It’s Complicated…

I was in the stairwell close to the 5th floor of the nursing home where my grandmother resides when the phone rang.  I paused, startled by the ring, and trying to suppress my slightly out of shape panting before I … Continue reading

“Stay Alert! Delays are Possible!”

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I saw the sign Friday, somewhere along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  I laughed, in spite of myself.

We were headed on a 400 mile road trip to West Virginia, a trip I was making for the second time, and Meghan for the first.  Last weekend in June to celebrate Alan’s birthday.

As we traveled through the hills of PA, I became somewhat accustomed to shrieks of joy, as the landscape at times was utterly breathtaking.  And, there were cows.  Overwhelming for a young city girl, not given too many opportunities to travel out of a small radius.  The camera barely stopped.


I was thinking about the list of things creeping into the month of July already.  There are 8 appointments and a surgery for Meg already scheduled.  I am annoyed, not so much at the surgery, as I am about the time constantly taken to try to stay on top of this cancer -causing, tumor-provoking, life altering nightmare called Cowden’s Syndrome.

Meghan’s next major procedure is Friday July 22nd.  The pathology on that procedure will determine what, if any, delays are possible in the future.

“Stay Alert! Delays are Possible!”

There wasn’t much traffic on the way to West Virginia.  The trip itself took us a little over 7 hours.  We arrived before 9, and blended right into easy conversation on the porch.  Alan, his family, and some friends, welcomed us warmly.  They greeted Meghan as if they had known her for years, and treated me as if I stopped by every few days.  All of this oddly comforting.  In reality I met them for the very first time last June, and Meghan was meeting them that night.

 

 

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img_7548Yet, we had known each other for longer in ways that matter.  These men, most of them, were Marines that had served with my Dad some 45 years ago in the jungles of Vietnam.  These men knew my father during a brief time in his life that undoubtedly changed and shaped the man I later knew.

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Alan was the first to reach back to me when I sent a letter to Dad’s 1st Amtrac Batallion, 3rd Marine Division brothers.  I was, at the time researching an incident that we felt may have warranted a Purple Heart for Dad.  I sent over 20 letters that week in January 2014.  I heard reply from every living Marine I contacted.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.  They spoke to me, and comforted me.  Those who remembered the incident wrote letters of support.  All told me that as the daughter of a Marine I was one of theirs.  I was to call on them as needed.  It seemed surreal.

But Alan stayed in touch.  Close touch.  We spoke, and still speak via text several times a week, and often by phone at least once a week.  As he worked every angle he could for a Purple Heart that not earned in the technicalities of the USMC, we grew in friendship.  And over time I came to realize that the relationship we had built filled a larger hole than any posthumous medal could have.I do not mean ever to saint my father.  Nor do I mean to make excuses for him.  There were some terribly rocky times in my childhood that can not be repaired.  But, we had time to make peace years before he died, and I started to understand a few things.  A few really important things.

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Now, we were in West Virginia, keeping time with 5 Marines who served with Dad.  They were wounded; physically, emotionally, or both.  They shared stories.  They shared PTSD.  They shared tales of failed relationships, and difficult feelings of guilt.  They verbalized what Dad couldn’t.


And Meghan, oh did they take her in!  One by one, as if helping my father make up for lost time, they spoke and laughed and listened.  They got to know her.  They cared.

Saturday morning Alan’s grandson took time out of his day to teach Meghan to shoot a compound bow.  It was something she had always wanted to do, and circumstances had not allowed.  So, here we were in the hills of West Virginia.  And there was her lesson with the bow.  Arrows on target.  Success.

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A few hours later we were on a farm with the Marines.  We rode a “side by side” through the farm and got to take in views we would not have otherwise seen.  Then, Meghan was invited to shoot a rifle.  With a little hesitation she was guided.  And I watched as her tense face turned into a smile.  There were 4 paper targets 100 yards away.  She fired several times and hit paper repeatedly.  First try, “Oddly relaxing,” and successful.

Maybe because we live in the zone of “Stay alert!  Delays Possible!”  that seizing the opportunities as they present themselves is even easier and more logical.  I didn’t shoot a bow or a rifle, so I can’t be sure.  But, she is clearly not shy about learning new things.

The birthday party ballooned to over 50 people in the driveway and garage of this beautiful home.  There was mingling and talking, mostly with people I barely knew.  Meghan found the time to chat with each of the Marines.  She asked questions.  She got answers.  And, in some cases more questions.  But they each took time to speak, honest, and frank, about their experiences, and about her Grandpa.

I stole away some time to lay on the front lawn and appreciate the flags while enjoying the relative quiet of a “busy” street.


Meghan was met with generosity of tangible items, and generosity of kind spirits.  She now has a money clip and some Vietnamese money from the era.  She also has some special paintings, and a walking stick.  The latter two were gifts from “Uncle Moe,” who was a bit older than the rest.  After 3 tours in Vietnam, and 22 years as a US Marine, he had some tales to tell.


When she  asked what she should know about the Marine Corps., she was told “Brotherhood”.  The simplicity and depth of that answer was playing out over the weekend, and it made sense in concept and in real-time.  These “brothers” trained to never leave a man behind.  And in our case, that included his children and grandchildren.
The weekend went too fast, and before it was time to leave we even sneaked in a visit with some pigs down the road.  City girls have to make the most of things when they are around!

 

Preparing to leave on Sunday was harder than logic says it should have been.  But, we had spent the last 2 days enveloped in a Marine Corps “sandwich” of unconditional love and support.  We know now with these Marines there are no “goodbyes,” only “see you soon!”

As we drove I don’t think either of us spoke for at least 75 miles.  The enormity of it all was tough to digest.

She held the walking stick in one hand and the money clip in the other, wanting to make the weekend longer than it had been.

I cry often.  Meghan, not so much.  Yet, both of us were choking a bit.  It was the kind of experience that changes you.  The simple beauty of just fitting in.  Just because.

“Stay Alert! Delays Possible!”

Not just traffic delays, but real life ones too.  As we began the 400 mile trek home we contemplated Monday’s appointment in Manhattan – a quick toss back into reality.


I pondered whether it was right to show Meghan this world, and then take it from her so fast.  But, I knew it was.  It was a part of her.  A part of her history.  A part of her life.  It was something that I do not fully understand, and yet I needed to expose her too as well.

Dad was not a saint.  But, he loved us. Deeply.  There was never a doubt about that.   Even as he began to heal, he often struggled to find ways to express it.  It was a battle in progress, and he was winning.  But, he was called home before he could quite finish.

So, he left it to his “brothers,” his Marines.

And they did a good job.

This weekend was for the soul.

There’s plenty of time for

#beatingcowdens 

this week.

 

DO SOMETHING!

Do-Something-Today

The story of how a New York City girl got the ear of a West Virginia Congressman is a long windy one that involves the depth of love and dedication the United States Marines hold for their own.  That loyalty and brotherhood extends through generations in ways that would be difficult to explain in words.

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That, will be the story for another day.

For today, what you need to know is one of those Marines, who I hold very dear, heard me when I spoke.  He listened when I told him how my father apologized upon learning Meghan and I had been diagnosed with the PTEN mutation that causes Cowden’s Syndrome.

Once Dad understood the PTEN mutation, he became very sure that he “brought this back from Vietnam.”  Dad was certain that his exposure to Agent Orange in the jungles of Vietnam had changed his body.  He was also sure that the toxin was responsible for what my genetecist deemed a germline (inherited) mutation in Meghan and I.

We know for sure that Meghan got her mutation from me.  What we don’t know with certainty is where mine came from.  My mother and younger (half) sister on my mother’s side tested negative for PTEN.  My father was never tested.  Before I could ask, he passed away from Pancreatic Cancer in December 2013.  However, we do know my mutation was not “de novo,” or spontaneous.  We know it was germline, “most likely passed through the sperm of your father,” my genetecist explained.

So, all we had to go on were Dad’s instincts, which I knew were in no way going to ever prove causative to the US Government.

But I reached out, and I acquired anecdotal evidence from my online support groups where 4 people other than myself indicated a first degree relative with a similar toxic exposure.  In a disorder as rare as Cowden’s Syndrome (1 in 200,000) with group sizes in the low 100s in most cases, these were numbers worth noticing.

Sometimes a theory is all you need.  And when you eliminate the need to “prove” and you focus on the need to “educate” and “raise awareness,” sometimes you can make progress.

Today, the story is about how Congressman David McKinley  (West Virginia) and his staff listened when we spoke about Cowden’s Syndrome.  And they did something.

I was put into contact with Lou Hrkman, the Executive Assistant to Congressman David B. McKinley, P.E. (WV-01). (412 Cannon Building Washington, DC  20515 (202) 225-4172) through that Marine I mentioned earlier.  Alan doesn’t give up.

I shared an explanation with Mr. Hrkman, of Cowden’s Syndrome, and more specifically PTEN Mutations.  I told him about the impact on our lives.  I told him about my father’s instincts.  I talked to him about how, with a syndrome like this, KNOWING SAVES LIVES.  We spoke about veterans and toxic exposure.  We spoke about the thought that exposure could alter genetics.  We talked about RARE DISEASES, and more specifically, RARE GENETIC DISEASES.  We spoke about how if the doctors at the VA were trained to look for these disorders, or to be more aware, or to educate veterans, or to look for these disorders in descendents of veterans, that it is likely LIVES WILL BE SAVED.

This week I was contacted by Mr. Hrkman, on behalf of Congressman McKinley, to draw my attention to the last paragraph on page 47 of the…

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It says…

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And there it was.  In print.  For the VA Hospital System to be held accountable for education.

It is not passed yet.  The specifics of the bill need to be debated in Congress, but he is confident.

We who are so anxious to be heard, to be noticed, to be recognized, this is a huge first step.  And while I realize many of you are not relatives of Veterans, I feel it is SO important that we take this opportunity to raise awareness NOW!

I asked Mr. Hrkman what people can do.

Here was his reply…

It sounds quaint, but writing or meeting with your congressman is the best thing you can do.  Members take notice when their constituents are interested, especially on a personal basis versus a mass mailing or robo call thing. If you write your member, specifically reference the document I sent you (Military Construction, Veteran’s Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2017) and the page number. (Page 47)  I would also contact Vietnam Veterans and other Vet groups, but Vietnam Vets are especially affected.

PLEASE, right now, my American Friends, contact your representative in Congress.  Let’s make them HEAR US.  ALL OF US.  This could be the start…

PLEASE, share this post far and wide.  Tag anyone who you think might help.

It’s time for us to DO SOMETHING…

“Do Something” by Matthew West

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill (shine shine, shine shine)
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something [x3]

Mortality

Mortality_AF

The awareness that one day we’re not going to walk this earth anymore.

Not exactly dinner conversation, but, for lack of a more gentle way to say it, mortality is everyone’s reality.

We face this reality at different points in our lives.  Some are frighteningly young, and others are blissfully old.  But, eventually, that awareness either creeps in or hits us like a speeding train.  (Figuratively, or course.)

In my opinion, so much of the rest of your life is defined by what you do with that realization, that understanding that there is no promise of tomorrow on this earth.

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For me, my solace, my comfort, and my focus, come from my faith.  My deeply held belief in God, and that life does not end, merely changes, as we are welcomed into Heaven.

Whatever your own belief, is, your own reality, my hope is that it brings you comfort, solace, and gives your life on this earth purpose.

As a daughter of a cancer survivor (18 years and counting!!) I watched my Mom grapple with her own mortality at an age I consider very young.  (young for her, and for me too!) She got it.  She found clarity, but it was a few tough months.  And even then as close as I was, I knew the significance of what I was watching, but I did not get it, not really.

I like to say my breast cancer was found, “by accident” or “divine intervention,” whichever you prefer.  But, the moment in the surgeon’s office, that day in March of 2012 when I became a “survivor” by default, started my own journey with mortality.  I was 10 years younger than Mom was at the time of her diagnosis.  I had just undergone what I had prepared in my mind to be a “prophylactic” mastectomy to battle astronomical cancer statistics associated with the new diagnosis of a PTEN Mutation called Cowden’s Syndrome, that Meghan and I had received less than 6 months prior.  When the word malignant was read, there it was; laying thick in the air for my husband and 8-year-old child to process with me.

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And there was reality.  Unable to ignore.  Cancer had lived within me.  Could it live again?  Would it?  When?  Why was I going to be OK when so many others were not?  Was I going to really be OK?  What if they missed it, something bigger?

I was fortunate.  Fortunate in the sense that a double mastectomy removed the encapsulated stage 1 cancer.  I needed no treatment, no medication.  But, my status had changed.  In the eyes of the doctors, I was now an even greater risk.  Every single lump and bump would be scrutinized, scanned, poked, prodded, and usually removed.  The loss of my uterus and ovaries weeks later were a testament to this new-found realization that I was a risk.  A significant risk.

Cowden’s Syndrome is one of those diagnoses that forces you to face down your own mortality at sometimes alarmingly young ages.  An internet friend just made a jubilant post today that her youngest was now 10 and cancer free, a title she did not have herself at that tender age.  The things we celebrate…

My Cowden’s Syndrome people are known to me mostly through the internet.  We live across the country and across the globe.  We navigate through different time zones and support each other through scans, scares, surgeries, reconstructions, and cancer.  While this syndrome does not manifest itself the same in each of us, there are alarming similarities that make us kindred spirits.  There is that “Sword of Damocles” hanging above our heads.  There is that constant sense of not knowing, of hyper-vigilance, of bi-annual screenings, and worry.  We stare at our own mortality each time we look in the mirror.

We have an extra bond when it connects to our children.  A universal acceptance of the unfair nature of these young ones even needing to understand a bit of mortality.  We have juggled the questions, inevitable after MRIs, CT scans, and biopsies galore.  We have gently answered questions about family, and future, that have no real answers to date.  We ache for them.  We wish to take it all away.  We have some guilt in the knowledge that in most cases this disorder, (whether we knew it or not) was passed from us.

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Mortality will bind you, and if you’re not careful it can blind you.  That is why there are support groups, for cancer patients, and others who have come close to losing their lives.

This weekend I spent some time in West Virginia with another group of men, bonded by their grapplings with their own mortality some 48 ish years ago in the Vietnam War.

I will protect their privacy here, and tell their story as generically as I can.

I connected with Alan, about 6 weeks after my father died.  Dad had earned a Purple Heart in my mind, for an incident that occurred while he was serving in the United States Marine Corps.  The award was never granted, and I wanted to pursue it on his behalf.  So, I sent some letters to Marines, whose contact information I obtained from a reunion Dad attended in DC in 2006.  I wanted to know who remembered him, and his story.

Alan contacted me first, verified my information, remembered the story, and has been in touch with me since.

My Dad, the "Irish Marine"

My Dad, the “Irish Marine”

 

 

I sent 20 letters out.  EVERY SINGLE MARINE responded to me.  EVERY ONE.  Whether they knew Dad or not, whether they could help or not, they ALL reached out to express their condolences.  Many shared some funny anecdotes.  And as hard as I’m sure it was, they all connected with me.

I had heard about the Brotherhood of the Marine Corps.  I could not have fathomed the depth of that bond.  One after another, they all left me with the same heartfelt sentiment.  “You are the daughter of our brother.  We will help you always in whatever you need.”

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Now, I knew, or at least I could infer that their lives had not been any type of peaches and cream, on the island of Vietnam, or when they returned.  My Dad battled his own demons for many years before our relationship began to form.  But the offers of these Marines were sincere, and genuine.

Alan proved that to me through regular conversations, and almost heroic efforts to get someone to listen to the story of my Dad’s injuries.  In the end, we lost the battle on a technicality.  Although “The statements provided clearly establish that your father was injured as a direct result of enemy action, the available information fails to establish that your father was treated by a medical officer…Wounds not requiring treatment by a medical officer at the time of injury do not qualify for the Purple Heart Medal.”  The letter was cold.  The case was closed.

We lost the Purple Heart but gained so much more.

We lost the Purple Heart but gained so much more.

I was sad, mad, angry and disappointed.  But I was so grateful for the Marines who wrote letters of support.  I was grieving the fact that my Dad had carried this close to him for so many years, and lived with chronic pain as a result.  I wanted this for him, because he never fought for it himself.

And as things go, it was not to be, but Alan did as he promised and remained in constant contact with me.  He heard my sobs as I glanced at Dad’s headstone for the first time. His were the comforting words that started my healing.

So, this weekend I headed to West Virginia to thank him myself.  I met a group of Vietnam Era Marines, several of whom had served with my father.  I watched them together, in awe an amazement.  I was welcomed into their group with instant acceptance.  And as I sat and watched them laughing together, I noticed the war stories were sparse, and funny when they were told.  Surely a contrast to the realities they had faced as young men years ago.  But, the bond between them was unbreakable.  There indeed was the Brotherhood of the Marines, but there was something else.

Mortality.

They faced it in the most horrendous of ways.  They lived it daily.  They buried their brothers.  They knew their return home was not a guarantee.

And once you’ve faced that kind of life altering lesson in mortality together, you are bonded for life.  As Alan said to me, “If you weren’t there, there are no words to describe it, and if you were, there are no words needed.”

I was among a group of people who had faced their own mortality almost a half century ago.  And they have a bond that can not be explained.  It is amazing.

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And among the most amazing to me was the woman I met.  She was not local either, but she, like I, had traveled for this celebration.  It was not her first time.  She had been around for almost 10 years.  About 10 years ago the woman, who was an infant when her father died a hero in Vietnam, met the men he served with.  She had never met her father, but here were father figures galore ready to embrace her.  And they did.

A bit ago her father’s diary surfaced from his time in Vietnam.  She shared it with me and the last entry written before he died was about the thought that so many of them must have had daily.  His diary ends with, “When will it be me?”

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Once you have looked your own mortality square in the eye, you can not walk away the same person.

But, it is up to you what you do with the rest of your life.

As for me, I choose bonding with people who “get it,” be they old friends or new.

I choose focusing on what we can do, not what we can’t.

I will not choose reckless living, but I will daily live with the knowledge that there is no guarantee of tomorrow on this earth.

Whether facing your mortality is something you endured, something you will live with daily, or something you are yet to face, how it changes you is really up to you.

As for us, in this house, we choose to remain focused on

BEATINGCOWDENS,

WHILE CELEBRATING ALONG THE WAY.

 

This one is for my favorite Marine

price of freedom2

There is a small sign on the first floor of the Veteran’s Hospital in Brooklyn, NY that expresses this sentiment.

It is small enough that I missed it the first week my Dad, a Vietnam Veteran was in the ICU for what they initially suspected to be liver failure.

But I noticed it last week.  Dad died on December 4th after a short, yet powerful battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Price of Freedom, of our freedom, the basic ones that we are all guilty of taking for granted at some point – is visible at that VA Hospital.  It is visible on the faces of the soldiers as they trek the halls, their journeys each through the battlefields of their own personal wars.

I have been away from my blog for a long time, and as I sit to write in the middle of the night, I can feel the tension finally beginning to lift from my neck.  Writing is my therapy and its cheaper and easier than the wait and the copay at any doctor’s office.

Dad didn’t have Cowden’s Syndrome.  Or at least we don’t think he did.  As a matter of fact, prior to his death, with the exception of one procedure – he was never really sick a day in his life.  When we would go to his appointments together, nurses would repeat in disbelief, “You don’t take ANY medicine?”  And he didn’t.  Not even a Tylenol.

Which is one of the things that has been bothering me so much.

I have held in my thoughts on this out of respect for Dad and his privacy – but since he encouraged my writing I am fairly sure he wouldn’t mind if I shared just a bit.

Dad saw active combat in the USMC during the late 1960s in Vietnam.  And besides the typical tortures of war, Dad was exposed to Agent Orange.

Now his body was seemingly unaffected from the toxins, but we theorized on more than one occasion that perhaps that toxic exposure triggered my own gene mutation into Cowden’s Syndrome.  Of course no one will ever know.  And even as I wonder if his cancer was a result of his own toxic exposure, I know I will never be quite sure.  His Dad, my Grandpa, died of pancreatic cancer in 1993.

But pancreatic cancer IS a genetic disease.  And even though in 90% of the cases, the genes spontaneously mutate, there are 10% where the genes are passed within families.  I don’t know the exact genes responsible, although I will in the coming months, as the genetic counselor where Dad was diagnosed will be contacting my siblings and I for testing.

More genetic testing?  It’s a thought too overwhelming to process right now.  That will come with time I guess.

I can’t help but wonder when there is too much knowledge.  I know that sounds foolish, coming from someone whose life was saved by the early warnings afforded to me after my Cowden’s diagnosis.  However, there is a point, a fine line, where you start to wonder when too much knowledge becomes a bad thing.

Tonight my thoughts are all over the map.  Tonight I prepare mentally for the wake and funeral over the next few days.  Tonight, I think about my Dad – the man.

Dad enlisted in the United States Marine Corps right out of high school.  He saw 13 months of active combat before returning to marry his high school sweetheart, my mom.  But, as young relationships so often go, this one ended a few years later.

Dad spent years trying to get settled in his heart after the trauma he experienced in the war.  He married again, and had a son, my brother.  But that marriage was not to be either.

Dad seemed to have a need to move like the wind for a lot of years, and our relationship through college was pretty distant.  Then in 1999, a year before my wedding, we began to reconnect, and our relationship had become closer each passing year.

wedding photo

Dad was not a saint.  But he was a good man with a good heart.  He was strong in mind, body and spirit.  Dad did the best he could with what he had where he was – always.

I spent lots of time working to understand the trauma that follows Veterans home.  Because of that I will always respect my father and the ways he tried his best.

But if I am honest, I am angry.  Really angry.  Not at my Dad, but at the cancer that snatched him from me just as we were coming closer and closer together.  The damned cancer that cut short a relationship just starting to bloom.  We had plans.  We were going to see the cherry blossoms in DC in the spring.  We still had things to do.

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Instead I am left with another ribbon to add to the collection.  One none of us ever wanted to own.

Dad often spoke about life being a puzzle, and each of us having a piece to contribute.  From our perspective its hard to see where we fit, and how our piece changes the landscape.  But, when our job is finished, our piece is placed into the puzzle – the greater puzzle – the one with no definitive number of pieces.  While this happens, our surrounding pieces are created.  The puzzle grows, visible in its entirety only to our the Creator.

As Dad’s piece was being placed into that puzzle, I was being reconnected with my brother, and bonding with my sister.  We learned to work together, to embrace our gifts, and our differences as strengths.  As a unit we were an unstoppable force getting our father anything he needed during these last difficult weeks, and I am so proud to be part of that “team.”

My father’s inner strength defies description, as he journeyed through his last days focused on a few key things he was compelled to accomplish.  Almost impossible to eat comfortably, Dad carefully conserved his energy and skillfully kept his body functional until he was able to receive his definitive diagnosis.  A diagnosis I am certain he fought for so that his children would have the ability for advance screening.

marine's mission

Dad was admitted to the VA Hospital on Thanksgiving Day, and lived for a week, as a parade of family and friends got to spent time by his side.

I walked the halls of that hospital quite a bit last week, reading prints of the NYC Vietnam Memorial such as these, as my already deep respect for our country’s veterans grew.

VietnamNYC

VietnamNYC2

We laughed, and cried, and told stories, and played music.  We held Dad’s hands in the moments before he went to meet the angels.  We were gifted with time to say goodbye.

My tears are not for my father.  He is finally free.  He paid the price for our freedom for all of his adult life.  Now he is at peace.

My tears are because I want more time.  My tears are selfish.  But I guess I good sign that you really love someone is when you can’t seem to bring yourself to say goodbye.

There will be time for thinking and reflecting on Dad, his life, his death, genetics, and long-term ramifications.

But for now, I have to get some rest.  Three days ahead to celebrate the life of my favorite Marine.

Semper Fi, Daddy.  I love you.

marine