I am long overdue for a post. There have been so many things going on the last week and a half, and as I thought back to what to write about tonight the word that kept coming to mind was “pieces.”
We have been unpacking our new house slowly but surely, as we get extra time while the kids are playing or after they fall asleep at night. As we go through all the boxes each one is like a time capsule from part of our life. Some boxes haven’t been unpacked since we left our house in Dover, some we had with us at our rental house, and others were shipped from Memphis. Depending on what is inside memories flood back from whatever phase of our life those items were from. Organizing and getting settled into our house is dependent on fitting all these pieces together. What do we keep from each part? What do we let go? I am overly sentimental so I have a hard time getting rid of things. But I don’t want our new house full of clutter so I have been pretty good about weeding things out. Some of the most organized rooms so far are the boys bedrooms, which definitely took priority. My Favorite part of decorating Caleb’s room was hanging up all the art that people have sent us over the last year. There are so many hand painted pieces that were made with love and I can look at them and remember what we were going through when they were sent to us. It’s so special to have them all together hanging in Caleb’s room.
We also had another very special milestone… Caleb was able to attend school for a couple days last week. I was very proud and so excited for him! He wasn’t nervous at all. He went right into his classroom without clinging to us or looking back. He’s such a big boy now and I’m so proud of him. I got home and felt a little lost, a little nervous, and a little sad that my buddy wasn’t home with me. It was like this piece of me was missing because Caleb and I have spent every day together for almost a whole year. But as soon as I picked him up and he told me all about his day I knew it was the right choice. He LOVED it! His teacher emailed me at the end of the week to let me know he had a great week, and he was very social and loved playing with the other kids. She also let me know that she is taking extra precautions with hand washing, sanitizing her classroom, and bring Caleb’s personal water bottle to the playground so he isn’t drinking from the water fountain outside. It means so much to me that without even specifically asking for special accommodations for him she took it upon herself to make sure she is keeping him as safe as possible.
We are moving forward with the next cycle of chemo at home. Yesterday marked his first dose of this cycle of chemo, and we have 5 cycles to go including this one. I never thought I would actually miss things about Memphis, but there were definitely some things to get used to with his new doctors and hospital. They are absolutely wonderful, but there was a learning curve for both of us just to get used to what St. Jude’s expectations are for his treatment here. But now the pieces are all fitting together. Our Tampa Oncologists understand more about St. Jude’s protocol, and we know where to go and when to bring him in for his checkups here. The staff in the day hospital at TGH where we go for his blood work are also great! They are so friendly and they love Caleb. They also know he always asks for Mandarin Oranges so as soon as we get there they automatically order some from the cafeteria for him.
Caleb and Tyler seem closer than ever. On weekends we let them have “sleepovers” in each other’s rooms. They each have a trundle bed so they take turns sleeping in each room with the other one. They are also having a blast playing with their new friends in the neighborhood and exploring the back yard together. They went out in the back yard the other day and caught and lizard… AND brought it INSIDE to show me. BOYS!!! ha ha! I said let me get a quick picture and then get that thing out of here!! But really even though they get into trouble together, or make messes, or whatever, I secretly just love how close they are and that they are making mischief together.
And my heart can’t take how protective and caring Tyler has been with Caleb at school. He helped him get to class after getting out of the car at his first car line. Tyler has been doing car line for a while, but last week was Caleb’s first time. Tyler was a great big brother and made sure Caleb got into school and into his class before walking to his own class. As we were driving away I heard Tyler yell “bye daddy!” as James snapped these pictures. And I looked at them like, there go the 2 biggest pieces of my heart, into school, like such big boys. I was so proud of them and I am sure they will continue to make me proud this school year.
So next week, and probably even the week after that Caleb won’t be able to attend school. This breaks my heart because he loves it so much, but I will also treasure my time with him as I know some day he will be back in school full time and I will miss our days of playing together. I am really hoping his body doesn’t get hit as hard this cycle as it did last cycle. His recovery took quite a while last cycle and I was dreading starting the chemo again.
The most common question I have been getting lately is “will Caleb’s hair grow back yet?” The truth is we don’t really know. Sometimes hair grows back during the chemo he’s on and sometimes it doesn’t. But he does have a few little hairs sprouting up in the back of his head, so maybe. Either way, we wanted to capture this time in our lives. The time when we just moved back home. We have been through the worst of treatment, but at the same time treatment isn’t over. It’s just one step of the journey… and we are figuring out what life looks like now as we put together all these pieces… school, friends, church, our social life, our new house, and keeping Caleb healthy. We had our dear friend Jennifer (Jennifer Griffin Photography) come over and capture some images of us just being together at home. I have just a few sneak peeks to share but there will be more coming soon!
That’s the update for now. We are happy we are home, but it hasn’t come without struggles. We have had 2 hospital stays, and had to get to know new doctors and a new hospital in a hurry because of it. Caleb is harder to keep in a bubble here, as we want to see our friends and family more now that we are home. But we have also reconnected with old friends, made new neighborhood friends, and the boys are making new school friends. We are back in our familiar surroundings and getting settled into our comfortable and amazing new home. Not everything is perfect but I do feel like all the pieces are starting to fall into place, just the way they were meant to be.