Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A "First" I wasn't expecting

This past weekend my nephew got married and Caden was asked to be the ring bearer for the ceremony. It was the first wedding I've been to in many years and the first one Caden had ever been to. It was such an honor for him to participate in such a beautiful ceremony.

Everything was going along okay, then BAM!! Out of nowhere the grief hit as I realized I would never have the opportunity to see Caleb stand in a wedding as a ring bearer, a groomsman, a best man, or a groom. The worst part is knowing that I will never see him get married. And the tears started.

From the day he was born, Richard and I began praying for his future wife. That she would be a woman who loved God first, then Caleb. That she would be raised by loving parents who would teach her what it means to follow God with all her heart. That she would be faithful to God and Caleb. That she would respect & love Caleb with all her being. That he would respect & love her and treat her like a princess.

And now none of that will happen.

Then I reminded myself that the day was not about me. It was about the bride and groom. It was their happy day and there was no way I was going to drag it down. So, I left the reception early. As I headed back to the house, I decided to stop and "drown my sorrows."

Oh, the healing wonders of a large Sonic Oreo Blast with extra Oreos!

Fortunately, Caden didn't have to witness my mini-breakdown. He had been spending time with his cousins and "Aunt Dar." They were having a sleep-over that night after the reception. The next day, she posted something so profound and true:

I had such a wonderful time with the kiddos this weekend. A joy to watch them play wide open.
But always, always never far was the knowledge that Caden's bother Caleb should be have been here with us. I could hear his laughter that should have been right alongside his brother and cousins he never met. A 4 year old should not have to tell new people who meet him and ask the innocent question "do you have any brothers & sisters?"

"Yes, I have a brother. He's in heaven."

It's been 2 years, 7 months, 3 weeks and 4 days since Caleb died and I still haven't figured out how to answer the "how many children do you have?" (or if I'm with Caden, the "is he your only child?") question. I dread that question. Yet, Caden seems to have found the right answer for him.  

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Season of Change

The change in seasons officially began September 22. The warmth of the summer to be exchanged for the brisk air of fall. All of nature prepares itself for the harsh reality of the cold depths of winter.

I'm feeling kinda like that right now. My heart seems to shrink as I face a totally different kind of "season." From October through March, I feel like I'm living in a dark place that few things can penetrate, except the memories.

October. How I despise you now. You are a month-long reminder of the beginning of the end. For the next 5 1/2 months, I will walk through those days of pain over and over again. Each day, a memory of what was happening will surface, stab my heart and crush my mind until I can barely breathe, much less move. I will exist on auto-pilot because I have to.

October 10, 2013, marks exactly 3 years since Caleb was diagnosed with DIPG. A tumor the size of a walnut inside his brain stem. A death sentence.

I can still vividly recall almost every moment of that day. The sights. The sounds. The smells. My thoughts and actions. Caleb's actions.

My heart breaks a little more each morning that I wake up and Caleb's not here.

This past weekend we attended our second bereavement camp at Camp Sol. We met new families who have lost a child and reconnected with people and families we met last year. It is the one place I feel that I can really express my grief in any way I want to and the people there TRULY understand. We can cry, laugh, rage, and have fun (sometimes simultaneously) - without judgment. I love what Camp Sol does for grieving families. I love what Camp Sol represents - Healing.

When we arrived on Friday afternoon, one of the first things we saw near our cabin was a family of deer. It was breathtaking to be standing so close to them. They stayed there long enough for me to take a couple of pictures.

One of the first activities for the weekend was for each family to make a family flag to represent the family member they are there to remember. I started pulling together materials for the flag and hunted for the letters we would need to put on it. After I gathered all the letters together and arranged them on the flag, I looked down and noticed that I had not spelled Caleb's name, but Caden's. And my first tears of the weekend started. It upset me. I thought to myself, "What kind of mother forgets how to spell her child's name!? What else am I going to forget about Caleb?" Fortunately, a couple volunteers were nearby to help me calm down.

As the weekend progressed, the weather began to change. It was finally beginning to feel more like fall. We had a beautiful remembrance ceremony on Sunday morning in an outdoor chapel with a small stream flowing next to it. All the emotions of the weekend poured through that stream.

Camp Sol is a fantastic place for us to go. At the same time, I kinda dread going. It's held twice a year. Once in March (anniversary month of Caleb's death) and once in October (anniversary month of diagnosis). So, my emotions are already out of whack when I get there. But, I thank God that Camp Sol is available to us and there are people there to help me work through the emotions, especially all the intense emotions of the start of my third season of grief.

Hello, October. What do you have in store for me this year? Starting over in a new city?  Leaving my cell phone at a rest area? Yeah, I can handle that.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Monday, October 7, 2013

Moving On

Richard's job has been relocated to a new city, and we are in the process of selling the only home our boys have ever known. We are moving away from a town that stood by us and gave us amazing strength during the most difficult time in our lives. No longer will I be able to drive to a certain spot and say to Caden, "Caleb liked to go here."

The reality of the move is finally sinking in. We are leaving people who held us close and allowed us to grieve openly. Gave a loving shoulder to lean on. Churches that prayed for us. People who love us. We will miss them all tremendously.

And so, we start another phase of "moving on" without Caleb.

Although we are saddened about moving away from the community we've come to love, we know we believe we are walking in God's plan for our lives. Everything has come together just when it needed to in just the right way. Our home in Little Elm was on the market for less than 4 days before we had a signed contract on it. The home we are looking at in our new area is under contract and is supposed to close 1 week after we sell the house in Little Elm. Richard is already in the new area getting familiar with his job location and responsibilities. Caden and I are counting the days and hours until we can join him there.

Please continue to pray for us through this time. Change is hard, but sometimes necessary for continued growth.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School Blues

The majority of the schools in my area are starting again today. All day long today (and maybe even all week) will be posts about first day of school, what the kids are wearing, pictures in their cute clothes, how they like/dislike their teachers, etc. Because I have friends in several states, I've actually been seeing the back-to-school posts for almost a month already.

I understand the excitement, I really do. Although I am excited with Caden's accomplishments and starting the 4's class at pre-school next week, I can't help but think about Caleb. It's quite a bittersweet day for me.

As a bereaved mom, the first day of school is a reminder of what Caleb should be doing and isn't. He should be starting his first day of 3rd grade this year. Instead, he never got to finish Kindergarten. Because of how quickly the tumor progressed, he was only able to attend school for about seven weeks! He didn't get to experience a class party, a spring break, field day, or all the end of year craziness.

Caleb's First Day of School - August 23, 2010

He was so very excited to start school.

Totally worn out at the end of the day.

Richard and I were talking over the weekend how upsetting it is that Caleb's teachers didn't get a chance to see him at his best. He was so smart and capable of so much more than that tumor would let others see. It was already wreaking havoc in his little body by the time the first day of school started. He was struggling so hard to control his body and we didn't know. All the acting out, him not wanting me to leave his side at school, the frustration getting dressed in the mornings -- he was so scared and we didn't know.

We were very fortunate that Caleb's teachers cared and paid attention to him and to our concerns. We were already planning a trip to the doctor because of the concerns of the teachers. I was going to make a call first thing that Monday morning. He wound up in the ER the day before.

October 10, 2010. (10.10.10) A day I will NEVER forget. Our world was torn apart that day almost three years ago, and it hasn't stopped since. It abates at times, but the ache and the pain is ALWAYS there. So, please don't be surprised if my next few days are spent crying and avoiding social media.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday, Caleb

I was going to write a letter to Caleb for his birthday, but the thoughts just won't come out in any manner that makes any sense. So, I'll just say...

Happy 8th Birthday, Caleb!!

We love you so very much - to infinity and beyond.

We miss you more than ever.  

We'll send some balloons around 6:30 tonight.

Lord, please comfort us and help us not just survive another day but truly live.  Wrap Your arms around us and let us know You're near.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Monday, August 19, 2013

I love listening to his sweet voice

Caleb's 8th birthday is tomorrow, and I've been missing him tremendously. I was moving some videos off the video camera and ran across the one of Caleb during his radiation treatments. It's one of the last videos I took of him. I can't seem to stop watching it. I LOVE listening to his sweet, little voice and seeing the goofy look on his face as the anesthesia starts to work. I laugh and cry at the same time.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Caden's Inconsolable Over His Brother

As I'm finishing up some scrapbook pages of Caleb's final day, Caden walks in to see the pictures.

It has suddenly hit him that he will never see his brother again (until Heaven). He is crying uncontrollably and is totally inconsolable. He keeps saying, "I miss my brother. I want to be in Heaven with him now. My heart is so sad."

Lord, please comfort me as I comfort him and hold us both tightly.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Monday, March 25, 2013

Reason to Celebrate

Caleb, you are on my mind more than ever today. You've been gone from us for 2 years, and it seems like so very much longer. I'm trying so hard to imagine what you are doing today. Do you get to have a party/celebration for the anniversary of your entrance into Heaven?

It's difficult for me to imagine that I could ever "celebrate" you being gone. At the same time, I can rejoice that you are with Jesus. He has wiped every tear from your eyes and removed all pain from your body. THAT gives me reason to celebrate. As much as I want you here with me, I would never want you in that much pain again.

So, today, I will do my best to celebrate your life. I will look at pictures. I will watch videos of you. I will hold memories of you close. I will miss you. I will love you with all my heart. I will remember. I will smile. I will cry. But most of all, I will look forward to the day we are together again in Heaven in the presence of God.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reminders of Caleb Everywhere

As we draw closer to Caleb's 2nd angelversary, I am finding it harder to keep my emotions in check.

When Richard was diagnosed with pneumonia, it scared me. I know how serious it can be and that people can die from it. I was terrified that I would lose him, too. Then I lost my pawpaw. I remember getting ready for work that morning & Richard walked into the kitchen where I was. He asked if I was okay and I said no and practically ran into his waiting arms. I draw such strength from him that I can't imagine not having him with me. That afternoon when I got home, he told me the doctor wanted him back for a follow-up but he hadn't gone yet. I chewed him out while crying and told him how scared I was. He went for his follow-up. He stayed home through the weekend resting as much as he could. It's taken a couple weeks, but I think he's just about 100% again.

Spring Break arrived. We had made plans to send Caden to Gma's for the week. I took him as soon as I got off work on March 7th. I spent the night and headed back on Friday. I went to this FABULOUS scrapbook shop in Corsicana called Scrappin' Goodtime. I spent several hours there learning some new techniques and working on some scrapbook pages before heading home. That was my plan for the entire Spring Break -- scrapbooking. I got several layouts finished and a few more almost completed.

Caden was having a great time at Gma's.

And I was spending every day scrapbooking and crying off and on. Putting together pages with Caleb in them was harder than I thought it would be. I think it was mostly because of the silence. When Caden's home, there is rarely a quiet moment. That child even makes noise in his sleep! But, with him gone...
This week has been one of mixed emotions. While I am glad Caden is having a great time at Gma's house, the silence in the house is deafening. With Caleb's angelversary just two weeks away, I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed at the tidal wave of emotions. The pain of missing him is crushing. The tears flow frequently while I'm alone, yet I am better when someone else is with me. I'm missing both of my boys, but in different ways. At least I know I can call Caden and talk to him on the phone.
I had more time to think about Caleb. What would he look like? Would he still be into Star Wars? How would he be doing in school? What's he doing right now? I miss him so very much.

I made it through Spring Break. This past Sunday afternoon while Caden was napping, I decided to make copies of the newspaper articles about Caleb to scrapbook. Once I started going through the chest with his things in it, I couldn't seem to stop the flood of memories and tears.
I've been going through some of Caleb's things this afternoon and just remembering. Of course, that means I'm crying off and on. Caden just woke up from his nap and climbed on the desk to be next to me. He looks at me and says, "Mommy, are you about to cry?"

"Yes, Caden, I am."

"Why, Mommy?"

"Because I miss your brother very much."

He then grabs his sleeve, pulls it towards me and says, "Mommy, if you are going to cry, you can use a little boy sleeve to wipe your eyes because it's big."

He instantly cheers me up again. Love, love, love his heart!
I managed to make it through the rest of the evening and most of Monday without incident. Then, after dinner, another reminder. Caleb used to LOVE running around the living room while I vacuumed. He called it, "making jokes with the vacuum." He would run close to where I was vacuuming then see how fast he could get away before so I wouldn't vacuum his shoes. Monday evening was the first time Caden did it. I laughed at him, loved the reminder, and held back the tears.

Tuesday was Spring Picture Day at school. I was already at work getting ready for the day to start when it hit me again that I will never have another school picture of Caleb or any other picture of him. Our family pictures will NEVER be complete. We smile for the camera, but there is still a beautiful smile that is missing.

Wednesday brought more tears. Honestly, I don't even remember what started them. I do remember Caden offering his sleeve again to wipe my tears.

Today, Caden got a cross necklace from the treasure box at school. When we asked him why he chose it, he said, "I got it so my brother can remember me and I can go to Heaven."

I feel like I'm falling into a dark pit. It's a place I've been before, and I don't ever want to return. It's no fun in the pit. It's hard to climb out, so the best thing for me to do is not even go there. So instead of sinking into the mire, I reached toward Heaven. I continue to lean on Christ as never before. I draw closer to Him and rely on His strength to get me through each day. I surround myself in worship and look to family and friends for much-needed hugs.

I don't know when or where memories and reminders of Caleb will happen next, but I do know what I will do when it happens. I'll be on my knees crying out to God for continued strength and peace. And, with His grace, I'll make it through Monday.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Through Tragedy and Triumph

February 21st - I called our tax adviser to make sure I had everything for our taxes. As he was reviewing the information, I told him we needed to remove Caleb from the taxes this year. He asked if it was a temporary thing & I had to remind him that Caleb died in 2011. Another "first" I wasn't prepared for.

February 23rd - Caden has finally gone 30 nights in a row dry! In celebration of the big event, we had breakfast at I-Hop (his favorite), a carousel ride at the mall, a trip to the Lego store for more Legos, and new bedding (Star Wars themed, of course). As his big reward, he now gets to sleep on the top bunk of the loft bed we got him several months ago. He was so worn out by the time we headed home that he fell asleep in the van.

February 27th - Richard stayed home from work with what we thought was the flu. He went to the doctor late that afternoon & came home with a different diagnosis -- pneumonia. He said they almost admitted him to the hospital because of it. I barely slept that night because I kept listening to him breathe.

February 28th - I woke to a text message from my mom letting me know my pawpaw had passed away shortly after midnight. He'd had heart surgery the day before, survived the surgery then died of a massive heart attack several hours later. It struck me pretty hard. Not so much that he was gone, but because I don't know if he had a relationship with Christ. I don't know if he's with Caleb and other family members in the presence of God Almighty and that thought greatly distresses me. I wish I knew for sure.

I've also read about people dreaming about someone they have lost. In the almost two years since Caleb died, I've not had one dream about him. I've dreamt about other family members, friends & even people I knew many years ago for a short period of time, but never the one person who's face I would most like to see.

But that's okay. I am assured that I will see him again one day. We will spend eternity together in the presence of God. And until that day arrives, Jesus holds me tightly in His arms and never leaves my side. Through tragedy and triumph, He is always here. He rejoices when I rejoice, and holds me when I weep.

Christ is my:
All in All (Colossians 3:11)
Breath of Life  (Genesis 2:7)
Comforter (John 14:26)
Deliverer (Romans 11:26)
Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6)
Fortress (Jeremiah 16:19)
God (Genesis 1:1)
Healer (Exodus 15:26)
Intercessor (Romans 8:26, 27, 34; Hebrews 7:25)
Judge (Isaiah 33:22; Acts 10:42)
King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15)
Life (John 14:6)
Messiah (John 4:25)
Omega (Revelation 22:13)
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4)
Savior (Luke 2:11)
Truth (John 14:6)
Vine (John 15:5)
Witness (Isaiah 55:4)
Yahweh (Genesis 2:4)
and so much more than I can ever describe!!!

In His presence is the place I long to be. Knowing that Caleb is already there comforts me more than anything else.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.
Angel, Richard & Caden

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New DIPG Clinical Trial Sounds Promising

Richard posted a link on Facebook about FDA approval for a new clinical trial specifically designed for DIPG through the Weill Cornell Medical College.  According to the article:
"This new approach represents a ray of hope for families facing the diagnosis of DIPG. This rare brain tumor has been uniformly fatal, made all the more heartbreaking by its propensity to strike very young children. The tumors are inoperable due to their ill-defined borders as well as their position in the delicate pons area of the brain stem. Radiation has been the standard approach, but it is not a cure and usually extends life only by a short time. Some 200 to 300 children in North America a year die from DIPG - usually within months of their diagnosis.
Unlike other critical diseases of childhood, DIPG has suffered from a lack of funding that has meant a complete lack of progress in survival rates. Over the past few decades, survival rates for medulloblastoma have reached 70 percent; for acute lymphoblastic leukemia the rate is now 85 percent. Over that same time, survival rates for DIPG have remained essentially at zero, as major foundations directed their support toward more common conditions. It is Dr. Souweidane's hope that this innovative clinical trial will be a major first step in creating a survival rate for DIPG for the first time."
This is potentially HUGE for the DIPG community. I am praying that this works the way they are hoping. I also pray for all the families who are accepted into the trial. No family should have to experience what we've been through.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A public thank you to: Battle4aCure.org

October 10, 2010, our world was torn apart. Our then five year old son, Caleb, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). We were told that 85% of the children with this diagnosis would die within one year. We began a journey with cancer that would last only 5 ½ months.

Shortly after diagnosis, a family member told us about the Battle for a Cure Foundation. Through our contact with Battle4aCure, we were asked if we would like to participate in the Christmas Hope program. We wanted desperately to have a “normal” Christmas, but we could barely make it through the day, much less worry about Christmas gifts at the time, so we gladly said, “Okay.”

What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. Our family was “adopted” by at least 6 different families for Christmas that year. We received packages of toys every couple days for almost two weeks. There was one delivery that still stands out in my mind. We were at home watching TV one evening when the doorbell rang. When we opened the door, a large gift bag overflowing with gifts was on the doorstep. We stepped outside to see a lady walking down the driveway toward her vehicle. When she reached her vehicle, she turned back to us and said “Merry Christmas,” then got in her vehicle and drove away. We were overwhelmed with a sense of love and began crying as we walked back into the house.

That Christmas was overflowing with gifts and Caleb was able to be a happy, excited child about Christmas one last time. And the most wonderful part is that our younger son, Caden, was included in the entire gift giving process as well.

Caleb died on March 25, 2011, at 11:45 p.m.

As December 2011 and our first Christmas without Caleb approached, we were contacted by Battle4aCure once again. They wanted permission to send Caden a box for Christmas to let him know that they were thinking about him and hadn’t forgotten him. It was one of the kindest gestures that could have been given. Caden’s favorite toy is the stuffed duck he received from that box. “Ducky” is now a treasured member of our family. Caden sleeps with him every single night and still carries him everywhere he possibly can.

Thank you so much for everything that you do Battle4aCure! As Caleb would say, “We love you to infinity and beyond!”

With much love and gratitude,
The Huffines Family
Richard, Angela, Caden (and our sweet Caleb in Heaven)

If this post has inspired you in any way, contact Battle4aCure.org to see how you can help. A "Hope Box" like the ones the boys received costs about $50. You can donate to this 501c(3) organization and bring a smile to a child battling cancer and that child's entire family.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

December 2012 Update

December was another "fun-filled" month (well, mostly).

December 3rd - Caden's well-child visit. He's doing really well and everything is going okay, except for the tummy issues. I was still kinda freaking out about it all because I just wanted to know what's wrong with him.

December 4th - Christmas program for the Early Learning Center where I work & Caden goes to pre-school. About an hour before we are supposed to be at the church, Caden throws up again. Drat!! We still don't know what's causing the tummy issues, but I knew that's what it was related to so we went to the program anyway. The kids all did so well. As a teacher & a parent, I was so proud of all of them.

December 5th - Called Dr. Dave' first thing. She decided we needed to get an x-ray of his tummy, bloodwork and then head to her office right after. We went to the imaging center first and while waiting, I'm browsing the Internet & looking at a scrapbook cabinet that I want. I sighed really loud & Caden asked me why. I told him how much I really want to get this cabinet & that it's on sale, but I still can't get it.
"As I continue to drool over the WorkBox I want, Caden goes over to a stranger next to us and says, "My mom wants a WorkBox. Will you buy her one?"
I am beyond mortified and yet strangely proud of his confidence in asking."
We left the imaging center and headed to the lab for bloodwork. As soon as we pulled up, he asked where we were. I told him we needed to have bloodwork done to help find out what's wrong with his tummy. He started screaming as soon as we walked in the door & didn't stop until it was over & we had left the building -- 30 minutes later!

Next stop was Dr. Dave'. At this point, she says that he is still as backed up as he was prior to the last cleanse. She's stumped as to why he's backing up so quickly & we decide to schedule him for an endoscopy & colonoscopy. Surgery is scheduled for December 14th. Hopefully, we'll finally get some answers.

December 9th - light dusting of snow! Not really even enough to stick to the ground, but I got a great shot of it on my beautiful December rose.

December 13th - One last cleanse before his procedures on the 14th. He was placed on clear liquids only after 10am. We had gone shopping the day before to pick out stuff he could eat and drink. I let him choose. Brought home lots of Jell-o and popsicles. Then when it was time for him to actually eat some of it, he felt so bad from all the pre-surgery stuff that he didn't want any of it. I thought, "I must have the only kid in the world who doesn't want to eat popsicles & Jell-o all day."

December 14th - We had to be at the surgery center by 7 am for Caden's procedures. He was not real happy having to wake up early and then being told he couldn't have anything to eat or drink. This was so reminiscent of radiation mornings with Caleb that it was all I could do to keep from crying in front of Caden. So many memories revisited in Caden's words. It was as if Caleb was there again.

"Mommy, I'm starving and I want a cheeseburger."
"No!! I don't want to put that bracelet on."
At least we had already made the decision not to place his IV until he was sedated. I knew better than to try to fight that battle. But watching him fight the anesthesia mask was the hardest. It hurt to know how scared he was. I wanted to yank him off the table and just go home and cuddle him, but I knew we had to find out what was going on. Yet, I was terrified of the potential results. The procedure started about 8:15 am, and he was done about 30 minutes later. The endoscopy & colonscopy showed no obvious traces of anything wrong & Dr. Dave' confirmed that he was finally completely & totally "all cleaned out!" He took a little longer than we thought to wake up. When he did wake up, he was quite a bit cranky, but that was quite understandable considering what he'd been through.

We received the biopsy results on December 19th and updated by Facebook on the next day.
 We got biopsy results back yesterday. No crohn's, ulcerative colitis, celiac, or anything like that. The lining in his stomach is red and irritated, apparently from a prior virus. Will take some time to heal. In the meantime, we have put him on Prevacid (to help it heal faster) and Gas-X to help with his extreme gas issues, in addition to the Miralax he was already on. We are also decreasing greasy/fried foods and limiting straw usage. (I didn't know you suck in more air when using a straw & he LOVES straws.)

His appetite is increasing again and no complaints of stomach pain today.
December 21st - tragedy strikes Newtown, CT. So many families will be struggling through Christmas without a family member because of one man's senseless act of violence.

At bedtime that night, Richard was reading Caden the Bible story about Jesus raising Jairus' daughter from the grave. Caden asks, "When is Jesus going to make my brother alive again?" Richard and I both agree that sometimes it would be easier to skip some stories in the Bible. However, God continues to give us the grace, mercy & strength to keep going on.

Christmas Eve - We had driven to East Texas for the weekend. We attended the family Christmas Eve gathering as usual. It was quite a bit more somber & subdued because it was our first Christmas without Papa Wilson. His presence was truly missed. We drove home after the gathering and as we neared the south end of Dallas, we started driving through snow. It was absolutely beautiful. I love snow! Well, I guess I should qualify that a bit. I've lived in the south my entire life and can still count on both hands (with fingers left over) how many times I've been in snow. I love how it looks, but I don't like to be in it for long because I really dislike being cold! However, I still enjoyed watching it fall and prayed it would last through the night so Caden could see it since he was already asleep.

Christmas Day - The first White Christmas for Caden and me!

New Years Eve - We decided to let Caden watch Star Wars. He was so excited he could barely sit still. We started with Episode 4. As soon as Darth Vader entered, Caden jumped up and yelled, "There's Darth Vader. You bug face!" Caleb would have really gotten a kick out that. I can only imagine the Jedi battles the two of them would have had by now.

And, Caden actually stayed awake long enough to welcome in 2013.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden