Sunday, October 27, 2013

The end

You read a story and you wait until it is going to end.  A really good story you read so fast, you rush it, you can't wait to see what the finale is. 

I waited for that Saturday. I kept trying to create that. I saw David going, we provided David with pain medicine. I did not leave his side, looking around that room, crazy thinking I was going to see some spirit coming to get him. Kept looking, but no supernatural experience:))) There was nothing. Just silence and his deep breathing. It was him and I. I told him everything I wanted to say. I read books on how you tell your loved one goodbye, what to say so they will let go. I made many promises, that now sit here thinking, oh goodness did I really say that??  I can see David in heaven saying, oh yes you did:))) For the first time in 3 1/2 weeks it was just him and I in our home. He was peaceful, but he was dying. I wanted this experience to be beautiful. I closed the windows the night before, because Texas allergies are the worst. This was the first time I closed them in 3 1/2 weeks because the weather has been so beautiful, but it wasn't enough for a raging cough for everyone in my home. He was peaceful, our home was peaceful. I lit candles, I turned down the lights, I laid by his bedside and cried out to the Lord to take him with dignity, but still nothing.

It had been almost an hour after everyone left and I remembered what I had told Parker just a few days earlier. How do we feel when we can't touch? I gave David a kiss and told him I would be right back. I walked out our back porch and sat in the grass. To do what I told Parker to do just a few days earlier. To sit outside and feel. I looked up into the sky and just asked God, what else do you want from me? What do I need to do? I felt God saying, stop looking for that perfect finale. I am that perfect finale. Stop looking and just listen. Many may ask. No, I didn't hear this big voice from heaven speak this. But, just like I tell my three year old, I felt God and he was telling me this. I closed my eyes and did what I told Parker just 3 days earlier. I listened. It was then that there was a breeze and I heard the front door slam. (remember i was in the back). I immediately looked back as I thought someone had walked in our house, saw the privacy of the moment and left. As we have averaged 15 visitors a day in our home. But, then it clicked to me, the front door was locked and then I knew. I ran inside and went in the bedroom and David was gone. He looked just like he was sleeping and I knew and felt, he was gone. He went right out the front door, the moment there was no one in the house for the first time in 3 1/2 weeks. Even me. He knew that even though I wanted that experience to see his soul leave... it would freak me out for years to come:))) It also confirmed to me how beautiful, peaceful heaven is, that David simply walked out the front door and I heard it so that I could have my closure he was gone. My children were at a birthday party a few doors down, I believe with all my heart that he went out that front door so he could stop by that birthday party and see them one more time. It was the perfect finale, and I did not create it, it happened and it continued to happen.

For weeks I told everyone I wanted to be alone when this happened, but sitting there with David's body, I realized I could not say goodbye to it with out support of friends. So, within minutes of hospice arriving, friends arrived. Right away, they all said, go outside you have to look above your house. With a bottle of wine, we took glasses outside and sat in the grass and looked up in the sky. It was the most beautiful sun, with blue clouds all over. Our pastor then showed up and offered to pray. We sat in a circle and began to pray and that is when the finale continued.......

                                                      A friend took this picture, this was minutes after David's death above our home. 

One year, one month ago, I lost my dear friend Wren. Many followed her story and know the relationship and friendship we had. Watching her die was the hardest thing to go through. The first person I ever saw pass.  A mother of three young ones. Her faith amazing. Many also know it doesn't rain in Central Texas very often. And in October we may get a shower or two, but not much if any. We are drought central. The day I held Wren's hand in the hospital and she decided to go home and start hospice,  it poured down rain. We got her in the car and I told her I wanted to walk in the rain. For me, many know, I feel rain is God's way of washing away all the tears and beautifying life all around you. I think rain is beautiful. That week with hospice Wren and I joked how we were going to get her rain boots and the next time it rains we were going to take her wheel chair out and dance in it:) David knew this and thought I was crazy! But, he always thought I was:) The day of Wren's funeral it DOWN POURED! I told David, this is her gift to me. After the funeral, David and I walked to the car. We decided to just get wet. Embrace it. We laughed as we got in the car. It was 2 in the afternoon. We had a babysitter and we were soaking wet. We decided to go to a movie, a funny one. But, we were starving. But, where could we eat and be drenched like we were? We went to Pei Wei. We had never been. We thought it must be fast! It's by the theater! And who cares if we are wet. We ate there. 

So back to our finale.... October 26th.... friends and I sat there with a glass of wine out on the grass and looked at the beautiful sun and sky above my home. The pastor showed up. We sat in a circle outside and he prayed. As he prayed, we held hands. Minutes into the prayer, it began to rain. It rained and rained.  It began as a drizzle, just enough to feel and to continue praying. Hospice later told us, as we prayed, it was just raining over our home. We finished our prayer and we began to cry. Pastor Brady said ( he knew my thoughts on rain) Dana, open your eyes to all the signs David is showing you.... And then it thundered! We all laughed, David would totally scare the day lights out of me with this.  We sat in the rain and embraced it. It rained for 3 hours. Lighting, thunder, hail. Every funny story we shared about David, another thunder. It was BEAUTIFUL. And just when I thought it was done..... a neighbor called and asked if she could bring me some food.... I was starving and said sure. At this point it was after 8. She showed up and I realized she never really asked what I wanted, but I didn't care, I could have ate a cow at that point. When she walked in, what do you know she was carrying Pei Wei. She had no idea and that is when I knew, David and God sent me more signs then I could have ever imagined. I also believe Wren was right there with David watching over every detail. It is opening your eyes to the little amazing things in life that God does for you to see the big picture, the finale.... God had is finale planned. I didn't need to create it, it was created before I David and I existed. David left with peace and love and let me know, just like I had asked, that he is OK and that he will love me forever and always...... and we will see each other again........................

Tonight I tell my kids. And I ask for prayers of strength. As it is now me and them. Our new Team Hurst. Little things like Donuts with Daddy this coming week and ski adventures will be hard. And that is when I feel the weakest, pray for strength that I can honor David daily and be the parent he was to them and love them and show them, just like their daddy did, how to live. That we together as a family, will live carrying David with us each day. 

The Memorial Service will be held Saturday, November 2nd 10 a.m.  First Baptist Woodway Church, Waco, TX. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The days are getting longer as David is completely confined to the bed, he opens his eyes a total of maybe 5 minutes a day and his words become more and more mumbled each day. I am amazed and sit here in gracious tears at the individuals that have come by to sit with him. Some with faith, some without, which makes it even more beautiful of a scene. They sit by David's side and pray for their brother, read scripture and talk. Talk, getting no response, but they know David can hear them. They tell stories of adventures with David. Stories of the impact he has had on their lives.  I know how hard it is for those that come, to see your dying friend. I am in awe of their love they have for David and their gracious ways of saying goodbye as they hold his hand.  Our kids have seen these visitors and have seen people come in peace and leave in peace praising the amazing daddy they have. Peace. Peace. Peace. David is still in peace. As he sits their sleeping most of the day, many are amazed that he is not on any pain medicine. None.  Leave it to David we all say:))) Hospice continues to ask me if I notice him experiencing any pain?  My answer always...none. His always....none. It confirms how strong and healthy his whole body beyond the brain is. 

David celebrated 43 yesterday. We told him it was his birthday. His response.. get out of town:) He also thought he was 24:) We didn't make a big celebration of it. As we know his understanding of it was minimal. He amazes us all as we start to feel he is fading, his vitals become more positive. He may not move all day, but at night when I crawl into bed, it does not fail, he reaches over to grab my hand. Our wonderful friends just had a baby a week ago. After some health scares the father and good friend of David's,  Lance, was able to visit. It was an emotional evening as I knew the friendship David and Lance shared. And I knew that David would be right by Lance's side through his journey if he could. When Lance showed up, I told him that David had said few words all day. When Lance sat down, he told David about his baby. He told David that sweet Rebecca was born with Downs. The first thing David asked, How is her heart? Amazing. A man that has spoken so few words that make much of no sense....knew his friend. Being a physician, he also knew that with Downs their can be heart problems, which their was. God gave Lance and David that moment back. That moment for David to be their for Lance to hear about his new baby girl. To acknowledge him and know he welcomed sweet Rebecca.

In just a few weeks David and I celebrate 10 years of marriage. Crazy to think. Ten years. Looking at pictures I am amazed at the years we have spent together. I wish I could say ever minute was like heaven:) But, I would be shocked of many marriages that say every minute was like heaven:) But, I will say. We never gave up. Difficult times or arguments, we never gave up. We figured it out... we worked it out. And when I may not have thought the work paid off, then came Cancer. And I realized we were stronger then I ever knew we were.  We had a basis to get through anything. We had our faith and each other. We knew that we could get through it, but we had to do it together. We also knew we had to live. The word living has become a staple in our home. We explained to our kids what living is. How between beginning and end, we live. I can say with the most confidence, David never stopped living. Which is why my heart breaks now. He is not living now. I don't know how much he even knows about what is going on. And I know his heart would not want to be dying this way. So, I struggle. I have tears. I have hard days. But, then I get in bed, and he grabs my hand one more night. And I am reminded...peace and living. To not think about tomorrow or the next week. But, to savor that moment. 

Last night our friend Lance brought up an amazing point. How often do we sit there and pray to God as our 911. God, why haven't you healed David? God why are you having him die like this? God, why are my kids seeing this? Why is my sweet 3 year old praying to God for his daddy to not go to heaven? Why does my 5 year old have to explain the amazing heaven as my heart hurts? All of this...I admit I do. But, do we ever stop and praise God for the miracles he is performing right in front of our eyes? It took me some time to think of this. 

Parker and I were driving today. As we drove I told him daddy would be dying soon.  He said when? Today or tomorrow? I told him I don't know. But, if he remembers what we do when daddy goes to heaven. Parker's response, we feel him in our hearts. Just like we feel God in our heart. I love the heart of a 3 year old. But, then he asked. How do you feel God in your heart mommy. We were in the middle of the road. I pulled us over. I rolled down the windows and said..." shhhh this is how, " we sat there for maybe 3 minutes. Me silent with tears praying. Parker staring out the window.... never felt God more...sometimes it just takes stopping and remembering the little miracles and feeling the fresh air and all that is mighty all around you. My prayer.......

Dear God, I thank you for the amazing people that you have put in our lives. The people all over that have carried us through. Their love, their support of our story.  You have grown our hearts together.  Connecting me with so many new and old. When I feel weak, the doorbell rings and it is joy. It is another person you have put at my doorstep to remind me, you have not left my side. When I want to cry, the doorbell rings and a sweet gift shows up to remind me we are not alone. When I want to crawl in bed and feel so alone, you give my husband the strength to know I am there and to do what he has done each night for ten years...reach over and grab my hand to let me is ok. We will be ok.....savor this moment. Lord, I pray I will stop trying to understand all of this but instead enjoy these moments and time I have with a husband. A husband you placed in my life who continues to be brave, peaceful, faithful and still loving.

Coming together is the beginning 

Keeping together is the progress 

                                                           Working together is the success 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

We have celebrated, we have loved, now we must have peace

It has been one week since our last post and it is amazing the celebration and sorrow we experience together on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to celebrate my 33rd birthday with a house full of amazing visitors and flowers and a special gift from David, that he planned weeks before. I was also able to smile as my phone beeped with notifications of Pi Phi's and friends across the country posting green in support. The best birthday gift.  Celebration continued last night with friends from Ohio carrying the TEAM HURST name with love and support at the Varsity Club in Columbus, Ohio.  Friends, old and new gathered to show support for our family. I called my dad first thing in the a.m. begging him to let everyone know how thankful we were and the joy they were giving us in our hearts. It still amazes me the amount of love out there and I am often speechless. My heart feels such an overwhelming amount of gratitude. I cannot tell you how often I pray, please Lord let each of them know how thankful our family is. I am about 550 thank you cards behind and wish I could hug all 3,500 plus followers. David is at the point where cognitively he can not show his thanks but with a meaningful heartfelt smile he does when I show him pictures. And I hope you each hold that close to your hearts.

I think about the Team Hurst name and how it even got started? I think about the very first day this all began 2 years ago on August 5th. I remember our hesitation with a blog. David and I laughed as we posted each blog and my grammar errors all over the place:) We laughed at how you could always tell the difference in each blog, David's were more medical based and mine all sappy and emotional. But, we both always had faith and their was that common factor in both. It has proven to be what strengthened us each day. I remember a friend calling and asking us David's favorite color. With no thought at all, we said green. Ever since then our life has been nothing but green:))) 

Last night, David's parents and I sat in tears as we received updates about the Columbus, Ohio party. It was so joyful and amazing to see. We sat their re mincing about David and the stories people have sent us about how he was as a physician. We have received everything from, David walking into a room with tears telling a little girl her body was filled with Cancer to a patient who said his smile just brightened their day.

Lately we have felt like we are just waiting. Sitting here quietly in this house...waiting. Waiting for David to go be with the Lord. As David has been confined to the bed, not eaten in the last 24 hours and cognitively declining, he still remains the MOST peaceful individual. Literally, sits their quietly in peace. I have let David know that, Audrey, Parker and I will be OK, ( suggested by hospice). But, then yesterday, one of our pastors mentioned bringing communion over since David and I have not been to church in awhile. As I sat there the next hour thinking about it, I thought about how we have all come together as a community through this whole journey. We have been hopeful, joyful, celebrated, but we have not let David go. And while as a close family we have, we are not in this alone. You all are apart of every step of this. I have asked at 4 p.m. for men of our church and close men friends of David's to come over and pray over David. To represent you all and this community of followers. They will pray, they will do communion and let the Lord know as a community we are sending him off to be with his maker. Yes, we will grieve, we will mourn, but ask that David can die peacefully and with dignity. I know many cannot be here and I ask you all to pray in your own homes at 4 p.m. for David. To pray that this will all be peaceful. This is the day we prepare for our whole lives. This is the day that David has prepared for especially this past two years. 

I don't know what the Lord is waiting for and I may never know. I don't know the purpose in the wait and I may never know that either, but what I do know is with my faith I can gain peace and strength. Each a.m. I ask David, are you happy? Yes he says. I say are you in pain? He says no? I ask him about heaven? He says beautiful. He says God will reach his arms out to him very soon. David is at peace, no doubt about it. But, now it is time for the rest of us to have that same peace. Please pray with myself and others at 4 p.m. today and come together as that same TEAM we have been since day one and send David with peace in our hearts, the same peace he feels in his. 

" Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. " John 14:27 

David's smile last night. With love, 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bumpy day

We had quite a scare with David last night. At about 4 a.m. he fell when getting up to go to the bathroom. When I turned on the lights, I noticed the whole left side of his face and lips completely swollen and blown up. He was unrecognizable. My mom was in town and I immediately called hospice for help as we did not know if the swelling was from infection ( that we had been watching for days) or the fall? 

Once David got the appropriate medication this a.m. to lower the swelling and treat infection we started to notice huge signs of improvement. THANK GOD.  Being the evening now, I still continue to watch it go down hour by hour. I am so thankful as my main worry and fear has been him experiencing pain. At the same time, I do not want him sedated enough that he can not appreciate the joy of visitors and love ones that come to spend time with him through out the day. And last night it seemed there may be no option but to pump him with pain medication. Thankful to our local oncologist and hospice who worked with me to find the source of the problem and treat David so he could be interactive and comfortable and improve greatly. Because this was what the old David would want. This is the man that didn't take one pain pill after any of his brain surgeries:) But, instead welcomed a room of friends to the ICU only hours after. 

We did pursue the private aid last Wednesday that we wrote about but it was not a successful match unfortunately. God once again provided when I felt another dead end. As many of you know, my good friend Wren Horn passed away one year ago. She also had cancer. She was diagnosed when she was pregnant with her third child. Many friends and I came together searching for a nanny for Wren's children when she was diagnosed. We felt this was needed so Wren could focus on healing. This was when we met Luz. Luz became more then a nanny. She was a companion for Wren, taking care of her and the children . She was an angel to us all. Well, now I have the overwhelming blessing of Luz being a part of our life. In just a week, our lives have changed with her help. I can focus on being a wife. I can be a mother. And I can be a friend to the visitors we have. Luz, watches out for not just David, but my kids and me, making sure that all is running smoothly. I think I tell her at least 10 times a day, how much I love her and am thankful for her. David warmed up to Luz right away and knew she was someone he cared about. 

I am thanking you all for your prayers, and ask that you pray hard for peace and comfort for David at this time.  Seeing him in pain last night was the hardest thing I have had to go through. But, not just me, I know he was feeling it in his heart too. I have not seen that pain in his eyes once and last night I did. But, will say once it all got managed, he continued to tell us he felt great and was still happy:) Many who have spent time with David the past two weeks can attest to this happiness. All leave our home amazed at a man that may struggle with sentences, but when it comes to his faith and love for his family and friends he talks perfectly and clearly. 

Knowing that David was going to look quite different with the swelling I made a decision to take both Audrey and Parker to therapy today. The therapist and I spent ten minutes explaining how daddy fell and may not look the same. The kids handled it so well. Because of their ability to handle this we moved the conversation a little further discussing what happens if Daddy dies. This was Parker's first time attending and we were amazed with that little mind of his. He was the first one to let us know that Daddy would be with God. But, that Parker was going to get a rocket ship that went farther then any rocket ship so he could see daddy in heaven. Because a boat just wouldnt do it. To say hard, is an understatement, but we explained how when Daddy is in heaven you can't touch him anymore. Parker told us this makes him sad. We confirmed us to! We asked them for ways they can feel Daddy if they can't touch him and I was amazed at their little minds. They both ranted off a list of ways....sleeping in daddy's spot in the bed, sitting in the couch that he always sits in, praying  to God, smelling his shirts..... amazing. I have a lot too learn from these munchkins and love their hearts. 

Today was the first day I got out of the car and picked Audrey up in front of school. Audrey was super excited and so were all these little kindergartners who started to surround me. They presented me with this green blanket and all of them , Including Audrey, were so excited to tell me how hard they worked tying the knots and making this for Audrey's daddy. One kid said if anyone needs a hug this blanket will do it ;) it also came with ties that were undone for others to take part in the love when they see David. 

Trying today to focus on the love from you all that we are so thankful for. You all remind me daily that the lord has not let go of me. Thank you for that constant peace .

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The day I dreaded.........

We are here. The day I most dreaded. The day you decide that it is time to do Hospice. Not because I don't believe in Hospice. I believe in all they stand for and the organization they are. I even hope one day I can be a volunteer helping other families using Hospice as I saw them bring so much joy to my sweet friend Wren who passed away just a year ago. But, it is that last final step that you sit there and think where is there to go after this???? 

On Sunday, after lots of conversations with our oncologist and David's family and friends it was  suggested to me that I consider getting Hospice set up sooner then later. It was also suggested that when starting the private caregiver that I look for something more full time. 
( we had an incident where David fell this past weekend) As I have mentioned many times before, David and I discussed his value of quality over quantity. But, we never really discussed how I would handle it. I sat in prayer, thinking how in the world am I going to make this decision? I also prayed about how I was going to express this to David? We had already made the decision to not continue care at MD Anderson, as there was no other suggested treatment plan they had in place then what we where currently doing. That phone call was so hard and they agreed with our decision and they had some heart felt tears as they encouraged us on. So, after lots of prayers and taking a chance, I asked David what he thought. God once again provided. He provided a cognitive, put together David for a few minutes. Just the right amount of time needed.  

Dana: David, do you want to do Avastin on Tuesday?

David: Sure, why not

Dana: Do you then think it is a good idea to get a private caregiver and also have hospice come in?

David: Yes. I think we need to move forward with that. 

Dana: Are you happy?

David: ( Tears) Yes I am

Dana: Are you scared?

David: No, I am not. I hope I have touched lives like all the people that have touched mine

Dana: You have David. And you have so many friends, don't you?:)

David: Yes, I do. They keep stopping over and saying hi:) ( comedy setting in) 

Dana: Do you think you are getting better David?

David: No, I am not and I know that. I wish I could show you how much I love you and the kids though

Dana: ( Now crying) you do, you have no idea but you do

David: This is unfamiliar?

Dana: What is?

David: you crying you don't ever cry ( he knows me too well) 

Dana: I know, but I am just so proud of you and I think this is a time that I get that pass for crying:)

And then the conversation kind of went wayside. His parents witnessed this whole conversation and how we ACTUALLY had a conversation with David. It was God given time and I will be forever grateful that this decision has been lifted off my shoulders. We continued to tell him, and he agreed, this does not mean we are throwing in the towel. Instead it means we want to enjoy life and to have the quality he wants. And with the help of the individual caregivers we can be mommy and daddy, wife and husband.

So now, we are on today. That day I feared for two years. We did the Avastin ( chemo ) treatment this a.m. and got set up this afternoon with hospice and Visiting Angels. David was so so receptive with Visiting Angels! And tomorrow we meet with Hospice in the a.m. 
Also, tomorrow a.m. Visiting Angels will start, Sheryl will be David's caregiver every a.m. , so I can go take kids to school, run errands and try to have some normalcy. And Hugo will come in the evenings. This help will be to offer support if David needs it. Hospice will help with all medical needs and also offer so many other amazing faith driven services. I am excited to get out of this rut and focus on Quality now. Because, I know this is what David has wanted this whole time.

Some friends started an account for anyone wanting to contribute to help with the caregiver costs. This all started because my friends have received an overwhelming response from individuals wanting to contribute in anyway. It took my friends a lot to encourage me to agree to this. As David has made preparations well in advance to always make sure we were taken care of. I sat last night, asking God why I felt this way, all this anxiety, I was reminded, ( God has a funny way of doing this:)  First, doubt and anxiety is not from God that is from Satan. I was also reminded, this isn't about me or David, all of this is to glorify God and about him. This whole journey we have professed our faith. And that continues. I believe with all my heart that the good you all are spreading is simply for us and others to continue to see God in our life and others. I wish you all knew how much God is in each of you and how you are allowing him to use you, it is amazing and inspiring. God is providing when I don't even think I need it. Even writing  now, saying we don't need it, I am reminded of a conversation David and I had two years ago ( again, God doing his friendly reminders). It was very hard for David to accept the help and support at first. Someone sat David and I down and said, turning away the support of others, is like turning away God's love. You are saying, " thanks God, but I think I am OK, go do good in someone else's life " this took David and I awhile to process. So, instead we in turn decided to thank God for the support and spread it and continue to spread it. 

The money you all have raised was overwhelming and there is not enough words to show our overwhelming gratitude. The account is set up, accessed by and managed by friends, not by me. I believe whatever the amount raised is sufficient to whatever the purpose. There is enough raised to help with the private nurse costs and provide that flexability for me to not have to worry about managing hours. This Team Hurst account will also bring good and awareness to GBM's. I keep thinking of the darkness and dullness of the waiting area of the brain and spinal cancer area at MD Anderson. I think it could use some green and some Team Hurst surrounding it:) Or the research that needs to be done for Gliobastomas. Or the children that could grow from the knowledge of this Cancer and how it can change their mommy and daddy. All in all, I promise, there will be good and we will spread it. God bless all of you amazing people. Know how much we love you, know how much we pray that you will be blessed. Because we see what you do in other's lives and we want all that good in yours.

1 Corinthians 13:13 " And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and LOVE. But the greatest of these is love. "

With love, 

The Hurst Family