Friday  -- September 28th 

Busy day yesterday...

Maddie and Ernie met up with our friend, Nancy, at radiation yesterday morning. Nancy presented Maddie with the most adorable hat she had knitted herself (on the picture page). It is SO cute! She also gave Maddie a really cute butterfly ring. Thank you, Nancy, for your kindness and incredibly thoughtful gifts.

Maddie's visiting nurse arrived right after school for another blood draw. Hopefully, Maddie won't need any blood/platelet transfusions today. Her platelet count is starting to drop as an expected result of the radiation.

Meghan's Mom, Colleen, came for an afternoon visit. It was SO great to see her. While she was here, she gave Maddie the most touching gift. She passed Meghan's gold boxing glove necklace on to Maddie. It is so sentimental. The necklace came from a woman who is a two time cancer survivor, who gave it to Val, who gave it to Caroline, who then gave it Meghan. Maddie loves it. She is wearing it with incredible pride, honor and fondness. It means so much to her.

Maddie gave Colleen a gift as well. During one of the girls' last hospital stays together, they each painted their own dog pictures, each complete with a big tree, a dog house, and beautiful blue skies filled with pink clouds. When you put the two pictures together, side by side, they form one picture. Each half completes the other. It is so pretty and so cleverly done, as only the girls could think up. I had it framed and Maddie gave it to Colleen. We also gave her a really pretty color changing butterfly night light. Maddie has one and I have one to give to Caroline too.

Thank you, Colleen, for your priceless gift and your priceless friendship. We'll see you next week when we get the dogs together for their "play date!"

School Open Houses last night after Colleen left. So, it was a busy day, but it was filled with friends, laughter, and love!

Wedneswday  -- September 26th 

It has been a pretty quiet week.

Nikki, our old nurse friend came out to the house to draw Maddie's blood. It was so great to see her! The kids LOVE her! She brings all kinds of treats, and, of course, great big hugs!

We had a fun family swim Monday night, at Maddie's friend Sydnie's house. The pool was heated and the weather was perfect for the end of the summer swim! We had a great time!

We are looking forward to two visits tomorrow. One from our friend Nancy and the other from Meghan's Mom, Colleen.

Monday  -- September 24th 

What a great weekend. The weather was so perfect. We had friends for dinner Friday night and Saturday night. We had a great time with everyone. The kids loved roasting marshmallows two nights in a row!

Sunday was a quiet, "recovery" day. Ernie drove up to N.H. to visit with two of his brothers who live there, and his Mom, who was visiting from Michigan. He had a nice, relaxing day. I was home with the boys and we went for a bike ride and an ice cream.

Maddie did something extra cool. She got to attend the 2nd annual Cops For Kids With Cancer Flight of the Angles Motorcycle Run, with our neighbors and friends, the Altmeyer's and Findlen's. So many "bikers" come out to raise money and awareness and I bet it was a sight to see. Maddie actually rode on the back of a Harley, belonging to retired Deputy Superintendent of Boston Police, Bob Hayden. They led the pack of riders, but at one point Bob pulled over, so that Maddie could truly appreciate how many riders there were (about 250) and truly take it all in. Then they drove back up to the front of the pack!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday  -- September 21st 

I have been wanting to do an entry for a few days, but have been struggling with exactly how to put the many thoughts and feelings down...

Ernie beat me to the finish line with his entry yesterday, but I'd like to share my thoughts regarding Meghan and her family as well.

When I got the call from Colleen, letting me know that Meghan had passed the night before, I was hit very hard. As I've said in the past, our families have all become so close throughout our journeys, that you grow to love each other's children as if they were your own. The Duffy's are an amazing family and Meghan was an amazing young girl. All who knew her truly were blessed to have had the privelege.

The crazy thing is, after Colleen told me, SHE then began to comfort ME on the phone. Wait a minute, I'M supposed to comfort YOU, I thought. That's how Colleen and Frank have always been. They are the strongest, most giving, loving people I have ever met.

Last Friday, Maddie was home from radiation and resting on the couch before I took her to school. The boys were already gone, but I wanted her to go to school and have a good day, so I waited until after school to tell her about Meghan. I was so scared. Kelly Lane, Caroline's Mom, and I, had talked about trying to tell the girls at the same time so that they could be there for each other after they were told. The three girls were such great friends to each other, and Maddie and Caroline will always share very special memories.

After school, I asked Maddie to sit on the bench swing out back with me so that we could talk. She immediately looked nervous. She either knew what I was going to say, or thought I had bad news about herself, and she was scared. I put my arm around her and told her that Meghan had passed away. Maddie sobbed in disbelief and I sobbed along with her. That's all we could do. As expected, she wanted to talk to Caroline. She NEEDED to talk to Caroline.

We talked more about what exactly had happened, and Pam came over to help with any medical questions Maddie might have and to be a friend. She brought over two books and a beautiful journal for Maddie. The journal had a butterfly cover...

The wake was on Monday night. Ernie and I attended, along with so many of the Duffy's family, friends, doctors and nurses. It was very difficult. Meghan was loved very much by so many. It's so hard to make sense of any of this, but you have to believe that there is a reason for everything. That it will all make sense one day. Again, Colleen and Frank comforted others who were grieving.

The funeral mass was held on Tuesday morning. Maddie was a little nervous about going, but she was glad we had plans to sit with Caroline. When we got there, Maddie and Caroline hugged and cried together. They showed each other the beautiful cards they had made for Meghan. We sat together and the two girls held hands throughout. Chelsie was there, Val was there, and Molly Callahan, all friends from the hospital. So many of the nurses came and so did her Oncology Fellow. It was amazing. It was the most beautiful service. Meghan was remembered through tears and laughter and after the service, a special gift awaited us all outside.

Meghan was surrounded by all who knew and loved her, and little white boxes were handed out. At the same time, everyone opened the boxes and out flew monarch butterflies! It was SO beautiful! They all spread their wings, circled around as we all stood in silent wonder, and then flew away. What an incredible sight!

I would like to share what the back of Meghan's prayer card reads:


Spread your wings and fly butterfly!
Your beauty has touched us all.
Your wings so very delicate,
but your spirit conquers all.

You've given us so much on earth,
but God now reclaims His prize.
Spread your wings and fly butterfly!
Let your colors brighten the sky.

We will miss you dearly,
but your transition is complete.
Your wings are now and angel's
to your Savior go to meet.

Spread your wings and FLY, butterfly!

Meghan is an Angel. She is now Maddie's special guardian Angel, Caroline's special guardian Angel, and an Angel to all who know and love her.

Meghan was buried wearing her Maddie bracelet. Thank you Meghan for taking a piece of Maddie with you! She will always carry a special piece of you in her heart. We all will.

Thursday  -- September 20th 

The funeral for Meghan was beautiful and we were incredibly moved by the love and support we received from Frank and Colleen and their family during their time of sadness. Meghan was wearing her Maddie bracelet and Colleen told us Meghan promised she would watch over Maddie from heaven. They are such amazing people and we have always marvelled at their strength, love and attitude. The service was a true testament to them and Meghan.

I happen to be reading a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven. It is about a pastor who was in a car accident and died. The paramedics checked him several times then moved on to attend to others. Eventually another pastor came along and prayed over the man. As he was doing so life flowed back into his body. He had been dead for an hour and a half.

The first few chapters of the book are spent describing his time in heaven. It is an inspiring read.  I keep going back to them and thought I would share a few short paragraphs.

Age expresses time passing, and there is no time there. All of the people I encountered were the same age they had been the last time I had seen them -- except that all of the ravages of living on earth had vanished. Even though some of their features may not have been considered attractive on earth, in heaven every feature was perfect, beautiful and wonderful to gaze at....

I felt loved -- more loved than ever before in my life. They didn't say they loved me. I don't remember what words they spoke. When they gazed at me, I knew what the Bible means by perfect love. It emanated from every person who surrounded me.....

Myriads of sounds so filled my mind and heart that it's difficult to explain them. The most amazing one, however, was the angels' wings. I didn't see them, but the sound was a beautiful holy melody with a cadence that seemed never to stop. The swishing resounded as if it was a form of never-ending praise....

As I read these passages I think about Meghan. Truly she is in a wonderful place where she is still loved and cared for. If you get a chance buy the book and read it..or you can always go to the book store and just read the first few chapters.

Today is Lauren's Birthday.  Happy Birthday Lauren! She's 19.

Sunday  -- September 16th 

We would like to thank all of you who have been praying for our friend, Meghan, and her family. Sadly, Meghan passed away on Thursday night. She was at home, with her family, and passed peacefully.

Meghan was an amazing little girl, an Angel, an unstoppable spirit. She and Maddie had become so close over the course of this year, along with Caroline. The three of them supported and loved each other to the fullest, and Meghan will be missed terribly.

We feel so blessed to have known Meghan. Anyone who met her realized what a gift she was. What an incredible example of the human spirit. She was a fighter and now she can rest. We love you Meghan.  We have one more Angel watching over Maddie now.  

Yesterday my family all came up from CT. to celebrate my niece, Abby's 1 year birthday. It was a very nice party.

Isn't life strange? It seems so crazy to be mourning a loss one minute and then to be celebrating a youg life the next...

Thomas' hand is healing nicely. It's still bandaged up for a few more days but he'll be fine.

Friday  -- September 14th 

Thank Goodness it's Friday! Had a pretty good week. Maddie can check two weeks of radiation off her check list. She got a little sick and tired this week (literally) but made it to school as much as she could.

On Wednesday, our nurse friend, Pam, went to Maddie's classroom to give a presentation on cancer and Maddie's story. She did a great slide show with personal pictures of Maddie throughout the past year. It was great for all of the kids. It helped them all relate to her better and become more educated about her situation.

When they had the question and answer time, they all wanted to know more about Josh Peck and Hope. You know, the things kids their age can relate to! Enough of this cancer stuff, let's talk about Josh! It was funny! Thank you Pam for your time and awesome presentation! Maddie loves you Cookie!

Had a nice visit Wednesday night from William's first pre-school teacher and our friend, Linda. The boys were excited to see her and tell her all about their new teachers and school.

Hope got another Summer buzz. Yep, shaved as short as possible! She looks better that way and so do my rugs!

Yesterday was quite interesting. While waiting for Maddie's home nurse to come, Thomas asked me to cook mac and cheese. After it was done, I turned to strain it and he decided to put his left hand on the burner! OWWWWW! Bad burn. Called Norfolk EMT to take a look. Had to go into the pediatrician's office, who then sent me to Shriner's burn hospital in Boston!

Well, as Thomas screamed the whole ride in pain, I got lost...two times! I can't find my way out of a paper bag and I had to drive into Boston, through the BIG, UNDERGROUND, tunnel during rush hour! Can you say ANXIETY ATTACK!?

Anyway, we got there around 6pm. They washed his burns, put cream on his hand and bandaged him. We went in for a follow up today at the pediatrician's and we are all feeling confident that it will heal fine. A few days of clean dressing and pain meds and he'll be good as new.

OK, trying to get some work done around the house now for the weekend. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Monday  -- September 10th 

Well, the first week of school went smoothly. William was SO excited to get on the bus and go. I miss him at home, but he was so excited and smiling from ear to ear, that I couldn't help but smile instead of cry when I put him on the bus! He loves his new teacher and he is very excited to make new friends. He'll go full days, Mon-Fri.

Thomas was a little out of sorts without his side kick, but I took him to his Pre-school orientation on Friday, and he's really excited to be going too. He'll be going four 2 1/2 hour mornings, Tues. thru Friday.

Michael and Maddie both like their new teachers, so I'm confident that all four will have a good year. Michael will be joining the band again this year, playing the trumpet, so that's exciting.

We had a fun weekend. Friday night was filled with loads of laughs when our friends, the Palmer's, hung out for pizza. I promise some VERY funny pictures to be posted soon.

Saturday night was great. Our new neighbors, Stephanie and Brian, got married! Ernie and I were invited to the wedding and we had a great time, meeting new people and dancing late into the night. We couldn't have asked for better new neighbors and friends!

OK, I have to get Maddie to school now, but before I close, I have a favor to ask of all of our friends...

We ask you all to please say a prayer for our friend, Meghan Duffy, Maddie's friend, who has not been feeling well. Please ask God to watch over her and her parents, during this very difficult time. Thank you.

Friday  -- September 7th 

Tuesday night was so special! Our Summer pool club had closed on Monday, but our family was invited to go swimming on Tuesday. We had the whole place to ourselves, with the owners, and some of their family. We did not get to go very much this summer, and this was such a great a gift from them, to let us close out the season! What a blast!

William had waited to show me all Summer how he can go off the high dive! Crazy! He had done it a few times when he was there with Michelle. He held his breath, and I held mine, and off he went! Michael and Maddie did it too! Thomas asked if he could do it, but, of course, we said no.

Thomas had a little swimsuit incident. He wears the tight one piece outfit, with the floats attached in front and back. The pants are so tight and he had worn the suit all Summer, so that night, he actually broke out of the pants! Not just a seam tear, but an entire cheek tear! His whole, adorable, dimpled, white as could be, left butt cheek was exposed! He didn't care. He still ran around and swam like a fish!

We stayed for a cook out dinner and the kids played the arcade games. It really was great! thank you Melanie and Ray and we truly hope to see you before you go back down South, and if not, definitely next year.

Maddie is doing ok with radiation. It's a lot to get up at 5am, drive to Boston for treatment, then get back home and try to go to school. She's trying though. She got to the first day of school around 10:30. She had been sick after radiation, but wanted to go. She was very nervous and anxious, not knowing any of the kids in her class this year. I walked her in and helped get her set up. It was so hard to leave her. She got there today around 12. She didn't feel well though, and I was called to pick her up only an hour later. We'll see how tomorrow goes.

Hope everyone is settling into your school and Fall routines.

Tuesday  -- September 4th 

We had a great long weekend. Michael and Maddie went down to CT. on Saturday with Aunt Jeanne, for cousin Greg's birthday party and spent the night down there. They had a good time with their cousins.

Ernie and I stayed home with William and Thomas. The boys had fun laying on a big blanket in the back yard with me, enjoying the beautiful weather.

We had a picnic dinner out back and then we blew up the air mattresses and had a camp out in the screened in porch. It was so neat listening to all of the night sounds and looking up at the stars, but the temperature dropped and no matter how many blankets we had and how much snuggling we did, we froze our butts off!

Finally at 4:45am, I couldn't take it anymore, picked up the two little ones and moved inside! Ernie braved the cold outside with Hope.

Sunday afternoon the kids came back from CT. and enjoyed a lot of tubing time on the boat with Ernie. Ernie and Michael decided to camp out on the porch for the night, so I got them all set up and Maddie and I "went to bed."

Around midnight, I woke Maddie up, who was in bed with me, and told her we had a mission. We had to go outside and scare the pants off of Dad and Michael! She thought that was a mean idea, but I convinced her that it was a "once in a lifetime opportunity!"

So, we dressed warmly and snuck out the front door. We tip toed down the front steps, across the driveway, up the back steps, and dropped to our knees. We crawled onto the grass, right next to the deck and then it got good...

I signaled Maddie and she did her well rehearsed growl. We rustled the lattice and grass and Maddie continued to growl. We heard Ernie and Michael moving around, talking, obviously, getting nervous. Then Hope started to growl back! Ernie had brought in the big guns!

This went on for several minutes, then Ernie turned the back light on and peered out the screen door. He shouted "Hey!" as if to scare the "creature" away and Maddie and I popped up, and just started cracking up! It was so funny!

Well, Maddie felt so badly for scaring them, that she promised "we" would make them breakfast in 5:30am! I assured THAT would not be happening, but maybe 8am would be ok.

We went to sleep, not knowing when Ernie and Michael would attempt a pay back. I didn't want to wake up with a magic marker mustache, so I slept with one eye open!


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