Big Apple Dreams

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Last day of 10th grade!!!

Max and I picked up “10th grade Olivia” from school for the last time on Thursday which marked the official start of summer in the Geyling household!  Yay!!  Then, we welcomed Wilson home on Saturday morning after he successfully completing Air Assault School in Hawaii!  Woo Hoo!!  THEN, Wilson’s girlfriend came for a quick visit which led to a spontaneous swim party and a couple of late night living room movie nights!  Good Times!!  Summer is here.

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Way to go Wilson!
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Summertime Livin’ with friends!

In the midst of all that fun, we got a special visit from representatives of the Dream Foundation – a non profit, wish granting organization for terminally ill adults headquartered here in Santa Barbara.  My hospice case worker initiated the dream application a couple of months ago and thanks to the hard work of DFs staff and supporters, our family is being gifted a trip to New York City!  Rolf was in NYC on business nearly 12 years ago, I haven’t been in 30 years and the kids have never been…it’ll be an epic adventure for sure.  We’ll take in a couple of Broadway musicals, the boys will get to see U2 at Madison Square Garden, Olivia is excited to go to a live taping of Good Morning America, Rolf is working hard to secure tickets to fulfill his dream of seeing Bruce on Broadway and I’m looking forward to reenacting the iconic opening scene of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” on 5th Avenue while humming Henry Mancini’s “Moon River”!  Ha Ha 😉  Mostly I’m excited to sit back and soak it all up…the sights, the sounds, the food, our kids’ reactions to the Big Apple and all the shared moments.

We recognize, maybe more than most, the impact this kind of experience can have on a family in our situation because we’ve lived it before.  You may recall that Rudy was granted a wish from the Make A Wish Foundation back in 2013…which I described here.

Not to sound boastful but we get it.

We know how to pace ourselves and maximize every moment all at the same time.

We know how important it is to make and store up lots of vivid memories.

We know it’s more than a vacation.

We know it’s a walk on sacred ground.

It feels quite strange to be going on another wish trip and I’m surprised by how sensitive or self-conscience I’m feeling about it…like with with Rudy, I wish we didn’t qualify…but, on the other hand, because we’re experienced wish receivers, we know what it takes to make something like this happen and we don’t take any of it for granted.  We are so grateful for the generous acts of love and compassion that have been extended to our family over the years by so many.  At the end of Rudy’s wish trip blog post, I expressed my hope to pay it forward in the future…I feel the same about this trip too.  Stay tuned for a fun recap in the coming weeks!  🙂

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‘So grateful to Alex and Mark from the Dream Foundation for their hard work and trip packet presentation.
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My hospice angels…case worker Tianna and counselor Ginny.
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From the looks of it, the kids would have been perfectly content with just the UGG blanket that we were given along with a basket of UGG/Teva/Sanuk walking shoes. Seriously, this blanket is sooooo soft!
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Thank you, in advance, Dream Foundation for what WE KNOW will be a fun and impactful experience for our whole family.
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I used Wilson and Kyla as practice models while learning how to use new photo features on my IPhone. 😉

Looking for Rainbows

Have you heard of the term “rainbow baby”?  It’s official definition is this…

A rainbow baby is a baby born shortly after the loss of a previous baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or death in infancy. This term is given to these special rainbow babies because a rainbow typically follows a storm, giving us hope of what’s to come.

…but I would extend that definition to the birth of a baby born after the loss of a child at any age.

I shared about rainbow babies before on Rudy’s Beat back in 2012.  It’s kind of shocking to read that post now and reflect on the number of kids that have passed since Katie, Josiah and Logan…we can now add Daisy, Gwendolyn, Moriah and Rudy to that list.  😦 And we’ve watched every one of these families go on to have their rainbow after the storm…some of the babies were planned and some were a surprise but in every case, it’s been an amazing joy to watch these families experience the birth of another child and the renewal that comes with it…although the memory of all our lost friends will never fade, watching their brothers and sisters arrive over the years, even from a distance, and sharing in the joy of their existence, even from a distance, has been a sweet breath of fresh air in the midst of so much loss and pain for so many.

It did cross my mind from time to time that given my age when I had Rudy, if anything ever happened to him, it would be highly unlikely that our family would experience the blessing of a rainbow baby.  I didn’t dwell on it but, I admit, it did make the thought of losing Rudy more threatening.  If we lost him, that would be it!  But then again, maybe our rainbow would come in the form of an adoption or maybe that breath of fresh air would come with grandchildren down the line.  (Ok, maybe I did dwell on it a bit!)  The point is, I was catching a vision for rainbows in the life of our family to come in a variety of ways.

Some good friends of ours were expecting their first baby last spring and looking ahead to their childcare options.  I felt compelled to offer my services…they needed the help and I thought it would be good for Rudy to be the “big guy” for a change and learn to care for others so the arrangement had the potential to be a “win for win” for all of us.  Rudy died 10 days after our new friend, Levi, was born.  Even in the days that followed Rudy’s passing, I felt strongly that I needed to honor my childcare commitment.  As I prayed about it, I wondered if little Levi might end up being a unique rainbow baby in my journey through grief and part of my healing process…seemed logical.   Then came ALS and it was clear that I had to let go of Levi too.

I think I’ve been looking for/longing for that darn rainbow ever since.  If ALS wasn’t in the picture, I’m certain I’d be able to identify my rainbow but options for that breath of fresh air, that sense of renewal, the hope of what’s to come seem really, really limited right now…figuratively AND literally!  I couldn’t have ever predicted, in all those times I thought about losing Rudy and fretted over what that would mean for our future/my future, that the storm would gain momentum after Rudy’s death, that I would have to ride it out for the rest of my life and…not see the rainbow once the storm ended.  It still boggles my mind.  I think it will boggle my mind until the day I die.  I’ll keep writing about it, though…I’ll come at it from all different angles…I’ll try to make sense of it because my mind is wired that way…but I guess my hope is that in the process of trying to do the impossible, I’ll land on some helpful insights that can be understood in this lifetime and will, even for a split second, be a breath of fresh air for a weary, storm-weathered soul.

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Rudy and Levi meeting for the first time.

 

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Already so eager to show him the ropes!
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A little Levi love for me last fall!

My friend Scott has been helping me transfer all the cassette tapes some friends and I recorded 25+ years ago to digital copies.  He emailed me another batch this morning that included a lullaby I wrote when my now almost 28 year old niece was born.  Seems kind of fitting to reintroduce it here with all this talk of babies…:)

Timeless Love of Christ (with Grace VanNortwick)

 

Simple Pleasures

It has been pretty quiet around here.  Wilson is still in Hawaii for Air Assault School and returns on Saturday.  He has successfully passed two out of three phases and says the training is “no joke” but is enjoying the challenge.  Max has picked up a few shifts at Kyle’s and is quite helpful to me during the day when he is home.  Olivia couldn’t be MORE ready for school to be over…poor girl just has to hang in there 3 more days!!!  It finally started to feel like summer this past weekend and I’m ready for our summer break to officially begin too.

We had our first family pool party of the season this weekend.  Rolf and Max jumped in to cool off after a day of plumbing and because I was on a two day break between infusions, I jumped in too and it felt wonderful!  The weightlessness is the best and the gentle, no-impact movements of my arms and legs in our warm pool water is so therapeutic.  It’s such a simple but deeply impactful pleasure.  I actually got lost in feelings of normalcy as I floated around in the pool hammock.  It all felt normal until it was time to get out.  I don’t have enough arm strength to hoist myself onto the pool edge and once I’m on the edge, I can’t get myself to a standing position.  So, I’ll have to limit my pool play to when Rolf or the big boys are home to help me.  Getting out of the pool is a bit of a humbling process, for sure, but I’m determined to not let that stop me from enjoying our pool this summer.  🙂  Yay Summer!!!

We are giving some thought to how we’d like to approach July 25th and honor Rudy on the anniversary of his passing.   Rolf and I have decided to keep the day itself pretty simple but would like to invite our friends and family to participate by honoring Rudy with one of his simple pleasures.  We invite anyone who wants to to send Rudy a Lightening McQueen car that we’ll place on his headstone track on the 25th.  We’re hoping to have a big pile to display which would have delighted Rudy to no end.  Oh, how he LOVED to play with his Lightening McQueen cars!  I also have a replenished supply of “Pay It Forward for Rudy” cards so if you’d like one/some to use on the 25th specifically, let me know how many you’d like and I’ll drop ’em in the mail to you.  We don’t necessarily want to make a big deal out of this first anniversary but we do want to be thoughtful in the ways we remember our boy.  Thank you for walking this road of grief with us and loving our family in it…we love you right back!

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Send us a Lightening McQueen car and we’ll send you a limited edition Rudy pen…in your choice of “Rudy Blue” or “Lightening McQueen Red”!
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In this past month of missing all the end of the school year fun with Rudy, I was especially tickled to get this photo from one of Rudy’s special ed teachers last week. She said she found it while cleaning out her classroom and it just might be my new favorite picture! Thanks “A A” 😉