Whew. I can’t even tell you how many times I have sat down or thought about how to write this post. Even sitting here I have a big knot in my chest and feel like I can’t take a full breath of air. When I first started my blog, it was a way to document my life while providing people opportunities to find a good outfit on sale. I focused on what other bloggers were doing because I loved looking at and reading their blogs, but I felt I wasn’t always showing the entire picture of what was going on.
Although I thought I had known struggle and life’s ups and downs, I found this last year that I didn’t. Now don’t get me wrong – I am thankful for every event in my life because it means that I’ve LIVED through it, thrived, learned, and it has made me who I am today.
2016 was such a great year preparing for “the wedding of the century” (as my mom would call it) and getting all the details in place. January 1st, Tony and I moved into our new apartment in Iowa City and we were so excited for this new chapter in our lives to soon become husband and wife. Seven months later in July, we had THE BEST day and finally made that dream come true. We couldn’t be happier and felt on top of the world!
I never had a specific idea of what my first year of marriage would look. I just knew I wanted to love on Tony, learn how marriage was different than dating, and enjoy every moment possible. When September came, our world began to shake. After days of doctors appointments and tests, my stepdad, Mark Moorhouse, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. At this time, the cancer had metastasized to his liver, and spots in his pelvic bone. I’ll never forget sitting with my mom in the car when they told us they were unable to cure his cancer and feeling a sadness and helplessness I had never felt before. I wanted to scream, to cry, to ask why, and shelter my mom and stepdad from the hardships I knew were to come. Mark was positive and shaken but ready to start fighting as soon as he could.
From September to December, he fought the good fight with bi-weekly chemo treatments and tests to decrease the tumors. Due to his specific cancer, it was difficult for him to get out and about due to pain and discomfort, but that just made for more days and nights of watching HGTV and movies when we came to visit on the weekends. There were small triumphs and he and my mom continued to be thankful for what they had.
In December, they were able to scan him once again. Days before Christmas we anxiously waited to hear the news to see if we could celebrate or hear bad news again. Thanks to God and medicine, the tumors had shrunk and he was nearly cancer free. He felt better than he had in a while and we had a beautiful Christmas all together. In the following months of a beautiful January and February, Mark was feeling good enough to travel to Iowa City and do some house viewing with us and go out to dinner. He still wasn’t feeling 100% but it was better than what had become his normal. I was so thankful for that weekend and the fun we all had together.
Just as quickly as the tumors had gone away, they came back. Tumors in his spine lead to a halt of his chemo treatment to and weeks of radiation, which allowed the rest of his cancer to grow. From there we remained positive but knew we were in the thick of it. Mid-April, Mark was unable to walk due to the tumors in his spine and was brought to the hospital for his first overnight stay. This 2.5 week stay in the hospital included many visits from family members, physical therapy, nurses and doctors in and out, beeping machines, and struggle. Though it was hard, he continued to crack jokes, talk golf, and stay positive.
Although things were rough and hard, we weren’t ready for May. On May 4th, early in the morning, Mark passed away. We felt a black hole in our entire bodies. I have never wanted to take away someone’s pain more than I had in that moment to protect my mom. We are still shaken. The following weeks were a blur but I think that’s God’s way of helping.
It isn’t fair. To see someone get that sick so quickly, to see a happy family loose a loved one and companion, to wish for more time and more words said. There are many things that remind me of him and make it harder to get through the day. I am thankful for the time I had with him, his influence on Tony and I, and the love he had for my mom. Although I don’t feel it somedays, I am stronger. I am more thankful for everyday moments, feel everything much deeper, long for a never guaranteed forever, and have seen good in many people.
When thinking of a title for this post, I struggled. I needed something to wrap up every feeling I have into a few short words. So here it is… “I miss (ed) you”… an explanation below:
I’ve missed you – to my readers for setting you aside when I couldn’t balance everything and didn’t want to. When life in the moment was much more important and needed. When I wasn’t able to chat about everyday problems because we were struggling with much larger ones. I look forward to showing you more about everyday life — things that make me happy because I am now a different person.
I miss you – to Mark and to the beautiful love story my mom and he had. To the man who always wore a smile, great patterned socks, loved golf, University of Iowa, his kids, us, and my mom. I know you’re still with us because I feel you all the time.
I look forward to meeting with you all again soon as I slowly find my way back on my feet. I promise to stay real & truthful with you as life is never perfect. Tony & I have grown even closer throughout our struggles and I can’t wait to share exciting things that are to come from our little family. See you soon. XO