Thursday, September 21, 2017

Then There Was One...

Twenty-nine treatments. Twenty-nine zaps. Twenty-nine trips to The Dalles. Twenty-nine times the doctor has attempted to shrink the one thing that has dominated our days. Twenty-nine brave days. Twenty-nine late nights contemplating life. Twenty-nine times we have leaned hard on you. Twenty-nine times we have broken a small paper chain that represents so much to us.

Today is day thirty of radiation (THE LAST DAY!!!!). We are thankful, we are anxious and most importantly we are alive for another day.

I'll leave you with a Michael Franti lyric that seems relevant to our weather the last few days and the mood of the hour. Come on y'all!

"I believe that what you sing to the clouds,
will rain upon you when your sun has gone away.
And I believe that what you dream to the moon,
will manifest before you rest another day.
So stay strong, and sleep long, and when you need to
let the morning take you out onto today, hey hey.
And when you find you're at the end of the road,
Just lift your head up, spread your wings and fly away, come on y'all!"

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Laughter is the best medicine...

Jordan has been feeling better recently. Her platelets have returned to a normal level, her rash has gone away and her speech has improved some. The doctor even complimented her on being able to understand her more clearly last week. She is still off of her Chemo pills and will stay off for a few more weeks. Her energy levels still plummet though if the nap schedule is not adhered to and her hair is slowly falling out. Overall though the mood is still positive in the Hassell home.

Friday night Jordan surprised me for my birthday by taking me to see Jim Gaffigan. He is a comedian that finds the absurd in the everyday. A lighthearted guy that is just flat out likable. Jordan and I have been laughing at his stand-up bits since before we were married. He makes fun of himself in the best way, talks openly about his family and has ongoing material about hot pockets. What is not to love? Do yourself a favor and check him out on Netflix.

As we were settling in and getting ready for a night of laughter Jim Gaffigan opens up his set revealing that his wife recently had brain surgery to remove a large tumor. "Et, tu Gaffigan?" is all I could think. I mean we were here to escape our reality for a bit with some good clean comedy fun and BAM! The opening twenty minutes of the show was about a brain tumor. So for twenty solid minutes, we laughed harder than we have ever laughed about brain surgery, hospitals, tumors and doctors. He managed to take a topic that couldn't be any nearer to our lives and make it hilarious. It was an escape and a smack in the face all at the same time.
Ready for a little tumor comedy.
After the show we got Jordan tucked in on our friend's couch and I got to go to the airport to pick up our friends from GA. They planned an impromptu trip to come out and visit. It was great because we haven't seen these friends in years. We both have had children, changed careers and had all sorts of other life-changing nonsense happen since we last hung out. There is something magical about lifelong friends though. From the moment they stepped off the plane and we exchanged hugs it was like we picked up right where we left off. I sincerely hope that anyone reading this blog has at least one person like this in their lives. Jordan and I enjoyed reminiscing, laughing, catching up and just sharing life with these friends.

First stop in PDX was Voodoo Doughnut.
Don't worry I brought Jordan one back for breakfast.
Teaching our friend some Mucklehead.
If that wasn't awesome enough Jordan's childhood best friend and her mother are also currently here. So it is one big blast from the past this week! They are cooking up awesome meals (we had vegan tacos last night), helping with the kids, cleaning the house, laughing about the past and making up the beds like they do at the Holiday Inn Express. I'm talking no wrinkles, fluffed pillows and the sheet tucked in nice and tight. I'm getting spoiled.

We also continue to get yummy fresh fruit, food and treats from our local family. The other day I made a breakfast at the house entirely from local ingredients down to the fresh juice with a few blended up peaches in it. For the first time in our lives I'm thinking about buying a freezer just to store all the berries we have amassed this summer.

A truly local breakfast!
In other news, it finally rained here. A real rain. A take that wildfire rain/smoke rain. With the rain has come a few really cool days where all of a sudden I am aware of the fact that the sun is not hanging out as long as it normally does. I stepped out of my house this morning and took in a huge deep breath of cool, clean, wet and smoke-free air. It was glorious. A change of seasons is upon us here in Oregon. A new beauty awaits around the corner in the form of fall. I love being in a place where we seem to be so tightly connected to our weather.

Our kids doing the "no school dance" when they found out they had another day off of school because of the smoke.
Crazy smoke from the wildfires.
As fall creeps in so does the end of Jordan's radiation treatments. Thursday is her last appointment! We have been counting down the days here (the chain hanging on our wall is almost nonexistent) and realizing that we are approaching a new season in our own lives. I'm so glad to say goodbye to the season we are in. I'm thankful to be able to say that we survived today over and over again this summer. We have taken this season full of unexpected turns the only we know how. One day at a time.

A huge thank you to everyone that has shared the load of one of those days with us. We have survived this season because of all of the love and support from all of you. Thank you for walking with us as we enter our next season full of hope and free from fear.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Two Jumper Cables Walk Into a Bar...

Jordan has a great sense of humor and has always appreciated a good joke. I love jokes too. A good one liner, knock knock jokes, wordplay, irony. We love em all. Laughter has saved our marriage more times than I can count.

There is only one real problem when it comes to our love of jokes. I have a terrible memory. I've never been able to remember sequencing, setups or even a plot to a good joke. I used to be that guy at the awkward social adult gathering thing that would lead in with "Did you hear the one about...?" immediately launching into the punch line and ruining the joke. I eventually abandoned this laughterless path for pure observational humor and embellishment. Sometimes knowing your weaknesses are just as important as knowing your strengths in life.

There is hope in the Hassell family though. Our son Benton has the memory I've always wanted. He has an ever growing list of jokes tucked away somewhere in that giant brain of his. He is going to be that guy in your family that keeps pulling quarters out of everyone's ears and always has a topical joke. He is going to be a great uncle one day.

Today we had some friends and co-workers come over for the first installment of Jokes With Jordan. A small crowd gathered in the pleasant, shady, breezy and smokeless (for now) backyard. We all took turns sharing jokes. It was simple. It was playful. It was special.

Most of the jokes brought out at least a smile from the crowd. Some even genuinely made Jordan laugh. I already forgot those even though at the time I was trying terribly hard to remember. Fortunately, everyone wrote their jokes on a note card to leave behind with us. Our daughter Parker even helped deliver a joke with her teacher.

The brief time in the backyard was a nice break for us. It feels good to laugh and poke fun at things with those that you care about. Sometimes the scale of life is out of balance and it is amazing what a little humor can do to even things out.

We genuinely appreciate everyone out there (in our literal and figurative backyard) that has taken the time to laugh with us recently. Laughter has always been something that Jordan and I have loved. It has been great to see our relationships with others continuing to be filled with the thing we love so much.