An engagement, a turkey and a funeral

To say this past week has been busy, would be a HUGE understatement! On November 12th, we recognized that SFR had been fighting and beating colon cancer for 6 months. We wanted to really celebrate his progress and give thanks to those whom have supported us emotionally and spiritually since his diagnosis. However, this anniversary date fell on a down weekend (post-chemo weekend where SFR feels “down”). Since we wanted to celebrate in style on this momentous occasion we postponed the event one weekend, to Saturday, November 19th. To keep the celebration intimate, we invited just 9 of our closest friends to join us at Kinzie Chop House for our first steak, glass of wine, and big dessert since SFR’s diagnosis.

I had to work Saturday morning, at my new job promoting healthy dog food at pet stores around Chicago (side note – as a caregiver finding flexible employment has been difficult. As a Brand Ambassador through companies like Advantage Solutions, I am able to work non-typical hours in a fairly flexible schedule to make a little money to supplement income). After work I cleaned up and headed out with SFR to meet up with one of the couples we would be spending the evening, at the Christkindlmarket (outdoor holiday market) at Daly Plaza. We froze are keisters for a couple of hours and then headed to the steakhouse for our celebration.

Everything was awesome! Our steaks were delicious and OH the WINE!! Everyone was all dressed up and feeling good, we had not had this group all together like this since a couple of holiday party’s ago and it just felt great. After dinner and before dessert, SFR planned a speech to thank this fabulous group of people for their love and support which we have leaned on so much over the last several months. I was so proud of him! He prepared this beautiful speech, which he didn’t even have me go over with him, as he wanted it to be all from his heart…….at the end of his speech however, it took a turn.

SFR shifted the speech from thanking his friends to thanking me personally for staying by him, adapting his new cancer diet and resigning from my job to take care of him. He confessed to the group that he has not always been an easy patient, that he doesn’t know how long he has (as I guess we all don’t know how long we truly have), as the current best case scenario with this cancer is a 11% chance to live 5 years. But that he wants to spend each day he has left with me. He then got on one knee and began to tug something out of his coat pocket, which is when I finally figured out what was happening – HELLO!!!!

Before the poor guy could finish asking me to marry him, I flew into his arms crying and kissing all over his face. He had to set me back in my chair so that he could officially propose and put the ring on my finger. Only two of our friends knew what was happening and had positioned themselves at the table to document the event with their camera phones, we were all crying and they were hooting for us. We made quit a scene and then continued to turn an already wonderful evening into the best night of our lives 🙂

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Monday November 21st we began round 14 of SFR’s chemo treatments and received the additional instructions for how to disconnect him from the pump as we need to do every Wednesday following chemo (every other week). This way we could head down to Indianapolis for Thanksgiving with his family on Tuesday instead of having to wait for a home nurse to come and disconnect him on Wednesday. Scary, yet very liberating!

Tuesday afternoon, free of the home nurse need, we headed down to Indy with SFR’s parents to prepare ourselves for Thanksgiving. Wednesday, the disconnect went without a hitch and while SFR showered post-disconnect and I jumped around shaking my hands until I was over the idea of pushing fluid into his body and removing needles from it (eventually I have to not be so freaked out by the process, but no promises).

Thanksgiving day was fabulous as we celebrated at SFR’s sisters house and we were additionally blessed to be joined by SFR’s grandfather who due to the recent passing of his grandmother, had chosen to spend Thanksgiving with us because he felt the mood would be the most joyous in light of our engagement. Everything was delicious and we joined together for the group picture above to document this great day of giving thanks.

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Friday, while SFR’s parents were running errands, we were surprised by a delivery to their house which turned out to be our first engagement present! SFR’s cousins in Chicago had it delivered to his parents house to congratulate us and welcome me to the family. So delicious!!! Would it be weird to have an edible arrangements bouquet? I am not much for tradition, so I am not really sure when I am crossing the line of what is acceptable and what is not. Fortunately, the man I am marrying is much more into tradition and will keep me in check (he confirmed for me in fact, that an edible arrangements bouquet would not only be far from traditional, but also not very practical) C’est la vie, I guess the non-edible arrangement is what we will have to go with then.  😉

The weekend was spent in preparation for the funeral of SFR’s grandmother. We lost his grandmother on Tuesday, November 15th and the family had decided to postpone her funeral until this weekend in light of SFR’s chemo schedule and to allow the family whom lives out of state to come home and be together for the holiday. This is an extremely loving and considerate family I am marrying into and I am so blessed to be invited in.

On Sunday, November 27th the viewing was held for SFR’s grandmother. In preparation slide shows were prepared, hankie’s were tacked to be given as mementos to the woman of the family (I was also included in this precious gift), pictures were framed and flowers were ordered.  Over the course of the next couple of days I learned what a profound impact SFR’s grandmother has had on so many. Stemming from the 76 year relationship with SFR’s grandfather (they began dating at the age of 14 years old) to those she taught as a theology professor at Anderson University, those she mentored as the wife of a pastor, and as the loving mother and grandmother she had been to her beautiful family. SFR’s grandmother was multi-talented as a teacher, seamstress, chef, and lover of people.

Although we lost her to alzheimer’s, a disease that steals your mind and I did not meet her until the disease was already moving in, she always remembered me. When I first met her, nearly 5 years ago, I remembered be surprised and encouraged at the way she seemed to know me. I understood that she had dementia (which my own grandmother had suffered 10 years ago) and thought that her sense of knowing me may be confusion. I was wrong. Every time I visited the family over the following 5 years, SFR’s grandmother always knew me, was pleased to see me and expressed how happy she was that I was with her grandson. There were times when she thought I was his wife….perhaps she had the inside scoop….. God’s consolation prize for your mind moving on and your body has not yet caught up to it. Her body has caught up now.

We will miss hugging you and hearing your laughter. Thank you for your confidence in whom SFR and I are (were meant to be) to each other, and for knowing, when we did not yet know. I love you Helen and look forward to meeting you again in Heaven. XO


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