Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Love Day 2014

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On January 25th, 2014 I got to witness a love session with the Bollinger family. Each family member spent a little time loving a laughing with Michelle, who is fighting cancer for her life. I was blessed to be able to capture that love through my lens, Here are some of the images from that session...What an amazing family. <3

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Gods Will"



Amy and I  have been working on this blog post with resources for infant/child death and ways shed some light on this taboo discussion. I am sharing this with permission from the family with the intent to educate and promote more resources for parents of infant loss, still birth and child death. See the links below for website info and how to contact Amy.

 God's Will 
In memory of William Triplett Bryant
2/9/2008
If you're a parent then you understand that anticipation of your child's birthday and birthday party. Deciding what color theme to go with, the balloons and the cake, the clown or the pony rides. Imagine the excitement you felt when your child turned 5. Such a milestone in a child's life. Starting big kid school, getting ready to start making friends that don't include the ones from the Mommy & Me dates, and first time bus rides. Amy and Mike celebrated Will's 5th birthday a little different this year. Will is celebrating his birthday in heaven and they can only imagine the party he is having.  I was invited to his celebration of life with the Bryant family to capture this day in images. I was overwhelmed by their love and strength. 
The purpose of this post is to educate and empower families with information on infant death and also to educate people on what to do or say to someone who experiences infant loss. 


Wikipedia:  "A stillbirth occurs when a fetus has died in the uterus. A wide variety of definitions exist.[1] Once the fetus has died, the mother may or may not have contractions and undergo childbirth. The term is often used in distinction to live birth or miscarriage and the word miscarriage is oftentimes used incorrectly to describe stillbirths. Most stillbirths occur in full-term pregnancies."

Webster:  : dead at birth : failing from the start : abortive, unsuccessful <a stillborn venture>

Amy Bryant: Heartbreak, loss, incomplete, mother of an angel 
 

 
In 2008 Amy was 38 weeks pregnant and having constant contractions and went to the emergency department. There they told her everything was fine and sent her home. A doctors visit later that week confirmed that the pregnancy was right on point.  The following Saturday Amy, in full blown labor, again went to the emergency department that's when the doctor informed her they were unable to detect a heart beat. Amy gave birth to her third child that day. Baby Will never opened his eyes, took a breath, or felt his fathers kiss on his forehead. When baby Will opened his eyes for the first time they saw heaven. Amy held her dead son for hours as the nurses refused to make eye contact, offer assistance or acknowledge the fact that Amy had just lost her infant son. The doctor gave her no sympathetic explanation or reassuring words for the death of her child.. Amy's mother bathed Will as Amy cried in a narcotic induced stupor grieving the loss of her child that just 8 hours prior was moving in her womb. 

 Amy describes the delivery room as  a deafening silence. No laughter. No cheering. Only silence. No cries from her child. Only cries from the hearts of her family present. 
Because Will hadn't taken a breath, he was considered "still born". He wasn't classified as infant death...Will's existence isn't even considered "birth". The hospital provided the Bryants with a report of fetal death.
 7lb 2oz William Triplett Bryant isn't even recorded with a birth certificate. 

(Photo credit to the very talented artist Amy Ellinghouse) 

I was given permission from Amy to share detailed emotion to give you a small glimpse into the mind of a mother who has lost her child. I personally can't imagine the emotions one would experience but I know those feelings are raw, and they don't fade. Through this journey to create "God's Will" with Amy, there have been many conversations that have lead me to tears. She has explained her emotions, grief, trials and her triumphs with me so that I might be able to create the words that someone may be looking for. So that maybe someone reading this that may have lost a child and doesn't know where to turn or what step to take could find the resources they need to start the healing process. 

What we do know is that Will's life was only inside Amy. His little heart only beat inside this strong woman. His ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes grew inside Amy while she carried and nurtured him. His entire life was spent inside the protection of his mother. We don't know why God chose to take Will home, but Amy has complete faith he was God's Will.  



 Amy's mission is to shed a positive light on the discussion of infant death. Through Will's death she has been given strength and hope. She has taught classes about putting the pieces back together after losing a child and recommends the links below. I've included her email address as well for anyone who may need to talk about an experience, or for someone who may want to help others. She is starting a book project to donate the book "Safe in the Arms of God" about infant death. Anyone interested in purchasing a copy for Amy to give to grieving families, contact her via email.



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"You've Got A Friend In Me"



A little something for the Freshman girls from Sunday afternoon's shoot. Here are several outtakes and some shots that were too cute not to share...but I can't edit EVERYTHING! :)



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Saturday, August 18, 2012

{Unspoken}





A few months ago I ran across a blog of a fellow photog who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. She had her family photos taken and THIS was on the video, I had immediate tears. 





One word on one hand had THAT much impact on me...and so I thought...and  "Unspoken" was born! Then I thought...what could we do with TWO words...and below you will find that answer. THANK you to everyone who came out. It was a great project, with a lot of emotion and laughter. I LOVE that God has trusted me with a gift of loving people, and making them comfortable to share their story.



{Autism Sucks}

For my baby boy. He is 10 years old and takes on the world like it is his own personal video game. We didn't ask for it. We don't like it. But we will step it like everything else in life. So if you see us out and about one day, especially on a particularly rough day, just remember, it is worst on us than it is on you, and yes we agree that Autism Sucks!



{Empty Wound}

 Chad and I met my sophomore year in high school. Feb 21st 2006 we began dating and called ourselves a couple. We hang out and stuff before that but that's when we made it official. We dated about three of years before we married on Aug 1st 2009. We were engaged for a year and build a new house in Bernie before was married. We have been happily married now for three years. We were married two years before we decided it was time to start a family together. We began trying on Feb 9th and i was pregnant by march 16th. We broke the news to the parents on march 21st. by having them down for supper and having a cake made that said our family is growing by two feet. March 29th I began spotting but the doctor was not too concerned at that point. The spotting continued into the follow week of April 2nd and I went in to have some test. then by late wed April 4th the bleeding got more severe and called the doctor. The doctor said to get to the hospital if it got worst. well i was out town working w chad on job sit and we wanted to get close to home to my doctor and close to family bc we kind of know by that time it was over or so we thought and we was just praying at hoping for what ever god wanted and whatever was best to do what had to be done but we still had that little hope for it to be normal and everything to be ok. So we drove always from Whitevalley to Cape to the hospital. Thursday April 5th I was given the news that testing showed I had lost the baby.




{Full Heart}

I was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 15 and had endless trouble.  By the age of 28 I had 3 miscarriages and 8 surgeries when the Dr. finally said I would have little chance of conceiving and less chance of carrying full term.  At the age of 29, I gave up hope having my own child when I had to have my 9th surgery, a hysterectomy.
God blessed me with an amazing husband who shares his 3 children & grandchildren with me and a great friend whose 2 kids have adopted me as their mom since theirs is not active in their life. Our saying in our home is "Real families have no steps".
God made sure that even though my womb was never full, my heart always is.



{Color Blind}

  I deal with the racial prejudice of people everyday when they see my beautiful daughter. Before giving her the chance to show how loving and color blind she is they judge her because of the skin color. I know I/she will deal with this for the rest of our lives. But I know as I teach her a different way she will be a better person. I love my special brown baby!



{Forget MeNot}

According to the Alzheimer's Association, as many as 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is among the top ten diseases in the U. S. that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. I personally know how devastating this disease can be because my grandmother had it in her early 60s and my mother has been progressively loosing her ability to remember. It is hard when someone you love so much cannot even remember who you are anymore.



{Obesity Isn't Chosen}

"Obesity can be hereditary but that does not mean it has to be my destiny. Being obese is not an excuse, it does not mean that you have to be overweight for your entire life, it means you have to fight for your entire life. My name is Honor and my sister is Elizabeth. We have been obese since we were children and have never successfully lost weight. Over the past year we have fought to get control of our obesity and through sheer determination we have both lost more than 50 pounds each! We have a long way to go, but understanding our obesity has made a huge difference in our lives. "



{Cancer Sux}


Jayden's dad has B-Cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and is steadily fighting it. Also has been diagnosed to have colon cancer. Her maw maw has been fighting breast cancer for 2 yrs. she is still in remission :) and has had a total of 9 surgeries due to the cancer and reconstruction


{Drug Abuse} 
 
My sister has been battling a drug addiction for 18 yrs. She's had her ups and downs and in-betweens. It's very heartbreaking to all of us. i just want her to know that I love her with all my heart and ill be there no matter what!


{Restore Family}


I was raised with old fashioned family values. My extended family was very close - so close that most of my cousins are like brothers and sisters.  I am in law enforcement and see family's torn apart daily and I also see no family values or respect for family everyday.  It breaks my heart to see this world torn apart daily due to the lack of family unity and respect.  Even my own family!!!! 




{Premature Babies}

We had been trying to get pregnant for months but it was unsuccessful so we went for help. In February of 2004 I started taking fertility pills and in June of 2004 we found out I was pregnant. I remember taking the test and looking at the test and saying to myself it has two lines…it has two lines…I went running into the bedroom jumped on Brian and was screaming and crying saying go look in the bathroom it has two lines. He says what has to lines I said the test. He got up and went in to see what I was talking about and he stood there saying what does that mean if it has two lines, I said that means we are going to be parents. So we decided I would call his dad and he would call my mom at 5:30 in the morning. What a wake up call they got. Things were going great with the pregnancy. It was until I was 3 months along and that is when I started to hurt but not in usual places I started to hurt in my left leg a lot to where I could not walk or sit for very long. Doctor John Patty checked every time I went for check ups and even when I was not scheduled for my appointments nothing was wrong. So we just assumed it was the BABY pinching a nerve. Every ultra sound we had we were told one little BABY this was going to be the last ultra sound until we got to find out the sex of the baby. My mom went with me and she had been teasing me that there was going to be twins that the other baby had been hiding and I kept telling her to stop thinking that way one child is enough. We get into the ultra sound room and my mom is still talking about twins and I tell Dr. Patty that I could not be having twins he had not seen two before and he tells me the other could be hiding. Just as he says that he says oh do you see what I see on the screen and all I could say was that is not two babies is it and he says yes my girl it is twins. Brian was sick so he was at my sister’s and we call to tell him and we had not even said twins and he was already saying we are having twins. So that explains the hurting in my leg. We found out the sex of our babies at 6 months. In between that I had been having so much problems and in and out of the hospital. We had a scare that one of my placentas had deflated. One had ripped from the wall and much more. At six months someone rear ended me and I went to see Dr. Patty, but everything looked okay with the babies. Two weeks later I had an appointment with Dr. Patty and I had went to work that day but the night before I had been hurting worse in my leg but all we had come up with is my baby boy was on a nerve. So that day I worked Brian and I took off for the doctors my appointment which was at 2:00 pm but at 4:00 pm still was waiting to see the doctor. I had noticed that I had not peed all day and carrying twins and being 6 months pregnant you are going to be a peeing machine so I told Brian I was going to go try and pee. So I went into the bathroom nothing stood back up and I felt like I had to pee so I sat back down nothing so I just went back out to the waiting room. I went to sit back down by Brian and I felt a big bubble and all of a sudden I was wet, so I looked over at Brian and said my water just broke he said “you are only 6 months along you can’t be in labor yet.” So I went to the desk and I told the lady my water broke and she says to me are you sure you did not pee yourself and I said yes mama I am soaked. So I get immediately sent back and I get checked I am dilated to a 4 they send me to the hospital and Brian calls my mom and his dad. I end up having an emergency c-section and my babies are born at 5:59 pm November 4, 2004 and they get sent off to St. Louis Children’s Hospital and this momma is so drugged from the medicine they have me on that she never remembers seeing her Gage Allen and Serena Nichole.
Brian is calling every hour on the hour from the hospital, because he knows when I wake up from the medicine before they knock me back out I want an update on my babies. Dr. Patty finally releases me late Friday night because he knows this momma is heading to St. Louis whether he liked it or not. Come early Saturday morning I am setting at Children’s Hospital listening to a foreign doctor who mind you I could not understand try to explain to me the fate of my children. He wanted to tell me that my son’s head was like a room full of water filling up and we needed to find a way to get it out, we looked at him and told him we didn’t need no foreign doctor telling us about a room and water, we wanted straight answers about our son and daughter and if he could not give us that then we wanted another doctor. Within a week we had an American doctor and we were being told straight what was happening. My son had fluid on his brain and that it just kept getting worse and that his organs were shutting down and we basically had three choices to make and we had to make them fast. These were the choices a parent should never have to choose from: 1. let your child die lonely 2. Let us take him off meds without you ever holding him or 3. Hold your child and we will come in and take away his meds slowly. Will any parent would want to hold their child and that was our choice to hold our precious son in our arms and cherish the time we could have with him until he chose to go to heaven and he did chose to go he pulled is breathing tube out and our baby was gone. Gage passed away eight days after he was born.
With our son gone we had to be strong for our baby girl Serena Nichole, she was a fighter. She was determined to make it she gave us scares at times, but she came through every obstacle that was put in her path. We had her off most her meds, she was on a regular breathing machine so we could hold her and that was amazing. I was able to help change her diapers, which scared me because she was so tiny. She loved her daddy she was a good baby for him loved to hear him hum to her. She had more surgeries than you could have imagined. She had both wrist slit to try get blood from her, she had a surgery to close a flapper in her lungs because she was a premature baby and was not able to cry. They both had NIX, which dealt with air in their stomachs. We were up to four pounds with Serena. We had one month left to bring her home until the unthinkable happened. It was December 23, 2004 the hospital called me because we had went home to get clean clothes and take care of business before heading back up. Any ways the hospital had called me and told me that they had been at Serena’s bedside all morning because she had been going into cardiac arrest, which this puzzled me because she was doing great when we left her the night before. They told me she quit peeing for them and much more. All I can remember saying to them is I am on my way you keep me informed and keep performing CPR. Well I was not able to make it to my baby because of the bad weather up near St. Louis but she did have family with her when she passed and I did get to tell her I loved her over the phone they put the phone to her ear so she could hear her mommy’s voice and the words “MOMMY LOVE YOU SERENA NICHOLE.”
It was not until Dr. Fernando, Gage and Serena’s pediatrician called Children’s Hospital to request Serena’s medical records did we find out that Serena had been given an adult dosage of a paralyzing medicine for what they had said was to help heal her NIX.
These words mean a lot to me because my precious babies were premature not by choice weighing in at 1lb 9oz and 1lb 12oz. I have been told even after many years of losing my babies, I tried again but never succeed in getting pregnant, that I may never get the chance to be a mommy again, but I leave that in GODS hands. But I have worked with Bootheel Healthy Start in Sikeston who deals with Low Birth Weight babies (Premature Babies). There are programs that will help parents who are willing to help themselves to prevent premature babies, just ask for the help. To those who just happen to have them because of a health problem let me be the first one to tell you it is not your fault never let anyone tell you that you are to blame for your child’s sickness or death. The best charity for Premature Babies is MARCH OF DIMES. They helped me out when I needed it and I will help them out whenever and wherever. Premature babies are more common than you think and deaths are as common. Help your premature baby out and get help yourself and for those mothers that are like me and it is just your body remember technology has changed and we can prevent premature babies as well just ask your doctor.



{Judging Hurts}

When i tell my friends stories bout me n my moms girlfriend they always ask "girlfriend?". Then I have to explain that she is gay. After i tell them they always look and talk about my mom n her girlfriend like they are bad people. Like she is a bad mother to my brother and me!! My mom gets judged and anybody else with that life style like they are all bad people and not how amazing most of them can really be when you actually get to know them.




{Child Abuse}

When I was born my dad was in the marines and my mom had abused me untill he came back three months after i was born, my grandma came all the way from Marble Hill MO and came and got me form North Carolina. When my mom finally came back and got me she would abuse me for " punishment" and i cant really remember anything that happened but my grandma has pictures of teeth marks when my mom bit me bruises from when she would hit me ect., after she got caught my doing that she would stick things under my toe nails and I would say "why did mommy do this to me if she loves me" to my Grandma. And now as of August 10th 2012 I will be with my dad for three years without contact or seeing my mom for three years 




{ADHD's Hard}


I chose these two words because my oldest daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of six. She's been on medication since then and will be eleven years old this fall. I know some people that think that ADHD is a made-up condition or the result of bad parenting. Many can attest, that is NOT the case. There have been times when I was at my wit's end and bawling like a baby because I had tried everything I could think of, to handle this child. Nothing works for very long.

Simply put, dealing with a child with ADHD IS HARD! 



{Equal Rights}

Most people seem to be under the assumption that when a non-heterosexual is talking about wanting equality they are simply referring to "gay marriage." First, let me clarify the marriage issue; we do not want to get "gay married," we simply want to get MARRIED. Second, the denial of equality to non-heterosexuals in America has devastatingly negative affects on more than just our civil right to marriage, just to name a few; our children, our careers, our education, our health care benefits, our legal benefits, obtaining a family or spousal membership at a public place of your choice, adoption rights, or medical insurance coverage for fertility treatment. The last one was denied to me purely on the basis of, and I quote, "lack of exposure to sperm," even though the company my partner is employed by offers a little thing called "domestic partner" insurance benefits. SEPARATE IS NOT EQUAL



{NO H8}

I would like to start with a glimpse of who I am.  I am a mother of 2 beautiful children, and long for more. I get out of bed way too early everyday so that I can go to work.  I work 2 jobs to make ends meet.  I pay too much at the gas pump.  I have a mortgage and a slew of other folks that take a chunk out of my paycheck. I love my family and would do anything to protect them. I am a friend. I am a Christian and go to church. I am the one you and your family call to save your life, and I will do so with a smile.  I am human.  Sounds a lot like you right? The only difference is that I love a woman.  I am gay.
My message is no hate. I long for the day that we accept each other for our differences. I don’t expect that everyone will understand or agree with me being gay.  I am not asking you to be gay.  Just because I love a woman does not make me a pedophile, nor does it make me less of a mother or a person.  I am not crazy and I have the same struggles as you.  I don’t wear my sexuality on my sleeve and often I am mistaken for being straight. Because of this, I hear almost on a daily basis jokes that are told, slurs that are spoken, and judgments that I am expected to agree with. All of which are born out of hatred.  I would hope that someday we can learn to accept each other for our differences.  Maybe the next time you go to tell a joke, stare, or make an off color comment in regards to someone’s sexuality consider the person you are talking to probably has a gay sister, brother, mother, father, aunt uncle, best friend, or maybe just maybe they are gay and too scared of what you might say if you knew.



{I'm Worthy} 

Hey my story is simple given the fact that both my parents walked out on me w promises to be there & never showing up & the emotional abuse i went through with my sons biological father its made me feel like i wasn't smart pretty or worthy of anyone's love. Like there's something wrong w me & no one deserves to feel that. That is why I'm worthy.



{NO HATE}

It's not nice to hate people but you can hate spinach because it's gross. But God made everyone special so you can't hate them. Like me I'm special brown. 




{Have Confidence}

Confidence is the best accessory a woman can wear. 




{Broken Bond} 


I have an amazing bond with my parents, an irreplaceable bond with my older brother, and an incredible bond with my husband, but losing my sister left a hole in my soul and a forever broken bond in my heart.



{Stop Bullying} 

  I have always stood up for kids that get picked on or that would get made fun of. It hurts to be the odd one out, when I see kids getting picked on i try my best to make them feel better after words. kids shouldn't have to go through this. Its not right for people to do to other people. i have been raised with the saying " treat people the way you want to be treated" and if someone ever picks on me I would hope that someone would help me!


{THINK GOOD FEEL GOOD}


March 2011 I grabbed a stapler at work and didn't have enough of a grip to use it. For a year and a half, I've been seeing doctors all over the country, trying to get a diagnosis. I have extreme tightness in all the tendons in my body and contractures are forming in the joints in my hands, knees, and feet. The only term my doctors have been able to use is "fibrosing disease" and I just learned that this past Friday, July 13, 2012. My tendons are fibrosing(forming scar tissue).. It's irreversible and will only get worse. I have a tough road ahead of me and it's easy to just lay in bed and be mad at the world. However, I dont have cancer. I'm not confined to a wheelchair. I'm not losing my memories. Others have it so much worse than I do. I try my hardest to keep a positive attitude about my future. I always say "You gotta think good to feel good!"





{Too Sweet}

I've had this going on about three years. It was a total shock and a scary feeling knowing my life had changed forever.  People don't really see diabetes as a big deal and honestly before I got it I felt the same way. It flipped my whole world around and its a different problem every single day.  I'm very blessed to have such amazing people in my life who have kept me sane. And i still have my bad days where all I want to do is cry, but staying strong is the key. Like Abby says, "Think good. Feel good." I try not to get angry at God because he gave me this for a reason and for whatever that might be I'm still extremely grateful. 'Too sweet' is just one of the many quips I've used as a personal pick me up. Diabetes can take its toll on an individual. So to make myself feel better I usually make fun of my diabetes by coming up with stupid remarks. It may sound silly but it makes me feel like I'm not letting the disease win. 




{Anorexia Bulimia}

You never know how much two little words like "You're Fat" can hurt someone or impact their life forever. This is something I was told as a teen. 14 years later I still have self-image problems...some days it's a struggle, others it's not so bad. You are constantly in a battle with yourself, you never feel pretty enough or thin enough.  I am so thankful and feel so blessed to have a wonderful husband who is caring, compassionate & encouraging. He knows just what to say on days I am down on myself and knew just what to say all those years ago to help me conquer it.  It doesn't have to be a family member who can see the signs of someone struggling with eating disorders. All it takes is someone who cares enough, who will listen and not judge, and someone willing to help.  For all the girls out there, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL just the way you are, the way God meant for you to be. Never let anyone make you feel inadequate or insecure about yourself! You can overcome this.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

To the ones who have bullied or made someone feel this way, I simply pray for you, and pray that you understand how your words can hurt and leave everlasting scars on someone. I pray you are never made to feel the way you have made others feel. 




{Promote Bonding}


I've been a clinical therapist for many years now.  When I first began, people typically came to me to deal with specific issues.  Abuse, sexual trauma, a death in the family, bullying...the list goes on.  We'd talk and work on those issues, and with the healthy bond of a supportive friend and family network, the person would reach a resolve and move on with life.
Now, a huge part of my practice is simply bonding.  Yes, the people who come to me still have issues to work through, but their biggest issue is that they do not have a bond to anyone.  They feel utterly alone.  As difficult as it is to see with adults, it absolutely breaks my heart when it's children.  Therapy with these children is not about working on specific issues.  We get to that eventually, but the first and foremost thing we have to do is bond.  Children whose parents have given them up and for whom there is no other family member who wants them.  These kids need someone.  It is not imperative that they bond to a parent, but it is imperative that they bond to someone.  Our children are NOT DISPOSABLE!



{Fuck Cancer} 

 Andrew James Jarrell, my brother, born April 25th, 1985 and died December 9th, 2010 from pancreatic cancer. He left behind a son. 




{Protect Children}
To report possible child abuse please follow the link below.
http://www.dss.mo.gov/cd/can.htm


{Give Up}
When I was 16 I had JT, my oldest son. When people found out I was pregnant most thought, if they didn't just tell me, that I would quit school. I graduated high school when I was supposed to and since then have finished two colleges degrees and currently working on my third and fourth degree. Never give up on what you want and don't let people tell you you can't do something. Don't make excuses, if you want something bad enough you can do anything.




Saturday, May 5, 2012

Seniors 2012

A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.
Elbert Hubbard
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

No. More. Cancer

I decided to post a blog about my dear friend Sarah. I know several of you have followed her story through my Facebook, Twitter, and through SCARS and Bare It All on this blog. I also had a discussion with a dear friend who said "memories fade, story's get distorted but black and white is forever". I never, ever want to forget a single moment of my friendship with Sarah.
I am no where near a novelist, or author. I over use commas, and may have made grammatical errors...but these stories have been written by my heart. Sarah White wrote on my soul with her smile, love, and laughter. Here's why...

Like most of you, I am a Facebook junkie. I love reading people's drama, looking at a million pictures of the same people's kids over and over, and to stalk people who don't have a private page. (Don't judge me, I know most of you do the same thing) A couple of years ago I had been stalking "Sarah White". She was a former school mates wife that had been diagnosed with cancer. I knew they had two kids, and I knew that she was entirely too cute for Brian White. Just kidding...sorta. I also knew her prognosis wasn't good.

 I noticed that Sarah and I had a lot of mutual friends, and she had previously "liked" some wall posts I had put on a friend's wall. It was obvious she had a good sense of humor. I decided to send her a friend request...a simple friend request was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I expected to see a lot of sadness on Sarah's wall, instead, I saw bravery. I expected to see a woman that was sick and pitiful, instead I saw a sky diving diva who wore the words "I SCARE CANCER" on her diving helmet. Sarah White was NOTHING as I expected. She was what I would later find out to be one of the most extraordinary people I've ever met.   


Sarah and I began a friendship that isn't like most, and we both laughed when people would ask us how we knew each other. Our dinner dates were always to Applebee's which we both shared an uncanny love for. We would always share a Cookie Sundae and even when the chemo would chase away her appetite, she would still force down at least one bite. She was quiet and kind, I am loud and sassy. She was tiny and magnificent, I'm kinda chunky and usually bossy. Opposites attract, even in friendship.

I never treated Sarah like she had cancer, I think that was one of the things she loved about me the most. She had a HUGE support group of people who cared for her, and most of the time I let the worry come from them. For instance, no matter where we were, I would park the car away from our destination and make her walk. I'd tell her that her legs didn't have cancer, and she'd laugh and walk with a smile. When she'd take chemo and lose too much weight, I'd tell her how jealous I was of her ability to see her hip bones.  I haven't seen my hips or ribs in years. I'd bring random gifts every time I'd come to visit, and always announce "Happy Birthday" when I'd enter the room. It was my way of making up for birthday's I had missed, or maybe just knowing that every pretend birthday could be her last. I brought things like Silly String, Jelly Belly's, sexy slippers, iTunes cards, or Coke and Pop Rocks for the kids. Anything I thought would make her forget for one millisecond, that she was sick. Even one second of randomness that reminded her to smile, and laugh was always worth it. I always left her with a hug, and a reminder to kick that cancer's ass, and she'd always promise she would. She was extraordinary.

When Sarah was in STL hospital the last time, I decided I needed to see her. I figured she had been in there for several days, she could use some comic relief. I entered the room with a bag of goodies, announce "Happy Birthday" (which I'm pretty sure her Dad still thinks I should be medicated) and we laugh and talk about all the cool narcotics she's was taking. After an hour or so, I mentioned that she could use some blush or lip gloss because she looked like hell. Of course I was teasing she was radiant even battling cancer. A few minutes later she got up, with her walker, went to the sink and put on lip gloss and blush. I laughed so hard at her attempt. The next thing I know she shuffles her walker over to Brian, and gives him a kiss. Laughingly, he asks her what she's doing, and as she started back to bed, she says with a wink "no since in wasting all this hotness"...THAT was our Sarah. THAT is why we love her so much.

Through our friendship Sarah taught me several things:

Never give up. Ever.
Even on her death bed, she fought until her last breath.

Being afraid is okay.
Sarah wasn't afraid of dying. Sarah was afraid of leaving everyone behind. She knew she was our rock. She knew her C-Fight attitude and super brilliant smile was the glue that kept her family, friends and everyone who loved her together. She knew, even in the end, that she radiated strength that we all soaked up from her.

Never take one single second for granted.
She lived life. Even when the fractures in her spine from the massive tumors would leave her in intense pain, if she could bare ONE more minute in the floor with her children, she would stay in that floor.

Never go into battle without the power of prayer.
Sarah never made religion "cheesy", she made it real. Her relationship with God was real. When I was so angry and asked her how God could take her from us, she smiled and told me "he has something better lined out for me." That's faith. I picture her in heaven eating Peachy-O's, telling on me for cheating on Words With Friends, and telling others how wonderful her life was. Sarah was the most positive person I've ever met. God knew she was too good for this earth for long. I agree.

You CAN drink beer while on chemo.
I argued this with her on my birthday last year when we were in STL, I said "no", Sarah said "watch me". We toasted my 32nd birthday together.


Sarah White left this world on January 23, 2012. After years of fighting, rounds of chemo, pain, surgery after surgery, procedures, stitches, staples, medicine and fractured bones from tumors growing into her spine.
Sarah White won. She won her battle with cancer.
She crossed the finish line of life beaten, battered, bruised and exhausted at the throne of God...Sarah White left this world all used up. She won.
This is what I posted the day of Sarah's funeral, and I still feel the same:
I'm not saying goodbye to Sarah, I'm saying goodbye to her tiny, cancer ridden body.  I'm saying goodbye to her cancer, her tumors, the chemo, and medications. I'm not burying my friend, I'm burying her sadness, pain, and suffering. My Sarah isn't dead, her body is dead. My Sarah is alive, she is alive in my heart, and the hearts of everyone who loved her. Her touch on my life and her impact on my soul is alive and well.
I love you Sarah, save me a seat. I'll bring the lip gloss.  
No. More. Cancer