These were the days before Christmas for us. Those days that are usually filled with uncontained joy in the anticipation of family and celebration, left us on edge. Because you see, historically, 8 days after cisplatin, MacKale would end up back in the hospital. Christmas eve was 8 days after. All day long we kept waiting. We were ready. All the gifts had been wrapped and packed for two days before in anticipation of spending the holiday in the hospital. Regardless of what happened, whether we ended up at the hospital or at home, Mike and I made arrangements to make sure we would celebrate Christmas as a family . . . together. But then Christmas eve day came. MacKale said, 'Mom do you think you should take my temperature?' So I did, but nothing. It was normal. Then as the day went on, MacKale would say. "I can't believe it. This has been the longest I've ever made it. " Mentally we were all prepared, MacKale, McCoy and MaGill all were ready if we had to go. But the day went on and night time came. When we headed to bed on Christmas eve, MacKale said 'I can't believe I made it. I really made it. I'm going to spend Christmas at home aren't I?' And as I kissed him good night, we said a little prayer of thanksgiving for a gift we didn't think we would get. Christmas at home. He wasn't 100% or even close, but still, we were together and home! God gave us the best gift ever.
It was a quiet, incredibly peaceful day with just the five us at home. The boys were able to open their gifts, play, nap and be together. It was EXACTLY what we all needed. I was very protective of MacKale during that time. I was still holding my breath. I knew his levels were low, low, low. So we stuck to ourselves and stayed at home so that we could avoid returning to the hospital. I knew that Mike's family would be arriving in Cadillac from Seattle and downstate in just a few days, and I wanted to do everything I possible could to insure MacKale and the boys would be able to enjoy the time their cousins while they were here.
Monday came and as anticipated, MacKale's levels were low enough that we needed to get him back to DeVos for a platelet transfusion, just in time for a nasty storm. I could drive and be a nervous wreck or stay home and wait with the little boys and be a nervous wreck . . . I let Mike have the honor of driving.
But they made in back . . . in one piece and by the next day, MacKale was feeling a little bit better. Better enough to hang out with the family and participate in his favorite pass time of eating (Thank goodness for appetite stimulants) and cards and pigs and spoons. I actually heard belly laughs coming from him for the first time in weeks. I started to exhale . . . but just a little.
And Santa showed up . . . just when you thought he was done for the year . . . he made a special visit.
Who knew? He's a Spartan basketball and Matt Costello fan, too!
He stayed long enough for a quick picture and was off to his much deserved vacation.
|Liam Allan, Palmer McGuire, 'Papa' Jim McGuire, Craig Allan, Scott McGuire|
Jenna W, MacKale, Cori Allan, Grandma Lucy McGuire, Val Allan, MacKenzie Allan, Me,
MaGill, Santa, McCoy, Rocco M, Romi M,
Mike, Milo and Jessica McGuire
Good enough to gather an arsenal together . . .
for a full family . . .
. . . full on . . . nerf gun war!!!
And good enough to end the night with Uncle Craig playing and Cori leading a little sing along. It was a full . . . FULL day, and he was feeling good. That liquid gold . . . those platelets were doing their job for sure.
Having family in town really pulled MacKale out of that state of being 'blue.' I was so amazingly grateful to see glimpses of the boy I knew and love interacting with friends and family from before all 'this. ' It was the medicine he needed to find himself again. This is the boy I knew that wasn't about 'I can't' and more like 'why can't I?' So when we headed to the YMCA for pickle ball, he had a plan and he played . . . better than most of us.
The family that plays pickle ball together . . .
. . . and Pie Face together. . .
. . . and Just Dance together, laughs, and giggles and loves and heals together. And I could breath a little bit better . . . things almost felt normal.
And if you have any doubt that MacKale sat out of any of these activities, I have proof that he didn't. Not only did he do 'couch' Just Dance, but he won every time . . . just like when he had two legs to beat us. That competitive streak was still alive and well.
It wasn't just MacKale that felt the healing power of being with family and friends. We all felt it. Mike and I and the little boys. . . all of us needed that time together and it was sad to see it end . . . we had to sneak in a couple of last minute snuggles and gummy worms with cousin Liam before they left.
It was almost the perfect Christmas. I mean if you asked the boys they would tell you it was the best Christmas ever . . . MacKale would say it was the best Christmas ever except for one thing . . . his beloved Spartans weren't able to pull it off during the Cotton Bowl, but that hasn't swayed him. He's still hard and true a green and white fan. He's just diverted his attention to basketball for the next several months. Go Spartans!!!
And so we made it. By the grace of God and because of so many of your prayers, we had the Christmas we prayed to have for MacKale and the boys. It was amazing. The blues have pretty much past. MacKale is feeling probably the best he's felt in many many weeks. He's been funny . . . I've caught him singing . . . and he's been picking at his brothers. All the things that are music to this momma's ears. Tomorrow he heads off to school for a few days before we start back up again with chemo. As much as I wish that I could freeze this time and hold on to these moments, the snuggles with all of us in bed together (I've discovered we really need to get a king-size bed), the tickle fights, board games, hot cocoa breaks and lazy long naps in the afternoon, I know that we need to continue on this journey. God has been so good to us this year, but we still have so far to go in MacKale's journey. We need to put our game faces back on and prepare for battle with cancer.
So as we prepare for 2016, while most people are making their resolutions and attempting to 'fix' all the broken things they don't like about their lives, our family has decided to take a pass on resolutions. Instead, as I also told my Differentiated Kindergarten blog readers, I am taking a cue from my teaching partner Kerri and I have chose to focus on one word. This will be my focus word for the year. My word to get me through when I don't think I can breathe. The word that will sustain me during all those hours on the road between here and Grand Rapids and all those nights I sit waiting for MacKale to feel 'better' in the hospital. This year, my word is FAITH. There has never been a time in my life that I have needed it more, that I have needed to share it with my boys more . . . I know these days ahead will not be easy for any of us and they will be especially difficult for MacKale, but we have to hold on to our faith. There will be days when I won't breathe. I know that. But I have to have faith that some how, some way, God will bring some good of all this. I pray this faith will sustain us and keep us strong.
A special thanks to everyone for all the blessings you have given us by following MacKale's journey in 2015. Please keep us in your prayers in 2016. For the immediate future, MacKale has two more rounds of chemo and then surgery scheduled for January 29th. I will, of course, keep you posted as the days come.