2019 Plans & Catch Up
Hey guys! I just got out of a meeting with Hannah and Meghan, I know you haven't heard from me since the end of last September and now it's going on the ending of May 2019. I have lots and lots to catch you guys up on so here it goes...
Since I was last here catching you up on everything we had our first Serene Soldier event in Tampa General Hospital where Jess was taken care of during her treatment and baby Bray had his 85 day NICU stay. Hannah and I plan on going back up there this year and speaking with hospital administration as to meeting with the patients and families that will be receiving the funds from us. Last Christmas Hannah, her husband Paulo (who went to Iceland with us and was our brave and fearless driver, myself, as well as Meghan (Hannah's bestest friend, director of awesomeness and also a very dear friend of mine), took a 3.5 hour drive up to TGH from where we live in Fort Lauderdale with a tiny Christmas tree covered in thousands of dollars worth of gift cards. The gift cards were for places such as amazon, airlines, target, buy buy baby, and may other places that would be useful to the patients needs, things we knew we found helpful and things we wished he had.. The airlines could be to fly in a family member to visit t a sick loved one, buy clothes for a new NICU baby, purchase gifts for loved ones at home or create your own Christmas right in the hospital if you were unable to enjoy it at home. I contacted the human resources department at TGH but I did not plan that far enough ahead where we could get clearance to personally them to the families.
Therefore I found the next best people I trusted with this giving tree...So I got in contact with some of the NICU nurses and Surgical floor nurses that we grew very close with over our 4 month stay at TGH and came up with a plan.
We all drove up together that day singing and laughing and spent some quiet time staring out the windows. But I think that day we spoke about Iceland again for one of the first times as a small group of everyone who was there and brought up memories form our adventure together. That led to more thoughts and pondering out the window. Hannah and Paulo came up to visit a lot towards the end of Jessicas life, we wanted to be as private as possible for the longest time and just be with our family (we were overwhelmed enough as it was) but when it got to the point of we knew unfortunately which way this disease was heading, we finally let very close friends and family come visit and show support in any way they could. It was difficult to think of and talk about but I think it always will be. It always brings tears to my eyes because sometimes iI'm scared I'm forgetting who she was before she go sick and now I see why she didn't want people to see her like that, at least I think.
Upon arriving to the NICU I met with one of Baby Bray's nurses Becca, she took the giving tree around the NICU to families in need around the holiday and let them pick out a gift cards or two then transferred the tree to the charge nurse in the oncology unit. My goal this year is to get clearance to go talk to the patients myself along with the rest of the pumpfit family and really spend some time with them and talk to them. And if they don't want to talk that's okay too, I just remember myself what it feels like to have a family member in that bed or what she was going through being in that bed and how refreshing a new smiling face can be to lift the mood or just talk about something other than a plan of care, or the weather ,or the same 10 shows on the TV. Sometimes Id be down in the cafeteria getting myself snacks or Jess had a random craving for something and I'd run down and get it, and I would run into a physician, or a resident who was on her rotation, or a nurse and they'd approach me and ask me how she was today or how she and baby Bray were doing, and just that little whim of care, a smile, sometimes a hug and a squeeze and someone telling you to hang in there is all you need to make it through that day. You never know what battle someone is fighting, in their head, at their home, with their family. Be kind.
That is the goal for this year. I want to make them achievable, realistic goals each year and build on them each year following, after all practice makes perfect. Following Iceland, it was about finalizing all the planning and wrapping up all the expenses and continuing the documentation part of a non profit. None of us had been involved in a non profit foundation before we just kinda hopped in a car with no breaks and were learning how to steer as the road led on. I am very thankful for that, for Hannah taking her feeling of helplessness in Jessica's situation and creating something that will live forever in her memory. That is one of my favorite qualities about her, she gets an idea and call to action is almost immediate, anything she puts her mind to it's like BOOM there it is, and with Meghan as her right hand those two are unstoppable and I'm very very blessed and thankful to have them both as very close friends of mine.
After we got Iceland close-outs under wraps it somewhat came to a halt. That was mostly my fault, it was like Jess became sick in November 2017, Passed in March 2018, we immediately started training. Then Iceland was towards the ending of July 2018 and then after Iceland it was like I had to go back to reality that she wasn't here. Training for Iceland kept me as sane as I could possibly be, Jeff went back to work. The kids and Jeff were back down here in Fort Lauderdale where they have limitless friends and family to help with the boys. He had to find his new "normal" or routine if you will with life without her which I can't even imagine. One thing I have learned and understood after time, it's that everybody grieves different and you know what? That's okay. It doesn't mean you have to agree with it, understand it, grieve the same way as them, etc. But you sure as heck should support them. Some cry and go into a sad place, some use fitness as an outlet, some read, some people need to talk to people about how they're feeling and some block it out the best they can and move forward. I'm not saying there is a right or wrong way to grieve, but as long as you're not hurting yourself or others, do what you need to do to get through for goodness sake. That's what we all did. Life after Iceland was more difficult than ever (I can't speak for everyone else but it was for me). I went back to my old position at my job, Jeff did as well but was transferred down here to Fort Lauderdale. Jessica's parents went back home to Pennsylvania as well as my mother which was Jessica's sister.
I have been pondering the last few months. Talking about what I want to do with the non profit, with my family and in my head. I didn't want it to be something that stressed me out and made me feel overwhelmed and sad... but the truth is is that it was. I would go to work on it, just simple daily tasks and get so upset that she wasn't here and I had to learn how to turn that idea of this non profit into something happy and positive to remember her and help others in my own head and that was hard. I'm not saying I'm moving past losing her but I am trying to change the way I think of her no longer being here. Not in the matter of forgetting her, but remembering her in a happy way. I have my days, I have my hours, I'm sure we all still do, I know her parents and my mother still does because the call me when they do and that's okay. Sometimes I look at the sky or hear a song, or am in the middle of a brutally hard workout and just can't control the tears from running down my face and sometimes I cry so hard I curl in a ball and can't even breathe but then you now what? Life goes on. It's okay to have emotions it means you're a human being. Life doesn't have to be all "let's all remember her in a happy manner and she wouldn't want you sad" well you know what, as strong as that woman was if this had happened to her sister or her niece or her husband I can guarantee she'd have her moments curled up in a ball screaming at the world too.
On a more positive note, I'm gearing that towards making the most of your time here. Being a nicer person, make those you love and who love you proud. Everyone is going through a battle whether in life itself or their own mind that you know nothing about. Check on your friends, even if they seem okay, nothing has to be wrong in the moment just always let them know that you're a safe place, a warm beverage, an open door and judgement free ear. Everybody needs somebody and none of us would have gotten through this situation if it wasn't for our friends being there for us.
I have learned that time heals. Time heals the wound but the scar will always be there. I will always wear Jess as the proudest of scars BUT I do not use the word scar in a negative term as most people would perceive it that way. I am who I am because of her, I obviously would give anything to have her here by my side still but I am the human I am today because of her, growing up with her, moving down here to be near her and Channing as well as being by her side until the last of her days. I wouldn't appreciate waking up with 2 legs and 2 eyes, a roof over my head, a good job and people all around me that love me and check on me. The scar will always be there, but the scars in life are what create memories and teach you lessons.
Hannah and Meghan and I were brain-storming the other day and I am going to restructure the website. Make her memory a happier place, add a section to access hotlines and places to find information for others because that was so overwhelming when she first got diagnosed. Make this more of a hub for help an support because I remember what it feels like to get this news dumped on you and feel so broken inside and not even know where to begin but trying to hold it together for others. I want this to be something that someday her baby boys can have in memory of such a beautiful soul. That they can hep others.
Channing is now 3.5 years old. He goes to school, completed soccer (very entertaining to say the least). Loves his friends and his puppy dogs, is a very amazing big brother and looks out for baby Bray. Baby Bray is now 1.6 years old. Walking, babbling, has teeth, loves to play with Channing and go to the park, says DADA and babbles away like a little gibber man, They are the cutest kids you've ever seen though I my be bias.
I want to say a continuing thanks and appreciation to every single soul who has helped us tough this, messages, phones calls, donations, participating in the online shoe auction (thank you Zappa's you guys are the bomb.com) and everyone who continues to support our growing non-profit. I can't ant to see what we can grow this into.
I'm going to be putting together a local raffle basket for an event that Pumpfit Club is having at the W hotel in Fort Lauderdale Beach on June 1st, 2019, There's going to be a bikini fashion show and I will be collection gift-cards to put in the basket that one can buy tickets for which will be pulled before the end of the evening and 100% of the proceeds will go to Serene Soldier Inc.
Much Love, Talk Soon, xo Court