Leaving Jake

It was difficult to leave Jake at school this past Sunday. His dorm is really new and nice, but it was a mess. Mess isn’t a strong enough word- disaster. I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby there to sleep.  9 young men have a total of 4 rooms, or at least I think that’s the situation. It was hard to tell. They had purchased 4 lofts, hence the mess. Their rooms came furnished with bunk beds, dressers and desks. Definitely sufficient. But for college kids, definitely not cool. I had to agree the bunk beds looked like something from the 70’s. They worked on Jake’s room first. Jake wasn’t to help, but he could supervise. Their rules. Before bedtime, the loft was finished. Five beds were arranged. Jake had a place to sleep. Why don’t you come home and sleep, Jake?   He wouldn’t hear of it. Dave and I drove home. I worried the loft wasn’t sturdy. When we got home, I realized we’d left his blanket on the dining room table. Good, I’d have a reason to go back. The next day I gathered up some drinks and food. Jake texted that he needed something. Even better. Now I had permission to go over. My dad and I drove over. I told you it was bad. They had made a little progress, but they still had a lot of wood piled up in the hallway. My dad commented, “leave it to a bunch of engineers to want to build these lofts.” Why couldn’t they just use the bunkbeds? Jake wasn’t there, but we found his bed. A high school teacher had made him a special pillowcase when he was sick. I put his blanket on it. Again I felt sick to my stomach. The boys came back from dinner. It was a long walk to the cafeteria. Jake looked good. He was happy. He had handled the walk. He thanked us for the stuff and showed us the progress they had made. Jake’s computer chair was in the hall so he could wheel around, watch and be part of the progress. He was ready for us to leave. I looked at my dad. It had been a short visit, but we needed to leave. We’ve been with him constantly for the past 2 years. It’s hard not to worry. Jake had gained 5 pounds the past few weeks. He looks better everyday. He feels better than he has in 2 years. It’s time. Hopefully this time, it’s for good…

1/2 way

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Two days ago I was supposed to say goodbye to my daughter and fly home across the country. I anticipated crying most of the day. Instead I went to an ice cream social at my sister’s church. We visited, laughed and had a good time. I was and continue to be happy. Plans had changed, but in a good way.  The Sunday before, Molly and I had loaded her car up and traveled across the state, heading West. We didn’t talk – we couldnt. We were on the verge of tears. In the next state, I finally started my spiel. Just give it 1 semester. I bet in a couple of weeks, you love it… I went on and on. Pretty soon Molly spoke for the first time in 5 hours. What would you say if I went to college closer to home? “Are you kidding? I would be thrilled.” I’ve been texting Dad. I’ve asked him to call to see if it’s too late. Molly was talking about the school I had wanted her to consider from the very beginning. She thought it was too close to home. 2 1/2 hours had seemed too close. I contained the happiness that began to fill my heart. I needed this to be her decision. The question loomed, do we continue west? I considered that she might change her mind, or that it was too late to change. Horrible storms forced us to stop 3 hours from my sister-in-law ‘ s house in Wyoming -the halfway point. Dave called early Monday morning. Her scholarships and status could be reinstated. Could she be there by Thursday? The next 24 hours were difficult. Molly had a tough decision to make. Either choice was good. Both colleges were great. Would she regret not going? She had the rest of her life to move across the country. I kept my mouth shut. She talked to family, called friends, and probably needed to hear that it was ok to come home. She had not failed. She changed her mind. It was fixable. She was rightfully torn. A little over 24 hours later, we headed home. It wasn’t a  happy drive. She was quiet. I kept my mouth shut. 18 hours later, we were home. At 5 am the next morning, we headed to her new university. It was our first visit. She was mad at me. I was getting what I had wanted all along. This was what I wanted. She had refused to even visit earlier that year. I contained any relief or happiness I was feeling. She got the classes she needed. 24 hours of dual credit and AP classes transferred. We got her ID card. Her scholarships were reinstated. She applied for housing. Later we ran into her best friend from home. Molly smiled for the first time all day. She was nervous, overwhelmed and still mad at me. I let her be mad. We moved in at 5 pm. She joined in on the activities. I didn’t hear from her until Monday. My criminology professor is awesome! I got a few pictures of her with new friends. She seems happy. I’m a peace. It was worth every mile…


Today Molly is 18. In one week, we’ll be driving across the country. She leaves for a camping trip in a state she’s never visited with 75 freshmen she’s never met. There are at least 3 girls from our state. I keep trying to convince myself that we aren’t completely insane if other parents are also sending their kids across the country. The truth is, I’m excited for her and a little jealous. I loved college. I would do things much differently now though. Molly is wise beyond her years, and always has been. She’s smarter, happier, nicer and wiser than me. It just seems natural that she would go across the country for college. I am thrilled she has the guts to do something I always wanted to do. I’m excited to make the 30 hour drive with her. She has “rules” though. Her music, her quiet times, Mom, this is going to be a quiet trip. No talking or singing. Ok, we’ll see about that…I suggested I make a Playlist for our roadtrip.  She rolled her eyes, Not going to happen. You will learn to like my music. The week has slipped by. It’s now Friday. She’s at breakfast with best friends she may not see until Christmas.  They have made the most of this summer. I wish I would have been the kind of friend she has always been. She got that tattoo last night with her best friend. She loves a quote. It is something like this (I always mess it up) There are 7 billion people on earth, 7 billion souls, and sometimes all you need is one. She had & sometimes all you need is one with the date 4.27.16 tattooed on her back.  This quote became more special when she was the one perfect match for her brother. Of all the people on earth, she was the one he needed to save his life. Today I’m going to get her oil changed and put new tires on her car. We’ve been sorting and packing. Sunday is almost here…


I made a pair of curtain panels this week. I haven’t sewn for 100 days. I altered a few Prom dresses before Jake’s transplant, but prior to Jake getting sick, I would have said I was addicted to sewing. My personal hobby turned into sewing for other people years ago. I wish I would have kept a scrapbook of everything I had sewn over the years. It made me think of my mom. I could hear her, you need to quit sewing. You do too much. You need to say no. I would argue back just for the fun of it. “Why do you care, Mom?” You don’t charge enough. “Ok so when I die, do you think Jesus is going to be mad because I didn’t charge enough? ” She’d pause- let it go, and later we’d have the same argument. I don’t know why it bothered her so much.  We were alike, yet so different. I liked nothing more than to zig when she wanted me to zag; to be the rebel, but she usually ended up liking my choices. I should have dressed punk or Goth to irritate my mom, but I dressed preppy which only irritated my friends. Mother loved it. She thought double pierced ears were tacky, so I went up to my bedroom and pierced them myself. She got over it. Later she had hers double pierced. She cried when I chose a state university over a private school.  She ended up loving it, and my dad loved the price. I married a Wyoming cowboy after a very short engagement -she loved him. As hard as I tried, my biggest rebellion was not keeping my house cleaned to her standards. I would vacuum and put the contents in a Ziploc just to freak her out. Sometimes she would drive me crazy, but usually we just laughed. I really miss shopping with her. She was slow as a turtle and could have gone somewhere everyday just to look. I only go to the mall when absolutely necessary. I get in and out, and I don’t go extra places. For some reason, when we were younger, I could shop for 12 hours with her. We had fun. I chose not to argue with my daughter over her personal tastes. Life is too short. Next week I’m hoping to go with her when she gets her first tattoo. I approve; I just don’t know if I’m invited. I would love to be able to tell my mom what we are doing- she would throw a fit, and I would have enjoyed getting her riled up. Miss you, Mom!


Jake had a rough week. It scared me. It scared me because our only option was going to be the ER. It started with his wisdom teeth pushing through. The top ones came in while he was too sick to really notice. The bottom ones have been trying to push through long enough, without enough space, that his once straight teeth are now crooked. But the second one hurt worse and there was the swelling. By all accounts, the outside of his jaw looked like he was keeping a golf ball in there. Infection. Tooth infections can be dangerous for a healthy person. I felt like it was an emergency. An oral surgeon saw him the next day. He prescribed a common antibiotic and we followed up with a cheeseburger. We would put off extraction as long as possible. Meanwhile Jake is starting to taper down on a commonly prescribed drug for neuropathy pain. I’ve talked at length with the pharmacist  and doctor about this process. There are many drugs that cannot be stopped cold turkey. This definitely could cause problems. Within 48 hours, the swelling was gone. New symptoms arose. My throat hurts. I feel like a pill got stuck in the back of my throat. Then nausea set in. Jake was sleeping more than he was awake. He wasn’t going downstairs to play on his computer, he wasn’t watching YouTube and, most importantly, he wasn’t eating. The pain moved to his chest. I emailed his transplant nurse several times. I considered going back to the oral surgeon. He was willing to take another look, but I knew it was no longer a tooth issue. Do you want to go to the ER? I asked when the nurse suggested we go to our primary care physician. We don’t have a primary care physician anymore for Jake. I was irritated, but knew that deep down it wasn’t her fault. They don’t have the capabilities to examine him at the bone marrow clinic. Of course he didn’t want to go to the ER. I decided to call the pharmacy. She talked to me at length even though she really didn’t have the time. We discussed the antibiotic. It could definitely cause side effects. He’d had it for 7 of the 10 days, and I ultimately decided to stop it. He’d had enough to be effective, but he literally said that he could not, would not take another dose of it. I would give it the weekend. Then Monday we would go to the ER. Saturday night he asked for mac and cheese at midnight. A good sign. The next day he slept and slept. I couldn’t take it any longer. Jake, get up! We are going to the ER. He woke up, cleared his head and told me that he felt fine. Can I have a bacon cheeseburger? I sat there and watched him eat. He talked to his dad about someone skydiving without a parachute. He pulled it up on YouTube, and we watched it. They tried to convince me they were going skydiving. I feel good. The pain is gone. He ate without nausea. Later we went for ice cream and he ate dinner. He spent the evening playing on his computer with friends. The effects of the antibiotic were gone. I had my kid back. Before it got dark, he and his 50 year old father took off on skate boards. There was only one fall. It was the 50 year old….