents and has not chewed, torn, scratched or vomited on any of our stuff.  Each morning, she happily greets each of us and will stand up for me to give her a hug.  She's a happy pup.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brief Intermission

        I want you to remember, amidst the horror, despite the surrealness (is that a word?), there were laughs.  And hugs.  And kisses.  Hand holding, reminiscing.  Smiles.
       We had not been alone together for 14 years.  No dates.  No baby sitters.  We were in it for the children, yet made time for each other and never regretted it.  We looked back on those 14 years, and the 13 years before it, leading up to it.  We had a lot of fun, and went on many adventures.
       Tonight, while looking for old Halloween costumes, Autumn stumbled upon a heart shaped box of Kim's.  I had no idea what might be in it...Turns out, it was filled with her sweetness.  A couple of the homemade Halloween costumes she had made.  The lion, which all three bambini wore.  The jester cap, which went with the Jack in the Box costume that Cody wore when he was 5 and again at 7.  There were a couple of letters I wrote her back in college.  And several poems.  Yes, apparently I thought I was a poet (please do not try to suppress or stifle your laughter, I even rolled my eyes!).  There were movie stubs.  And concert tickets (Bowie at Veterans Stadium - 84,000 people attended the Glass Spider tour!).  Napkins, chop sticks and business cards from our favorite restaurants in southeast Pennsylvania.  There was an old hotel key from the Hotel Elton in Beach Haven, NJ, which we frequented.  That place had rooms so small that when you opened the bathroom door, it hit the bed!  They had rooms without bathrooms, with a shared bathroom at the end of a long hall - but, we splurged!  Autumn sat there for over an hour pouring over everything.  And over.  And over.  Asking endless questions.
          These are the things Kim and I would talk about, together.  Where we went.  Our favorite states.  Hangouts.  People we knew.  High school stories.  Jr. High stories. 
           It has been hard.  This last week especially.  Surprisingly hard.  I know there will be ups and downs over the next few weeks - again, the 'anniversary thing'.  But, I find, on a day like today, when I was surrounded by positive people (you know who you are!), I can remember all of the best times - or, as Kim and I liked to say after a particularly great night, weekend, roadtrip, whatever - 'another greatest time!'.  Too many to mention - but, I guess, over the last year, I may have told you most of them!

Couple more photos of Kimmy - her graduation photo - Class of '83 from Liberty High School and sleeping on the love seat at her friend Tracy's in Alexandria VA.

We have  a triangle of loss in my 'hood.  Right here on my corner.  I spoke to my neighbor, Rob, tonight.  His wife sent him a 'Dear John' letter from Afghanistan while he trained for special forces.  The guy behind me, his fiance committed suicide.  Rob is struggling with his loss, and I spent some time refocusing him and trying to lighten his load.  When comparing myself to these two neighbors, I feel blessed to have had the wonderful 33 years Kim and I shared.  Oh sure, we had our ups and downs, just like anyone else.  But overall, it was an amazing time.  And I had the chance to share her last days, say our goodbyes - did I have more to say to her?  More to ask?  More to discuss?  Absolutely.  But, unlike my neighbors, we expressed our love for each other, prior to Kim leaving...and, as I've told you a bajillion times, I have a great morale support system.  Thank God.

I will get back to the emails.  I know they seem dark.  But I need to exorcise those nights, those horrors, those feelings of 'why can't I save Kim?'

But, for tonight, I wanted to share the good memories of those times...which were so much more plentiful and amazing. 
 Don't worry, we'll find our way...


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Slideshow

Thank you Brian for putting together yet another masterpiece highlighting Kimmy's life.  These were some precious memories.  Thank you Ami for the YouTube direction!

This was playing during the Night in Italy for Kim dinner on Saturday 10/22/11.  I was mesmerized when Cindy Petersen set this up and hit play...



     Autumn is the great communicator in our family....she is so good about keeping up with email with friends and family.  So it is no surprise that she continued to keep everyone up to date on what was going on with her Mama...
Dear Emma,

What's up?! It's not your fault. She is doing a lot better though! She felt better the day before yesterday and yesterday she felt better too so I think she is starting to get better. Still, I don't think she will be home for a while. I know one night she needed more care or something so they had to move her in a different room where she would get a lot more care and stuff and a better air breather and if the air thing stays at 100's or in the high 90's then she is better enough to go back to her old room or a room on same floor like her old room which is really good. I think if it stays like that today then she'll be moved into her old room or a room on the same floor like her old room tomorrow but yesterday the whole time I was there, her breathing thing stayed in the 100's and high 90's. I think she is doing a lot better.Smile emoticon Maybe she will be back next week or something. I don't know when she'll be back home. The doctors didn't say.Sad smile emoticon Well, I have to get ready now. We're going to the hospital for a little then our neighbors( Hadley's parents) are going to watch us which is good cause then I have Hadley to hang out with and then I think we're going to go back to visit her in the afternoon then come back to Hadley's house until my dad comes and picks us up to go home. I have to go now.
Dear Grammy and Jim,
How are you? Mom says she is feeling better!Smile emoticon We visited her yesterday and the day before yesterday and each day she said she was feeling a little better. I still don't know though when she'll be able to come home. I hope soon. We took Bella for a walk this morning! It's really nice out lately in the morning. We didn't see any animals though except for Bella.Smile emoticon Well I have to go get ready now, we're going to visit mom this morning. I miss you and love you!
Love, AutumnRainbow emoticon
Notes to my sisters...
"Hi guys, thanks for your thoughts and prayers. They mean a lot to us right now. Sorry I can't pick up the phone, but I'm not as strong as Kim and can't speak. I feel like I'm walking through deep water and time moves so strangely. Like one of those bad dreams you have where you can't wake yourself up. FUBAR. Kim actually had a better day today - her pain where the gall bladder came out isn't spasming as often and her breathing is improving, though she is still on oxygen and blood thinners for the clotting in her left lung. The Dr. hopes to stabilize her breathing and clots enough that she can be moved out of ICU by tomorrow evening. Her spirits are still so high - I was there from 9-9 today and enjoyed every moment of her company - she is truly amazing. But, it will be an incredibly long road to recovery. I spoke to her oncologist today, who told me the tumor in her lung is 'old' and has 'cavitized'...I pictured this thing pooping out crap into the rest of her system. So her left lung is pretty compromised... and who knows what other organs this thing has affected. Once she is stable, they can do a PTscan, fill her up with radio active dye, that attaches to bad things in her body and allows them to create a roadmap of where they need to work. So I'm paralyzed of how to proceed - I know eventually I'll have to figure out how to go to work - my D.M. has been so cool, offering to lend me his jigsaw to help out and telling me to just focus on Kim and not worry about work. The schools the kids go to and where Kim work had been incredible - her principal visited last night, Cody's principal called tonight and Aut and Tonio's called yesterday offering assistance. Kim's principal is seeing that she gets paid for this week and next, too, which will be needed. Kim was able to eat jello, broth and drank cranberry juice today, which she really enjoyed...I learned how to be pretty adept at handling a bedpan. And so it goes...
I'll try to call you when I can keep it together enough for you to understand me...Love, Dave"
    And, my message to the masses;
OK, So day 5 at St. Joseph's is over, perhaps our longest day yet...
Trying to make things 'normal' for the bambini's, woke up and made them bacon/eggs and took Bella (our 9 month old border collie) for a walk and made it to St. Joseph's by 9:30...Kim had a sad day today. She has been such a ROCK since having her gall bladder out Wednesday and finding that her liver/left lung have tumors and blood clots in her left lung. We shared a good cry around 5. The kids hung out until 1ish and then Amy, our neighbor and Kim's co-worker at Rincon Vista Middle School, came and got the boys. Betsey, our neighbor and another co-worker at Rincon, came and got Autumn shortly after. The kids were able to celebrate Betsey's son, Mitchell's, birthday and had a lot of fun - I just picked them up.
The BIG WINS today: Less morphine and dilaudal (yep, still can't spell that pain killer) and less oxygen need to keep Kim's breathing stable - we are praying that this will lead Kim out of ICU tomorrow and back to a regular room. Her PTT shows her blood levels are now good, too and her blood pressure is good. We were sorry to see the Phillies lose, especially with the mighty 'Casey' at bat, Ryan Howard. We were able to watch the entire game together -something, with 3 kids, we've never done. She is still on Heparin to thin her blood, they did not feel the need to switch to cuminin (oooh, another tough one to spell.) I got Kim a Dr. Pepper t-shirt that she has wanted for a long while and hung it on the chair in her room, willing her to get better to be able to wear it. Tonight, I am printing photos of Laguna Beach and have promised her to get her there as soon as she is strong enough and will tape them to her wall as a motivator.
Thank you to the Knights of Columbus for the beautiful floral display that arrived at our home today - it is appreciated! And thank you all for the continued support and prayers - they help (I brought in a relief rosary today, as the starter wore out)! And, we've learned 'red socks' can be fun in a hospital (thanks for the pair on my windshield Patti, so I can fit in). And my team at Barnes & Noble who have sacrificed their own personal time to be sure that the store is running great so I can be with my family - thank you!
God Bless,
Dave "
    I was sure.  So sure.  I knew that the docs could get it.  Keep after it - all of the medical advances over the years?  Kim's resolve?  You kidding me???  I felt that if I could just give her motivation...she wanted to go to the beach so badly over the last 3-4 years, but one thing or another (excuses.  On my part.)  prevented us from getting there.  So I thought to print photos of Laguna (actually, my old assistant from Toys R Us, Denise, beat me to it!) and hang them in her ICU room...along with the Dr. Pepper shirt she had wanted for a long time...
     Here's the thing.  We've all experienced the pain of loss.  It's not going to just go away.  These early emails have been excruciating.  But, I am resolved to meet them head on and deal with this.  Not just pretend that everything is going great and that time heals all wounds (the biggest bunch of bs I've ever heard).  I am using these feeling to motivate me towards furthering Kimmy's Foundation.  And getting even more involved at school.  And in our community.  I'll get past it.  For now, though, I need to revisit it.  To face it.
     The only thing keeping me at all sane at this point, was the tremendous support - which you can read into the emails I sent out. 
     That remains the same today.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Where was I?

             Oh yeh, October 22.  2010.  Out of the frying pan and into the fire...
 A day where our friends, Annette and Kirk Perrini, tried to keep me from imploding when they sent me this:
Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.
                   I read it day after day after day.  It's one of those verses that provides you comfort.  Unless your prayers are not being answered the way you want them to be answered.  Maybe I was asking for the wrong thing...?  None the less, it made me stop wasting time on trying to understand, and be able to give that energy to Kim and the time that we had left together...
  "OK - the good news is, Kimmy had a much better day today than yesterday, in terms of the pain she is in and her breathing improving. She is still in ICU and will be there until they can rid her lungs of blood clots and get her breathing on her own again. I was there from 9-10 today, by her side, enjoying her company - she is a remarkable woman and I believe it is her positive attitude that is her best chance of beating this. If all goes well, she will be stable and moved out of ICU back into a regular room by tomorrow evening. Then, they can get a PTscan ordered and figure out all of the organs affected and establish a plan. Her oncologist said the large mass in her left lung has 'cavitized' and spread out in her lung and who knows where else - so it will be a long road to recovery. She was able to eat jello, broth and have cranberry juice today.
Kids are good - I dropped them at school and Betsey picked up Tonio and Cody for us. Autumn stayed after with her teacher, Mrs. Rudzena, who helped her work on writing a resume, as I've been unable to help her. She then dropped Autumn off at Betsey's who brought them down to see Kim. Tomorrow, I'll take them all down in the morning and see what the day brings us.
Thanks for all of your prayers, support, etc!! Love, Dave
PS Vito, thanks again for all of the food, we still had enough left over for today, so I did not call tonight for more - the kids LOVED it!"
"Cavitized" is a term that you do not want to hear.  Dr. Taetle explained that the tumor in Kim's lung was very old, he could tell by the size and the cavity.  It's like these little, brown puff balls we used to find in the grass as kids.  They almost looked like a brown blueberry.  You could squeeze them, and thousands of spores, like so many pieces of dust, would ride the winds to who knows where.  I'm sure that they would land and grow a new puff ball.  That's what happened in Kim's lung.  The puff ball had been squeezed, sending the cancer wafting through the wind to land, well, everywhere.  And to grow.  New puff balls.
   I don't have a lot for this day.  I'm writing this early...the bambini next door - a rare moment alone (yes, I did get the wash done, all the lunches packed, committee work completed, dinner results wrapped up, etc, etc) so, I thought I'd knock this out...as the shadows grow longer, the quiet stretching out, it all comes back...just part of the whole thing.  It's only been an hour, but, I miss the bambini and believe I'll go get them now...