Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 179: The Heart of A Warrior

Saturday February 12, 2011

Throughout the past week, I've had a growing pang about Nina and that we needed to give Teddy more information. He's known all along that she has a tumor in her brain that is making her extremely sick and that we are hoping and praying for her to get all better. What we've been torn about was first burdening him with the heaviness of the tumor being "terminal" too early where all he would focus and perseverate on was her dying and because we refuse to give up hope that she will be healed. Secondly, and most importantly, we have been very worried about him accidentally saying something about her dying to Nina. We do NOT want to burden Nina with that fear. She knows that she is sick. She is struggling. But she is an almost 6 year old little girl. Even though she loves God, death to her means being taken away from mommy and daddy. From the beginning, Todd and I agreed that we would do everything and anything to keep that fear for Nina.

However, we are also painfully aware that Teddy needs to know what is happening so he can prepare himself. On multiple occasions this week, Todd and I talked about how to handle breaking more of the news to Teddy. We decided we would systematically tell him more details, first by telling him that the medications weren't working and that is why she is getting sicker. We also agreed that we would follow his lead and answer all of his questions. Mid week when Brandi had decided to come spend the weekend with us, Dan had invited Todd and Teddy up to Petaluma for a boys weekend get-away. I had really encouraged Todd to do this because Teddy has been yearning for more one-on-one time with his daddy. Initially Todd had thought this was a good idea but on Thursday night he decided he didn't want to be in a 6 hour car ride with Teddy where the likelihood of these questions coming up was almost guaranteed. So we agreed that I would talk to him either Friday night or Saturday morning.

I ended up deciding Saturday morning would be best because then he would have the rest of the day to process the information and talk to us, versus having to go to bed and having thoughts mull around. After breakfast Teddy and I went to Best Buy to buy the Halo game he had earned. We then walked across the parking lot to Anna's Bakery and bought some treats and a drink.

The day couldn't have been more glorious. The sun was shinning, the sky a perfect crystal blue, and there was tiny breeze keeping it all perfect. The art walk aslo being held that day so the marketplace was hustling and bustling more than usual. We were surrounded by children playing, adults sipping their Starbucks, and a very loud man playing his guitar and singing (more like belting) songs a tiny bit off key. In fact, when we found a table in a corner, removed from the hustle and bustle, Teddy and I actually started to make fun of the man slightly. The guy was relentless. Each person that walked by would end up with him following them, serenading them even louder! The guys was eccentric and Teddy found him to be hilarious, especially the looks on folks faces as he practically got nose to nose as they walked by :)

We started eating our snacks and for a long time talked about school and his buddies. Then I suggested we go to Sportsmart to see if they had a wagon for Nina since she no longer fit in her stroller. That did it. He turned to me and asked if the medicine was working and I responded no. He went pale and immediately but his juice down and in an elevated tone said, "What do you mean no?" "Is she dying?" I knew that he would probably ask me this question. Teddy is an insightful little boy with the world's biggest heart. He has been mourning the loss of his Nina, the little sister who ran around with him, played with him, bantered with him, since August 19th like the rest of us. However, nothing can ever prepare a mother to hear her son ask those words...."Is she dying?" For a few seconds I sat there quietly. He looked at me, blue eyes darkened, fearing growing on his precious face, and muttered, "Mom tell me the truth!" I reached for his hand and said, "Yes, she is dying honey!" Those were the single worst words I have ever uttered in my entire life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Teddy screamed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "NOT MY SISTER!!!!!!"

Instantly I pulled him into my lap. He wailed and screamed and pleaded!!!! Over and over again he said, "Not my little sister. Oh God, not my little sister!!!!" "Mom, please tell me that there is hope!" I explained that there is always hope but that we also need to start preparing for the worst, that she is dying and that she may end up going to Heaven!!! His little body convulsed in my arms, tears pouring out of those most precious eyes. No child should have to be going through what Nina is going through, but also no child should EVER have to be going through what Teddy is going through!!!!!!!

The following is a summary of our conversation:

Teddy: Is the medicine working?

Rosy: No honey it isn't"

Teddy: Sorry it's for sure she's going to die.

Rosy: Yes honey it looks like it but we will never lose hope!!

Teddy: But who is going to be my little sister? Who is going to play with me?? Who is going to tell on me?

Rosy: Honey, Nina will always be your sister.

Teddy: But she won't if she's not here.

Rosy: I know honey. This is awful!!! It is a nightmare!! And it's okay to cry and have a broken heart. I am constantly crying. (I just held him tighter, kissing his sweet face, rubbing his little back. All I wanted to do was love him, pour every ounce of love I have for him, so he could know beyond a shadow of doubt that I adore him with every molecule that I am made of!!)

Teddy: But what is going to happen to her?

Rosy: She will go to Heaven and become an angel!

Teddy: (he just wailed, screamed into my chest, little hands wrapped around my neck!!!)

Rosy: Teddy, just let it all out. You can't keep any of this sadness inside. You need to talk to me and dad and let us always know what you are feeling. We will get through this together, each step!!!

Teddy: This is terrible!!! (wailing and sobbing!!!) How could this happen to my little sister, not my little sister!!!!!!! Why Nina????

Rosy: Honey, you are right. This is the worst thing that could ever happen. This IS the worst thing that will ever happen to you. There will be other things in your life that hurt you and disappoint you but this is it, this is the worst. I am so sorry that this is happening and that you are hurting. We didn't do anything to deserve this, it just happened. We couldn't have stopped it from happening. It just did.

I held Teddy for a very long time as he sobbed, hiding his precious face into my neck, where I could hear every sob, every hiccup, every pained breath.

Teddy: What is going to happen to Nina when she dies?

Rosy: She will go to Heaven and become the most beautiful angel.

Teddy: Who will take care of her?

Rosy:  Jesus will (I wiped the tears from his cheeks and kissed his sweet face).

Teddy: Will I see her again?

Rosy: Yes, honey, when you are an old man and go to Heaven you will see her. We will all see her again. (I pulled him in tighter so he could see my face, I wanted him to be able to make eye contact with me for this part). Honey, you will live to be a very old man. Mom and dad will live to be old people, annoying you with all of our calls when you're a grown up because we want attention. We will all see Nina when we get very old and then go to Heaven.

Teddy: You promise me?

Rosy: Yes Teddy I promise. That is what God promises!

For a minute, Teddy just lay his head on my chest. The sun was warm, people were happily wandering around us, and the weird man was singing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" (how weird!!!). Then he started to cry intensely all over again.

Teddy: If Nina dies I can never show my face again at school, I can never see anyone again.

Rosy: (I hugged him tightly!!) Oh love bug!!! Do you remember how we've been talking a lot about how life is full of negative things?

Teddy: Yes

Rosy: And that we have two choice as to how to live....we can either be destroyed by these negative things and live sad lives....or we can choose to own our sadness but then decide to step forward, to build happiness with a grateful heart and to bless others. Our choice is going to be to step forward and build happiness and to bless others. Teddy, we will always have a piece of our heart broken but I promise you will a wonderful and happy life. You will never forget your sister but it is okay to also still live.

Teddy: (started to cry more!)

Rosy: (I'm not really sure why Star Wars came to my mind at this point but it did. Teddy loves Star Wars and the analogy seemed like something that he would be able to understand)

Hey buddy, do you remember when Anakin Skywalker lost Padmae, when she died.

Teddy: Yes

Rosy: Did he let his pain and grief destroy him and lead him to the Dark Side or did he choose to be sad and then walk toward the Force and live a good and happy life?

Teddy: The Dark Side

Rosy: And did he have a happy and good life?

Teddy: No a terrible one

Rosy: Right

Now, when Luke Skywalker lost his entire family, did he choose to be destroyed and go to the Dark Side or did he choose the Force?

Teddy: The Force

Rosy: And did he have a good life?

Teddy: Yes

Rosy: Teddy you are the most amazing boy!!!! I have never known a boy to have more force in him than you....and honey, that force is God.

(At the point, Anna Thomat, a colleague of mine, walked up and gave Teddy a valentine's cookie and reminded us both that we are loved!)

Teddy: (cuddled closer to me!) This is the worst day of my life.

Rosy: Yes honey it is! But it is also the day your life will forever be changed!!! Because of Nina you will understand something that most adults don't even understand...that life is precious and to be lived to the fullest.

Honey, do you remember how I've always said that you are amazing and destined to do great things?

Teddy: Yes

Rosy: Well, Nina is going to be the force in your life that propels you to greatness, she will be what makes you reach for things that all of the other kids around you won't dare to reach for. You are destined to do amazing things and your sister will be your inspiration!

Teddy: I understand mom!

(We sat and cuddled for a very long time.)

Rosy: Teddy have you been worried about this?

Teddy: Yes from the beginning. I think about it at night time.

Rosy: I'm sorry honey. Do you wish I had told you earlier?

Teddy: No I wish you hadn't told me at all!

Rosy: I know honey but you are at the heart of this journey and you need to prepare and know everything we know.

Teddy: Mama, can we buy Nina a present?

Rosy: (amazed at his astounding strength and ability to think of caring for his sister!) Of course honey! That is a perfect idea!!! (I kissed him repeatedly!)

(Teddy walked over to a table of hand-crafted jewelry).

Teddy: Can I get her some earrings? She loves earrings.


Teddy picked two beautiful pairs of heart earrings and a gorgeous heart necklace. The artist only took cash so we went to the ATM and I taught him how to use it, which he was super proud of. After buying his sister the jewelry he took my hand and we proceeded to walk to several stores looking for a wagon. Eventually we ended up at Kmart where Teddy found the wagon. This entire time, he held my hand and only whispered to me (barely audibly!). I went along with it, following his lead. If I had to let go of his hand for some reason (to pick up a box off a shelf) he wouldn't immediately grab it the moment I placed the item down.

After we got the wagon into the car, Teddy said he wanted to go home and cuddle with Nina. We
held hands the entire way home. Twice he turned to me, tears in his eyes and said that he loved Nina!! I reminded him of what an incredible brother he is and how no one can make Nina smile the way he can. When we pulled into our driveway, I made sure Teddy understood he couldn't say anything to Nina about her being sick, that she wasn't getting better, or that we are worried she is going to die. His blue eyes pierced my soul as he said, "Of course mom! I'm going to take care of her!"

Inside the house, Teddy was so excited to give Nina his gifts. He proudly watched as she opened and saw her smile grow. She was very thankful and gave him a hug. He then proceeded to tell Todd that the wagon needed to be assembled, then he plopped himself on the bed next to her, touching her arms ever so gently. By this point, my parents had already arrived and had joined Brandi, Sosie and Todd in the living room. Each of us sat in that living room, breathless at the sheer love and grace Teddy was showing his Nina. I have always known that Teddy was made for great things and he is already proving me right!!! What a treasure from Heaven he is!!! And we adore him!!!!

About an hour later, all the girls (Sosie, Nina, Brandi, Inga, Me and my Mom) went downtown to shop for make up. This gave Teddy an opportunity to spend time with Todd. As it turns out, he really needed that opportunity. My dad told me that he sobbed with Todd for about 30 minutes but then afterwards he went on a walk with my dad and was in great spirits.

Our shopping adventure was a blast! Inside Sephora, Sosie painted one of my eyes hot pink and the other electric blue. I don't think she thought I had the nerve to walk around the mall that way but I did with pride. Pus, I told Sosie there would be severe payback :)

Who wants $5 for a ride??

The rest of our evening was a delight. We hung out with Inga pie, watched Beauty and the Beast, laughed at my singing, and of course ate yummy popcorn. At bedtime, I joined Teddy who was crying in bed with Todd. I answered more of his questions and after getting his last answer, he turned to us as he folded his hands and said, "Let's pray....Dear God, thank you for such a good day, help Nina and me and Mama and Dada....we believe in you more than ever, bless us and help Nina get better!"

Teddy is the most incredible person I know!!!!! I am speechless at the greatness of his heart!!! I wrapped him in my arms and told him I wanted to rock him like I used to when he was a baby. He didn't say a word, just relaxed his entire body in my arms and fell asleep.


  1. Rosy-What a terrible conversation to ever have to have. I pray for you, Teddy and Todd that your hearts will be protected for you never ending love for Nina. I pray that Teddy will live his life to the fullest, knowing that he was so blessed with the opportunity to have the privilege of being "Nina's Big Brother."

    You have been given one of the hardest tasks from God. You continue to take everything in stride. I pray for Nina to have a good weekend (as well as the rest of you). I know you will make her happy and keep her comfortable.


  2. Oh Rosy...I am speechless (heavy with tears and heartache). I knew that this blog of telling Teddy would be coming soon and I knew that my heart would be breaking right along side of his. I am sorry on so many levels.

    I am amazed at Teddy's ability that day to pull his heart and head up high for Nina's sake and be strong and as loving as he always is. He his beautiful and carries within him more compassion and clarity than most adults. I think Teddy is Nina's and Nina is Teddy's "true heart"...They are so lucky to have each other.

    This is an enormous burden for all of you...and yet some how you and Todd continue to tackle each moment as they arise with such great ability to make it as easy as possible and saying just the right words to Nina and Teddy. You both amaze me with how you pursue each of these moments with such LOVE and FAITH. You are wonderful examples of God's love.

    I pray for all of you daily...this will never stop! Daily I think of your precious beautiful Teddy as much as I think of Sweet Nina girl. I believe with all my heart that God hears all of us and that both Nina and Teddy will forever be held tight in grace and love.

    Love and Hugs~

  3. Dear Rosy,
    What an amazing little boy you have. My son Joshua who is 10 and has been reading the blog with me( who is insightful, sensitive, and extremely caring like Teddy)said he would love to meet teddy. I asked him why and he said he just seems like a good guy.

  4. I cried while reading your post, my heart ach's for Nina, and the family. I hate the pain cancer causes. None of us should have to go through it. Teddy is such a great brother!
    My prayers continue!

  5. All I have to say right now is that Teddy is such an incredible boy. You are blessed to have him as your son, and he is blessed to have you and Todd as his parents.

  6. what an amazing boy God has made teddy to be. he really does have the heart of a warrior, just like his mama! your entire family is blessed with hearts after God's own heart. what a gift God has given you all to relentlessly choose love in days such as this. that is a miracle of His doing indeed.