Hi, I'm Courtney (or Aunt Titi, whatever you prefer)
I'd like to take a second to introduce myself... My name is Courtney Quinn Carey. Some call me Court, Courtney, Paulo calls me CourtyQuinn, kiddos call me Aunt Titi, whatever floats your boat. I am the niece of Jessica Boswell (Halfast). My mother is Jessica's elder sister, Heather Carey. I grew up with Jess in Pennsylvania on my parents farm and her parents (my grandparents) had a farm about 10 minutes away, (my driving, anyone else 15-20 mins...sorry dad). Jess, to me, was always like the cooler older family member that you wanted to be just like when you grew up, and in a sense I am somewhat following in her footsteps. She was 8 years older than me growing up, a life time when you're younger, but when I moved to Florida in 2015 I was 22 and she was 29, that age gap isn't quite as severe as you grow older. After moving to Florida, Jess and I became much closer on more of a friend-like level. I was freshly 22 when I moved to Florida and Jess was all I had for family. I moved down here to help with her growing baby bump who is now my little best friend Channing and because I absolutely HATE the snow. Jess and Jeff didn't have any blood relatives in Florida and I always wanted to move down here so I thought what the hell, I have nothing holding me back here in PA, let's do this! I told Jess and Jeff I would gladly move down and help look after Channing. Shortly after that conversation, I called one of my best friends Darcy, asked her if she wanted to come live with me... she put in her notice at work shortly after and the rest is history.
Channing was due towards the end of September so I planned my moving date on September 23rd, 2015 because I wanted to be here for his birth. Well, as you all know, things don't always go according to plan... Channing Jeffrey Boswell made his appearance in Fort Lauderdale for the first time on August 26th, 2015. I got down here just short of a month later and literally sprinted up 3 flights of stairs, in the pouring rain, almost tripped and died and I will never forget running into that apartment and holding Channing for the first time. At that very moment, my heart has never been so full in my entire life. Ever since that very moment we've been pretty inseparable little Chan-man and I. After moving down here, I lived in the same apartment complex as Jess and Jeff, literally a 30 second walk away from their building. So to say we did absolutely everything together was an understatement. Pool days, Publix runs, the gym, going on runs, literally everything. But that's enough about me and how I got down here and to be with Jess....We will get into more of our adventures another time.
One more thing about me before we get into this...You know how everyone has that brutally honest friend who you don't really go to be comforted, you go to them when you want to know the truth? I am that friend. It's not always what you may want to hear, but I will always tell you the truth.
When did it become reality for me that we were going to lose Jess to cancer? It was when we realized that the cancer was terminal (Stage 4) and that the survival rate of colon cancer after it has metastasized to other abdominal organs is very low...like extremely low. I am in the medical field myself and unfortunately have had other extremely close family members with terminal cancer so I am no stranger to the medical terminology and the way doctors word what they're going to tell the families and patients and what they're actually trying to get at without having you lose hope. Sometimes hope and faith is all someone in this position has, and believe me first hand, faith and hope can keep a person or people going longer than any drug can.
I will never forget the conversation I had with her on December 9th, 2017 as long as I shall live. It was the day she was to go get her colon removed as an emergency procedure, she had been having bowel issues for over 16 days at this point and had been up all night throwing up what looked like black bile. That morning the surgeon came in to evaluate Jess and they gave her less than 48 hours to live and this surgery was our only option or hope. I was home with Channing, Jeff's mom, and my grandparents when this news was sprung upon us. Jeff called balling and told me to get everyone to the hospital ASAP; as Jess was going into surgery shortly after 11 am. He said, with cracks in his voice, that we all need to see her before she goes under because she might not make it through the surgery and hung up the phone. Now anyone with children knows that there is no such thing as getting a kid out of the house fast...Just no. Everyone is running around in circles after I announced this news, trying to get dressed and get Channing together a bag and get him dressed, etc. Jeff called again in a few minutes asking how far we were and we had not even left the house yet so this time tensions got a little high in the house and everyone took off. I remember driving my grandparents to Tampa General Hospital and not even being able to cry. Some people would think, "how couldn't she cry?!" I have learned a great deal about life and death and emotions these past 6 months and one very important thing I have learned is that everyone processes emotions and situations differently. I myself could not cry, mostly because I was trying my very best to hold it together for everyone else. How do you comprehend that you're going to say goodbye to your aunt, your best friend, your daughter, your mommy...How?!? You don't, you're in a state of shock and disbelief.
Walking into that hospital room you could see she was an entirely different human than the night prior when I saw her, she was not in good shape visually. I could see her heart beginning to go into overdrive, see her heart rate on the monitors, her lips were retaining fluid... It was very difficult for me to see her like that because to date that was the worst she had been. I was trying my very best not to tear up or cry. One thing I was very adamant about this entire journey was never letting Channing see people cry. We distracted ourselves and started taking photos with her and Jeff, the kids, her sister-in-law, her parents, and myself. There were nurses everywhere, giving her blood transfusions, IV fluids and countless medications, TPN, pain meds, etc. It was a blur and I remember every detail of that morning all at the same time. Transport was on the way up to take her to the operating room, and it started racing through my mind that this very well could be and most likely was going to be the last time I ever saw her alive. She said she needed to use the restroom, but was extremely weak from being too ill to eat for many months before this, so I helped her into the restroom.
In the restroom, I was helping her get back into her hospital gown and tied all up nice and her she looked up at me (her being 5 feet and me a whole 8 inches taller) she said, "Court, I'm probably going to die today aren't I?" Now just imagine being 31 years young, with 2 beautiful baby boys, a loving husband, and having that sentence leave your mouth... just try and wrap your head around that for a second. So with slight tears filling in my eyes, I held them back because she was rarely if ever a crier and she would beat my ass if I cried, she was always the strength for me so I was trying to do my very best to reciprocate that to her, I said, "do you want me to be honest Jess?" And she nodded yes. Me being the blunt and honest to a fault person I am told her in a very matter of facts way, "yes, this is extremely dangerous, your heart and lungs are pretty weak, and you very well could die, but this is your only shot..." She nodded again with no tears in her eyes, not a single one, she hugged me hard and said, "I'm going to fight as long as I can, as hard as I can and if I die please promise me that you'll watch over my babies and Jeff, okay?" And I just squeezed her gently and gave her a kiss on the forehead and back out into the room we went. Now until this moment you're reading this, I've never told anyone this other than my mother. I wanted to puke hearing that, cry, smash things, I was so upset and pissed off at the world that this was even real life at the moment, but unfortunately it was. That conversation to that date was life changing for me. She very well knew she was probably never going to see us again and she climbed on that transport bed herself, wanted no help, and blew us all a kiss on the way out the door, no tears, nothing.... nothing. She rarely, if ever would say she was scared throughout this whole ordeal...it happened a few times, she wouldn't be human if she wasn't scared or didn't cry. But even despite all of these hurdles she was thrown over the next 4 months, despite everything in the world going against her, her nutrition, her diagnosis, the stage of the cancer, the healing complications, and the endless surgeries; she continued to fight and so very gracefully I may add.
She was just being Jess, and anyone who ever had the pleasure of knowing her would know that is true, she was just simply being Jess. So to answer the beginning statement to "this fight all started when", that was when for me. When she told me she was going to fight as long as she can as hard as she can that's what I am going to do to honor her memory forever. I am going to carry on her legacy along with Jeff, Channing, Brayden, and Hannah to honor the incredible human being that she was and that she will always be to all of us.
To be continued...