SUNNY CARNEY
After a courageous 10 year fight battling Carcinoid Cancer, Sunny Carney, of Plum, passed peacefully on Saturday, November 3. She was married to her devoted husband, Mark; and was a loving mother to Austen, Logan and Nolan; daughter of Patricia Jennings and the late James J. Jennings; daughter-in-law of Dale and Dottie Carney; sister of Judy Phillips (Ray Jr.), Lynn Pesta (Teddy), Michael Jennings (Vicki Lynn), James Jennings (Sue), Joseph Jennings (Elizabeth), Sheila Fortes (Jim); sister-in-law of Craig Carney (Julia). She is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, and was a true friend and inspiration to many.
In addition to being an inspiration to family and friends Sunny inspired carcinoid cancer patients across the globe through her blog, and then her book "The Sunny Side of Cancer. She spoke at numerous cancer events locally sharing stories of her journey which led her from Basel, Switzerland to all of the top Carcinoid Cancer specialists here in the states. She was an advocate for better diagnosis of the disease and for insurance coverage of treatments. She fought with grace and dignity, never letting the pain inside challenge her faith or diminish her love for life.
Memorials may be made to "Carney Family Fund", c/o S&T Bank, 2190 Hulton Road, Verona, PA 15147.
Friends received Monday 7-9 p.m. and Tuesday 3-8 p.m. at Unity Community Church, 215 Unity Center Road, Plum, PA 15239.
Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Unity Community Church with Rev. Frank Deluce officiating. Arrangements entrusted to CHARLES W. TRENZ FUNERAL HOME, INC.
VIEW GUEST BOOK Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


After over a decade of suffering from Carcinoid Cancer, Sunny Jennings Carney has decided to fight back. She has currently undergone two proven treatments in Basel, Switzerland and is planning to return for two more. She is also planning on going to Houston, Texas for a six month period to undergo experimental treatments that look promising but are not FDA approved. She has exhausted all the FDA approved treatments here in the United States and will not accept that this is all there is for her. She has dedicated her fight to help others understand this rare cancer and to find successful treatments in the United States. Her strong faith in God and will to never quit has turned a 6 month life expectancy to over two years presently.

Below is an entry that was written by Sunny's husband Mark when she had her third bout. To become updated on her journey please enjoy her posts.

Please check back for updates and event information.

Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund
C/o S & T Bank
2190 Hulton Road
Verona, PA 15147


Sunny's husband Mark tells their story...

A mother of three boys, a daughter, the baby sister to a large family, an aunt, a godmother to several, a trusted friend, an outreach volunteer, a business owner and my wife. Sunny Carney lives up to her name every time someone speaks to her; she is beautiful both in and out. She has been my biggest motivator, my rock and my inspiration in tough times, my biggest fan in good times, and most importantly my best friend. Told 14 years ago that having children may not be part of our future because of ovarian cancer, she kept the faith, and is a wonderful mother to our three sons- Austen, Logan, and Nolan. She is always ensuring that they know the Lord, love of life, kindness to others, hard work, and occasionally when to "shape up".

Her boundless energy, healthy lifestyle and positive attitude are infectious. She has served as president of our children’s PTA, organized committees that benefit those who are less fortunate in the community and led drives for those who have been caught up in unfortunate situations. She has done so much for others, usually without letting anyone ever know, I could not begin to list them. Her strong faith in God and modest upbringing has given her a sense of giving that only she can explain. When she successfully started her own photography business, she also started a non-profit division photographing family portraits for area families fighting cancer. Her friends say she is amazing and she simply shakes her head and wonders what all of the fuss is about.

Her mother, sisters, brothers and large extended family will tell you she is the one you can count on to lend an ear when needed and never judge. She was raised by her loving mother and father who was the warden of the Allegheny County Jail and actually spent most of her childhood in the residence connected to the jail. At a young age she witnessed more of life’s tragedies and obstacles through her neighbors, the prisoners, than most of us can imagine.

Although all of the aforementioned is remarkable it is not what makes her truly special. Sunny is a two time cancer survivor and now is currently fighting for a third time. After beating ovarian carcinoid cancer and undergoing serious surgery for carcinoid tumors in her right lung just three years ago, the carcinoid tumors returned in her lymph nodes, liver and bones. The size and proliferation throughout the liver of these tumors mandates immediate chemotherapy in four treatments over the next few months as well as monthly octreotide treatments. These painful treatments will hopefully stop the growth but are not a cure. There are numerous tumors in her spine, her skull, her hip, her leg, and her shoulder...all in the bones and she will wait on potential radiation to fight those.

What my wife has is Carcinoid Cancer Syndrome, an endocrine disease which is rare and spreads from organ to organ. As of right now the only known treatment for remission is administered by renowned clinics in Europe. However the treatment is not covered by our insurance. Our doctors have encouraged us to start raising money and matching grants could follow. Her lead oncologist strongly believes that Sunny would be a prime candidate to be a voice to get the message out regarding carcinoid cancer syndrome, bring this treatment to the United States and encourage approval from the FDA. Without this treatment, the tumors most likely will continue to metastasize in other organs and her fight will be ongoing. Sunny has set up The Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund to support her treatments. She believes that once she beats this cancer she can make a difference to others also suffering from Carcinoid Cancer.

Mark A. Carney

Sunny Carney Carcinoid Cancer Fund
C/o S & T Bank
2190 Hulton Road
Verona, PA 15147



Thursday, January 31, 2013

Can I Have A Sunless Meltdown?

Sunshine....I LOVE U....I can't tell you how long January felt....but its over I think...by the time this hits the press at least...You are always nearby here....this house is filled with your love...your paint jobs...your decorations... your photos....your soft voice I swear that I still hear call me ....not the MAARRRRKKKK yell when you were in pain or when I screwed up...this is the serene you...ssshhh..M...a....r...k...I can hear it often...in the wind chimes...in the bedroom...in the middle of the night and the middle of the day....no...Sun...I don't care what anyone thinks of this...I am just being brutally honest tonight...not negative...just honest...heart wrenching honest....so those that don't want to laugh and cry with us should punch out now...And just for the record I prayed before I started down Tearjerker Boulevard and I got the greenlight....Jesus wept....shortest verse in the bible...but do you think he only wept once?....I have strong thoughts that it was recorded once this way but since he was feeling what we feel as man-God....He wept more than once...many times....and then I imagine he snapped out of it...prayed to his Father....how cool must that have been....his father literally was God...and then went back out and made the blind to see...the deaf to hear...the lame to walk...the hooker to be forgiven...whatever...he just did...so I can have the weep tonight...its not a bad thing...

How did this come about? It was a tough week as you know....the boys have been trying to get to me....not on purpose I think...but just draggin ass in the morning...I blow up finally....they push...I run around from different event to event...it snows...cars freeze...I know boo frickin hoo...but after this long month I reached the end of the rope yesterday....I laid it out...as bills piled up...as shit just seemed to be pouring out of the septic tank of life...I gave it up...and it was as if an avalanche of peace came tumbling over me....so I am not being negative tonight....the Lord has blessed...you know what...I had no one to tell...you knew...you are there...I had no one to tell how He answered prayers especially work ones...My partner is AWOL....angel waiting on line....so I know you hear and get it...as thankfully HE does too...but missing the person who mattered the most to you for so frickin long in your life its like brushing teeth without toothpaste....it may work but it ain't working...missing the Sun....when there was a reason to give thanks....to celebrate if you will prayers answered...well it left a vast hole in my day...just being honest....if Mark has a good thing and Sunny isn't there does Mark really have a good thing?

So I prayed and I prayed some more....and I turned to the Book....and I have no idea where this came from but it does correalate to my angst and feelings right now...of being alone with good news...of having no one special to share it with...but trusting none the less....again....this is not negative...I opened to the Mary and Joseph story...a dude and his chick...she most likely in her teens....he barely twenty...whole life ahead of them...typical Greenfield of Bethelem couple...engaged...obviously still at third base at best....and Mary gets her angelic vision and then Joseph does....And I know this story has been played out over and over again from both sides...Mary mother of Jesus...Joseph didn't leave...imagine his thoughts...but here is my spin tonight on this story...each of the four books Matthew, Mark, Luke, John....has different accounts or none at all of the birth story...Matthew who I seem to relate to the best tells how Joseph was ready to divorce Mary to "save her shame"...go figure that culture....compared to ours...but then that Angel visited....and it says he listened and did...so Mary told him first....he probably thought her news was how do you say now...Wack...and then heaven visited....it also says later they never had union until Jesus was born....now that is an overlooked scripture...but my guess is the angel told Joseph hands off...because we know how sassy you were pregnant...and well enough adult readers get this to appreciate that Joseph not only accepted but had willpower/obedience...Mark and John take the story from the "The Word Became Flesh" approach...jumping in after what we call a fast forward....Luke tells the story of how not just Mary but Elizabeth (John the Baptists mom) were touched and more importantly for our talk here how not just any angel but Gabriel...visited Zechariah ,Elizabeths husband,  and told him that he would be a father to one who would come before the Lord....and unlike Joseph...Z doubted ...and questioned.."they were old..barren(obviously not a virgin)and he lost his the ability to speak...thats right...unlike Joseph who accepted the GOOD NEWS after heavenly intervention....Z still couldn't yank free from his flesh wisdom...."Its impossible...don't care Gabriel..."

And now Sunshine I take a progamming break...because I can't make this stuff up...its literally 12:40 and I just got a call from Timmy sharing the good news of his new son's birth....three days before scheduled C-section...and 9 pounds and everyone doing well...I am stunned...as if this needed a reaffirmation that it was right message....I don't know what drew me to the birth story on this cold January night turned into February morning....but the baby came before midnight....holy crap...Timmy has a boy...congrats Jamie...you did good....

Back to our story....I was down earlier because I had good news....prayers answered....I was being a schloop...not wanting to give thanks because boohoo no one to share with....Joseph had good news....he got his peace and accepted it....Z got his good news and refused to accept it...I wasn't completely accepting but thanks God for Timmy's call because I have no desire to lose my ability to speak....I accept the good news...

Lesson learned Sunshine....how do we handle the blessings He wants to give us....we pray...they get answered and what do we do....do we rejoice...do we question....do we find reasons not to accept...to continue in our hurt and our blah blah blah moods...or do we give thanks because once more though undeserving we are blessed....I struggled....thats where this talk started....I have my answer....Thanks for being with me and listening Jesus...I cry now thinking how foolish I was earlier to question....your patience with me and those like me is so unmerited but so appreciated...

Thats it....one more thing...please continue to put the word in up there for Karen and Noah, for Lori Nixon, for Gunsales family, for Mandy's father, for our boys and me, for Kylee and her family,  for the new addition to the Lynch family...for all of us that I may have missed...

I LOVE U ALWAYS

ME



















Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The World Needs A Little More Sun

Sunshine as you know these past several days we have started a conversation each night...and words have been tough to find....partly because I was trying to lead without waiting for Him to help with the script...partly because so much has been going on I didn't know where to start...so combine the two...we have had our private moments...I treasure those...but its good to have this talk tonight...I LOVE U....I had prayers answered today in so many ways that its humbling...as you know things have been overwhelming lately around here....don't need to go into details....you know...well as the bottom came close to falling out for me...when "I" let go and asked "Him" to take over....completely...guess what...He was still there....(yea I know you know that....but thats cheating because you are up there).....took all of no time this morning for Him to show me that he is still in charge...just got to resign and make Him CEO again....I forget that as I get caught up in myself...my struggles...my issues....my bills....my tears...even my successes....its not my....thats the problem....its His....He wants them...Amazing....and with your footprints all around me how stupid to overlook...sorry Sunshine...but as things went along today He was everywhere...

As you know it had gotten to the point where I was so wrapped up in my issues that I wasn't able to finish our talks the last few nights....I wasn't able to reach out...and there are people hurting....people we love...people we don't know well but are old friends from long ago...and family and friends of friends...I was so absorbed in an "I" Problem that it was humbling when I couldn't finish our talks here because "I" didn't have any inspiring words....big kick in the ass wakeup call trust me Sun....Sure I was praying but it was not a surrendering prayer...it was a going through the motion prayer...yep embarrassed to say it Sun but it was...my issues had stripped me of the ability to help....to share...to honor my promise to you....

There was even a scripture that had jumped out at me....the story of John The Baptist getting beheaded from Matthew and how Jesus responded....if we are to be like Him we follow His lead...anyways in Matthew 14 John is beheaded....Matthew 14:12 reads "John's disciples came and took his body and buried it.  Then they went and told Jesus."  So you are right Sun that isn't particularly special but only Matthew writes about what happens next in this context...continue to vs 13...."When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.  Hearing of this , the crowds followed him on foot from the towns."   What does this show Sun?  It meant a lot to me when I read it...this is another example of the human side of the God made flesh....Jesus needed some down time....His "boy" had just been killed...my guess is He went off to mourn and pray for a few....also probably knowing another step in his journey to the cross was scratched off the prophecy list...He wanted down time...solitary....I can't tell you how many times I just want that....down time...But look at Vs. 14...."When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick."  Wow.   He didn't even have time for himself.   Instead of turning them all into stone....or getting angry and retreating somewhere they could never find him....he had compassion and healed their sick....this to me was the message ....in grief...in loss...in challenges.....we are to have compassion on others in need....and there are no "timeouts"...when it comes to that...

As you know the story of an old Dice classmate who haven't seen in literally decades(yeah sucks to admit that for many reasons) who was a fun girl to party with back then but now has a son who is soon to be 13....been bullied for a long time...until finally he posted on FB last week that he was going to take his own life and a lot of lets just say drama has happened since because of the parents of the bullies apparently reaching out to authorities....its been so hard....she follows our talks..I can't say I know well enough where her faith is but between you and I it seems real strong...its been so hard following this....and I wasn't sure how to offer anything because it was I not He the past several nights...so now that self-absorption is over....was half listening to news this afternoon while working and got transfixed with a comment made..."Boy today is one of those days you don't leave for break...because the news room is abuzz....Hostage situation in Alabama continues with a six year old and a bus driver dead...three shot in an office in Arizona suspect still loose...explosion in a hotel at Sea World in San Diego...NJ Senator maybe involved in underage prostition investigation....Israeli's bomb Syrian arms convey....tornadoes....6.7 earthquake in Chile..."...holy crap....it was as if the world was devoid of any good news....it became obvious that what the world needs is to remember that the darkest of hours doesn't mean the Son(pun on words for you Sun) has left...He is still here....and like the story of Paul and Silas in prison from Acts 16 where at midnight ....in the darkest of their hours...at midnight...middle of night...in prison...they were praying and praising....and the other prisoners were listening....you never know how many people watch how you handle your darkest moments...will you walk the walk or will you fall flat like they expect you to....anyways Paul and Silas were not alone....read the story....so following this story of this mother from Dice days gone by and how she has responded and asked for letters for her son Noah...simple notes to help his self worth....thousands of responses from around the world....She is not alone...nor is Noah.....sure she had the initial moments of anger...who wouldn't have...and then hurt and seperation....but she decided to make a positive out of it for her son....AMEN....and Damn inspiring...all across the world...We ARE NOT ALONE....even if its midnight and the world is going crazy around us it seems....Stay the course...if you step off for a moment...get back on....don't ever think its too much for Him...thats when He likes to show just who is in charge...so there can be no doubt...but we have to invite and ask him and then trust...and boy can he show who the boss is when we do...

So Sun..thanks for being there the last few nights as I battled with "I" issues...and please put a special note in  for Karen and Noah down here....it is an inspiring story that has risen from a challenge....

I LOVE U ALWAYS

ME





















Friday, January 25, 2013

Frozen Footprints

Sunshine.....I LOVE U...you knew that was coming...still going to say it....never get tired of saying it...never stop feeling it...its been a crazy day....its been a stressful week...a trying week...as in I am trying we are all trying but its trying...trying to keep this house going and its been a challenge....still juggling everything but I think thats the right word....juggling...prioritize what balls get tossed in so to speak and well the rest....they sit...I know but I am wearing two hats and if certain things get set aside or certain bills wait to next month so be it...I am doing what I can and trying to focus on whats important....I can't tell you how much the snow just impacted me now...I was sitting sorting out what to talk to you about tonight..praying for some input and I found myself capitivated by the picture outside in our yard...so I am scrapping my earlier thoughts which weren't really grabbing me and I wrote you this poem....based on Proverbs 25:13 and what I was shown outside....the verse goes....

Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his master.  (NIV)

I can't tell you how this correlates with my thoughts this week...thanks for being the messenger from Him...and for refreshing my soul....(not that I was ever your master....you know what I mean...)...
so here goes the "harvest "of my refreshed soul...this is for you...thanks....I needed to see the snow for what it was...I LOVE U....

FROZEN FOOTPRINTS

Sitting....staring...praying...hurting...yet not a tear...
outside the window a world of white so pure and clear

Evergreen trees branches still in the cold night....
decorated with God's icing of white....

No sound...no stir...serenity..peace..God's artistic heavenly hand...
I think you would still try to go out and leave a mark in winter's white sand....

Kids wood play yard....adolescent castle of dreams...draped in frozen white sheets from above...
Wonders "why so alone...Where did my kids go...Where did the time go...Where is all of the love..."

A house is not a home I have been told...but winters beauty is saying not so fast...
With Him all things are made....the snow....yes even the cold that will not last...

Sunshine I feel you now as I struggle...I feel you oh so near...
you made certain I stopped and paused to appreciate what's truly dear....

Today was hectic and stressful and I mostly felt like I was spinning wheels on the treadmill of life...
along you come..."slow down Mark..look at the footprints in the snow...go ahead...find the ones made by your wife.."

I rise and seemingly go right through glass doors into the glistening sparkling white and what do I see..
Footprints...footprints...frozen in snow...Theres Logans, theres Nolans, Austens and mine from chasing the dog...you are with me...

Footprints footprints frozen footprints set deep and yet fitteningly only melted by the Sun....
thanks for reminding me to stop, relax, take a breath and reflect on what He has done...

Painted this beautiful white canvas and kept it etched on His trees for the night....
I can't help but believe that He created this portrait so I could focus on whats right....

Don't focus on self....don't soar too high...and never get caught up in the low..
because footprints....footprints...can be frozen in the heavenly snow....

Thanks for reminding me....thanks for being right nearby...
I will make frozen footprints....rest assured I will try....

I LOVE U ALWAYS

ME

























Riding the Coaster of Life From the First Car

Sunshine...I LOVE U....Wow...what an up and down day this was....as I am struggling tonight not to have our talk...but to keep it even keeled...you of course saw the title and can put two and two together...so I guess in the interest of full disclosure Sun....this is probably going to be one of those talks like we had late at night....three or four in the morning...you and I...(and the Big Guy....although sometimes he probably covered his ears...)...those talks about the day we had ...the good ...the bad...the ups and the downs...how much our life had evolved...was evolving..how blessed we were despite the tumors that kept you up to three or four in the morning and made those talks possible in the first place...we never looked at it as anything but a blessing...I still find that remarkable...I knew I was always a Chuck Tanner Glass isn't just half full its about to get topped off...type...but your faith and positive attitude wasn't an act...it wasn't for show....it was you...and it still blows me away right now...you said from to time to time before you were diagnosed that I lived in a world with "rose colored glasses...Marks world"....I don't think you were necessarily being kind but you know what as I reflect and look at what has happened since 11/3...(Sunny gets her wings...for you newbies..)....I think the fact that my nature  of humor and "not facing reality" as you put it gave  you some comfort that if the fight were to be fought then you could count on me to be a positive force...not a debbie downer....

I only mention this now not as a pat on the back but to tell you thank you....not a lot of people would have put up with a freespirited screwup like me for all of those years..but you did...and I came around...and I helped you stay focused and positive....and you taught me to stay even more positive...search scripture....and leave footprints...make a difference for someone else...anyone can give when its good but he is really blessed who gives out of nothing...and I not talking about money here(yea I know its tight but the deals are coming....haha...shoosh...)...I am talking about your emotional bank...how you had anything to give to others when they called or texted or emailed whatever...how you had gas in the tank leaves me with such a great memory of you...emotional and tear jerking yes...but great...I know how tapped we were on treatment days or bloodwork days..or pain days...how you just wanted help getting in the house...shooing the "dumb dog" from jumping on you...getting your Turners Diet Iced Tea and hitting the bed to nap before the kids got home...and then ten minutes later when I would go to check on you....you were on the phone with someone who had a need....I thought I was living its better to give than receive....but I was still in preschool and you were graduating with a masters..I LOVE U...

How did this come up?  Had to go to another viewing tonight...Susan's dad....second one in three days with a funeral service squeezed in between....so why do I bring this up...not sure but I am running with it so shssh...the footprints you left behind aren't just to be stepped in....they are just the start of the path....I realize that now..they are deep...no doubt...you did nothing half-ass...so of course they are really entrenched...but we are not to only walk in them....we have all done that...I just recognized that the real meaning of the concrete footprints is to keep the path, trail, journey, whatever it is going...all of us can do that...lets face it none of us can step in anothers shoes....certainly not yours toots...but we can learn,  and continue....and so that is what I have been trying to do with those that have reached out recently needing some words to pick them up or to just know that someone is there....I don't even know what I am supposed to tell them often but the words somehow come....and that babe is the footprints...that is your lesson on my life...because you know one...I hated Facebook..I despised it...I made fun of you for using it...two...you know how I loved to leave my comfort zone....did I mention I still sleep on the same two feet of our bed...still go to two restaurants...still drive same old SUVs....still have same....well you get the point...I am not designed to be quiet...but only in my comfort zone...I have had to reach out past the borders of that zone....thanks for the kick in the butt..now as long as no one figures out I am just an eclipse of the Sun...

What did these viewings teach me?  First you had to proud of all of your boys for going Monday night to Kristin's dad's (Ok Kylee's Pap also)....viewing....they cleaned up....they stayed and talked to our young Ms. Kylee (not just Austen but all three)...connected by a life lesson at way to young of an age...and having to get the "gear" on again....it was so....well it was such a moment that I know you gathered all of your angel crew up there and sat and watched....the four of them laughing,  so brave,  just being kids....not bitter or angry....I choked up....no kids should ever lose their mothers to cancer or anything else for that matter...but I can't tell you how proud I was at our boys being there for her....and for her strength as well....Second...it taught me how tasks can be overcome....Aunt Joan ironed their gear at the last moment....I had to help Ace with his dress clothes...I have learned patience....I have learned commitment to things like this....lets face it....I probably would have found a reason to drop you guys off and make a "work call to west coast" in the past....but when I told her we would be there it was....well it just was....

Tonights was a bit different and actually stoked this conversation for tonight which I will get to....patience ....I know its long...but I am not rambling and really am I keeping you from something up there....sorry...didn't mean it....anyways...Susan's (Thomson Watson for those who want to pray or reach out...) dad was fine just a few months ago....68...it was apparently a head spinning whirlwind last six weeks or so....especially since the holidays....she actually wanted to reach out to me for something....(still not entirely comfortable with my role on this path but trying just to go with it when its to take another step)...but wasn't sure or comfortable or didn't want to burden me...anyhoo...has a dear mutual friend reach out and ask me if I wouldn't mind just sending her a note...this was Sunday....I said sure...and I went and did it...for some odd reason Mr. Procastination didn't follow his norm...and you know....sorry I get choked a bit....she spent the last night that evening together with her mom...by his bed....his last night...she got back to me at 9:40 and filled me in...Mr. Thomson passed that morning....diagnosed Dec 5....Wow....I will let you fill in your own emotions for a sec...and now lesson learned...IF called do it....do it now...I am so touched by the loss because of the suddeness of it....just like a certain angel had a sudden call to wings...but I am touched also by two things we talked about tonight at the viewing....first and most importantly Susan mentioned how her dad wasn't always the most religious man but he had seen Jesus towards the end , shared that with her mother, and found his peace...AMEN....its funny how a dude who is so ridiculed in the world can provide such grace and comfort in a case like this...grace because He doesn't hold it against us if we truly accept Him...thank you...and comfort for us here....knowing our loved one is up where you are ....

Second we talked about the last night....how special it was for her and her mom to be there at the end...OK...so I am going to walk away for just a minute or ten...because this stirs "last night" memories...and it is such a powerful moment to hunker down praying...rubbing hands whatever...it is such a strenghtening insight into what man is about to hold the hand of your loved one as they cross over...I can't tell you in words exactly...because there isn't enough words in our vocabulary....its truly a divine moment...and Susan and her mom experienced it...it sucks in a big way...but it is so frickin reassuring now for me that I was there with you....it always has been....I held your hand once before God and took you as my bride....I held your hand a final time as Jesus called you home to be his bride....damn...got to stop again....    So I can relate to how they felt that last night....they did the sleepover at Shadyside....Dr. Friedland was there...she told me her dad opened his eyes and glanced back and forth back and forth back and forth at around midnight....wasn't something that was to happen....and she said she knew he was saying his goodbyes...I said just like your final thumbs up and squeeze...damn this hurts but I am going to finish....

So now I can come to the original intent of tonights talk sweetheart...I told Roz earlier that I was torn between another Peter story or Caleb from Numbers 13....I am led to run with Caleb...Lets recap the events of that story and tie it in to everything...Moses is trying to lead the people into the promised land of milk and honey...the people are afraid..they demand a recon team....God says get one from each of the 12 tribes....Caleb (Judah....fill in the blanks later for who else came from that tribe...) and Joshua are the only two of the 12 who return with a positive report....the other ten are fearful...sure there is milk and honey....its beautiful....but there are grasshopper eating giants...big dudes....trouble...we can't overcome it....Caleb silences the crowd in vs 30 and says"We should go and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." Of course they refuse to listen and suffer another 40 years....so close....God is with them....they can see the milk and honey...but they are afraid to go get it...except for Caleb and Joshua....and I guess the point is are we like the other ten spies...can we see what He has in front of us and yet can scared off by life....by giants..by things that seem unconquerable...or are we like Caleb(and Joshua) and know that with Him all things are possible...that we can slay whatever giants may come in the way of what God has laid out for us...

I tie this into certainly the families that lost their loved ones this week....they will have their giants in front of them....questioning the next step even if they sense God is with them....I was there...I am still there now and more than then...but I fight on(you taught me that)....tomorrow I will have and I think the boys especially Ace will have more giants in front of us....its Senior night for the basketball team...and I know how happy I am for those boys and girls who walk out with their parents...but I will have a giant in front of me trying to bring me down emotionally....it will wrench my gut I know...and maybe the boys as well( I am sure it will whether they admit it or not)....but ....sorry....Can u pray an angelic heavenly prayer that we make it through it and stay positive for those seniors.....they are all great kids....and that damn giant of "boy sucks your boys won't have that moment" is getting its ass kicked...because you left them with so much more than a walk to midcourt...you left them with a path clearly marked on how to live and leave footprints...so please pray for Susan's family....kylee's family....Lorri Nixon...Hilton Head Lori,  Gunsales...Roz boy...Ace for strength..Logan for rest and peace at night....and Nolan for pain relief....and me for just being able to get by....

Thanks Sun for letting me bend your ear this long...

I LOVE U ALWAYS

ME


























Thursday, January 24, 2013

Taking Off Our Masks

Sunshine....I LOVE U....I can't tell you that I was not struggling to do this tonight...didn't feel like sharing our talk...actually its been a long day and I kind of just wanted to plop down on the bed....reach over just to make sure I could pat you on the forehead like always....go to sleep...funny don't know when or if  I will ever sleep in the middle or your side of that king mattress....still just take up my little slice...don't know why....don't know why we still put the seats down in the bathrooms..don't know why sometimes I think of you to the point I can't really function...yes I know it is time to move on...but certain things trigger memories and some memories are so strong they trigger shutdown....I am learning not to get stuck in those shutdowns but like a quick emotional traffic jam they happen....don't know why the boys won't open up to me and talk about you....we have casual "man" talk and of course you are referenced....or remembered..but I can't honestly tell you how they are feeling deep inside...I mean I know I guess...or I think I know...but should I press....should I wait...its so frickin hard to write this Sunnyless script....kind of like Two and a Half Men without Charlie Sheen...(I know you weren't like him but we all watched and enjoyed the show)....how about the Penquins without Mario when he was hurt or retired or more recently without Crosby...same team...but minus a leader...I forget that its only been a little more than two months and the new "game plan" is still a work in progress....

And I know I know...this may open up the pandora box of Mark is lost...he is not doing well...whatever....this isn't about that...this is about reflecting honestly on what its like to lose a loved one that was so close to you , such a part of you that I know its trite and a cliche, but you feel like a part of you has left....the GPS that was guiding your life's journey has decided to recalculate...recalculate....and your don't realize that GPS stands for God's Protecting Sunny...a few of our dear friends are dealing with loss right now and I want them to know that their is no playbook to determine exactly how they will feel and when they will feel it....yes , Sun , the Bible is our ultimate playbook I know...and I use it daily plenty to replenish and refocus....and I refer others to verses....I can't imagine a world without it....but in the interest of sharing the human factor of this grieving process I can't tell everyone that they won't feel like they are living without a gameplan...I didn't say living without faith or hope or love....just missing a gameplan...lost focus...should I not tell them this....I reread the story of Peter joining Jesus for a walk on the water from Matthew 14...good old brash Peter...I think I relate to him the most because he was never one to be quiet...always putting his foot in his mouth so to speak...but recall that after Jesus had just taken five loaves of Towntalk and two fish....and fed a crowd with his disciples that would fill the Peterson Events Center...he told them to sail on...he waited behind...not with them physically..he caught up with them by taking a little stroll on the water...imagine the pace it took....also realize what happened...he could have just beamed himself like scotty right onto the boat...why not?....lesson learned that ties into what I am trying to convey....because he didn't just beam in on the boat and because he walked out to them, Peter was able to say "IF its you tell me to come to you on the water..."...like someone else Peter had met walked on water....this shows just how confused they all were...its a ghost...no is it Lord..

So when we are caught off guard and get confused its Ok....when we don't quite know how to deal with a situation its in the Bible...its in scripture...the Big 12 couldn't grasp it all...and then of course Peter joins Jesus for a quick walk until he looks away for a sec...and sinks....and has to get lifted up by the command of Jesus...."You of little faith, why did you doubt?"   And that is the rest of what I feel...I look away once in a while....sometimes Sun,  this is so frickin overwhelming that I feel like I am wearing a mask....showing the world on the outside that I am Ok....stressed to the max about work, bills,  kids, laundry, meals,  rides,  kids health, dog, house, missing you at every turn, and trying to help others that reach out....I can't keep that mask on....how many of us wear masks of different kinds....hiding behind something?  Afraid to let the world, or family, or loved one see the real you....Anyways,  Peter had no mask...but he did look away...he did take his EYES off of Jesus...for a split sec and it became to him a matter of life or drowning...panic...yet there was the Son walking like a stroll in the park....cool calm ....hair probably blowing in the wind...chilling...lifting Peter up without touching him...and then just asking the million dollar question...."WHY DID YOU DOUBT?

We aren't told the answer....obviously Peter had his reasons for doubting....just as we all have our reasons on occasion to ask why?  or to struggle with what is happening in front of us...Sunshine...I know now its Ok....Jesus didn't let Peter sink...he didn't say "You of little faith, go meet your maker..."  He literally saved him...didn't abandon him even after Peter turned away....even after Peter had his doubts...do you how much I need to hear that....because I feel like I turn away more than I should....it is just frickin hard to do this all at times without you Sunshine...but I refocus and have the comfort and peace that I am not alone....

So this is not about Mark is hurting....I want to cry for him...whatever...yes world I hurt...but so do everyone of us in some way....I cry..guess what we all cry...this is about how we get back into the boat after walking on the water and almost drowning....there is room on His boat if we let Him help us....trust me....thanks for letting me bend your ear babe....I can't say I wanted to do this tonight but I am glad we spoke...

I LOVE U ALWAYS

ME












Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sunshine for a Cold Winter Night....

Sunshine I LOVE U..... in case you don't have a divine thermostat up there its frigid down here...I think the Pirates could produce more runs than the thermometer reads...against Clayton Kershaw...its so cold our boys actually have a two hour delay in the morning...after being the only district this side of Anchorage to go on time this morning we got a delay....didn't see the difference until a little while ago when a few flurries fell....a dusting they call it at Accuweather I think...(oxymoron) but enough that it was so cold salt wouldn't work on roads if it sticks...meanwhile as dog went out it was blowing in the wind....wisps of snow...on frozen ground...like a heavenly ahem moving cold crisp flurries....just to remind us He's here....swirling and twirling at the ankles and ahead in the yard....like a Scooby Doo graveyard fog...but so cold...the breath adds to it...so cold my breath is thick like a dryer vent exhaling or a chimney puff puffing into the night...the wind is still singing through your chimes....like some kind of angelic microphone continiously playing natures symphony....a caucophony of metal and wood clanging and banging and somehow making melodic harmonies....what key....don't know...Major or minor....don't care...those chimes have survived and played through stronger storms on our porch since November than those wannabes from the Titanic...Its as if you know when I need a pick me up and you reach down and strum them disguised as winter gusts....Thanks honey...I need that constant music in my head....

I have so much that I wanted to share with you tonight..but first can I ask are you guys trying to fill a heavenly wiffleball team or something?  First Kristin's dad at 61 and then Susan's dad in a month and a week...did you guys need a few players or something...did someone lose their wings...I ask because we used to say these things happened in threes...I know you signed them both up for your team...always wanting to look after loved ones.....theres some hurting going on down here babe so make sure they know that and help watch over things down here....

I want to thank you and ask a favor for you to pass on to the The Man In Charge up there or His Son....first I never realized until tonight that you had a role in helping lead me and I guess our boys as well to Kylee...Kristin's daughter...I won't go into details here but am so happy that I have been able to help her cope....and as you know on the t-shirt for the fundraiser Chris Cooley did it was Kristin, Lorri Nixon, and yourself....well guess what....I need you to ask for a little more time and healing from the shingles for Lorri....we are all praying but she needs relief from the pain....and from cranks who are calling and texting saying she would be healed if not for her attitude...remember we had a few of those "insane over -zealous trespassers on our relationship with Him.."...I was so happy to put a stop to those calls and messages...I told her to do the same...anyways I digress...Please put a word in for her family and loved ones and her....that she gets relief...can get back on meds...and get time....

Please continue to put words in for Austen and his arm....Logan and Nolan to watch over as you always did....and me...help me maintain edge during day...I need it...you know those are still the longest hours....Also please make sure Mandy's father is in healing prayers....Gunsalles family and everything they are dealing with...and Hilton Head Lori...who had a procedure on Monday and is on the mend...If I left anyone out I am going to have to buzz you later Sunshine...as you can see the list is way too big...for one week...well too big for my head but not for Him....so please go tell Him...

So now we can get to the original intent of my talk....as this will hit the airwaves Sun it will be Wednesday...a year from the day...not date...but day...that you were supposed to be released as usual from Hospittaal in Basel back to the hotel....I am going to do an abridged version of this because its late and yes emotional...I wanted to share something about that day that changed my life for the umpteenth time and never shared with you...but with everything going on around here someone may need to hear it...I break for a moment sorry...

Your weight and counts were low as you recall and they almost tried to cancel the treatment...they did warn us that the pain because of those two issues would be strong to severe and potentially there was more serious implications hinted at...Hinted...no hesitation after praying about this trip for months...you told em you were a go...Wednesday...morning...early...pain so intense....Dr. Mars pulled me aside and asked if something happened how far should they go?....I didn't know what the hell he was talking about...your counts were low...the pain meds could mask it....I was in Basel...listening to Doogie Howser tell me in an accent that I shouldn't leave....OK dumbass...u were still screaming in pain now and then....breathing heavy....they were watching counts and heart...I was watching you and praying....no way did we go through this to have to deal with this in frickin Switzerland...and for a minute...OK for a few minutes...was I flying home with a casket...how could I tell the kids....and your mom...and everyone who was behind us...how could this be....then as if I needed to snap out of the Devils Funk....I looked down and there was your bible...I just opened it as the young Dr. wrote some numbers on his chart....

The second part of Hebrews 13:5 was in front of me...."because God has said,

Never will I leave you,
never will I forsake you."

That was it....I instantly had a peace and knew we were coming home together....didn't matter what their charts said or their pain team said....that was it....

So I wanted to share this for someone Sun because I lost my focus in a moment of panic....and almost missed the curveball....but He was there....with comfort....and peace....across the pond....and it really was just He and I and His book....no English....no family no friends....You out of it....I went from losing my shit so to speak to finding His arms wide open....so I wanted to remind everyone back here that as things come up which may seem bleak...may seem life or death...don't stay stuck in that moment of panic...God is with you....and if you refocus and reach out....you will never be alone...and the challenges will be overcome...

I LOVE U ALWAYS

ME













Sunday, January 20, 2013

Basel III....12 Months Later...I Revist & Your Words

Sunshine I want to tell you that I LOVE U...I am thinking right now as I have been for the past couple of hours about where we were a year ago on this date....and on this weekend...Championship Sunday....You know why I pity the NFL...they have one day a year for Championship Sunday....everyday with you was my and everyone who loved and knew you very own Championship SunnyDay....you were always a winner..always  a champion....never letting Carcinoid Cancer raise the belt as a title holder when the bell rung...when that bell rung for a new round...you always got off the bench and went back in the ring....cancer was not the champion in this fight...you are and always will be my champ....I was honored to be your trainer...promoter....handler...cut guy..sparring partner(I prepped you well....haha)....and when it came time for Michael Buffer to say LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE....you were always more than  ready....and with class and grace..before I choke on a michelob I need to move on...sorry...

as we talk it is the 20th of January....a year ago we departed for  Basel...our sixteen hour and final journey to Basel complete....seems like yesterday....so much pain...but so much hope...I need to pause and collect my emotions for a second hon...please don't go anywhere....

Sun I have attached the blog you posted on arriving in  Basel.... it is wonderful to have your voice
a part of this talk...it is not haunting or creepy....it is so vivid...so real like it was just now that I was rearranging my mattress....and reading what you wrote when I got back to the room at Swissotel...and yes I said my mattress...as you recall we had our first and only experience with a king bed consisting of two Euro mattresses side by side....I remember how I tossed and turned so much sleepless on that hard excuse for $300 a night comfort that I seperated the two and almost lost you in a freak wife gets sucked into Euro king mattress gap....(we did misplace the I-pad for a few frantic hours)....as I reread what you wrote that night twelve short months ago I am there...curse of an almost photographic memory or blessing of being one and one with your everything in the world halfway across the world from home...it was you and I ...and it is and always was a special place for me....you still probably don't understand that...as you note...you dreaded the treatment and of course it affected your view of Basel and our trips...but I realize that we went there not by accident....we were drawn so close each time...plopped into that situation by choice and being led and blessed by Him to even get there...we were two but we were one....we were so close because we had no choice...and we relished it....I know I didn't wish the treatment for anyone...but it had worked and we were comfortable with the lay of the town,  I can't imagine anyone man feeling closer to his wife than I did on our three excursions there....closer than our honeymoon...yep its true...and no I won't take that back Sunshine...honeymoon was wonderful but we were so young we had no frickin clue...

This time was different from the onset as you recall....you were starting to lose weight as tumors became more agressive...(Dr. Friedland had told us go to Basel because he was running out of options here....he also almost had us cancel the trip because wasn't sure if you would be strong enough to make the voyage....)....we also were booked into a new hotel...not our favorite Hilton....and a new part of Basel....so we prayed...the peace that He can give that I referred to the other night came like a lazy wave washing over the grains of the sand at the beach....a little foamy....but soft...your toes frolick in it...and then it returns....and then comes right back...the rthym of those waves calming...soothing...nap inducing....(if you have been to the shore you understand)....the kind of waves that you put an infant in to get his toes wet...and BOSE charges $200 for to reproduce in a radio...

we were so blessed on that final trip over the pond....we were given middle section own rows...and yes I was behind you on the biggest leg...but the other two we had open seats around us....well I take that back...I think HEAVENLY AIRWAYS had reserved those for Jesus and your angels to sit around us and especially you...it couldn't be anything  but for all three legs...and you in as much pain as you were in...getting sick...it was truly a miracle the way those seats played out because that part could have been really like hell...instead I was able to help you up and down...no stepping over snoring Euro Grandmas or spilling Euro visitors plastic wine glasses...I could help instantly....I could reach through the seats and take your hand..or rub that sweet little beautiful forehead...I could help you with your meds when it came time...I could lean my head forward to your ear through the rest and pray....and pray...and pray....God we were so blessed....

I remember we were both surprised upon landing in Basel that there was no customs/immigration officers on duty....we were early Saturday morning but there was like a handful of us....but you were sick...nauseaus and we got to go right through....no stops...I won't forget the priceless look on your face when the cab (Benz) pulled up to the Swissotel and right next to it was the Sex shop/Gentlemans Club...across from the still being expanded convention center...not as scenic depending on your perspective(just kidding)...compared to our Hilton...but the service there as you know was frickin outstanding...above and beyond at every step....what the view lacked the staff more than made up for....

As we went in I recall it was still only like nine AM or something Basel time if that...and no I won't go back and reread...I am right...we were hours early as it turned out...I watched you fall asleep in the cab...I looked at you slumping on your bag, using the handle as a rest...(and yes before half of the world yells at me...you insisted on wheeling your bag because it gave you balance...)you were about as tired as I ever had seen you...you were also having stomach issues....you needed a bed and privacy...so as you note below you didn't really care for it when I told your story and asked for help....but you would have done the exact same if roles were switched...I had one thought...one concern...and that was to get my baby a room....I remember even now how sweet and young the check in girl we got was....I think she was surprised to know that you were facing life or death...and how young you were....I did ask as you note...for the first room....told her it could be a single and we would move later....that you needed rest...funny but as we finished a late breakfast there the hours became about ninety minutes and we had our room....I say funny but reality is God doesn't just belong to the USA , he is Lord over in Europe as well and was with us once more....

how much detail should I revisit Sunshine....I can recall the small Euro elevators...nice but small...the second floor...turning left past the oval marble table, across from that little glass partially enclosed meeting area????the one Peter would wait for us at....three doors down...and the room....and we crashed....well after calling the front desk to come up and show us to turn the shower on....yes it happened...I laid next to you and stared...rubbed your hand and forehead....you looked so calm sleeply there in the storm....(you had the peace)....beautiful....serene....I stop....because I can literally see it...see you....my own personal portrait of beauty and grace...I stop....sorry....

Back...Obsession by Animotion plays on Pandora...and I can say that I never obviously treated you like a possession but I was obsessed with your comfort and getting that treatment and putting a positive spin on that whole trip....the fact that the only Sun Basel saw that entire week came all the way from the USA origniating in Greenfield PA with a stopover in Plum PA was ironic as hell...we couldn't have seen the Alps that week unless we were 15000 feet sorry meters ...up...you sent me out to get some munchies...we were waiting for Peter late Saturday afternoon....and you gave me a semi-comfort shopping list like I running down to Community or Giant Eagle or ShopnSave...or like there was a Wendy's right there....like an obsessed sucker I went...took the tram...explored the new part of town...and found McDonalds and Starbucks...(the american corner I joked...but I rode into the inner old city across the bridge anyways..up to the HOSPITAAL...can't explain it...but when I crossed that old bridge over the Rhine it was like driving through our Ft Pitt Tunnel....when I got out on the other side of that bridge I knew I was in a place that He had brought me...for you...for reasons only he knows we were led to Basel out of all the places in Europe we could have gone...we were blessed enough to have money raised to go...we were blessed on trips every time and our loved boys were blessed and watched over back home while we were gone...I felt a peace as a result...I walked through the cold drizzle...past all of the familiar jewelers, chocalatiers, and high end clothing stores...I walked past the Three Kings Hotel...and I felt as if we had made it again...our little cancer Bethelem...we had once again followed our Star and had gone where we were led to go...

I know you looked at the old buildings and grey skies at times and saw something that wasn't always endearing...(the entrance to Second Ave in hazelwood now....I don't know...)but I saw the revitalized Lawrenceville or Strip District...of course the buildings were a lot older...but there was an energy...and it was a familar comforting place....I walked back across the bridge...you called ...down with shower...where the hell was I at?  you needed food?....I got the point...and jumped back on the train the end of the bridge after picking up some goodies and hoping they were not Swiss surprises....backed it up with Mickey D Fries not on list just to be safe..got off by the hotel and there was a little Euro versio of Uni Mart...same owners as here in Plum/Oakmont you know what I mean...bought some fruit for you..Coke Lites...and crackers that I hoped were as bland as the box said...you hugged me when I got back....said how we had made it...Peter had called and was on his way....I hugged back and I am not ashamed to say it cried....you started to tear up....stop it...can't help it...we were doing it again....Basel...we knew what pain lay ahead for you....actually we didn't because this would end up being the hardest by far physically of three treatments...but as many of you know when you invest in a project or an activity how you feel when its done...now take that same thing and make it a loved one...no make it your dearest number one loved person in the world and then imagine that thing being in a situation where life or death posssibilities were in play...yea we hugged...we hugged....we cried....not tears of sadness...exhaustive one step down here we go now tears....and I hope at some point everyone can cry and hug like that...not for cancer....for love...for completely throwing yourself into your other halfs life..so their pain is yours...so their joy is yours...so they laugh and you are lifted up....they cry and you are saddened....wouldn't trade that ....

As I watch the football games later today I will be thinking about how we had a great dinner in Basel with Peter and then watching the end of one and then the Giant's-Niners in a hotel bar on a hooked up computer screen being fed signals so we Americaans could watch it...I remember going up to check on you several times...first time to get the beer from the Mini-Bar(who knew Amstel Light was cheaper than Bud )....the second time to help with your meds...you had just finished the post below...tuck you in...talk....and then several more times to see if you were Ok....you were asleep....I LOVE U....

So I am going to stop the drive down Euro lane now....might pick it up tomorrow or later today not sure...because it is important to recall that our journey Sunshine was not just the two of us....it was dinners getting dropped off(still are a year later....thanks Marlene and everyone)....its family staying with our boys...and rides....its prayer....from everyone...its the generous nature of good people....donating in tough times to help us raise the money that made those three trips possible...its a very special group of people who donated a shit load of time to make all of those fundraisers happen....you know who they are...so do I ...so do they..and so does He...its teachers and counselors and lunch ladies and school administration neighbors and even bus drivers that looked out for our boys and still do today....its coaches and teammates and friends making sure they had something to do and someone to talk to ....and still do a year later...its well..its not much different a year later...we are so blessed and I as look back this isn't new....it says in 2 Peter 4:11 (NIV) Dear friends , since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.    vs 12....No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.     There is alot of love being made complete around us....and has been for years...thank you....

But cancer is still hurting a lot of dear friends....loved ones of dear friends....strangers who reach out...and it has been a tough few days Sunshine....so that is why I think its no coincidence that those who are hurting can realize that if they search for His peace....they can fight on....You literally were throwing up in a plane over the Atlantic as I hit PUBLISH in a few minutes....but you had His help to fight on....so I hope the message received is not a sorry one....but an encouraging one....anything is possible if you believe...don't quit....don't quit on someone else....so I will turn it over to your blog from that last trip...

I LOVE U.....

ME




Phase one of the journey(1/21/12)

We have arrived and I must say the trip was not so bad. We had three flights and none where full which made for a very roomy way. Our first flight was Pittsburgh to Newark, we were on a small commuter plane which are always difficult for me to fly in. Having one lung causes breathing pain when flying and for some reason smaller planes seem worse. But it was quick and I did use the pain meds which took the edge off. At Newark we flew to Dusseldrof, Germany. I kept joking with Mark that maybe we should stay there and see if some Harry Potter wizards or even muggles had any potions that would help me. Of course I had to have my run in or two with a few pushy Euros. I have to ask why do they think pushing through customs is going to make them get on their plane any faster? Each one of them had there bags searched and of course I walked by and gave them an American, "ha ha" with unsearched bags in hand. I want to stay nice but I have my own ideas on why their bags get searched. I don't understand why they are so rude and feel the need to "space invade"? Honestly they are right on top of me and Mark as we tried to take off our shoes and open our bags. "Back off and give me room to breathe please" I had to yell at one. Only to find he was one row ahead of me on the plane in Germany. I whispered for the whole long flight hoping he did not recognize me and my temper.

Of course that flight from Newark to Germany was much tougher this year then the trips before. My bone mets have spread and the old ones have grown. There where a few hours that I just closed my eyes and prayed, Eventually, I would pull myself together and get through it. We got to our hotel at about 9:00 am Basel time and both Mark and I where completely whooped. Just dead dog tired and I was crying in some pain. However, I completely forgot to ask what time was check-in when I booked the room. The lady behind the desk was so sweet, she said we would not be able to check in until two in the afternoon. At that time I felt the anxiety for the first time since we left home. How would I make it that long? I was vomiting, the pain is was so bad I am unable to even open my mouth. Not to mention I needed toothpicks to hole my eyes open. Then Mark begged her to get a room clean fast. For the tenth time that day he began to tell my whole story. I hate when he starts doing that in public but Mark talks about it with such pride. And people listen in such wonder. I get uncomfortable because I know its not me that gets me through this.....its the "Man Upstairs". Of course I get that pathetic look of feeling sorry for me which really make me squirm. After Mark pulling on some heart strings the front desk clerk promised us the first room clean. We were up in a room with in an hour and half.


Our friend Peter is coming to visit us from Amsterdam tonight and we are heading out to meet him for a bite to eat. Which I am sure is going to mean me eating then getting exhausted and leaving Peter and Mark to have a good time on their own. Somehow I think they don't mind that. I had already checked in at home and everyone is doing great. Shoveling out from a storm back in the burgh but nobody misses us yet. Wish that was the case for me. As soon as the taxi left the airport and started driving the streets of Basel to our hotel the memory of our last stays became so vivid. The gloom of sky, the garfette on the buildings and the bikers steering in and out of the way of our cab. Similar to the city of Pittsburgh just older but this is not home. This is where I spent weeks sick without my family. Mark reached over in the cab and grab my hand and said, "you made it Sun." . That is when I started seeing the surroundings differently. The doom and gloom memories became feelings of hope and accomplishment. The swiss grafitti that I could not read became art.

I know that the only way we got here is through prayer. I can not imagine getting as far as I have with my battle without God. He has put people in my life that have rallied behind me to make this possible. He has given us opportunities that only he could create. He was given me strength at times when I did not think I could give anymore. Just in our 16 hour journey today, or yesterday wherever you are reading this, He was pulled me through. The past two weeks of preparing for this journey I have strengthen my faith as well. I am really giving this whole journey to Him and letting Him drive the car. He has gotten us through so many obstacles to get here. There is no way it is not going to be successful.

Please keep praying for us. Mostly please pray for my family at home. Thank you all whole are taking care of them. From bringing dinners, to rides, to being on call when needed. Mark and I know we could not get through this without that help. We will be posted daily so please keep checking back.

Until later,
Sunny

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sunny's Last Blog Rereleased (Not in 3D)

Sunshine I LOVE U...I am not going to mess around anymore when we start our little talks here....I am going to share the most important three words in my vocabulary...they mean as much at this very moment....as the dog snores and stinks next to me...as the Pandora plays Mumfred & Sons...(see kids I am hip for an DVE guy)...as I stare off at the picture from Mothers Day to my left...as the chimes outside play a wind induced symphony to your memory....as the cold wet flakes fall like heavens frozen teardrops....I can tell you that those words will never fade...you will always be the I LOVE U that ME is intending the words for...I say and mean the word LOVE....but when I put in writing to anyone else...no matter who...its luv ya...and I can't answer if that will ever change....As you know the last two nights I have mentioned that for some reason I was heavy with the feeling that dear loved ones of ours were hurting...were struggling with challenges and maybe were losing focus or perspective...As I told you I wasn't planning on the last two nights going in that direction...nor was I sure once they did who was meant to be touched by it....wasn't important then and even less important now...just did what you always did...if you felt guided to write or call or pray or visit someone you did it....I am grasping that concept...no...I am embracing that concept...
 
Anyways beautiful, as I prayed and thought about what we should talk about/share tonight I did something which I hardly ever do...and again the way it happened was so unplanned but after so clearly the right thing to move forward with tonight...As I was casually flipping through the various ESPN family of channels laying in bed grabbing the I-Pad like every night before we talk....and visiting this site...checking the stats like every night....(yes I know I shouldn't care but you taught me to use the site and to monitor things....so don't yell)...and yes I was happy to see that God was still using our little talks and leading people to want to read....(I was a little worried about our talk from two nights ago when people shared they were praying for the guy in Birmingham when I thought I had explained that the whole sequence of that was fictional...came from my overactive mind in an attempt to modernize the Job story...oh well..)...anyways its not the stats that is important for us tonight...I then for some reason scrolled back through old titles...not reading just scrolling...and I don't know why I never noticed this before...because it jumped out tonight Sunshine...like that sunset earlier...thanks for the heavenly kiss btw...I came across the title of your last entry....10/27/12 A DAY FOR ONE SMALL THING
 
But that wasn't what even jumped out the most....it was the three drafts(drafts are unpublished posts for blog-neophytes)...different titles...same day ....10/27/12....I read the drafts....you were in a boatload....no shitload of pain....unable to get up or down off of anything without my help....tired....but you were still alert and sassy and obviously not satisfied with just any old entry....I went back through the last three years of your entrys just curious....this was the only one where there were three drafts before you were satisfied enough to hit PUBLISH.....and these weren't blank titled mistakes like I do sometimes...these were one paragraph long or then some attempts at what you were feeling and trying to convey....I read and reread and reread each draft and can understand why you weren't happy with them....as much as I could tell you were trying to encourage and relate your current physical state...they were oriented to your pain...the physical stuff....the growths,  the bloodwork screwed up, the swelling, etc...I could tell this wasn't you....I pictured you praying again for guidance and then it came to you....so as I have been trying to encourage everyone to not settle for tomorrow...to unwrap today...the gift of the present....and then choose whats inside that present...that each of us can choose what type of present today will be....bitter....or joyful....uplifting to friends and family....or Debbie Downer to everyone you come across....exhibiting faith and inspiring by doing not talking...or mfing everything and turning people away because "if thats what having God in your life means I ain't about that"....
 
So as I read the entry again that you posted on the 27th of October and realizing now that it was the last post you were inspired but had struggled to make certain was just the right one I knew exactly what to talk about tonight...so I am going to read back to you , your final words of  encouragement for us....thanks for not settling for the first , second, or third attempt at sharing...I  know you were tired and in pain sitting writing was is below but HONEY it was so well worth it...I will let your words speak for themselves...
 
I LOVE U
 
ME


A Day For One Small Thing



Many of you who follow my blog know the happens of me physically. I will somehow keep you somewhat posted but I don't want to focus on the negative. I am asking that everyone pray for a miracle. Please pray that some new treatment comes up. I'm currently taking chemo that is really strong and making me really sick. So we need to watch me on it. The kids hate seeing me suffer but they are begging me not to stop. So we are taking things one happy day at a time. It's ok to cry as long as you wipe the tears and laugh with me too. So let's do that. Happy times will keep me here. Cry when you see me then hug me and laugh. Let's have fun. Now enough cancer talk. Enough feeling bad for me. Have fun with me and treat me like the old Sunny.

To continue on, the last few days I have had a lot of time to do some thinking. My head has some good stuff so watch out. You all know if my creative mind gets strifled I start to explode. So I thought I challenge myself to live with some fun. I have a little empty space in my heart that I need to be filled. I bet many of you have that empty space too. I thought I'm going to do, say or do something for someone to fill my empty space. I asked my boys to find 3 people because that's easy and with the recent news they have many empty spaces in their heart. So today Mark, the boys and I are having a family day. We cancelled all their sports event, except one this morning because its a fund raiser for baseball, and we are going to just be together. We use to go away for a weekend in the fall to see all the beautiful leaves and changes God has given us. This year it's a home stay. We are going to fill our empty spaces and I challenge each one of you to fill yours.

"Sometimes someone says or does something really small, and it slips right into that little empty space. Be that someone today. Tell me how you feel too. ". Fill your heart fast.

I love you all,

Sunny

P.S. don't forget your concrete footprints too.

Choices....

Sunshine I LOVE U....I wanted to get that off my chest because I have wanting to reach out and hold you so tight for the past two hours...don't know what sparked the emotion..just happened...I want to wrap my arms around you and squeeze you so frickin tight...you know the way I could before the back tumors flared up a year ago...not one of our semi-squeezes...I want the Sunny hug I have etched into the nerve bank of my arms...reflex...I can put them out and just pull you in...ah well...let me catch my breath...and wipe my eyes...I LOVE U....that wasn't the way I was going to start off this talk but I was just thinking by the time this hits the airwaves it will have been 75 days since I hugged you....softly...strongly...warmly...coldly....alive or not...its been 75 days....and I started to get down...I started down that "shit where did my Sun go...really..."...but I stopped...because almost immediately another thought came to my mind...7,671...thats the days we got to spend in love with each other...so I had a choice...do I hurt and get bitter over 75 lost days...or do I celebrate and fondly remember the 21 years we had together...well you don't have to be a Vegas oddsmaker to realize that if you have a 100 to 1 in your favor that you take the odds....so I started to perk up...how blessed I was...how blessed we were...God gave us a lot of time to love...and to grow that love...but then I thought what if we only had one day...what if the odds were reversed to 1:75...would that have changed anything...would that have mattered...well of course it would it ways that are not applicable....kids..engagement...whatever....but what if God blessed me with just one day in this whole life with you...

One....


I would say give me the 24 hours God and don't start the clock until we say hello....I would take it without thinking twice...I would then spend those next 24 precious hours getting to know everything about you....getting to know who you were...what drove you...what made you Sunny...I would take those 24 treasured hours and fall in love...why..because I wouldn't have time to waste...I wouldn't be able to put off anything I wanted to say or do with you...I wouldn't be able to bank on tomorrow...we had 24 hours...today...the present...I wouldn't waste a second....if you got up I would get up and follow just to be able to suck in your brilliant beauty for the entire 24 hours...again I would not get cheated out of a glimpse...out of conversation...we would stay up all night...well...it would be the best 24 hours of my life....so I would take the offer....

Two.....


Having said that honey....there are two things that I want to add...I am frickin blessed that I didn't have to bank it all into one day....I will forever treasure and celebrate the 7671 that we had....but the second thought is I would live each of those 7671 days as if it were ONE....somedays I did....but others I relied on tomorrow....I am not regretting....because if I hadn't wasted a few of our precious ONE days....whether it was June 5, 1996 or August 12, 2000...whatever you get the point...not everyday was lived as ONE....so I learned a lesson because of it that I wouldn't be able to pass along now....I wouldn't be able to say "HEY WORLD....you have ONE...."....would they seize it or not...you and I have the benefit of knowing where we would be....in each others arms....squeezing tight...

So I have no idea where this came from but I hope that everyone who reads realizes that you have today....you have the now....what are you going to do with it...are you going to give the present back and say reship tomorrow...because life isn't a guarranteed frickin FED EX package with signature on receipt....life can't be tevo'd....

But life is so damn special when you stop and enjoy the moment....no matter if its spent in a Hillman Cancer Waiting Room,...or its getting bloodwork done...or its getting on the plane to fly to Switzerland to fight cancer....we made the most of whatever we had...once you were able to help me see the light....so please don't make frickin excuses if you are reading this about how you can't enjoy the moment....the now...the day that is your personal gift from above...because guess what...if you were the last person here...He would still have the sun come up....think about it...now think about much better your today is with loved ones around you...go hug em...go tell em you love em...or...wait until tomorrow...and pray your ass off that tomorrow actually comes...missed opportunities of time and moments can't be recovered...can't be bailed out...can't be repurchased...they are spent forever...so what are you spending your moment on today...right now...(of course you are finished with this)...

The reality is that even though we were blessed with a long fight...getting more time from above at every turn...the sudden storm came....and you were gone....none of us know when that sudden squall is going to come from...which and Sunshine I know I am running on but bear with me this is what was on my heart to talk to you about tonight and now I see how everything just sort of connected....

I want to share four short little verses...Luke 8:22-25(NIV)...this story only is recounted by Luke and it really drives home the point about not taking things for granted...but also comforts with the reality that we are not just relying on ourselves to enjoy the present...so here goes...

v22"One day Jesus said to the disciples, "Lets go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. 

Now lets look at this first short little verse.  This is just "one day"....any other typical day....most of us will wake up tomorrow to the same thing...one day....and 12 of the most famous men in history are just doing what Jesus called them to do..."go over to the other side of the lake"....pretty easy...they weren't being called to feed 5000 people with a Sheetz card...or to heal the sick or raise the dead....just cross the lake...most of them were seasoned hardy fishermen....the skies were obviously clear because they got into the boat and just left....started their engines so to speak and drove off...

v23As they sailed he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger."

Again lets visit this Sunshine....Jesus fell asleep...this is the man side...he needed to rest....(btw....what do you think he dreamt about)....the squall came from nowhere....these seasoned fishermen were taking on water...notice from above...the boat itself wasn't leaking...but when the bible uses the term great danger....I am fairly certain this was life or death....what GREAT DANGER will come at us today....out of nowhere...what less than great danger will come at us today....remember this story goes to the extreme to show a truth....

v24The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"

So if they had to go to him that means they were on the other side of the boat bailing water and doing what they could before waking him....Jesus was there the whole time with them....sleeping ,  probably in a deep REM dream state if the storm didn't wake him....and they go and tell him....wake up we are going to die....one key thing here which I took out of this is that these are the 12 who witnessed first hand miracles....parables....they were with him everyday...they got scared and they could see him not far peaceful....yet they couldn't grasp the PEACE of Jesus at that moment..they panicked and called out to him....so as I have struggled at times the past two months...I don't feel bad....this is what us humans do....now watch Jesus next move...

v24 cont....He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.v25 "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.  In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this?  He commands even the winds and the water , and they obey him."

So Sunshine you know how happy you were when I woke you  up from a deep sleep....dreaming....you would have flipped out on me in a big way for a few minutes...what does Jesus do....he doesn't wake up cranky....he gives mother nature a beat down....rebuking the storm...and ALL goes calm...He didn't ask God his father,  what kind of putzes have you picked for me....the seven dwarfs would be better...really Father...these guys....no....he calms the storm....then he asks them Why?  Where is your faith?  Come on guys....I was with you....trust....why were you worried...I was right there...And I think that is the key...when things have looked bleak....no matter how strong the storm...no matter how sudden it came up...no matter how prepared we thought we were(the fishermen panicked)by our training or vocation...who will we turn to ?   And does he answer?  The answer is if we call on him even if we don't think he is paying attention..."asleep on the stern"....he is with us....but more importantly if we go to him ....and "wake him"...he will not berate or demean us...he will Calm ALL....no matter what..

This little passage has given me a lot of comfort because initially I really questioned why God had taken you in a sudden squall so to speak...and was he with us...well I got my answer and have tried to live a little more like he is on the boat next to me....Dreaming , snoring, whatever...he is at peace...and if I am supposed to share in the peace of Jesus...I guess that means I am at peace too...when I have forgotten he is right next to me...and bail the boat on my own....thats why I have panicked that I am all alone...I can't do this...where is SUnny....

Hope this didn't bore you Sunshine...I LOVE U...

ME















Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Please Don't Quit....

Sunshine another day of having to change direction with our little conversation here...I promised you this would continue and we usually talk about us...the boys...our ups and downs of daily life...post Sunny...and I had fully intended to finish what I started earlier...to talk about the boys exams, games, etc...I intended to reassure you that we were continuing our healing and living process...but I scratched the witty banter and the daily recap because a number of our friends are dealing with either personal fights with cancer...or helping loved ones fight....I have had several of your Carcinoid posse reach out in last two days with updates of varying results...but clearly the slew of these the last two days left me with the reminder that there are alot of dear people to us that are still in the fight process...just like us a few months ago...some of these folks are confused about where to get help or how to get the right help...I try to advise the best I can...some of these folks are fighting as courageously as you did...some of these folks are hurt and stunned...some seem on the borderline of bitterness...so I want to convey a story that an old friend pulled me aside to share with tonight at the Plum / Franklin Regional hoop game....I had to step out for a few minutes to regroup it was so impacting....

And keep in mind that this story isn't even about cancer directly just partially...but as you always said..and believed...each of us has a "cancer" we fight...each of us has that challenge to face..and for some it just happens to be cancer...but all of us have tumors of different kinds and forms in our bodies,  or our hearts,  or our minds....that was something you always talked about at your speaking engagements...true then and true today....so I didn't know where this story came up tonight...but it did...so here goes...

I was actually trying to go home after the end of the JV game and come back at halftime...(yes had a work call scheduled at 8:00...don't question my priorities and the bills at the same time not fair Sunshine...)but he corraled me by the stand as I was scarfing my carb friendly walking taco sans chips and served custom style in a bowl down and I won't mention names but he is one that always followed to the door....or grabbed you at a game when you were just trying to watch...and was always sharing something...I admit I usually tuned him out employing "selective listening" technique and nodding until he was done...but tonight I was literally walking out...and no escape...we go out the doors...and he stops me on my shoulder...."been reading your blogs....been praying for you and the boys...want you to know if ever need anything let us know....and I want you to pray for a college friend of mine...great guy...some really unbelievable stuff happened right around Christmas and he has faith but its getting tested for sure...do you have a minute?"

Famous last words...if there was a bench outside the gym I would have booted the pigeons and sat...but instead I said "well I was..." but then something stopped me...probably you kicking me in the heavenly rear...."no I have a few minutes...and thanks for the dinner a couple of weeks ago...amazing.."....

Now so close...(and I stop for a sec because I Can Only Imagine just came on...God I love this song...and I know you did....LETS TAKE A STATION ID BREAK)....ok Sunshine back....sorry...messed up ...way too long....I LOVE U....I am choked up a little right now because when I shifted course a little bit with this talk of ours and switched the Pandora to MercyMe station I prayed that if this was meant to be our talk for tonight...(because its a hard one at times) then I would hear I Can Only Imagine in the first half hour....stupid I know...but well....stupid is stupid asks stupid gets answer so stupid goes on....so anyways he is so close that I can smell the hot dog he must have ate before spotting me...and he starts to tear up....great....I swear I felt you kick me in the butt again..

"My friend is an old college teammate of mine...stayed down south after we graduated....has...well had one of the biggest regional investment firms based out of Birmingham...first class guy....great family....lots of kids...ten in fact...great loving wife...active in charities and she loves to host fundraisers and such....I think she may have sent a check to Sunny for the wiffleball...(Ok I think so that connects us...still not really paying full attention)...it would have been the second one I think...oh well let me get back to story....company is one of largest employers in Birmingham and for that matter Mobile and Montgomery as well....do work with pension accounts...private wealthy investors...makes a great return for his clients..always outperforms the market...says his key to success is his faith...every day gets up and prays for his family....knows that sometimes the 'Silverspoon'  can trip people up...opens each board meeting with prayer..very God focused..."

And then he paused for a moment to catch his breath or check his emotions...so now I am almost rapt with attention...waited for him though...inside crowd going nuts in background as I guess Plum was blowing them out....

He finally continues....taking off his glasses to wipe his eyes..."So anyways on the Sunday night before Christmas he and wife get a phone call from his private jet time share operator saying there had been a crash in the Carribean and it was his plane...the one all his kids and his five grandkids were on....no plane or bodies recovered as of yet...full search and rescue but not much hope....thing was almost new....only a few thousand airmiles on it....no weather...just dropped off radar...they were coming back to Birmingham for the holiday...presents were already stacked under tree...sorry...."and again he wiped tears..."he was told nothing he could do right then...stay tight...and if wanted to fly down in morning they would be more than happy to give him use of another jet gratis..stunned....I am sure he prayed...what they always did...hosted every church function at the estate etc....he is a good man....Monday morning day before Christmas as he preparing to see if he should fly off or not gets a call from the Montgomery office...IT discovered that his top broker there had been running a Ponzi scheme for years...and had fled the country...no assets left...feds shut office down already and were announcing a full investigation...two of his key managers had taken their own lives when hearing the news...long time loyal servants of the company trust...damn..." again he stopped...now I was tearing up as well and kind of wishing I had not stopped ....that I had just said I had a call at 8....

He collects himself the best he can again and continues(told you this wasn't going to be easy)....."I am sure he prayed again before he even considered the financial ramifications,  the legal and reputation costs...the lost children, the lost colleagues...when his wife came in and said he needed to get down to the office...there was some kind of an incident at the main office with a former worker or something and shots had been fired...police and swat were there...anyways...turns out the former cleaning guy had personal issues with one of the managers...and came in and killed three before shooting himself...the management team was basically gone from that office...they had assembled there by coincidence because of the news from Montgomery...so as he is on way he gets call from FAA rep saying that the search was being called off for the plane...no survivors but a full investigation was being launched into that particuliar model plane...I am not sure which one...he told me but I can't remember...."...I wanted to tell him it wasn't important keep going...but you know how details mattered to him....he rubbed his chin...until finally I said not important right now tell me when you think of it...so he started again.."so he goes down....does what he can as CEO and after hours spent consoling families that he had grown close with....after a press conference where he was asked about the plane,  the shooting, the scandal...and even having some cub reporter ask 'is it possible they are all connected...'...he went home for Christmas Eve and to go to service....his wife told him to go alone..she wasn't in mood for giving thanks that night and how could he be?...he went....apparently went in and was shunned....either people that looked at him as a pillar just the week before didn't know to console him or were wondering what he had done or overlooked and God was paying him back...."...he stopped once more as a couple of students came out to get fresh air and someone came out to smoke....

"So he gets home from church...not bitter at God...but he told me he was a little frustrated by his fellow Christians....his friends...those that supposedly had the love of the baby Jesus and on that night in particular...whether he slept or not I don't know...but he said he went to bed..and that his wife wouldn't even hug or hold him...Christmas morning as he was driving down to the shelter where he always served Christmas feast to the homeless and less fortunate...and knowing his three board members who always joined him wouldn't be by his side he got another phone call...remember the videos of the Christmas day tornadoes that hit Mobile...."he paused...let out a big catch his breath sigh or whew not sure which....then"the building his office was in was the one that got pretty much leveled downtown...his IT guy and a security officer killed....all of the backup computer files destroyed in the subbasement as the building collapsed and the feds were going to need that for their investigation...he has to readjust his schedule of course...his wife calls about should they make funeral arrangements...cameras and news trucks were outside the gate...he went and served food for a half hour and when one of the other volunteers asked why he was there and said 'doesn't make you feel like your God is with you....even on Jesus birthday'...or something like that he told me..and my friend told me he said right back...'You are talking foolish...should we accept good from God and not trouble?'...damn he so strong....his faith..anyways...moving it forward he got a call Wednesday morning seven AM from his doctor...last physical done for insurance policies showed irregular blood counts....wanted him to come him before the end of the week for more tests...well we caught up yesterday and I was hoping to see you tonight because he has shingles and tumors that they can treat...not fatal but radiation and chemo is going to be tough...his wife and the remaining three "friends' from his church are telling him to quit be so frickin positive and how can he spend so much time praying when he should be at meetings with feds...the funerals for his kids were last week by the way...so the feds gave him a grace period...or he should be researching treatments instead of looking up bible verses...and what had he done to cause all of this?...can  you believe they actually said that and these suppose leaders of the church said if they were in his place...they would say screw it....God left us and go to Vegas and make a personal Hangover sequel....I know he just nodded...probably said 'I know my God can do all things: no plan of his for me can be thwarted...'...and then I am sure he prayed..."

So now its hafltime...the doors are bustling with people pushing against us...I grab him(ironic I know dear) and move behind the Franklin team bus....he was tearing up ....again...but I think of relief that he had gotten this far into the story which I was still wondering what the heck was the reason for telling me this...I couldn't see how I could help this guy or his family...or our friend in front of me...this wasn't really a cancer story as I mentioned earlier...but I was invested in this story by now and I had to ask or at least figure out why....

So after he waited for a few kids to walk past us on way to wherever..."I bet you are wondering how all of this ties into you...and why I am here...I wasn't sure myself....but something told me tonight that you were going to reach out to people or maybe just one person in the blog...who was at the end of their rope...or felt as if God had abandoned them and I had to grab you and share this...I know my friend will be OK by the way...I saw online this morning feds captured his colleague at airport in London...accounts partially saved...his doctor is certain he will beat the cancer...and they had a record breaking year end announced earnings...record dividends once everything is back up and running...he is going to move on and live in faith...and love...and not question why..even if those around him ....those he loves...do question and have fleeting faith at times..."

Well Sunshine...heres the kicker...I took a quick nap or so I thought when I did leave the game for about an hour tonight...and was reading the story of Job...thats right...look back through this and realize that if we can't relate to the old testament version of the man who God literally turned his back on for a period of time...but by his rules not the devils...but this man who never turned his back on God...hopefully we can relate to this fictional Birmingham broker...anyways someone or somebodies were meant to hear this tonight....and please don't go by the book of Plum mark...go to JOB...its right before PSALMS...or go to whatever scripture usually strengthens you and read it...and reread it...and trust it...like Job actually did and this guy above did in marks make believe land...I know this wasn't easy to read...and was a bit long..but I prayed...and I went with it....Oh well...if not at least you and I Sunshine can have a laugh about my attempt at a  'message'....

LOVE U

ME

















Monday, January 14, 2013

4/21/12 & 1/14/13

Sunshine....well it was quite a day...the big 14 for our Nolan....by the time this hits the press it will be the 15th and be over...and some bill will be past due...who cares...(JK...don't yell...)...I know you are aware of all of this because as I was made aware earlier this evening you are never far...God shows us glimpses of you when we are thinking about being weak or losing focus....and it happened again...so I want to tie Nolan's attitude today with your attitude from April 21 of last year....like you didn't see this coming....wasn't my original plan...goal was going to be simply have a nice short talk about we survived and made out on the bday....btw...as each goes by..mine first, then Logan's , now Nolan's...we are getting stronger...no we haven't forgotten how you made all bday's special...no we haven't stopped missing you and thinking about you constantly....but I think now we are starting to get it..maybe I will put it this way and just speak for myself...I was on record many times in this very blog/talks of saying I wish I could have one more moment with you....one more chance to say goodbye...down here....I think now I would rather have a quick heavenly spectrum machine or whatever that would allow me/us to visit you for a just a divine nanosecond or whatever...and I know of course thats impossible and impractical and no I don't lose sleep over this fantasy...but I bring it up to show you that I am accepting your peace...and I am gathering strength from how you lived each day as opposed to hurting recalling the end...I am shifting my line of thinking from Why God....to God I was so blessed....I still cry....you know that...I still call your name out in moments of extreme isolation...but it gets shorter...and I find myself thinking more about how you faced each challenge..whether a new day...beginning in a shit load of pain...or awaiting the results of whatever scan or test we had just left....whatever...you get it...every single challenge we prayed over...we had peace...and that peace gave you the courage or moxie ...whatever the right word is...to tackle the potential pothole on the road of life head on...no swerving....afterall when you are making concrete footprints who is afraid of a little missing asphalt...you drew upon the peace to build the faith...and I think....well I know...felt the love from above...from me next to you...and from your family, friends, and posse...another big step for your "baby Mark" is that as we talk...I am not teared up...I am pumped up to tap into that gift you were given and utilized to the extreme...in fact as dumb as it may sound to those outside our realm....I shared with Hilton Head tonight that cancer saved our marriage and me at the same time...I got drawn so close to you and reminded what is really important in this world after 2004...we always had love....I always adored you...but we both know I had a choice to make on how to approach your fight...and thank God prayers were answered and as you bravely moved forward I was shown that there wasn't a choice....shape up dumbass...or lose everything...so I think back on how you were a vehicle used to change and inspire and impact so many...but honestly and yes a little selfishly but its late and I don't care...you had me aboard first...and as I look back I am so blessed that it played that way....

So I know I know I ramble...but its late and so what...I will get back to the two dates in the title...obviously the latter was yesterday...Nolans bday...the first time without mom making the arrangements...tying balloons...getting the perfect cake...taking photo after photo...just you being the Martha frickin Stewart of each and every bday he or any of us quite frankly ever had...so today was another big test for him....I gave him your letter after we got home from basketball practice...and before we did the rest of the gifts and cards...you deserve quite time with him...and I waited to see if he needed to hug or a shoulder or would crawl into bed...he didn't....we had a great night...he went back to studying...although with a severe headache for awhile which I attribute to practice and stress...I said a good day not perfect...but when I asked him how was mom's letter...and did he realize that it was the last note you made for him..he didn't flinch...he said it was cool...I am Ok dad and I know how strong she was to write it...I gave him a big hug and didn't care if he needed it or not...I think you pushed me into it and it was from you....so his strength..his courage...his putting the boots back on and moving forward were clearly on display yesterday and called you to mind time and again....

So now lets get to that first date in the title and how it ties in....That was the Saturday of the opening day for the new PBSA organization at our boro complex...the Pirates were coming because they had made a grant and Greg Brown and ultimately McKenry and Harrison came....and it was to be in the morning because they had a game that night against the Cardinals (AJ Burnett's Pirates debut)...you were a little embarrassed when asked to throw out first pitch the week before but of course you said yes...you were already feeling more pain...constant and affected by the weather more severely than in the past(after we had the results of that scan the week after it all made sense why)....so there you are that Saturday morning...its like a record low high 30's...miserable wind and rain...the only Sun to show up was going to have to be you...and you thought about bailing for like a flash...and then said I will meet down there....you and Nolan go in case his game is on...and the other two and I will be there in time for the ceremony...when I say bailing...you never even really considered it you were just humoring me because I was scared of your counts and what would happen if you did go...

We are waiting...the games are called...the pop up tents are getting beat by the rain and wind...Nolan gets his team picture and then we see you...smiling under the pavilon by the refreshment stand...like you were just taking another stroll at the fields...people hugging you and giving you best wishes...then it really started to rain...we never thought that you would go on the field...yes sad to admit it...so the boys and I started to help take down the tents..roll up extension cords..and then one of them came back to me and said you missed mom...she threw out the first pitch and it was a strike...the other two were pissed at me of course...and I realized that you had a ride onto the mound....had got out...and thrown a strike..I should have known better...but again you taught me a lesson ....never ever underestimate divine driven resiliency...never tell Sunny that she couldn't do it...because as she used to joke...if I could say I do to you...I can do anything...ha ha good one still toots...so ultimately just six months and change before you left us here...you were teaching me and inspiring a community...and the Pirates..as we watched and recorded the game that evening...played in a dreary constant cold drizzle...Greg Brown brought up his morning in Plum...and how it was great to see such a turnout on that type of morning...and how he had met a special Sunny...and sent best wishes...that was frickin awesome that night...

It was totally insane when I got the text earlier saying "watching replay of last years Pirates game and Greg Brown was just talking about Sunny"....now lets finish connecting the dots...Jackie had the replay on Root Sports of a Pirates game...couldn't be more than ten people watching across the market...Little Mason hears your name...the game chosen to show tonight of all the games from last year is that one...the night of Nolan's bday and a reaffirmation of how you will make sure we are never abandoned...damn...big dots...big footprints...big heart...big smile..you did most things big...and I love you so much for it...thats it...thats all I got...It was a special day and we know you were here...

LOVE U....

ME