Friday, December 28, 2007

Made it through Christmas

This picture was taken on Christmas Eve after we came home from church. As you can see Tyler is now quite the man in his new suit! Looks like a little businessman. Their smiles are a testament to the excitement that they had inside.

The last few days have been pretty tough. We finally got everything done for Christmas and went to church as we always do. It was not the same without Chris with us though. It just seemed as if our family was not complete. We came home and took care of bringing up the presents and hanging the stockings. The kids went to bed a little before midnight and I had a few things to do. After I finished around 12:30 or so I sat down and it finally all hit me. The 23-year routine that Chris and I had done each year had now come to an end. It took me awhile to compose myself and get upstairs to bed. It was the worst that I have felt since she passed away.

The next morning I had to wake the kids up around 8 AM. We opened presents and I started baking the 23 pound turkey! Alex got a special surprise in the driveway as you can see.

The whole family came and we had a very full house. About 30 people. We ate and exchanged gifts and played a gift exchange game. All day long all I could think of was how much Chris enjoyed doing all of these things and how hard it was to enjoy without her. We all had a good time and everyone left around 10pm.

This week Alex worked for a couple of days and will be leaving on Saturday to go visit her boyfriend in NJ. She actually has to leave to return to college on Sunday the 6'th so she doesn't have a lot of time left at home.

Tonight, Friday, Michael is going to a midnight rock-n-bowl night with the youth group from church. He's looking forward to it. I hope I don't fall asleep and forget to pick him up.

The day after Christmas I received an email from Jeannette Vagnozzi. I had posted a comment on her blog about 4 months back and she had just gotten around to responding. I really do not remember how I came across her blog but I do remember reading through it. She sent me a very, very nice email and I will share a small part of it with you:

...Please let me first tell you how devastated I was to read of your loss. You have done a good job of letting strangers understand what an amazing woman your wife was. I have to say, Charlie, you are everything a woman could hope to have by her side. Your constant care, your ability (even if it doesn’t always feel like it) to carry on and care for your children in a way that Chris would have wanted are a testament to your strength and character. No one ever hopes or wishes to discover their inner strength by having it tested to such a degree, but the truth is that this is how we discover or uncover it.

Charlie, by telling your story and Chris’s story, you unknowingly have helped other men get through a similar situation. You have also allowed other women to truly understand how breast cancer impacts the whole family. This is so important. The more we talk about it, the more people understand that breast cancer must be stopped before one more person, one more family goes through this battle.

I now check in often to see how you are doing. Every May since my own diagnosis I participate in a Relay for Life and walk many laps (over the course of 24 hours!) in honor of people who have touched my life and cancer journey. It would be an honor to walk in memory of Chris this year...

It was just what I needed to read the morning after Christmas. It made me feel a whole bunch better. Now, on to New Years. Oh yeah, the following picture was taken by Tyler last Sunday when we were down in DC for the concert.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Weekend before Christmas.

Well tonight we finally got a chance to use Tyler's new firepit that he built in our backyard. It's been there for a couple of weeks but it's either been too cold or too wet to use. We'll have our own little campground in the back yard this year!

Yesterday (friday) we all went to the movies together (Alex, Ty, Mike and I). We saw the premier of National Treasure. Cool movie.

Thursday we went out to dinner together after taking a bunch of things over to the thrift store that Chris's sister Jenny works at. We started taking a lot of things there knowing exactly where the money is going to benefit when an item is sold. Of course while there we had to shop! We picked up 2 suits for Tyler which I must say looked very nice on him.

The rest of this week we had dinners at home and just spent the evenings together. I went to the cemetery on Thursday and cleared up what was left over from Thanksgiving. There were a lot of graves that were decorated for the holidays. It was very nice. I put up the following wreath on Chris's grave for her. It is a wreath that was made for her by Jonnietta at the credit union a couple of years back. It has a small angel in the middle with the word "inspire" on it. She was certainly an inspiration to all of us.

The holidays are fast approaching and I am really torn. One side of me just wants it to get over with and I'm not really in the festive mood. Then on the other hand, I have 3 children that keep reminding me of the holiday and somewhat force me to get into the festive mood. Things are okay. It is really, really going to be tough to get up on Christmas morning without the love of my life next to me. I'm not looking forward to it but I'm sure the kids will help keep me sane.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Concert for Christmas...

Alex finally made it home on Friday. She got a bunch of snow in central PA so she played it safe and came home during the day on Friday. An easy drive she said.

Saturday, she and I went out for coffee and breakfast. It was a nice morning and nice to sit and chat, even though I had to wake her up! College student you know… We did a little shopping after that and then came home. She and Tyler then went out in the afternoon and Mike and I went for groceries. We’re not too good at that on a regular basis. Alex came home and started looking through the bare refrigerator and cabinets and gave me a hard time!

Sunday was a very busy day. We got up and had to pack up all our belongings from our rooms as they are coming to carpet the upstairs on Monday (I think). After that we left to have lunch at a restaurant in Rockville, MD. This restaurant is owned by Scott Blaugrund. I coached his son’s baseball team a few years ago right after Chris was diagnosed. Last month he told me to come down for dinner so we decided to wait until Alex came home. Incredible food and great atmosphere. Check it out if you’re in the area it is called The Potomac Grill. Thanks so much to Scott and his family for lunch and getting our day off to a great start.

After that we drove down to Washington, DC. We went to the International Spy Museum which is located near the Verizon Center. We spent a couple of hours in there and had a fun time looking at all the exhibits and learning about espionage and covert actions! I think Michael has found a career as he really liked it.

We then walked over to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. What an incredible concert. Almost 3 hours long and worth every minute. Check out some of the pix and videos if you can. Since this was the boys 1st concert they were amazed. It’s not quite a head-banging metal concert but pretty close. They played many wonderful Christmas songs and then kicked it up for an hour near the end. We didn’t get home until almost midnight!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One of Chris's wishes granted!

It's been a very hectic weekend and few days already this week. For 2 years Chrissy and I planned on getting new floors put into the living room, foyer and dining room. They were carpeted and I wanted to just recarpet them. She had her mind up that she wanted hardwood floors put in. Over the summer we finally started looking around and getting some quotes. When she got sick everything went by the wayside.

Monday we followed through on her wishes and put a new floor in! It's beautiful just like she knew it would be. When we put all the stuff back in and started looking at it I couldn't help but start crying. Tears of joy of course knowing that she really wanted this and that it came out so nicely. We even talked about this while she was in the hospital. She was adamant that we continue with what we started and put new floors in AND new carpet in the upstairs. The carpet folks come on Monday morning to start their job! We have to spend the weekend getting all the rooms ready to move out all the furniture. Not an easy task.

Alex hopefully comes home tomorrow. The weather may not be to cooperative so it may become Friday. She has my Maxima so I'd prefer she wait if necessary! This Sunday is a special day for us. I bought us tickets to go and see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Verizon Center in DC. I'm sure you've heard their music. It should be a great show. We're planning on going down early and do some shopping in town too.

The holidays are starting to come together. Both trees are up now and 1 is decorated. We put some decorations up but nothing too fancy. Outside no lights unfortunately. I just don't have the time or energy to get to it. We have a lot of shopping left to do as well so next week will be just as hectic as this one I'm sure...

God Bless.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A sign?

Well today is Michael's birthday. He turns 12 today. We'll be doing something this evening for him I'm sure. Most likely dinner and a movie. He loves the local Japanese steakhouse so that will probably be it.

Now, sit down and get ready for this. This morning I was up getting ready and of course thinking of Chris. I just sort of said to myself "Honey just give me a sign that everything's okay". We all probably do that at some time or another but today being Michael's birthday it had a bit more meaning.

The boys left for school and I went into Frederick to have coffee and run a quick errand. Everything was going pretty well and I left the coffee shop around 8:45. In the morning I usually listen to the local AM radio channel. Chris did a lot of advertising work with them and I still hear her ads on the radio each morning for the credit union.

One of the things this station does is run snippets of people in the community saying something about the morning show. So I'm listening and cutting through town to get to the other side and my route took me right past the back entrance to the cemetery where Chris is buried. This is the same entrance that was used on the day of her funeral. As I pull up to the stop sign at that entrance I hear on the radio the following: "Hi this is Chris DeWitt of Frederick, MD and it's time to rise and shine with WMFD". Or something pretty close to that. It was a recording of Chris done sometime awhile back by Bob Miller the host. I was with her when it was recorded in fact.

Needless to say hearing the voice of my beautiful wife again was overwhelming and I completely lost it. I had to pull over. My hands were shaking and I just could not control my self. I needed someone to talk to so I called Marianne at COMSTAR and talked with her which was really helpful getting me back on the road!

Thanks for answering me Chris! I now know everything is okay.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's been a long week...

The title says it all. I went to my friend Jeff's funeral last weekend. It was really tough and almost made me relive the week that I had all over again. I was, however, very glad that I went. There were lots of people there that I knew and I was able to see Jeff's wife Kristen. She was unable to come to Chris's funeral as she was caring for Jeff at the time.

I got home Saturday and my friends Danny and Brenda and Karen and Glen came up for a few hours. We just sat around and chatted and had some Chinese food. It was great seeing them.

This Friday is Michael's 12'th birthday and another one of those 1'sts that will keep coming. We don't have any immediate plans just yet but may take him to his favorite restaurant for dinner.

Today I attended calling hours for a woman that I had never met. Barbara Case. She is the daughter of one of the board of directors at COMSTAR. She had been battling breast cancer for quite awhile and unfortunately she passed away this past Monday. Married 28 years, along with 4 children. A very similar situation as mine only they were about 6 years older. I went and saw Nick (board member) and his wife. I also had a chance to meet Barbara's husband. I gave him my number and told him to call me if he wanted to talk. I hope someone, someday can put a stop to this.Tonight I was on a cooking extravaganza! I don't know what I made but as you can see from the picture the boys enjoyed it. Noodles, chicken and whatever else I could find. I'm trying the best I can to keep them fed! They seem to be doing just fine!!

The holidays are fast approaching. We are trying to get some decorations up but it just doesn't seem to be happening as fast as we would like. Today we got about 6" of snow and it's been cold. It did put me in the holiday spirit and we dug out a few more things tonight.