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Dear Niece

Dear Niece,

I know you are a cozy womb dweller right now, but I’m very anxious to meet you and have you join us out here on what we like to call earth. Don’t worry, that’s just one of the many things that I will teach you.

Before you join us, I thought I should share with you some tips that I have learned from being a Prendergast for the last twenty-nine years.  You are about to enter quite the family. There are quirks left and right that you will encounter. Some of them you will love, some of them will annoy the piss out of you.  (Example #1: we say ‘piss’ a lot. Thank your grandfather for that one).  But one thing will always remain, you will be loved unconditionally.

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-       Your Dad is a born and bred teacher. He will create teachable moments, revel in them when they are happening, and then be proud of them after the fact. At times he may need some affirmation for the wealth of knowledge you are taking in. Or…you could affirm him by showcasing proper form during your first set of squats.

-       Your mom is really good at fixing things. Trust her. She is wise and will put you first no matter what. You don’t have to ever doubt that.

-       If you are going somewhere with your parents and a bonus Prendergast (Read: Linda or Kia) you will probably be late wherever your going. Just get used to it.

-       At times your going to know better than you’re parents- but never stop listening to them. And unfortunately for you, those times you know better are not going to be as often as you think.

-       When you have exercise questions, ask your dad. When you have to build something, ask your mom. Any and all research go to Grandma.

-       It’s ok to make mistakes and sometimes do stupid stuff. Its important and will make you who you are. Just remember you are never to old to say I’m sorry.

-       In a few years you will be asked what your favorite animals are…don’t worry, for this question, you don’t have to think…you already know; Lions, Tigers, and Wolverines.

-       When you look back at pictures of your parents while you were in your mommy’s tummy you may come across one of your Dad holding a tiny pink lions outfit. His face kind of looks upset, but don’t worry he’s not. He just getting used to the fact that for the rest of his life he’s going to be worrying about his little girl.

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-       You and I have something in common. We are both products of parents who pray. Don’t take that for granted. The Lords favor is a beautiful thing.

-       You have a lot of aunts that are really going to love you. I know that you will see many of your aunts more than me. At times that’s going to hard for me. But, it will be ok because the love that we have will be very special and just ours. (Watch out for that Mandiva though, she’s cray).

-       Moms are smart. They know things. Your mom is really smart. Take time to listen to what she says.

-       When you’re a grown up you may want to move away somewhere. That’s ok. Just remember home is where the hand is.

-       Never stop listening to Jesus’s voice. And during the times when you can’t hear him, you probably should change something and listen harder, cause he’s still talking.

-       I know right now you don’t have a brother…but someday you probably will. Its ok if your best friends with him from when he’s born til forever. Some people might make fun of you, but the jokes on them, because if your brother takes after your dad even a little bit, then your going to have someone in your corner for the rest of your life.  And that, little niece, is irreplaceable.

-       When you are in the process for looking for love, watch your parents and take notes. Choosing your future someone is an important job and they’ve done it right.

-       Never lose your sense of wonder. It’s all around you; sometimes you just have to fight to find it.

-       Grove Avenue is a special place. Theres magic there. Take time to appreciate it.

-       Your parents might want to do silly things with you like find the source of a spotlight or go deer watching. It may not seem like the most fun at the time, but cherish those moments, because, most likely, in 20 years, you will think back on those memories and smile.

-       Life is going to be tricky. It’s going to get messy. Just remember joy comes in the morning.

-       Your not going to meet your Grandpa on this earth. But don’t worry, you’ll still meet him because there’s a little bit of him in many people who love you. You’ll know your meeting him when you go fishing with me, appreciate mathematics, and when you hear your dad laugh really deeply; that’s your grandpa.

-       At the end of high school, even if the only thing that’s on the back of your varsity jacket is chess club; your parents are still going to be proud of you.

So tiny Prendi, I’m apologizing in advance for the warped sense of beauty and ego that I give you. What can I say; I’m sorry I’m not sorry that I know your perfect.

I can’t wait to meet you, it’s going to be the best.

Hugs & Smiles-

Aunt Kia

March 26th, 2009 is a day that makes me feel to the core of who I am. Dramatic spoiler alert: I feel like April 1st-March 25th are 359 days in the year where I’m balancing my feelings between not turning into a shell of a person and also not being incapacitated by emotions.  And then this week comes along.

Now that paragraph is entirely too dramatic. There are times that occur very frequently that I have feelings of sadness that my dad is not here. There are memories that surface, moments that he would enjoy, and places he belongs. But there is some truth to the above statement I made.

I think its ok to take a moment, sit back for a minute,  and realize that there are somethings that are just not right in this world. It’s not right that 300,000 children will be trafficked into sex trade. It’s not right that people are starving within one block from where I’m sitting right now. It’s not right that abuse happens to people I know. It’s not right that my Dad can’t brainstorm my business proposal with me. It’s not right that my niece won’t meet her grandpa.

Somethings in this world just aren’t right.

I’m still and always will be a mess of a human being. I will never understand the workings of this world, the workings of my life. But I’m slowly inching towards a place of not needing too. Well…as much.

The 25th year of my life was a quest for understanding. I read through easily 75-100 books all dealing with the concept of death and grief just to KNOW. I wanted and felt like I needed to know everything. It seemed to be the only way that I could survive would be through knowledge.

Anyone who spent a lot of time with me during that year knows that this knowledge did not bring me peace.

4 years later, I still appreciate knowledge. I would still call myself a girl on a quest for understanding. I am passionate about bringing glory through this tragedy, whatever that looks like.

But, maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to understand everything. One of the things I love about the gospels is that Jesus doesn’t give his disciples clear-cut plans. He instead speaks in riddles and hopes people catch on. He thrives in the mystery.

I think we are called to stand against the things that aren’t right. We are called to love passionately, to serve endlessly, and to stand in the gap for the ones who aren’t able to stand. We are called to not be ok with the state of our world. But we don’t always need to know why. Now let me change this to first person- for good writing and to convince myself- and say I can and hope to be a person who trusts that mystery.

I hope that I will be a girl, who, when something happens in this world that’s not right will stand up against it. But hopefully, I will also be the girl who will say “I don’t know, but I can pray. I don’t know. But I can love. I don’t know. But I can bring pie. “

Guest Post!

Hello Friends. I have been nonexistent from the blog world because, I guess, it just hasn’t been on the priority list. I still feel called to writing. I still enjoy it. I still have ambitions of writing a book this year that I have been consistently working on. But blogging, I guess other things ranked out.  

Even with that apparently google has my name on search and a new writing friend approached me about how he appreciated what was written during my 6 weeks of cancer cray and wanted to share, in as many outlets as possible, his story. Meet Cameron Von St. James

 

My Experience as a Cancer Caregiver

November 21, 2005, is a date that will never leave my mind. On this day, my wife Heather received the diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare and deadly type of cancer. It was also on this day that I became her caregiver, and I can’t say I was well-prepared to take on this position. Just three months earlier, our daughter and only child, Lily, came into the world, and we thought we would now be celebrating our first holiday season with our little one.  Life had other plans, though, and we shifted our focus to beating cancer.

Being a caregiver is not something that happened over time; it was a job that I started immediately. Our doctor explained the treatment options to us, and the best one was to go see Dr. Sugarbaker, a doctor who specializes in mesothelioma, in Boston. Upon hearing the choices, I could see that Heather was frozen with fear, and her eyes pleaded for help. I made the decision to go to Boston. While the fear would takeover from time to time, I would quickly fight through it, and I never let Heather see these moments of weakness. I simply had to be strong for her.

So many people gathered around us to show their support, whether it was in the form of kind words or financial help. We will never be able to completely thank all of those wonderful people. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to a caregiver is that you should always take help if someone offers it. These people care about you, and they are there to help you. I had to learn the hard way that there is no room for pride in a cancer battle.  Even the smallest offer of help can be a weight off your shoulders, and at the very least will remind you that you are not alone in the fight.

No doubt exists that being a caregiver for a person with cancer is tough, and it’s certainly going to be the most difficult endeavor in your life. Do not allow negative emotions to takeover, but do allow yourself some bad days.  This is inevitable and even necessary. The important thing is to always, always hold on to hope, and give the fight everything that you have.

After going through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, my wife is now cancer free today.  She beat the odds and despite the troubling prognosis for mesothelioma, she was able to completely beat this terrible disease. It took years, but we eventually returned to a normal routine.

This situation taught me a lot about myself, too. I now know how precious life really is and how my stubbornness can be an advantage. Two years after Heather’s diagnosis, I returned to school full-time to study Information Technology and fulfill my dream of getting my college degree.

Learning to manage time and stress really prepared me to return to school. In fact, I graduated with high honors and was the student speaker at my graduation. My speech was about Heather’s diagnosis. I told my fellow graduates that I never would have imagined, just a few years before, that this is where I would be.  I told them that within each of us is the strength to accomplish impossible things, as long as we never give up hope, and always keep fighting.  Heather and Lily were in the audience to cheer me on, and that was the greatest reward of all.

2012 in Review.

January. Lost a great man. Lived in a grief house.  

Jan

Febuary. Grief home. Confusion, pain, and faithful friends.

Feb

March. Hung in the mountains. Learned about relationships.

march

April. Left the Prenski porch, BBQ club’s first establishment. Moved to the Prenski palace, where wine has been consumed, bonfires have been made, and a home has been created.

April

May. Warm weather, trips to Michigan, and hopeful for a shift in the year.

may

June. Learned about rejection and the art of perfectly grilled chicken.

june

July. Became an aunt for the first time. Told there was a 95% chance I would not meet this tiny human on this earth. Prayed for the 5%. Experienced sorrow.

july

August. Time showed up and reminded me I graduated high school 10 years ago. Time also granted me the ability to officially rent space and work as Prendergast Pediatrics a few days a week.

August

September. Started hanging out alot more with a certain fella. Upped my Detroit sports knowledge.

sept

October. Was told there was a 5% chance I was a 28 year old with cancer. Prayed for the 95%. Experienced confusion.

october

November. Lost a thyroid, gained some perspective.

nov

December. Cancer Free. Hope recovered.

Dec

2012 has been a whirlwind. So many emotions have been encapsulated in this year. I have been trying to figure out what my goals and hopes are for 2013 and all I can come around too is I’m praying for a trauma free year. I’m ready to hold onto the wisdom from the experiences of the last year and grow stronger, looking to each day for opportunity.

CHEERS

Be Sick. Be Loved.

Day 37 of being told I have to say goodbye to my thyroid.

Day 8 of living without a thyroid.

Recovery has been an interesting process.  Over the past week I have sat and laid more then I thought was humanly possible. Codeine and I have been besties, as has my laptop, DVR, and any face that walks through my door and is open to sitting on the recovery couch with me.

I thought it was about that time to share some of my lessons learned from this ADD couch-rester: And yes this is a glimpse into my brain on narcotics.

  • I don’t care what judgy mc judgersons are going to say, but getting a spray tan one day before a five hour surgery on my neck was one of my idea’s that I’m going to put into the brilliant file. Lately, I have been rocking what some people may call the hot ‘frail/pale’ look. And I cannot even tell you how many people told me how good I looked while I was all doped up and had a giant scar across my neck. Its hard to make a hospital gown look good, but don’t you worry- getting a spray tan may do just that.
  • You can’t underestimate the deliciousness of a meal when you go without for a while. Of course the umbrella point of this bullet goes to our world hunger crisis, but, I had a moment in my hospital bed after not eating anything for 12 hours and then given a magical banana pudding where I honestly thought I landed in heaven for a quick snack. I don’t know if I’ve ever tasted anything more delicious then hospital café banana pudding. I would compare it to any top chef delicacy, and I don’t know if that magic can ever be repeated again. But for right now, that banana pudding has a soft spot in my heart.
  • Thanksgiving does not have to involve turkey. Thanks to a great friend my Thanksgiving plate was covered with things appropriate for 1 year old to eat. Small bites and soft was my plan of action. And let me tell you, this food was legit.
  • Use caution while shopping on codeine. Black Friday shopping has been a running tradition in my life. I started as a small child waiting in a line that wraps around target at 4am with excitement that could be compared to buddy the ELF getting ready for Christmas. Over the past few years we’ve converted to online amazon-ing in the early AM hours of black Friday and I was fairly confident this year would not look much different. Enter narcotics. I have looked over my purchases and honestly I can’t say I’m not excited about the 5 scarves that I purchased along with a laptop bag that has a map of Canada on it. Amongst other gifts of course.
  • I still need my mom. As a 28 year old living in a different state then my family for the past 5 years, I feel like I have grown accustomed to doing quite a bit on my own. My family is of course on speed dial, but I don’t necessarily reach out to my mom to take care of me that often. This past week I needed my mom. She gracefully came in and dealt with her crabby, in pain daughter with a smile on her face. She slept on a bench in a hospital room and learned the difference between bravo millionaire matchmaker and fox news. I’m so grateful for the mom I’ve been given.
  • When your sick, people want to love you. It’s a simple cause and effect, being sick gives reason to be loved. And I’ve felt that love. Through laughter, prayers, text messages, phone calls, balloons, cards, presence, food, food, and more food. It’s been humbling and beautiful. And it’s taught me a few things on the spiritual front. We all come broken, sick, in need of restoration and being well. And you don’t have to be well to be loved. You can be sick, you can be broken and you can know confidently that you will be loved.

That pretty much sums it up.

Hashtag Superfoods

About three and ½ years ago I had this epiphany that I was not in control of the universe. Something greater, and very much out of my control was in charge and had a big plan for my life. A plan that I could never foresee or imagine.

And so, through pain & trauma, moments of joy & moments of sorrow , I’ve slowly begun to think through what it means when life doesn’t work out how I expect it to, or even want it to.  And I’ve come to the conclusion ‘Thank God’.

About 8 weeks ago I had some very mild symptoms that were popping up here and there with fatigue and my appetite so I scheduled an appointment with a nutritionist. She was great and reassured me that I wasn’t crazy, told me my diet of coffee and cliff bar’s needed to be altered a bit, and recommended a quick visit with my doctor since I hadn’t been in a amount of time that I feel embarrassed putting on the internet.

One appointment, two ultrasounds, and a giant needle biopsy in the neck later proved the fact that I had four growths on my thyroid and I was in the 5% that the reason those growths were there were because of cancer.

What the piss.

I’m a frickin healthy, in shape, twenty eight year old. And I have cancer.

It just so happened that I found this out as I was driving to Michigan to put on our families benefit. #faceslap.

Are you kidding me Jesus? We are about to put on a memorial benefit for my Dad and my family now has to also hold onto the news that Michaja has cancer.

I had already googled this foreign idea of thyroid cancer since I knew there was a slim chance that it could be in my body. So I received this news knowing it was extremely curable, caught early, and would be something I could attack quickly and live with. But still…cancer. COME ON!

The word slowly began spreading around my diagnosis and the onslaught of love from people I know and don’t even know quickly began.

Would I choose to have this surgery on Wednesday, wake up in a hospital on thanksgiving, be on medication the rest of my life. Absolutely not. But thank God I am not in control. Because I know that this story that I’m on is not about me. I’m trusting that what I’ve been given is much better then what I could ask for. And letting Jesus guide me to these new places, no matter how scary they are.

So, I’m currently living with Cancer, being utterly humbled by the people around me, and trusting that when I wake up on the 21st, I will be cancer free.

It’s been quite the two months and a few hard and hilarious moments have happened.

-       Person #1- Do you Juice?

-       Person #2 – I head Garlic is the new superfood.

-       Person #3- Have you ever Juiced?

-       Person # 4- I’ve heard Juicing cures cancer?

-       Person #5- Superfoods

-       Person # 6- Have you juiced with superfoods?

-       Person # 7- I’m flying in from California to make sure you buy the frickin juicer everyone is talking about. #greatfriend

1st night sweat- aka Kia becoming David at the Dentist. “What is happening? Is this real life? Why are my clothes all wet? Why is this happening? What is going on?”

Out on a wonderful date enjoying beers, great conversation, and dashing good looks, but felt a little funny so went to the bathroom really quickly, found out I had to spit up just a tiny bit of blood into the sink at the same time that someone just happened to be next to me washing her hands. #embarrassed. #yuck. #getthiscanceroutofme.

Falling asleep at the movies- everyone does that. Falling asleep at a Broadway show- not a big deal when you’ve worked all day. Falling asleep sitting outside on a chair at a bonfire while people are talking to you- problem.

Needless to say it’s been a whirlwind. I’m learning things left and right about trust, faith, and letting people take care of me.  But I also am learning that the story I’m living is bigger then me and even though it may not be what I’m expecting, good things will happen, glory will be revealed and I get to be part of that. And for that I’m thankful.

So here’s to beautiful scarves, discovering new TV shows and movies, and of course juicing.

 

Sneak Peak Sunday

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Every Sunday I will attempt to share an excerpt from my work in progress which will hopefully be a book someday…”You Can Hope”. 

My heart goes out to the many families currently going through a similar scenario that is described in this post in Aurora, CO. ‘The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.’ Psalm 34:18

April, 2009

The death that your never expecting.

Yes, as a Christian we live in light of eternity. We live as though this world is not our home. We live expectant of the day we will meet our maker…but we also live in a way that is constantly taking care of our self and our family. Constantly involved in every aspect of your present living situation. When a man who is present in everything in his families life is now gone a lot of details have to be dealt with.

Me. I’m dealing with the details. The girl who doesn’t realize that a lit Christmas tree in replace of a chair is now in our front living room. A redone kitchen in my workplace after I was on vacation for a week seems the same to me. Forget about friends who have new hairstyles. I am taking a month off work and supporting the details.

Greg drove back to school to finish up his midterms. My friends are now beginning to take up residence in their own home vs. ours. My moms friends are starting to go back to work vs. take up the full time job that had been taking care of the Prendergasts family. For the next 5 days, its me and my Mom. 

 Do you know how much work goes into changing a name on a cell phone plan after the name on the plan is now deceased? How many places need a copy of the death certificate to prove that this man on the bill is supposedly dead. How many conversations you need to have about your now dead father. How many I’m sorrys  I have to hear from strangers.

And the money situation. Forget about it. Decision after decision. Finding passwords to get into so many online statements. My financial wiz of a father thought it was wise to have money in 6 different bank accounts. I agree with his wisdom, but now what do we do, how do we find it all? 

I am the brain that is now in charge of these details. I can’t do this.

I can’t handle my Mom asking me again about a password. I  haven’t lived at home for seven years, I don’t know any passwords! All I know is I want to sleep.

How can I be mad at my mom right now. The woman who lost her husband 10 days ago. Just the thought disgusts me. I am feeling anger towards the woman who lost her love. My parents had it together. They loved with intensity. With passion. She lost her love. And I’m angry at her. Please, make it stop. 

How do I fix this? I have control over nothing. The world I live in is chaos. Is this really real? Is my dad really dead?

Another bank meeting. Another stock holders gathering. Sell. Buy. Sell. I don’t know what to do. And I don’t care. I don’t care if this was up 50 points and this one has been down for awhile and this one was bought on March 26th. Wait. March 26th. My dad bought stock on the day he died? Are you kidding me. Of course we keep that stock. Why would you think to sell? My phones ringing again. Comcast never received the death certificate, ok, no prob, I’ll fax it to them again. Wait, whats the number? I have to call my dad he would know.

Pause.

Call my dad he would know.

Call my dad to find out the number of where to fax his death certificate.

What the hell am I going to do?

I need a coffee. So what if that’s the only thing that has gone in my body since the meatlove Ashley made 3 days ago. I need a coffee. I’m in Imlay City. The only decent coffee in this place is at my house- the house of emotion- or Mcdonalds. I’ll choose McDonalds. A break from the house of emotion is necessary. Drive through line is too long. Instant gratification here we go- I’ll head inside. Maybe some human interaction would be good when I don’t have to talk about my dad.

I should get my mom a coffee too.

“2 large coffee’s please” – hand the woman my debit card.

“Prendergast? Wait are you related to that teacher?”

“Yeah, that’s my dad”

“Oh sweetie I’m sorry, I heard about the accident. Your dad was a great man. He was my nephew and nieces math teacher.”

The tears are coming. I haven’t cried all day. Hold it in. I’m at McDonalds. This woman doesn’t know me. Just move on. Thank her. What a sweet lady. Maybe it is ok to shed a few tears, she seems like she gets it. Ok tears, you can come.

“Thank you, its been hard”

“ Oh yes, sweetie it is hard. I know what your going through. I lost my dog in a car accident.”

Did she really just say dog. What do I say. I mean I am sorry she lost her dog. Elmo knows all my pain right now. But wait…seriously did she just compare losing her dog to me losing the man who loved me more then anyone else ever will. I can’t even wait for these coffees, I need to go.

And uncut kia walked out the door. 

 

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