The Story of "Sunday Baker"
I've thought about writing this for awhile, but always think to myself...who are you kidding? Are you THAT important that people need to read your life story? I certainly don't think that I am. However, I've received several emails over the last few months asking me about things in my life that I may have shared bits and pieces about here, and thought that this would be a great way to answer those questions. I actually had a hard time writing this, as it brought up so many memories that I guess I've been suppressing without realizing it. I worried that it may be too sad and personal and raw for this site. ...:
I grew up in a tiny town in Northern Wisconsin, which is only 20 miles North of where we live today. Like many families, our lives were very disfunctional. Don't get me wrong, we had some wonderful times too! I was always a quiet, play-it-safe child that avoided conflict as much as possible. My world was often full of it, so I rode my bike around our tiny little town day and night, pretending to be Punky Brewster or any fortunate young girl that wasn't me. I rode away from the disfunction and spent my time imagining and dreaming. I was and still am such a dreamer... thinking that anything can happen if you wish hard enough!
When I was 18, I had my first son, Colin. I was not in a stable or happy relationship, but thinking back to it now, I'm not sure at that point in my life I knew there was such a thing. I kind of just let life flow for awhile, taking me to wherever it wanted, without ever trying to make it different or better. It was not a good place to be. However, after Colin was born, it was as if a switch was turned in my being, and I began to want better for myself and for him. I knew that I couldn't be happy unless I did something to change my life for the better.Something more was out there...the dreamer in me knew that for sure.
Fate indeed took the reigns when I met the extremely handsome, charismatic (and yes, much older) man who is now my husband of 11 years, Rich. I vividly remember the very first times our eyes met, because what felt like an electric shock literally went right through my body! As hokey as that sounds, it's true, and I'd never ever felt that before. I was so drawn to everything about him. I still am. That dreamer in me was feeling some validation...my life began the turn towards a better, brighter future.
I remember how awkward he was with Colin at first. Colin was just a toddler, and a naughty one at that! Rich had no experience with kids, but he tried so hard. As if I wasn't attracted to him enough by now, this really put me over the edge. There was no doubt in my mind that this man would become my husband. Later on he would become the most wonderful father any woman could hope for.
Along came my brown-eyed boy, Samuel. My miniature Rich. He couldn't have been more different than Colin. Colin....blond hair, blue eyes, daring and vivacious, full of creative imagination and mischief! Sam...dark hair, brown eyes, quiet and reserved, willing to take the back seat, more interested in facts than fantasy. My night and day boys...my reason for being.
We had a wonderfully chaotic life with our two little guys. I stayed at home with them, and Rich worked hard to support his family. My days were full of toys, catching boys peeing behind the bushes, big-wheels, and lots of love. We didn't have a lot, living on one income, but we had that time together every single day. I never regretted it for a second, and later in our lives would come to appreciate that as a precious gift, and a very important choice that was definitely the right one.
Fast forward to the summer before Colin started first grade. It was the year of the tent worms...literally like a horror movie! Everywhere you looked outside, on the trees, on the ground, on the bushes there were tent worms. Hoards and hoards of them eating everything that was green and living. If you stopped and listened, there were so many of them that you could actually hear them chewing.
One hot summer day, Sam stepped on one of the worms, and the insides of the worm came shooting out. Colin saw this and instantly vomited. I remember how all 3 of us actually laughed at that because Colin was my boy who loved scary and gross things. We were all surprised that he had that reaction. Later that week I took the boys to a shoe store for some new school shoes. While in the store, Colin commented how the "leather" smell was bothering him. When we walked out of the store, he again vomited. After that, every couple of weeks or so, he would vomit after he ate breakfast. Like the horror-movie worthy tent worms from that summer, feeding and growing in numbers, a horrible disease was growing inside my son's body.
First grade started, and the vomiting increased. After lunch at school, out on the playground... two doctor's visits told us it was a nervous stomach that kids this age often get. One even said it was most likely a problem with his "sphincter" muscle. I kid you not. We should try antacids and tums. They did nothing. I was so frustrated as a parent, ready to pull out my hair. What the hell was going on? I remember being on the phone with my step-mom. I said to her, "Why can't the doctors give him something to stop the vomiting? It's not like it's a damn brain tumor!"....Oh, the horrible irony.
One morning we couldn't wake him up. He tried to open his eyes, but he could not. We lifted him to his feet, but he could not stand. We rushed to the E.R. "It could be diabetes". "He has a high fever". "He may have an infection". "This is a very sick little boy". "He has hydrocephalus". "We need to get him to a bigger hospital now". "There is a large tumor on his brain stem". "He will need surgery to remove the tumor". "The tumor is malignant".......
Every single thing going on in our lives came to a screeching HALT.
The world stood still. Nothing mattered but this. Anything and everything that seemed relevant in life no longer even existed in our brains. Our family, and all it was known as, instantly changed forever. All that consumed our thoughts was "cancer, you will not take our son from us". And we did everything in our power to make that statement come true.
But more than that, Colin did. He fought so hard. He had to give up everything in his life that was part of being a little boy. For years. He fought and endured things I didn't even know a body could. He endured and endured and endured. Our little family existed in a realm that was so bizarre, so painful, so insane. Yet we laughed and we loved and we hoped. Laughter, Love, Hope..blessings and gifts that made all the difference.
I don't say these things to make you feel sorry. I don't EVER want pity or attention because of my son's illness. I say these things because it was our reality, and this is our story. It's why we are who we are.
After the years of fighting, countless treatments and surgeries, it was time for Colin to rest. He couldn't fight anymore and we couldn't make him. We had to let him go. My heart knew it. I couldn't even begin to imagine a life without him, couldn't even begin to put my mind around that. We had no choice, and begging and pleading to God didn't work. If there was ever a time to have faith, this was it. Without it, we would crumble and give up. There would not be the Hope that keeps us going that we will see him again. .
After he was gone, our family of 3 was a mess. All that was left was the 3 of us in deep mourning pain. We had to learn to become a family of 3. We didn't know how to live without doctor's appointments, hospital stays, and cancer being at the center of it all. Truth is we didn't want to...doing those things meant Colin was with us.
Sam was a lost little boy. Most of his life had been his brother fighting cancer, and his parents concentrating on that most of the time. To this day, when I think of the things he has seen and experienced, I feel such a deep pain for him. Rich and I....so close, but so far away from each other too. Marriage is the last thing on your mind when your child is ill. Who were we after all of this?
We slowly started to rebuild our lives, and really still are. We haven't rebuilt our family "without" Colin. He is still at the center of everything. We have emerged from that dark cloud of sadness, but never fully. I've heard many, many times, "You are so strong! I wish I was as strong as you!"
I'm not really strong. Honestly, I'm just an expert at numbing everything. One of the ways I've learned to cope is by keeping busy. Immediately after Colin died, instead of laying in my bed for days, I started to clean. I cleaned and cleaned and couldn't stop. I did anything to stay busy. Go. Go. Go. Numb. Numb. Numb.
I've always loved to cook and bake. Nothing is more satisfying to me than to be a mother and a wife, and to take care of my home and family. I've found an outlet for my pain in these things, which has led me here, to create Sunday Baker. What an odd way to deal with grief and pain. Still, baking is therapy to me. I've tried the therapist route, believe me, and it didn't even begin to come close to helping me heal as creating in the kitchen does!
My story doesn't have a sad ending though. Colin still remains with us, and someday we will see him again. We find great happiness in many things, and have a very deep connection to each other, because we know that no one else in this world had the privilege of living life with Colin as we did. That bonds us together deeper than anything else I can imagine.
I wanted to share all of this with you, to the new visitors and my friends, because I want you to know where the heart of this site lies. If you want to read Colin's full story, we chronicled it at his Caringbridge site: Colin's Journey .(click on journal entries) If you ever have any questions, I'm more than happy to answer them.
As the new year has arrived (May yours be blessed), I'm looking forward to many new and fun things here at Sunday Baker, and I hope that you will come along to share them with me!! I have a great feeling that 2009 will be an awesome year! New games, a new look, giveaways, crafts, discussions, fun finds, and more recipes!