Thursday, March 6, 2014

Love Always, Michelle

2011-12-013
After her last post, Michelle underwent a painful chemo regiment that she ended up having a bad reaction to.  Subsequent scans revealed that once again, in spite of treatment, the tumors on her lungs and liver had continued to grow.  The treatments had made her sick and she had not been able to make a follow-up post.  Then things took a terrible turn for the worst.  Before she passed away, she had asked for us to make a post on her behalf to explain her absence...

     It was just a couple of days before Thanksgiving.  Michelle's sister Klair and our niece Vicktoria had come to visit for the Thanksgiving holiday from North Carolina.  Thank you Barbie for helping to raise the money that made that trip possible [Michelle specifically asked for this to be included in the post].  Michelle was experiencing a bad headache and her pain medicine was not helping.  She began to loose her eyesight, became disorientated, fell down, and was conscious but unresponsive.  She had a seizure in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and second seizure after she arrived at the emergency room.  They performed a brain scan and discovered that the cancer had spread to her brain.  The tumor itself was golf ball size and the swelling around the tumor was extensive.

    They did not expect her to pull through, but she did!  The swelling was brought under control using a steroid and she started taking anti-seizure medication for good measure.  They encouraged us to take hospice, but Michelle was too courageous to go down without a fight.  Hospice was turned down so that she could continue to pursue active treatment.  She began taking radiation in order to shrink the tumor.  This left her weak and caused her to start loosing her hair again.

     About two weeks before Christmas, the swelling came back and we took another ambulance ride to the hospital.  They increased her steroid dose and performed another brain scan.  The tumor had responded to the radiation and shrunk by a couple of millimeters.  Again they pushed for her to accept hospice but, in spite of the edema and always a fighter, she chose to continue her radiation treatments while at the hospital.

     They increased steroid dose, got the swelling back under control, and Michelle recovered in time to come home for Christmas. Our oldest son Keegan had put the tree up for her and decorated it himself.  We had also rearranged the furniture in the living room to accommodate a hospital bed.

We had a good Christmas.


     At this point the high dose steroid regiment had began to take its toll on Michelle's body.  She was losing a lot of weight and she was having trouble eating and drinking.  We called home health for assistance and they sent a nurse to assess her.  It was the morning of January 8th and she appeared to be quite healthy and cognitive.  She told the nurse that she was concerned about her inability to consume sufficient nutrients and fluids and she requested an I.V. and a feeding tube.  He got the I.V. approved almost immediately and it arrived by courier later that evening.  The request for the feeding tube, as it would turn out, did not get approved in time.  

     Overnight her pain began to increase.  Home health and her oncologist pushed again for hospice.  Hospice offers top of the line pain management at the expense of having to discontinue all active treatments including ambulatory service.  Because we needed to get her pain levels under control, we agreed to meet with them.  They arrived at a little after 10am the morning of the 9th but by then it was clear that we were out of time.  As her MIL laid beside her and as I clung to her, she passed away at 10:40am before the consent papers had been signed.  In a way, she had refused hospice one last time.  She had fought to the bitter end and through it all; she never, even for a moment, gave up.











     My plan, at this point, is to make at least one more post.  Michelle had started and published plans for a kitchen makeover last year that was not completed.  It is my intention to complete that makeover and publish the result.  My goal is to have the project completed and published around this time next year.


61 comments:

  1. Justin, by some fluke I logged on and saw this post roll up, but now I know it wasn't a fluke at all. This is the most loving letter I have ever read, and I thank you for sharing it with us. What a great couple! And I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful I think it is that you are going to blog that kitchen makeover. I will be right here cheering you on! God bless you and your boys and your entire family. You really touched me deeply with that letter. I have been married and loved the same man for well over half my life, more like two thirds if you count the dating, and I am probably old enough to be your mother or maybe even your grandmother, but this made me feel like I was the student and you and Michelle the teachers. Thank you for sharing from your heart. I will be cheering you on from the sidelines!

    xo

    Mrs. Magpie (Sheila)

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  2. I have been watching each day for when the promised post would come, and it is wonderful. I think she would have loved what you have shared so generously. It's easy to see why she loved you. What a special family. What special people. So blessed by God, even through these horrid times. She has left such a void. You and your family have not been forgotten and will continue to be in my prayers. I do pray that God will fulfill every good thing she prayed for each of you. God bless you all, in Jesus sweet name! Warm hugs and my deepest sympathies to you.

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  3. Thank you so much for doing this post. I have prayed every day for Michelle up until the point I learned she passed and from then on I have been praying for you and the boys. What a fighter she was! Thank you for caring enough about her blog friends to let us all know what has happened and will happen. It is a tribute to her to do that kitchen. I hope she will be able to see it from heaven and is pleased. I wish you the best! I am so sorry for your loss, but so happy for you for the years you spent with her and what she brought to your life. Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts.

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  4. I have been waiting for this post. Thank you for taking the time to write it, it must have been hard. I have been following Michelle's blog for some time, loving her creations. Good luck with the kitchen, I'm sure it will be a labour of love. Katherine, England x

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  5. I am so sorry for your loss! I have followed this blog off and on over the last few years and have always enjoyed reading it when I visited. As an occasional blogger, I appreciate both you and your wife for always keeping it real even through all that you have been through. She was such a trooper, to continue sharing life with her blog friends during the hard times. It is so nice to see that she had such a loving husband and family by her side. May God continue to hold you all close! Thank you so much for the update!

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  6. Sweet Something designs with Michelle is special - thank you for sharing your love and tender thoughts. She will forever be in your hearts. Her love will live on in your family.

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  7. I how strange I checked yesterday to see if there was anything on Sweet Michelle's blog, and today your post rolled up. Wow, what a beautiful letter. It confirms what a terrific person Michelle was and how loving you are!

    I cried when I read your son had put the tree up. I always looked forward to Michelle's Christmas decorating, and I had wondered did she have a tree this year. I am so glad she did.

    I am truly sorry that she is gone. I have prayed for you and your boys.

    Thank you so much for posting this today.

    Mary
    From Virginia

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  8. Thank you for sharing. God bless you and your family.

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  9. God Bless you and your family and thank you so much for sharing Michelle with us.

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  10. Bless your heart. I loved reading her blog posts and was always so inspired by her creativity. My Mother passed away in November 2013 and my Dad made the decision to go with Hospice in July 2013. It was a difficult decision, but one we will never regret. The Hospice staff was out of this world kind, gracious, caring and so responsive to all of our needs. Thanks for sharing this heart-wrenching post. With God's blessings and mine.

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  11. Lovely. What a special women and a special family.

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  12. Thank you for this post, your family has been in my thoughts and prayers. I found Michelle's blog one day and became a follower. I enjoyed her humor and expertise and especially her creativity. I also shopped her booth at the rangeline mall never knowing who she was. Then one day, A Cozy House blog did a story on her and it all came together. We are neighbors who never met but yet knew so much about each other. She was a joy and a blessing and she is missed. God bless you and your family in His Precious Name.

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  13. what a beautiful heartfelt letter. thinking of you and your family, and looking forward to seeing you create michelle's dream kitchen. XO

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  14. What a touching tribute to your lovely wife. She will be missed by so many...

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  15. A beautiful tribute to such a beautiful soul! May Michelle be resting in peace with the Lord and no longer in any pain.

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  16. what an incredibly thoughtful, well written, and CLEAR note you shared with us. again, i am truly sorry for the loss you and your boys endure.

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  17. Thank you for sharing this post for Michelle. I enjoyed her blog and always admired her beautiful creations and have kept her in my prayers and when I learned of her passing I prayed for you and Justin and Keegan, and I will continue to keep you all in my prayers. I admire your plan to proceed with Michelle's kitchen renovation and I know she will guide you through it one step at a time from Heaven. I look forward to following along on your journey. May God bless you all!

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  18. I'm so sorry to hear the sad news about Michelle. I always looked forward to reading Michelle's blog posts - I'm glad I stumbled on her blog many months ago. I hope you're all doing as well as you can considering what you must be going through. Sending a big hug to you from the UK.

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  19. What a beautiful letter to your lovely Michelle. Thank you for sharing it with all of us....I am not surprised about her tenacity for holding on to life for her family through all her pain and discouraging reports. She was a fighter for sure and had such courage throughout her illness. She was an inspiration to so many of us who read her blog and she is missed. My prayers will continue for you and the boys as you pick up the pieces and make a life on this earth without her....I can't imagine your grief, but I know she is cheering you on from Heaven about and waiting for the day when she is reunited with you all. For now, she is appreciate the beauty of heaven and in the arms of Jesus, her Lord, free from any pain or stress. Your love for her is an inspiration to the rest of us...May the Lord hold you all in His hands as you go forward. Linda

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  20. What a beautiful letter Justin...I can feel the love in your heart while reading your words. It made me tear up but with warm feelings, with the warmth of the love you and Michelle undoubtedly had for one another. Love after all is the only this we take with us from this world to the next...Michelle feels your love I am sure everyday. I was sad to read about the difficult time she went through after her last blog entry. Cancer is ugly but her soul's beauty couldn't be extinguished by it. Sweet Michelle will always be remembered by this blogging community and what better way to honor her boundless creativity than by following through with her plan for a kitchen makeover and publishing one last blog entry. I very much look forward to seeing the pictures and reading your post. May God bless you Justin and keep you and your family in his loving arms.
    XO Barbara

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  21. I am so sorry to hear of Michelle's passing! Your letter is beautiful and it reminds us all what is truly important in this life. Thank you for sharing. Thank God she is no longer in pain. Desires of the Heart said it so well, about her cheering you on from Heaven and waiting for the day when she is reunited with you all. I pray that God comforts you through His grace and Michelle's spirit.

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  22. You all have been in my thoughts...thank you for posting this. What a wonderful family! Be assured that she is still monitoring your progress...she'll be looking for your projects !

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  23. Justin, Thank You.....for reminding us what it means to not only LOVE but to LIVE each moment.
    I have been anxiously awaiting this post, hoping to get another snippet of wisdom, clarity or simple touch of beauty from Michelle.........I can't truly grasp that she is no longer here to sprinkle the world with her beautiful images, BUT it is clear that the true beauty that she created will live on in you and the boys.

    I will continue to keep you in my prayers, and that you will find signs of her sprinkled throughout the next leg of your journey.
    Thank you for sharing your personal love letter......I am going to share that with my husband, I think we both could learn a lot about seeing the best in each other.
    God Bless You,
    Megan

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  24. What a beautiful tribute. Much love and good wishes for your family.

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  25. Thank you, Justin, for writing this post. I miss reading Michelle's blog everyday. She was such an amazing talent. I'm not surprised she fought to the end, because she didn't want to leave you, the boys, your mother and her sister. Thank you for sharing such a personal and heartfelt letter.
    You were so lucky to have found each other and I have not doubt you will complete her kitchen vision. Can't wait to see it. You and the boys are in my prayers.

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  26. I have been waiting for this post, so thank you. Michelle was special, and it's clear that she has left behind a very special husband and children as well. Thank you so much for sharing your love of Michelle with all of us. Your letter was heartwarming and has put life in perspective for many, I'm sure (including me!) So happy you'll be working on the kitchen. Best of luck with it all and know that many prayers are with you. Kathleen

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  27. I am so honored to have gotten to "know" Michelle through her blog. Her love of decorating and making things beautiful caught my attention but her strength, attitude and fighting spirit held my attention. I can only imagine the void left in your and the boy's lives. I know as a mother, my prayer was always to live long enough to raise my children and their is no doubt that Michelle fought so hard for her family. Your tribute to her is beautiful. I know you have many wonderful memories of this amazing lady. Can't wait to see her kitchen!

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  28. I knew Michelle from way back, as I've been blogging over 6 years. She had amazing talent. I wrote a post when she died, and it still comes up on my sidebar as one of my most popular posts. I feel so sad when I see the pic that is with it that is you driving and she is kissing you on the cheek. I well up every time I see it. Michelle left us far, far too soon. Cancer is an insidious enemy. The letter you wrote has to be the most heartfelt and honest letter I've seen from any man. Most men don't mention things about themselves they perceive as negative. You are one in a million and so was she. I think of the boys often, and of you and wonder how you're doing. I will go get the URL of the post I wrote about her when she died and come back and leave it for you. You and your family are often, often in my thoughts.
    Brenda@Cozy Little House

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  29. Here it is...http://www.cozylittlehouse.com/2014/01/michelle-edwards-loses-her-battle-with.html
    Brenda

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  30. You have done a wonderful job honoring Michelle's wish to write one more post. She is missed. Her spirit shone through each update. Hugs to you and your two boys.

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  31. Thank you for your very raw and real letter to your sweet Michelle. She is missed by so many. My very deepest sympathy to you, the boys, MIL, sister and others that loved her so dearly. God bless.

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  32. I have been waiting for this post! I looked every day! Thank you for sharing her last days with us and for sharing such private emotions! God Bless

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  33. Beautiful words for a beautiful woman . . . thank you for sharing with us. Blessings of comfort to you and your family.

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  34. So sorry for your loss. What a wonderful family she was blessed with, and you with her. May God wrap his loving arms around your family and comfort you. God Bless you all!

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  35. Justin, I am so sorry for you and your family's loss. I enjoyed reading Michelle's posts these last couple of years. She had such strength and grace and I was very sorry to hear her fight and journey had come to an end. There really isn't an end though when she has such a marvelous husband and two beautiful sons. I wish you all the best in time to come. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt words with all of us. It's a hard road but, when you can, just remember all the good times you shared and your hearts will be able to hold joy once again..Take care, Judy

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  36. I love the picture of her ripping open a Christmas gift. Thank you for sharing it and her with us. Praying for all of your comfort. Isaiah 30:18

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  37. I'm so sorry for your loss....she is a special and very talented women. Thank you for sharing her with us. Peace and blessing to you and your family.

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  38. thank you both for sharing every ounce of your souls~

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  39. Justin, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful letter and your love for our sweet Michelle. God bless you and your family. Prayers coming to you all.

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  40. I was moved to tears with this post, Justin. You were fortunate to have found each other. Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal with all of us. I know it may seem strange but we miss her too, so thank you for including us. Praying for your hearts to heal for peace that transcends understanding to envelope you all.

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  41. Dear Justin,
    Thank you for this beautiful post. It is easy to see why Michelle picked you. You said that she always picked things that had no visible value; but the truth is; her tastes were timeless and classic. She knew that you were one of a kind and that you; like everything she loved, would stand the test of time. And you did that for her, weathering the most unimaginably terrible storm of her life right there by her side. I will keep watching for that kitchen remodel post and will be thinking of you and your boys. Many blessings to you. Debora

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  42. I am a new reader, having just discovered Michelle's blog this morning. I am so sorry for your loss. You are in our prayers.

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  43. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and your letter today. I thought of Michelle and your family often over the holidays. God bless you, the boys, your mom and Michelle's sister.

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  44. Justin- There are so many things that I could say, but they all culminate in this one fact...I will forever be changed for the good by Michelle. She made us feel like part of the family. As long as you have the site up, I will always return to it. Thank you for making this post for us. I send much love to you and your family.

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  45. Thank you for sharing your words and Michelle's last moments with us. She was an inspiring woman, I will always continue to think of her when I see a beautiful wreath, like the ones she created, or an inspiring vignette like the ones she would share here. For months I have wondered how things turned out for your family, and while I'm sure you're still figuring out your life now, I appreciate that the time was taken to share with us this news. Please accept my condolences and know that your family remains in my heart and thoughts.

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  46. Thank you for taking the time to share with us about Michelle. I can't imagine how bad you all miss her. Will be praying for you all.

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  47. Justin, What a touching post! Thank you....Thank you for thinking of us and posting! Your family has been on my mind lately...wondering how you all are. I can only imagine, because Michelle was such a beautiful person! I enjoyed her blog so much and always knew she was such a talented person!
    I would love to see the kitchen when you finish; what a tribute to Michelle....I will continue to check in here and hope that you post when it's finished.
    My thoughts and prayers continue for you!
    Jodi

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  48. The strength that I have witnessed here in Michelle and in you has been so amazing. That is what true love looks like. I am so glad to see that you posted again. I have followed Michelle for several years now and have watched her on this journey. She was blessed to have you and your boys right by her side, and how blessed we all were to have her and her amazing talent that she always shared so graciously. I can't wait to see the kitchen as I know you will do an amazing job! What a tribute to such a wonderful, strong, and talented woman. Continued prayers for strength and comfort for your family...

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  49. What a lovely tribute to Michelle. I can't imagine how difficult this time must be for you but from what you've written, it seems that Michelle has (in some way) prepared you to move forward. I hope the love in your family and good memories sustain you during this terrible terrible time.

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  50. A Beautiful letter for a Beautiful woman with a Beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing such intimacy with us.

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  51. Thank you for writing us. I have been missing Michelle tremendously. Thank you for sharing all of this with us. Michelle thought the world of you too. It was so evident in her photos of you two plus her posts. I'm at loss for words but to say thank you so much for this post. By Gods leading I believe I checked this site for I have not since that first week. --Michelle's friend, Gwen

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  52. Thank you for writing this, for letting us know, for sharing your wife with us. Such heartbreaking news to hear...

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  53. Thank you so much for sharing this with us her final weeks and moments. Thank you for sharing her with us over the years, as the time she spent blogging inspired hundreds of us to beautify and enjoy our own homes and lives. And thank you for providing us closure, as we all miss our creative friend and crafter.

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  54. Thank you for writing and posting this. I was a follower of Michelle's blog and admired her creativity. Thinking of you and your family.
    Jane

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  55. I am new here. I saw a post about Michelle over at Cozy Little House and was compelled to stop by. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  56. Thank you! I hope everyone finds peace and healing.

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  57. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I adored Michelle and the Lord placed her on my heart almost daily. I am now praying for you and the boys. I pray the Lord fills you with peace and comforts your hearts until the day you get to see her again. God bless you, Justin.

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  58. Thank you for this post. I think about Michelle every day, her creativity and talent, her determined and feisty nature, her relationship with you and her children. What a gift she was and what a loss. I'm so sorry.

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  59. I am so sorry for your loss. As well I came over from a picture I had seen and thought how talented this person is.

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Thank You for taking the time to comment! Because of the insane amount of spam comments, I had to stop anonymous comments-sorry for the inconvenience.
Michelle