In Sickness and In Health

Dear Friends & Family,

"In sickness and in health, til death do us part." Many of you recited the same vows at your wedding. Like us, you may not have thought much about them. We were young, healthy, had good genes and lots of plans for our future. We jumped right in to life; babies, work and family weekend trips away. There was no time for sickness, we had so much to do! Then suddenly one day, sickness became the center of our world. In over two years since his diagnosis, there has not been a day, a decision, a hug, or a moment that did not have sickness in it.

Of course this sickness sucks beyond belief. But, there are amazing things about living with a dying man. First of all, Curt is the most awesome man on earth, when he was healthy he was awesome and now even in sickness with the world's most dreaded disease, he is still awesome. His attitude has remained steadfast and brave. He believes he was chosen for this disease, there is a reason he is going through this, and something great will come out of it. I wish I could be so strong! Although his patience is tested every moment of every day; a fly he cannot shoo, an itch he cannot scratch, a hug he cannot return, the list goes on and on. Through it all he remains gracious, selfless, encouraging and patient. I watch him in awe. I want to be like him. I want to watch the hummingbirds around our yard, I want to take the time to smell dozens of colognes in order to pick out the perfect scent, I want to breathe in the smells of nature and be still enough to notice the breeze on my face. Mostly, I want to embrace the sunshine as it feeds health into my body. I want to be like Curt.

He encourages, promotes, teaches, is friendly to all, appreciates everything and loves with all his heart. I could never ask for a better husband or a better father. He is simply amazing to the core. Curt is an example to us all....... in sickness and in health.

Please join me in praying for a miracle.

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Corey, Corbin, Cayden, Clarissa & Shane at Jawbone Canyon Store
We love that the kids can continue the tradition of motorcycle riding without us.
They can load the motorcycles on the trailer, plan their meals and navigate to the desert on their own!
We are so proud!

After the motorcycle trip, everything needs to be cleaned and put away. Curt looks on as the kids have been through this many times but usually with Curt at their side helping too.

Yesenia, Melanie, Yanira & Blanca
Curt loves the girls at the office and has always had fun teasing and joking with them!

Cayden & Paige ready to go to her Aunt's Christmas Dinner

The Melanson Family brought us Christmas Eve breakfast, yum, thanks!
We ate outside on the patio, what a gorgeous day! Bill's parents are here from New Hampshire, it was fun to meet them and hang out for awhile!

Corbin & Lauryn exchanged gifts- she made him a photo album of all their photos along with a sweatshirt and he gave her a pillow pet and stocking filled with some treats.

Lorraine is my parent's next door neighbor. But way more than that! She has been in our lives since I was about 6 years old, she is the sweetest person around! We traditionally spend Christmas Eve at her house enjoying her warm fire, great friends and family, good food and her always gorgeous Christmas Tree. Thank you Lorraine for a wonderful evening!

We always exchange gifts with my parents on Christmas Eve!

Christmas Morning. Everyone is still a bit sleepy!

Cayden & Corbin made the rub and prepared the Prime Rib for our Christmas dinner. Curt has taught them the last two years and they've got it down. It turned out delicious.
Curt's family and my parents came over for Christmas Dinner and to exchange gifts.
We had a great afternoon/evening. Sorry no photos.
Merry Christmas to all our friends, family and followers.
Thank you for praying for our family!

Painting a Picture

Dear Friends & Family,

My Grandmother Ruth was a great painter. As a child I loved hanging out in her studio looking at all the completed paintings lining the walls and her works in progress. The day before my 9th birthday she asked me if I wanted to learn to paint. She sat beside me and step by step I painted a replica of one of her works. You may think my painting (below, right) looks pretty good.....until you see hers. My Grandmother's seemed flawless to me. I was upset that my strokes weren't as smooth, the water wasn't as reflective and my seagull seemed awkward. I remembered at one point during our day of painting telling myself to just relax and enjoy that I am with my Grandmother, that she is teaching me to paint, and to just enjoy our time together. Seems like a mature thought for an almost 9 year old.    

If you have been following our blog, you may think we are handling this journey pretty well. You see the photos, our smiles, our busy life. Everything looks "picture perfect." Although we are making the best of the time we have left together, it is not as easy as we (I) have made it seem. Much like my painting, it is rough and there is a lot of frustration behind it. Recently I realized that by painting a perfect picture (on the blog) I am not being fair to me, our family, people who want to help and others who are dealing with this disease.

Day in and day out, in public, I act as if everything is ok. But as you can only imagine, this sucks beyond belief. There are moments I hate my life. Times when I want to get in my car and drive away and never come back home. The truth is, for each smile in every photo, there are a million tears behind them. Our stomachs are aching as this disease is taking my husband, the kids' father, away a little more each day. My back hurts from the physical demands of taking care of Curt, I am constantly exhausted and feeling stressed. The list in my purse is full of errands that need to be run and things that need to be fixed. Our calendar at home is full of  appointments with doctors, social workers, nurses and bath aids. Our hearts are heavy from watching Curt struggle and the frustration that comes with this disease. Our heads are spinning with what the future will hold for our family and how we will go on living without Curt. We are tired, defeated, sad, and depleted. There was a time when we welcomed distractions and looked forward to future plans and trips. Now there are no trips or plans for the future. We have no future. Curt is tired.

Thanks for praying.

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Park Ave Restaurant with Ed & Julie

The musical performance at our church - First Baptist Church of Lakewood
My favorite event of Christmas!
 With my parents, Barbara and The Melanson Family

Dinner at La Tavolata (Clarissa's work) with Dean-O & Sylvia
CIF State Championship Game at The Home Depot Center
Cousin William's team, De La Salle, won 35-0!

Watching the game in style! Thanks for the comfy suite, Lynn & Robert!

Although we don't get to see Curt's cousin Lynn and family often since they live in No. Cal,
we love when we get our families together!

Corbin & Lauryn celebrated their one year anniversary on 12-7-11!

Paige's 17th Birthday!

Cayden is currently in Big Bear with Paige's family and snowboarding for the first time. He is loving it!


It's Good to Be Curt!

Dear Friends & Family,

We have a cross stitch sampler hanging in our room (I stitched it in college), it says "Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you!" It always makes me think of Curt, he has always given his best, no matter the circumstance. He is a great dad, friend, employee, neighbor and stranger. No matter who you are or what you need, Curt would always give his best. These days the "best" is coming back to him. We are blessed to have great people helping us as this disease progresses.

Please pray for us. The pain (emotional) is at times unbearable, we are helpless, hopeless and heartbroken. I am watching him fade away with each day that passes.

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

When you are not feeling well, who can take care of you better than your mom?
Curt's mom, Barbara, takes care of Curt during the week, we are blessed! 

My mom, Celia, is here on Wednesdays!

Curt's friend from childhood, Jackie, comes every 4 weeks and cuts his hair and gives him an awesome scalp massage! One of Curt's favorite days! Thanks for all you do Jackie!

Our friend Rhonda is one of the nicest people in the world! She, like Curt, makes the world a better place and is always positive and encouraging.
 She and Curt walked the neighborhood last week and plan to do it again this week!

Ilfida is Curt's bath nurse. She is super sweet. They laugh and talk and give each other a hard time!

Janet is Curt's hospice nurse. She takes great care of Curt and makes sure he has everything he needs to be comfortable and pain free! We will miss her as she is taking a new position next week.

That was a glimpse of why "It's Good to Be Curt!"

Happy Birthday Mom!

The Bottle Inn, Hermosa Beach, YUM!

Cayden asked Paige to formal with lights spread across the beach.
 He worked really hard to make it a surprise and super special! 

She said "YES!"

Our company Christmas Party Saturday night!

Cayden is now an official employee, it was fun to have him there with us and mom & dad!

We all decorated for Christmas on Sunday!

Cayden did the lights. White this year, looks great!

Curt has a hard time watching us do all the work, but he is a great teacher and we need his input!


Dear Friends & Family,

Two years ago I never would have been able to wrap my head around all the changes that we would have to go through with Curt's disease. The saving grace is that everything happens slowly and over time. Take walking for instance. When walking got tough for Curt, he got a cane and a handicap placard so we could park closer and walk less. When the cane was not enough he got a walker, then came a wheelchair that he would use for longer distances, and then eventually he needed a wheelchair full time. On the surface these changes may not seem like a big deal and we have adjusted to Curt's needs pretty easily. However, what happens with each change emotionally is another story.

Take the cane for instance, you can't hold hands with someone walking with a cane. When Curt was struggling for each step, he could no longer walk around the car to open my door, carry bags or put his arm around me. When he began using the wheelchair full time, it was an adjustment to walk beside him and talk to him without being at the same eye level as we were accustomed. In the van he sits behind me, so we talk looking at each other through the rear view mirror.

This week we have had the hardest change yet. Curt is now sleeping in a hospital bed in our room. For 23 years, we have slept side by side. I have felt his breath, his body heat and the security of knowing he was right there beside me. Even when he was away on trips it was ok because I knew he would be back. Now with him a few feet away in a separate bed, I know he is there, I hear him breathe, but I miss him. I cannot just reach over and touch him, I don't feel his warmth, and I know he will never be back in my bed.

This is the reason for my delay in posting an update this week. We moved the hospital bed in our room on Tuesday and it has been quite an adjustment emotionally. Once again, I am faced with feelings of loneliness and helplessness. I lay a few feet away from him, glad that he is comfortable and sleeping well, but heartbroken that this disease is taking him away from me a little more each day. Maybe I should be thankful that I am being prepared for what it will be like living without him.

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Thanksgiving at Mom & Dad's Lake Nacimiento House.
Mike, Lauryn, Melissa & Rose

Thanksgiving Dinner

We all love joining Curt at bedtime, he always gets talkative and tells lots of stories!
It was so awesome to have Melissa & Rose here from Texas!

Melissa climbed a hill to take this cool photo of everyone hanging out by the stream!

Curt always finds adventure!
Getting close to the edge makes him laugh as we all freak out!
Happy Thanksgiving!