thefrenchnest.org My French Nest: Life After Luke. 44 Reasons to Breathe.

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My French Nest: Life After Luke. 44 Reasons to Breathe. My French Nest Life After Luke. 44 Reasons to Breathe. Home About Me The Story Of Luke My Home Projects My Painted Chandy….Cathartic Annie Sloan Painted Upholstery Silverware Box Contact It’s Been A While…. By Jennifer Letellier on December 13, 2014 It is now December 2014. I haven’t written on Luke’s CaringBridge site or my blog in such a long long time. We are fast approaching our now 3rd Christmas without our Lukers. I wish I could say that not writing at all in so long is because we have been doing so well without him, or because we have dealt with his death and are over it. Not so. It has been a year of major milestones that Lucas has missed (nearly 3 actually, but this was a Big One). That WE have missed seeing Luke experience. Each milestone bringing more tears, more of that feeling you get in your heart when it starts t0 sag to your stomach and the whole My Arms Are Going Numb, My Heart is Beating Fast, I am Seeing Grey in My Peripheral Vision. AKA Panic Attacks. More migraine headaches and more of reading without seeing, watching TV without knowing what the show is about. Hanging out with our pals, trying to stay in the moment . In May, Luke would have graduated high school. We attended graduation and got to witness all his buddies accept their diplomas and toss their graduation caps in the air (SUPER FREAKING COOL). We were invited to no less than 35 graduation parties and tried to squeeze in as many as possible. We attended Scholarship Night at his high school and were able to gift a few scholarships in Luke’s honor. And we heard all about all of his friends’ big plans for where they planned to attend college. It was all good happy stuff yet painfully hard to get through, knowing he was not to be a part of any of it. I started a new job in July. After working on the same floor at the same hospital since I was 19 years old, it was quite a big change. I loved my old job working in the Neonatal Intensive Care, but was finding myself feeling unsatisfied. I am unsure if I was unconsciously changing my life to be different from when Luke was here, or if it was that I was unhappy there. I DO know that every time I drove to my job, it took me through a one-way 50 minute journey everyday, of thinking of Luke, seeing the same scenery that would jolt certain memories, driving through the neighborhood I grew up in, taking me back to an innocent time of being a child. One who has no cares or responsibilities. One whom has had no heartbreak. I cried on each and every drive there. And home. My make-up all a mess. I am enjoying my new job. Still working as an RN with sick babies. Just not as critically sick babies. The new hospital is half the commute which hardly allows enough time to cry too hard in the car, and it is, what I call, a Baby Factory. There is always lots to do there to keep busy, which is exactly what I need. And I cannot say enough of how welcoming the staff is there. Of course I miss my old friends. The nurses who taught me EVERYTHING I know. The ones who were there for nearly every adult milestone of my life. My graduation of nursing school. My wedding. The birth of all my babies. Deaths of grandparents. The death of my Dad, and the death of my son. 22 years of friendships. Crazy. If you guys are reading this, I THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU ALL. <3 In September, school started. All of Luke’s friends off to college, Jess starting her Senior Year of college and Charlie starting the 8th grade. Next year he will be in High School. The school that Luke wished he could attend more than his health allowed in both 9th and 10th grades. Damn You Rhabdomyosarcoma. And then once again, on Halloween, it was Luke’s Birthday. He would be 19 years old. I can only imagine how handsome he would be, and that he would still be enjoying his long wavy locks. Forever Hockey Hair. I think I have cried more this year than in all the time he has been gone. But has it all been bad? No. We have laughed as well. We are adjusting. I don’t think any of us will ever get over it, but with time, I guess you have to learn to accept. He is gone. But would I have changed one minute of his life? No. Of course, if I could change the fact that he had cancer, and all that, I would. But what I am trying to say is this: Luke lived his life as if it was the best thing that ever happened to him. He took EVERY SINGLE day, and lived to be the BEST he could be. He loved his friends hard. He loved his family hard. I believe that he was given a purpose on this Earth. MY LUKE DID NOT DIE IN VAIN. For even if it just that sweet smile on his face, the memories we all have are priceless. Rest in peace my dear boy. We will never forget you. Share this: Pinterest Facebook Twitter Google Email Print Like this: Like Loading... Posted in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, Child Loss, DIY Projetcs, Grief, rhabdomyosarcoma, Uncategorized | 1 Response Luke’s 2 Year Angelversary. By Jennifer Letellier on February 14, 2014 On Tuesday, it was Luke’s 2 year Angelversary. I would have normally written a post on the date itself, but, as I have often had lately, Writers Block. Sometimes its hard to write when faced with an emotional day like that was. Another milestone. Another year behind us, another year ahead of us. Life is so so so precious. The pain wasn’t any worse on Tuesday. Not any worse than the day before, the day after, or today. However, it was a day of remembrance. A dedicated day to Luke. I took a few vacation days this week. Wanting to just be home and practice a little Self Care. When I woke Tuesday morning, it was still dark out. I walked the dark hallway to wake up Charlie from school. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of light. Was that a car driving through our quiet cul-de-sac? I looked again and saw the most brilliant beautiful light shining through the windows of my front door. I went to look and was so touched to find a beautiful white lit candle shining so brightly. Someone remembered Luke! It took me all day to figure out who it was, yet I should have known all along. Thank you Simon!!! Many of Luke’s friends stopped over for a visit. I am sure it is hard for them to come over. I am so glad they did. Next year at this time, most will be away at college. I guess that will be the last time they all come on the February 11th. We love them all. My brother and sister and their spouses came over as well. We are blessed with so much love and support from everyone, and my sister had stated, We Are In This Together. Thank you. My love just pours out to everyone. I have said that Yoga and painting stuff (anything) has been very therapeutic to me. I had taken a very long break from my yoga classes, and have now resumed them again. I heart those classes. I would like to share a cool quote one of the instructors read to us last week. It just resounded with me. It wasn’t necessarily about grief, but it really prompted a lot of thought within myself. How often we search outside of ourselves for some elusive moment, for an experience like someone else is having, for an emotion we’d like to feel but aren’t at least not right now. How often we long to be somewhere other than where we are, or someone other than who we are. How easy it can be to complain about and regret our past, thinking it’s somehow wrong. The answer is to fall in love – fall in love with our own life. Our destiny isn’t some far-off moment or sometime that happens to someone else. Our destiny is taking place right now. It’s been happening all along. Destiny is that mysterious force or energy that magically intertwines with choice, free will and fate. Let all those elements weave together and create your life. But know you can help create it too, by falling in love with your own life. Love all the places you have gone and all the places you will go. Love all the lessons you have learned and the way you have learned them. Most of all, love where you are right now. Because that is where your destiny lies. ~Melody Beatty~ I miss Luke so much. I can’t wait until the day comes when I can see him again. See my Dad, my grandparents, those who have gone to heaven before us. I am trying to take it one day at a time. One step at a time. Enjoying Gods Gifts to us, the ones He gives every day. The fresh air, the white snow falling onto trees. The smiles on my children’s faces. The innocence of a babies gaze. The breaths we take. Happy Valentines Day Luke. I love you. Namaste. Share this: Pinterest Facebook Twitter Google Email Print Like this: Like Loading... Posted in Child Loss, Grief, Grieving, rhabdomyosarcoma | Tagged Luke Yoga | 2 Responses Jason Aldean, Luke’s Fav By Jennifer Letellier on January 18, 2014 Last night, Luke’s favorite musician came to town… Er, well, to Saint Paul, anyways. Jason Aldean. Every time I hear a JA song, I think of Luke, and I swear, every time on my way home from work, I drive the 20 or so miles of freeway, then exit onto our little town’s main ramp, and as I’m pulling into town, the song “Tattoos On This Town” plays on my radio. At first, I used to have to turn it off, it was far too painful. Now when I hear it, I cry, I smile, I remember. And I feel Luke so close. I tried to buy those tickets to last nights show. No go, it was sold out. I tried about the 3rd day after they went on sale. Not quite sure how I didn’t hear about the show, since according to one young friends Facebook post, “You know if dang near the whole town is going to a concert it’s going to be a good one! Getting jacked for Jason Aldean/Florida Georgia Line tonight!”. Some may remember, Luke’s Last Christmas, in 2011. His awesome big sister surprised him with Jason Aldean/Luke Bryan tickets. He was so excited. He could’t wait. He Tweeted about it. But he never got to go. The concert was the day after his funeral. If only. Luke and Jessica, Homecoming 2010, Country Western Day. A local radio station DJ whom also lives in our little community, had heard about Luke’s story. He was able to obtain a signed Jason Aldean guitar for Luke. Luke knew it was coming, but he never got to see that either. It now sits, leaning against the wall, next to his urn, on his “special table”. We had it displayed up by his casket at the funeral. This is a clip of a video of JA from the show a friend sent me. IMG_0124 Thanks Teesha. I have a feeling that a lot of those kids were thinking of Luke last night. I am sure he was right there, with them. Florida Georgia Line opened for JA. I think thats cool, cuz the first time I ever heard “Cruise”, I immediately know that Luke would have LOVED this new country band. A little rock, a little country and a little rap. He would have cranked them up. Jason Aldean/Luke Bryan show, February 2012. This picture is of (l to r) Alyssa (Jessica’s BF), Jessica, Nick (Luke’s BF) and Felicia (another of Luke’s BF’s). Nick was to go already with Luke. Felicia took Luke’s spot. I am closing with the lyrics of “Tattoos On This Town”. It is only appropriate. The words have such deep meaning to Luke. He loved small town life. Small town people. Gosh I miss you Luke. I love you so much. “Tattoos On This Town” There’s still black marks on that county road, Where we drag raced our pick-ups and Mustangs And weathered all the sun and rain. And to this day up on that overpass, Even underneath the new paint, you can still see “Allie, will you marry me?”Take a ride, look around There ain’t no doubtIt sure left its mark on us, we sure left our mark on it We let the world know we were here with everything we did We laid a lot of memories down, like tattoos on this townThere’s still a rope burn on that old branch, that hangs over the river. I still got the scar From swinging out a little too far. There ain’t a corner of this hallow ground, That we ain’t laughed or cried on. It’s where we loved, lived and learned real life stuff. It’s everything we’re made of.It sure left its mark on us, we sure left our mark on it We let the world know we were here with everything we did We laid a lot of memories down, like tattoos on this town Like tattoos on this town. Everywhere, there we are, It hits me right in my heart. It sure left its mark on us, we sure left our mark on it We let the world know we were here with everything we did We laid a lot of memories down, And we’ll always be hangin’ around, Like tattoos on this town Like tattoos on this town Much love, Share this: Pinterest Facebook Twitter Google Email Print Like this: Like Loading... Posted in Child Loss, Grief, Grieving, rhabdomyosarcoma | Tagged Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Luke, Luke Bryan, Tattoos On This Town | Leave a response Seeking Peace and Comfort By Jennifer Letellier on January 7, 2014 Brrrrrrrrrr! The whole country seems to be paralyzed from this cold snap! I heard today it is the coldest it’s been in Minnesota in a decade. The Governor cancelled all schools today last Friday, and our small town has cancelled school tomorrow as well. The kids are loving it. My sisters Facebook status “I love you Governor Dayton”. She is employed by the school district (lucky). At present moment, it is -18, with wind chills to make you feel like it’s -100 (slight exaggeration). Tomorrows low a -20. It feels like this weather hasn’t let up since Christmas! Nothing like starting out the New Year with record low temps! The hubby and I sit here tonight, with the fireplace going, STAYING WARM! The New Year. 2014. For us, the New Year ushers in , well, another year. Meaning how long our Lukers has been gone. In 36 days, it will be his 2 year Angelversary. 2 years!!! It scares me to be time-traveling away from the days when he was Alive. Healthy. Happy. I am so afraid that as time elapses, my memory will begin to fade. What if I forget the sound of his laugh? The way he would smile so sweetly? His favorite food? It scares me to where my knees go weak, my arms start to tingle, and my blood feels like it’s pushing out of my brain. I see spots and I get short of breath. AKA: Panic Attack. These have been better the last couple months, but there has been a surge of them during the holidays and the turning of the New Year. Every day I wake, we are closer to February 11. Luke’s Angelversary Day. I keep reminding myself to Breathe. Deeply. Like in my yoga class. 2 deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, sigh it out, in an open-mouthed haaaaaaaaaa. Then onto the Ujjayi breath. Inhaling through the nose, filling the belly as full as possible, and then exhaling out the nose with an audible constriction at the back of the throat. One breath to one movement. Ujjayi breath – Wikipedia It helps. These days I am all about seeking peace and comfort. It is my number 1 New Years Resolution. Yoga has been immensely helpful in this. And exercise. And Painting. I love the way I feel when covering a wall or a piece of furniture, making something that is distasteful in my eyes, into something beautiful. It keeps my mind focused on something other than my emotions. I can zone out for a little while, focused on just the task at hand. I am not a grieving mother. I just AM. For a little while. NO one. Next on my “To-Do List”(part of my New Years Resolution) is to finish painting the walls in my house. I got caught up in the “dark wall color” trend, and all these walls are dark brown, red and gold. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it’s been 7 years (of some very bad luck) and I’m tired of them. I want PEACE and QUIET. WHITE walls. Blue accents. Soothing. Calm. I NEED it. Hopefully this month you will find me with brush in hand, bucket of white paint, and a big smile on my face! I can “de-stress” while getting something accomplished at home. Win Win. What is on your list of To-Do’s for 2014? What are your New Years Resolutions? Wishing You All a Very Happy Healthy New Year! to 2014! Jen Share this: Pinterest Facebook Twitter Google Email Print Like this: Like Loading... Posted in Child Loss, DIY Projetcs, Grief, Grieving, Pediatric Cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma, sarcoma | Tagged Angelversary, Luke | 4 Responses Remembering Luke, Keeping Him Close This Christmas By Jennifer Letellier on December 24, 2013 This holiday season finds us at our 2nd Christmas with out Luke. They say you should do something in memory of your lost one or acknowledge them in some special way. They, as in, the authors that have written the grief books we have received throughout this process. It is suggested a family sets a table setting at the Christmas dinner for your loved one. Light a candle. State a special memory. Make a favorite dish they loved. Donate to a charity in your loved one’s name. Give gifts to families in the hospital, or adopt a family in need. Last year, everything still so fresh, my memory is blurred. We did light a candle, as we have done on his birthdays (2 now) and on the his one year “Angelversary”. We sent up Wish Lanterns before going to bed, Wishing him a Merry Christmas, while sprinkling Charlie’s Reindeer Food on our snow filled front lawn. I filled his stocking with Pez and placed his traditional 6 pack of Cream Soda at the foot of it. The Cream Soda. When Luke was younger, he loved those 4 and 6 pack bottles of Root Beer and Cream Soda, so they became a traditional gift from Santa. BUT: Christmas morning: The Pez untouched, the soda hauled to the refrigerator, for Charlie to drink later. A sad reminder of what we are missing. What will we do this year? I will still hang his stocking over the fireplace, alongside his brother and sisters. I will most definitely light a candle. A bigWHITE one. I would like to start a new tradition of having us write letters to him to place in his stocking. It will not be overflowing with gifts, but as our tradition goes, we will lay his annual 6 pack of Cream Soda beneath it. We can have a Cream Soda toast later on, remembering Lukie. Maybe on Christmas Eve, the 4 of us can crowd onto his bed and watch a movie. The Trailer Park Boys DVD. Luke would LOVE that. Mr. Lahey himself. And those letters carefully saved along with his other various letters friends and family have left for him. Unopened, only to be seen by the eyes of our Angel. I have one lone wish lantern left from the 200 I bought when he was on hospice. If the weather holds, we will send it up to Luke’s heavenly sky. And can you believe I bought 200??????? I found out first hand that people do crazy impulsive things (at least I do) when dealing with emotional-end-of-life crisis. I had originally purchased these for Luke to do himself with his friends and classmates. I wanted him to see the first-hand all of those fiery lanterns floating and filling his night sky. Like something out of one of his favorite country songs. When I told him, he gave me one of his exasperated looks, and rolled his eyes. Not happening. (Here is a link to the Youtube Video of the 95+ wish lanterns we all sent up for Luke’s 18 Birthday on October 31, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijlmiysGmjo ). On his last New Years Eve, 2012, he celebrated with some of his closest friends. They had a sleepover in Felicia’s Auntie Pam’s Cabin, and I sent some of the wish lanterns with the kids. They attempted to send some up. It was too windy, and those lanterns blew fireballs straight across the frozen lake, teenagers in tow, running to capture. The stuff that memories are made of. Months later, after he was gone, some of the girls went back to the cabin to get it cleaned up for spring, and the party hats were still there, as well as Luke’s wish lantern that he wrote messages on for the New Year. He never sent his up. It is now framed, I think, hanging in the cabin. Yes. It says what you see. 2011, crossed out into 2012. Kibbles… a nick name he earned from his buddies, his autograph, Luke Letellier, his phone number (in case some chick ever found it, I guess) and, yes, Cold Hard Titties. Oh Lucas Lucas Lucas. What goes through the minds of 16 year old boys. He always did make me laugh. What we are left with. Items, scraps of his precious life. Things I will neverpart with. My arms long to hug him and my ears need to hear his voice. My eyes spill with tears as they pry into my mind, trying to remember all of his features. We all have loved ones we miss, and during the holiday season, we miss them even more, if that is possible. Maybe it’s not more, but that the hurt is stronger than usual. We keep trudging on. One foot in front of the other, as Luke would want us to. As all of our loved ones would want. Light your candle, rejoice in your memories. So, hug your families. Appreciate the smalls in life, the crisp cool air, pretty Minnesota snow. The smells of Christmas: the trees, the baking, the home cooked food, the smelly boots and mittens from kids playing outdoors. All the little things God has blessed our world here with. Some day, we will see our loved ones again. All to be re-united together again in Gods kingdom. BREATHE. Merry Christmas to you all. Jen Share this: Pinterest Facebook Twitter Google Email Print Like this: Like Loading... Posted in Child Loss, Grief, Grieving, Pediatric Cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma, sarcoma | Leave a response My White Chair Re-Do By Jennifer Letellier on December 19, 2013 Posted by JennyLetellier in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, DIY ≈ 2 Comments [Edit] Tags Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Like so many others, some of my earliest best memories are times spent at my Grandma Grace’s home. She lived on the main street of a very small town, in a very old 2 story home painted in white. It had a window enclosed front porch that led to the coolest front door that had a big window in it of etched glass depicting a white winter scene of a statuesque elk. She had a skeleton key that fit the back door, that she kept in a coat pocket that hung in the non-heated back entry. I did see her use that old key, but I doubt she grew up locking her doors. There was also a side door I never saw her use, opening onto the landing of her old wood stairs leading to the basement. The basement. I was always scared to go down there. Grandmas knees were stiff and sore with arthritis, and in her later years, it was a chore to go down those basement steps. But when I was little, it always felt like she was leaving the safe confines of her bright, friendly kitchen, entering into some sort of dark scary place, fighting off scary things, coming up with the prize of her efforts, tasty homemade canned cherry sauce or canned peaches. The hero of my imagined fairy tale. She had her Hosta plants and ferns planted tastefully around the cement foundation, her old-fashioned clothesline always full of freshly laundered sheets, and to me, one of the neatest single car garages in the back that had, get this, a set of rickety stairs/ladder leading to an upstairs! There wasn’t really anything up there, but I would pretend that people in the olden days must have once lived up there. And they only had one window! The upstairs of the house had 3 bedrooms. The White Room, where Mom and Dad slept, and the Green Room where my sisters slept. Both the beds always smelled of crisp cool cotton sheets and both had white chenille spreads. The ceilings were all slanted, and the carpet that super old flat kind with a design on it. The 3rd room was different. Sort of half bedroom half closet. Grandpa’s Nap Room. And the room my big brother slept in (I was relegated to the old crib my mother slept in as a babe, my feet hanging out the sides…what was my mother thinking… one day, I put my foot down, literally and told my mother I could no longer be in that crib! By then, the sisters were teenagers, staying home more frequently, so I got the Green Room;) ). So, Grandpa’s Nap Room was connected to the Green Room, and had a single bed, an ancient old armoire and a very old trunk. I guess as odd as the room was, I probably spent most time there. The armoire held my mothers yearbooks and scrap books from the 1950′s (which she threw away! Dismay!) and the trunk was the same trunk that Grandmas’s parents brought over when they emigrated from Sweden (now residing in my bedroom today). It was so fascinating to look through these old things and imagine what life was like. Ok. So I guess this is what sparked my love of white, and my love of antiques. The White Room had super dark stained wood floors and a huge closet, the door painted in thick shiny paint with a big black, wobbly round knob. Oh heavens, I think it was even lined in cedar. Beautiful. Peaceful.White is so calming. Holidays spent there were few. I was 7 when Grandpa died, and I guess after that, my mom took over Christmas. But I DO remember Christmas in that old house. Sitting below her tree, staring up at her funny lights. They were huge frosted balls, in all the multi colors, and were absolutely gorgeous. Strung about the tree, and those big tall windows with the white painted trim andwhite lace curtains. I even remember opening up my Fashion Plates that I wanted so bad! You could custom make paper doll type outfits on paper by changing up the plates with different textures and styles and then use color crayons over it to get your design of a fashion girl. Ok so you get the picture. I love white, I love antiques, I love painted furniture, I love white hobnail and I love mercury glass. And Obviously I love my Grandma Grace. And my Grandma Jul! (her story comes later). Both gone now, both such strong influences on me and my life. Here is how I did my CHAIR. You maybe have given up by now, sorry for getting so off track. Nostalgia can be so potent and intoxicating. Recently, my mother gave me her old 1940′s vintage wing back chair. I am unsure of what the original upholstery looked like. She had it recovered mauve color in the early 1990′s I am guessing. It came from an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Palm, on the street I grew up on. I used Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint. www.anniesloan.com My sister and I discovered this paint last summer and we have been going CRAZY with it! Thanks to my co-worker who introduced me! Love it! More projects to follow! I started by researching other blogs and DIY’s on Pinterest, and my thoughts: Well, If I Screw This Up, It Needs Re-Upholstering Anyways! First, vacuuming it well and removing the cushion. Next, I worked one section at a time, starting with the back. I sprayed the fabric down liberally with plain water. I then diluted a mixture of half water, half Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White. I started painting the fabric that was wet with water, working like I said, section by section, trying to keep my paint even, with no drips. The theory was to drench the upholstery with the watered down paint but not so it dripped. You must dilute the paint and wet down the fabric to keep it from getting all flaky and cracky when it dries. I painted the cushion as well, flipping it over the next day to do the underside of it. I let the first coat dry over night, then applied 2 more coats over all the fabric, for a total of 3 coats, taking 3 days. I sprayed the fabric with the water with each coat of paint. Since I wanted the cushion to be white on all sides, that took longer as I did 3 coats on each side of the cushion. Usually with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, you are to top off your piece with Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax, but I chose not to put the wax on for now. My research has shown that some folks do wax their upholstery. I tested a small area and it darkened up a bit, so I chickened out. I then painted the wood legs and arms in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the color Coco. 2 coats. I painted right over the nail heads on the arms, and wiped the paint off with water to expose the metal. The beauty of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint is that you don’t have to sand or prime your wood before painting. It covers so well. After the wood dried, I rubbed one coat of Annie Sloans Clear Wax over to protect it from any nicks and to give it a nice luster. It turned out FABULOUS!! Share this: Pinterest Facebook Twitter Google Email Print Like this: Like Loading... Posted in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, DIY Projetcs, Uncategorized | 1 Response The Story of Luke By Jennifer Letellier on December 12, 2013 Well, here goes… THE BLOG. I have been told so many times I should start a blog. Write a book. Or publish Luke’s story that I have written on his Caring Bridge website. Yes, admittedly so, it’s been toyed with in my mind for a while now. While he was sick , writing was my outlet. I journaled every step of our cancer life, until it robbed me of my babe. I’ve had writers block since Luke passed away, too much grief to think clearly. I think I have turned a corner (for today), and am ready to re-unite with some of my passions. Writing. Decorating. Cooking. Crafting. I am finally embarking on a new “hobby”, of writing, or so it seems. Wish me luck. A little about myself! Hmmmmmmmmmmm, I’m a 43-year-old married mom of 3 beautiful kids. My youngest is 12, my oldest is 20. My middle, Lukie. would be 18. He passed away at a much too young age of 16. Our family devastated. His friends devastated. Where to begin. There was a time. We had the perfect family. We had our first 2 kids about 2 years apart. So special. So beautiful. So perfect. Jessica and Lucas. When they were 5 and 8 years old, we had our 3rd, Charlie. Our family was complete. I was always able to work part-time when they were little. I am an RN in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in a major hospital in the Twin Cities area. I have had the same job since I was 21 years old. In fact, I have been working on the same floor of this hospital since I was 20! Guess I’m not one for change. Those Good Years, we kept busy. I worked over night shifts. My husband has a General Contracting business. I was part-time, his business was booming. When the economy dived, business slowed and I worked more. Same story across America. Our kids did what all kids do. Spread their time too thin and try to excel at all of the extra curricular activities. Jessica danced. Luke played hockey. Charlie was transported in his car seat to all these activities. When he was old enough, he tried soccer. Baseball. And of course hockey. A crazy busy life it was! Luke’s hockey took up most of our time, and truth be told, we enjoyed EVERY darn minute of it. He was never on one of the “best” teams, he was the underdog. But the kids he played with had HEART. They all loved the game and the camaraderie with the boys was strong. The “hotel away tournaments” always a blast. With knee hockey being played in the halls (a strict NO in most hotels). In and out of the pool. The kids running through the halls, the parents socializing in a big party room if we were lucky, or near the pool or sometimes the lobby. Yes, those were the days. When our Lukers was 14, he discovered a lump in his calf muscle. We felt it was a pulled muscle from skating, but it never went away. This led to his diagnoses of a rare deadly pediatric cancer calledAlveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. He was a stage 4. It was now February of 2010. His underdog hockey team was coming to the end of a fantastic season. Luke had to end the winning season missing the play-offs, instead spending his time having a biopsy, bone marrow aspirates, many different scans, port placement for IV access and then the dreaded chemo. On with a very aggressive treatment plan. Chemotherapy and radiation. We were told that he would also have surgery to “de-bulk” the then 6 inch tumor. It was a 54 week plan, with the surgery/radiation in the middle of the road map. It was a difficult year that dragged into the next. I hadn’t realized that there would be delays. Delays from “counts” being too low to get chemo. Delays to get chemo due to the healing needed to be done from biopsies, radiation wounds, etc. It was a very grueling schedule that took up all of our time. For him, it robbed him of those fleeting years. Age 14-16, when he should have been out biking with his friends, flirting with girls, getting into innocent trouble. But, if you know my Luke, he made the best of things. He had a great network of friends, and I have witnessed the most extraordinary of friendships I know I will never see again. Ever. It was like God knew Luke was getting dealt a cruel hand, and so he set him up with these kids, that were so much wiser than they should have been for their age. So kind and compassionate. So supportive. More on them and the special story they share another time. I could write a book about those kids. Luke was treated at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital. We loved his Oncologist, Dr. R, and we loved his primary nurse. They referred us to the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester when they thought it was necessary. No egos involved. We thought he would beat this monster. I knew the odds were very much against him (35-45% survival rate…not good), but my baby was NOT going to die of cancer. He did. Exactly 2 years to the date of meeting with our oncologist for the very first time, our beautiful, precious innocent boy took his last breath. February 11, 2012. I will not go into all the details here, as it is painful to recount, and it is a lengthy story. You can read his Caring Bridge where I lovingly poured my heart out. www.caringbridge.org/visit/lukeletellier. On to the next steps. The How Do We Put Our Life Back Together Steps. I can remember the first time leaving my house AFTER. It was to get some groceries. I stepped out of my car in the parking lot. It was one of those freezing February days, the sky was very bright but not sunny. It’s all that WHITE we see in Minnesota. The snow can be blinding. It will hurt your eyes. Oh wait, maybe it was all my crying that made my eyes hurt. I walked into the store. A place where I’d shopped so many times before. EVERYTHING looked so foreign and strange. Almost unrecognizable. I felt like how I imagine a soldier would feel returning home from a losing war, far far away. Losing friends, losing time spent with family, maybe a limb, eye sight, SPIRIT. Coming home, everything has changed. Was it the streets, trees and the isles in the store that changed? Or is it us that changed? It has been a difficult 22 months. The first year a blur. Trying to hold it together for the other kids. Making time for doing the same activities we did BC (Before Cancer). We went to our family lake property. A place where my parents, my brother and sisters have spent time since before I was even born. We spent time with our friends, whom have been invaluable in our support. We returned to our “hockey life”. Me not so quickly as my Rob. The ice arena was by far The Hardest Place for me to walk in to. It’s gotten better, but I have yet this season looked at Luke’s STMA Knights 44 jersey hanging on the wall. His number. His tribute. Painful. Oh yes. Maybe next week. Jessica has been in college all along, and is now a Junior. She was originally to attend the University of North Dakota. With her dorm bedding bought, her roommate assigned, our Luke relapsed (or more accurately, had “refractory” disease) the summer she graduated High School. We quickly altered her plans to attend a local, closer university. She needed to be nearer to home and her dying brother, should it come to that. With his odds now less than 5% survival rate, I thought she had better. I know it was never her plan to attend that particular school, as it is only 45 minutes away. She wanted to branch out and start a new life. BUT, being able to commute for Luke was not a choice. 45 minutes vs. 5-6 hours, a no-brainer. She could come back and forth as needed, and slept both here and at the dorms. I think she must now LIKE being so close, because the other night she came home unannounced at 8:30 pm on a Sunday night and said she “Wanted to see my dog and take a shower in a shower where I can lay down.” Grrrrr…45 minutes later, Get Out of the Shower Please. Thank you. Charlie’s journey has been difficult. He has very good days. And some very bad days. He was put through way too much for a 12-year-old kid. He was 8 when Luke was diagnosed. Our lives became so much different. Now at 12, well, that is probably another story as well, for another day, another chapter. I took 3 months off from my job after Luke’s passing. I felt so fragile, and wasn’t ready to take care of other people’s critically ill babies. It was so hard to go back at first. I found myself crying several times through my shift in the bathroom. For months. I was afraid to be responsible for the sickest baby or the smallest baby. After time, I settled in, and the hospital has become a place where I can escape my grief at home, and it feels good to help other families with significant worries of their precious little ones. During those 3 months, and the rest to follow, I focused on myself. As selfish as it sounds, it was needed. I had gained a good 35 pounds during his cancer life. I started to exercise at a local gym with a close friend of mine. Talking for a good hour every day on a treadmill about anything and everything, is a good release. And it’s fun too! I came to like the way I felt on those days I hit the gym. I then discovered yoga and the calm peaceful feeling that comes with it after your practice. I dropped 40 pounds slowly by exercise and eating healthy. I knew I had to start to heal my self so that I could be the strongest mom and wife in my years to follow. I have come to a place now in my life where I strive for peace. I shoot for NO STRESS. LEAVE YOUR DRAMA AT THE DOOR PLEASE. It’s a little hard these days once again. I will never understand why bad things happen to people. Can you have too many Good Years, and then it’s your turn? I hope not. I know it is these things that make us stronger. It improves your perspective on life. Every day is a gift. Near the end of October, my mother was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Breast Cancer. That ugly monster has reared its head once again. She had a mastectomy. Started her chemo regime last week, and had her port placed yesterday (IV access). She has made me so very proud. Holding her head high (all 5 feet of her) and striving to move ahead. So, you see, maybe this is the perfect time for a blog. I have had “writers block” since Luke left us. I once wrote so non-stop on his Caring Bridge. It was a stress relief to do so, to get it all down into tangible words. I can use this now as my avenue to write again. Sharing my ways of coping and “de-stressing”. And In my little ways of de-stressing, I am hoping to share with my At-This-Time-Fictional-Readers some of my projects I have tackled in my home. Unbelievably, some have turned out great! These little “projects” have given me a new focus, new hobby, that I so enjoy doing. Thank you for taking your time to read this. It is a little dis-jointed, I know, but there is SO MUCH to say! (that is if this ever makes public…LOL). Jenny Letellier Mom to 3. Forever. <3 Share this: Pinterest Facebook Twitter Google Email Print Like this: Like Loading... Posted in Child Loss, Grief, Grieving, Pediatric Cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma, sarcoma, Uncategorized | Leave a response Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Email Address Archives It’s Been A While…. Luke’s 2 Year Angelversary. 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