Saturday, March 21, 2015

House -part II

There are so many special places in our home now...

With the house construction totally complete, and the boys & I completely moved in... 

I have taken the time to notice all of the very personal effects that I have either saved (!) or received since the house fire - all of which make me very happy and very proud to be home.

For instance: 

~ our "sun" from local retailer and friend that always graced the front of our house is back!

~ a beautiful tulip vase given to us by friends (thanks Goettels!) warms up our front room.

~ speaking of the front room, we inherited the piano from our dear friends (who so kindly transported it via 4-wheeler and a trailer! It was awesome! Don't worry musical friends... it's already been tuned.) The boys have been tinkering on it - and they will start back up with lessons in April. I just don't know how I could NOT have a piano in the house...

~ the big, cushy couch downstairs fits like a dream (although that wasn't the case when we tried to get it in the house!) and with "Bandit" watching over us it makes a perfectly comfortable game room.

~ the guest room is a mix of old, new and personal... a beautiful bed frame given to us by dear friends, a funky new end table, an antique glass lamp also given to us by sweet friends, and my grandmother's cedar chest that we rescued from the house!

~ the master bathroom sink is particularly special because it was something Jason wanted installed when we moved downstairs last year.
The bowl was made for us by 3G Pottery and installed by our awesome friends. 
And lastly, Lalah might recognize the framed print given to Jason years ago... 

~ the boys' room might just be my favorite room in the house!
Our dear friend kindly offered to paint the room for us - which is beautiful.
The boys' quilts were specially made by a sweet friend and they are perfect.
The boys' initials were again rescued from the house - they hung over their crib when they were babies!

This room is full of special pieces and memories... the paint, the quilts, the initials... 
but also their cool hand-built Playmobil shelves; a caricature of the boys from the San Diego Zoo in 2008; Sammy's self-developed Asian zen garden (!); a really cool thrift store painting Yaya & Papa purchased for the room; a sweet "Family Rules" sign from Aunt Jei & Uncle Alec; and a beautiful painting of our family from a dear friend... to name just a few!



~ even the dog and cat are not only happy to be home, but happy to have their own space. 
They are even a little more apt to share that space!

~ final touches make it feel like home. Lights in the window are the perfect nightlight.

There are still so many more things  - too many to show here! - that surround us in this house with love and kind words and uplifting thoughts. It counteracts the emptiness that comes at night when the boys are asleep and I sit and think about the life we shared with Jason and how happy he would be with our home. He is here with us, in everything we do and everything we see. That is what makes it feel like home.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

house - part I

After 8 long months.... we have moved back into our home!

It has been an adventure in and of itself, for sure.
I now have a full appreciation for both the folks that stay sane throughout a house project and for those who forgo the house project because they know it will drive them insane!

With sanity intact (though that qualification is arguable!) I present to you part I of the house update.... the kitchen!

A special shout-out to my dear friend Mary Frances who saw this house on HGTV Fixer Upper and thought it might work as a new floor plan for the Hightower house. It worked, indeed! As did the suggestion to upgrade to vaulted ceilings!


gutted and boarded

wall removed and new roof going on

dried in and sealed

drywall and new windows

new floors and finished walls

kitchen cabinets and lights

appliances... almost done!

... and we're home! Time for Happy Hour...

Of course, moving and resettling is a process.
There are still many boxes to unpack and plenty of 'things' that need to find a new home somewhere in those empty cabinets and on those bare walls!
More pictures to come - and more 'Thank Yous' to share as I start to realize how indebted I am to everyone that helped make our house feel like a home again.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The 3 Ps - or what we've been doing the past 3 weeks

Perseverance: to continue on in the face of adversity

Time waits for no man... and it certainly does no favors for the grieving.
So while I longed for the earth to halt it's movement and for everything to stop and stand still and acknowledge the loss of one of its precious inhabitants... 

... there was the 2nd grade pirate musical to prepare for!
... and a 5th grade Broadway review to enjoy!
... and there were all of the daily life activities to attend to. There were grandparents here to love; there were basketball practices and gymnastics lessons and spelling words to learn. There were books to read and a dog to walk and friends to visit.


Progress: moving forward

There has been little opportunity to sit still... 
or rather, we have been given so many opportunities to get up and live!
So we have hiked with our friends and savored the sunshine (even as it has melted all our snow!)

And in the meantime, our house is almost finished!
It has been great to see daily changes being made and to know that we'll be home by the end of the month. I do not particularly enjoy shopping - any shopping! - but I am happy with the choices made so far to complete the look and make it almost complete.




Providence: divine direction 

There have been many moments where I have felt the universe working to make good things happen.
(Meeting Jason 14 years ago was perhaps one of my favorite such moments!)

But just this week I have known that some events and conversations and moments were happening for a reason and I have tried to recognize those times and appreciate them. That is exactly how I ended up newly, gainfully employed! So just as we are moving back into our house, I will be starting a new job. I am trusting that it will be a good way to bring structure and productivity to my life and a fun, new adventure for our family.


I've thought of many other "P" words that would help describe the past few weeks: 
patience, pensive, peace, packing, pinot grigio... 
and if you asked Sam it would be purple, panda and pizza!

But knowing how we persevere through our grief, make progress on the house and on our healing, and respect moments of providence as they appear seems to complete the picture of how we are living these days... may we also remember to infuse them with positivity and we will be ok!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Eleven and Eight

Unbelievably, in the midst of the worst week of my life - I was celebrating.
It turns out, no matter what is happening the sun still comes up and the new day dawns.
And a couple of those days were pretty special:
Hamp's & Sam's birthdays!

Having birthdays six days apart lends to a week-long celebration every year! Which I think is perfectly ok. These boys should be celebrated... they are pretty awesome.

ANATOMY OF A BIRTHDAY WEEK:

First, Sam partnered with his buddy Skylar for a joint 8th birthday party out of town at the trampoline park. There were 9 kids and 3 huge rooms of nothing but trampolines = crazy fun!


The next day (on Hamp's actual birthday) we took to the mountain in honor of our best bud Carter turning '12'. It was one of the most perfect ski days ever: sunshine, clear blue skies, good moods all around (not always the case!) and a pack of friends to ski with!
birthday buddies

Then the next weekend (on Sam's actual birthday!) we headed out of town again for Hamp's first basketball game of the season. The team is great, the coaching is excellent, and Hamp played alright for only having 2 practices so far... it's going to be a fun couple of months in the bleachers!


Finally, we made it home just in time to wrap up the birthday week with a small gathering to celebrate Hamp turning '11'!

This has, obviously been a year of incredible growth for both boys.

I do not know if living eleven whole years normally comes with such insight, but for Hamp it has proved an age of equal parts wisdom and insolence. (Fortunately, he uses his wisdom to keep his insolence from getting him in too much trouble! A good balance, I suppose.)

But just when I find myself at wit's end because he is acting inconsiderate or ungrateful, he comes in for a seemingly sincere apology and a hug and I melt into forgiveness.

He has been labeled my 'zen child' because he lives so solidly in the moment. He does not concern himself with old grudges or past problems... nor does he look to much into what will happen next. (Which is where trouble finds him - consequences are relentless!)

Not too long ago, in a moment of feeling sorry for myself I cuddled with Hamp before bedtime and lamented 'I just want to go home'. He responded perfectly with 'We are home. Home is wherever we are together.'

And when he awoke in the middle of the night recently and puked all over our bed (twice) he roused gently the next morning and said, 'Thank you for being so protective of me last night.' When I replied, 'That is what we do for the one's we love.' he came back with another gem of 11-year old reasoning, 'Then that is what I want to do for everyone.'


And then there is Sam.

He continues to be the creative, unique and thoughtful spirit we have always witnessed. He has not wavered in his love for the color purple, for panda bears, or for learning and creating. He has excellent handwriting, is a good speller, and enjoys reading (so... the polar opposite of his big brother!) and even enjoys taking on creative learning projects all on his own. 

In fact, he recently won a prize at school for a model of the solar system that he made at home entirely out of recyclable material. The only assistance he received from any adults was to make sure he had the order of the planets correct!



And lastly, to touch on the resilience of children and how they handle what life throws at them, these are the comments from the boys the day after their father passed away:

When asked how his day at school was Hamp replied, 'I got so many pats on the back I think I got shorter!'

When the principal came to Sam's class to tell them of Jason's passing she offered Sam the chance to excuse himself... he responded, 'It's ok. I'll stay in case anyone has any questions.'

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

for Jason

There will be a memorial service/celebration of Jason's life some time this summer... 
when we can all gather and make merry with the full exuberance that Jason would have expected.

In the mean time, in lieu of flowers we would rather direct all gifts to the

Jason Hightower Memorial Fund
Meeker Education Foundation
PO Box 255
Meeker, CO 81641

or with PayPal at:
http://meekereducationfoundation.org/make-a-donation/


Thank you for all the kind and uplifting comments, emails, texts, notes, cards, thoughts and prayers.
It continues to sustain and amaze us all.

Monday, January 26, 2015

peace

Jason Edward Hightower
8/10/70 - 1/25/15

My love, my heart and soul, my partner and my best friend...
Thank you for a wonderful journey.
photo taken March 24th, 2014 in Moab, UT

Monday, January 12, 2015

fickle fortune

Since Thanksgiving, Jason's decline has been definite.
He is fully bed bound now, as all his physical strength is depleted. The tumor(s) affect his neurological functions so that his equilibrium is totally off and movement makes him nauseated. His speech is sometimes garbled or slurred, and he often says very strange, random things. He is in and out of sleep all day and does not communicate much anymore. He has not eaten in weeks.

However, there are still glimpses of Jason peeking through a cancer addled body - the squeeze of his hand, a grin, even a funny or relevant comment. I live for those glimpses, knowing that he is not gone.

So while there is great sadness in helplessly watching his strength and sparkle fade away... I am heeding Jason's last great lesson to me: choose to be happy

And this is what I find:

We are the lucky ones.

While that may sound strange considering I am losing my love to brain cancer... I beg you to consider what good fortune we have had.

We are lucky to have had time.
I think about all that we have done since last March - we have traveled and laughed and celebrated and reconnected - and I am grateful that Jason did not die suddenly, or unexpectedly.

We are lucky that he did not choose to leave us.
 I'm sure it must be emotionally devastating for people to lose a spouse because they choose to leave - and it saddens me to know that it happens more often than cancer. When Jason dies, we will all know that he loved us, always.

We are lucky to have family.
We could not have waded through the emotions and logistics of surgery, treatment and care without the help and support of our family - immediate and extended. I am eternally grateful for them being here physically or emotionally to see us through this journey.

We are lucky to have friends.
Many of our friends are like family - and I am equally grateful for their support. They have kept our house full of joy and laughter and stories, and they have kept our children full of love and reassurance.

We are lucky to have community.
From Hospice, to Home Health - it is not about the services it is about the people that provide them. Everyone we know (and many we don't!) are so eager to help and support our family it has been uplifting and encouraging.

and most of all... I believe that Hamp & Sam are lucky in that:
  • they will grow up having seen a glimpse of what it means to deeply and selflessly love another
  • they have had invaluable time spent with family - especially grandparents
  • they will grow up knowing that life is precious
  • they will have a personal understanding of dedication, commitment, and family
  • they will inherit their father's mantra that life is good and we must choose an attitude of joy and gratitude


So here's to Good Fortune - may it find it's way to your hearts and homes in 2015.