I am so ready for this year to be over, don't get me wrong it had it's good moments, but the moments that we will remember the most about this past year are definitely not the good ones.
I'm going to try and use this post as a catch up post, it's probably going to be another long one, so pull up a seat by the fire, grab a cup of coffee and here we go....
It was a warm summer evening that Darric, his cousin Chris and I drove out to Stetson to get our first pup. Darric's boss at the time had 2 beagles of her own and they had had babies. So we drove out to her campground and picked out the runt of the litter. We drove back to Bangor, all crammed into Darric's Dodge Ram Pick-up truck and our new beagle pup asleep on my lap. It only took us the 20 minute drive to pick out the name Bubba and to fall in love with him.
Darric brought Bubba to work with him just about every day. He was known as one of the shop dogs and howled at every customer that came in.
Then when Darric got a different job, we learned that Bubba did not like to be left alone. We tried kenneling him down in the basement, but he would go crazy in there and when we would get home it would take forever for him to settle down. We then diagnosed him with separation anxiety and had to start leaving him at Darric's mother's house with her dog.
Bubba was the star of our Christmas cards. He loved going for walks, sticking his head out of the car while going down the road at 50mph, camping in the summer and bouncing through the snow in the winter. He often let his nose take over and would get lost in the woods. He had the typical beagle howl and a whine that would drive me up the wall. He would sleep under a blanket like a person. He laid in the bend of my legs while I slept and against by belly when I was pregnant. There's a stain on my living room floor left there from when he got sick during the first week after Jordan was born. He hated baths, getting his nail's clipped and cats. He loved ham bones, bacon and peanut butter.
On April 25, 2012 Bubba started acting a little different. He wasn't greeting anyone when they came in the door, he wasn't eating, and barely drinking. We had to carry him outside to go pee, and when we did he would just stand there. On April 26, 2012 Bubba James left us. Dr. Mark told us his kidney's were filling up with fluids and we would be putting him through more pain and suffering if we tried to treat it. Darric and I stayed in the room as they made him comfortable and put him to sleep. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, and I'm not exactly sure what was worse, watching him slowly drift off or watching Darric say Goodbye to his dog.
Most Improved Student Award
A short time after Jordan started 1st grade his teacher brought us in and informed us that Jordan seemed to be a little behind in his reading so they wanted to start him in a 'Reading Recovery' program. 3 days a week another teacher would pull him out of his class to work one-on-one with him on his reading. It scared me to think my child was behind in school, so we also worked hard with him at home. Reading each night and pushing him all the time to work on his reading skills.
It paid off, in April he was back on track and picked as one of the most improved students in the state. For a reward he got to go to a Portland Seadogs game, walk out on the field and his name was displayed on the scoreboard for everyone there to see. It was a very proud moment for all of us.
In It To End It
In May I walked 39.3 miles in 2 days, and slept in a tent and showered in a truck. Which also included raising over $2,000 for breast cancer research. This walk changed me in some ways and changed at how I look at life and my family. You can read all about that here.
3 Years Old
We rented a cabin down at Sebasticook Lake Campground again this year. Stayed for the week and had everyone there for an Abby Cadabby birthday celebration. We sat by the fire every night, had some friends over, enjoyed legal fireworks and Jordan is now hooked on fishing.I was so excited when I found out that my sister-in-law was getting married. I was even more excited when she asked if Gracie could be the flower girl. I was really, really, really excited when she asked me to capture all the moments with my camera, and also a little freaked out.
My Sister-In-Law Gets Married, Gracie Is The Flower Girl, I Am The Photographer
My Sister-In-Law Gets Married, Gracie Is The Flower Girl, I Am The Photographer
I immediately started reading up online because by all means I am not a photographer. I'll admit I have a special eye to capturing moments, but I repeat, I am not a photographer. I took a photography class and practiced, practiced, practiced.
The night before I barely got any sleep. At 2am I was finishing up making my list of poses. And I was up early taking pictures of the bride getting ready. This part was easy.
Thanks to my hubby for having patience getting Grace & Jordan ready and a little help from our niece for helping out tons as well.
Although it was a dreary day, the rain held off enough and didn't dampen anybody's spirits.
Their handwritten vows spoke of loving each other even in the oddest of places like laying next to each other on a snowbank as they try to keep a patient alive, getting up in the morning to walk and duck hunt with their dogs, watch each others favorite shows even though they'd rather be doing something else and bait each others fish hook, yes I said bait each other's own fish hook.
2012 Family Vacation
We've made it sort of a tradition to take the kids away for their birthday's each year. Usually we head to New Hampshire. This year the tradition continued as well as a little side trip to Boston.
These Broken Bones
For Jordan's 7th birthday party he wanted a sleep over and he wanted a party that was Angry Bird's Theme. I made a life size angry birds game.
Her right arm was dangling...I rushed over to her and her arm was so limp and I knew immediately that it was broken. Imagine now the next actions in slow motion...yet they happened so quickly.
I swept her up, yelled to Darric that we had to go to the hospital NOW!!! I put her in her car seat, as gently as I could. She was crying, but it wasn't a hard cry like I would imagine coming from a child with a broken arm. I ran inside to get the other boys and my purse, ran back outside, literally threw the boys in the car, jumped in the driver's seat and jammed the car into gear. The whole ride to the hospital was quiet, all I could hear was my deep breaths and Grace's whimpering. Every time I looked back at her she was just staring out the window. "Oh my god she's in shock" I said to Darric at one point. He was in the passenger's seat turned around comforting her.
We met Darric's mom at the ER and she took the rest of the boys home, along with Jordan, God love her. Grace seemed calm in Darric's arms. She kept dozing off, but I wouldn't let her because I was worried about a concussion; at this point I had no clue what exactly happened or what other parts of her body could have been hurt.
They took her in for x-rays which was horrible. Her poor little limp arm had to be turned in ways I know was hurting her sooooooo bad. I wanted to trade places with her. I have never broken or even sprained any parts of my body ever and I couldn't imagine what the pain was like, especially for a 3 year old.
After the x-rays came back the doctor came in to say that the on-call pediatric surgeon was on his way. They wanted to start an IV incase he did decide to do surgery. I was in denial that she would actually be having surgery, they'll just put on a cast, that's all. Wrap it up, give her some ibuprofen, let us take her home.
20 minutes later and she was on her way to surgery. The surgeon told us that the x-rays showed that her arm was not only broken, it was also dislocated in 2 places. They were hoping to realign it without having to cut or place medal rods inside her arms. I had to sit down and put my head between my legs as he was explaining this part. I had on my brave mommy face the whole time we were in the room with Grace, but that moment when they wheeled her into the operating room and I had to sit there and watch her reach for me is when I lost it. I was in a nightmare and couldn't wake up.
My Dad Gets Married, Gracie's The Flower Girl, Jordan's a Groomsmen, I'm a Bridesmaid
6 years ago when my dad started seeing his now wife, I wasn't quite sure what to think of the whole situation. I'd spent my life thinking that my mom and dad would be together forever. When they divorced I just thought that any other woman in my dad's life wouldn't live up to my mom. I was worried that this other woman would think she could replace my mom. Little did I realize that when my Dad found his true love I would actually be gaining another mom, as well as brothers and sisters, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. I never imagined that having another family could be so awesome. And this other family is something that I could've never imagined. This family has welcomed us into their lives like we were their own.
That's how I started off my toast to them at their wedding on October 20th. I was totally unprepared for my toast and unlike my now stepbrother I didn't write down a thing and later realized I'd forgotten to say a whole bunch of things.
The wedding was beautiful, the whole weekend was amazing. It is so great to see my dad so happy.
Those that know my dad now knows that he's come a long ways. Denise has opened his eyes to the importance of family and because of her my dad and I have never been this close. Although I had never pictured my dad with another woman other than my mom, I know that he is with who he is suppose to be with.
Richard Francis Hammond
For well over a year Darric's father hasn't been feeling quite right. It was getting to the point that he was taking 2 sometimes 3 day off from work every week. This is a man who never, ever called in sick. He kept going to the doctors, they kept doing the tests, nothing was showing up.
Then on Darric's birthday in May he was diagnosed with cancer on his intestines. The day after my cancer walk he went in for surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery went well, and the doctor's were hopeful with the amount of tumor that they got without having to cut into any vital organs. A short while after the surgery he did radiation.
So, the tumor's been removed. Radiation has been done to shrink and get rid of the rest. Still, days of him staying home from work went on. He still wasn't quite right.
On September 11, 2012 he was admitted into the hospital because of double vision and tingling in his cheek. Doctor's worried about a brain aneurysm, tests were done on him all night. The next day we were told that the cancer was back, in his lungs and on his skull. After a couple days of hearing that the doctor's weren't sure they could do anything, they decided to go to Boston to see if they could help. On the 21st of September he had brain surgery to remove the tumor and were hoping that once he'd rebounded from that, plan was to have strong chemo and radiation to get rid of the other cancer. On the 25th he got to go home.
While in the hospital in Boston I took it upon myself and with the help of our neighbors and other family and friends we were able to put together a benefit spaghetti supper that was held at the end of October. We also had a dessert auction and raffle and we were able to raise over $3,000.
During the month of October Richard was going through another round of radiation. We were having supper there most nights and every night that I walked in that house it's like I was watching him deteriorate more and more. I was very scared and found myself worrying about him and praying for him every second of every day.
On November 15th he was admitted into the ICU because of difficulty breathing. He was put on a ventilator. Tests were done overnight to find out what was going on.
Tests came back to show that he had pneumonia and unfortunately the tumor on his brain was back and growing. So, the radiation that he just had did nothing but make him sicker.
The next couple of days were up and down. Nights started getting rough. On November 20th Darric ended up staying the night with him. Probably one of the hardest nights he's ever had to go through. Richard was being very delusional, speaking about events that happened years ago, like our wedding. They had to strap him to the bed because he kept trying to get out and rip his IV's out.
The next day some decisions had to be made on his quality of life and by the end of the day lots of family and friends had stopped by to visit and most were feared it would be the last time they would speak to him.
We practically lived at the hospital for the next 2 weeks. Richard had days that gave some of us hope, while other days we were saying our goodbye's again.
On December 2nd at 9:00pm Richard took his last breath. He was surrounded by his family and holding the love of his life's hand. It was so painful to watch, yet so beautiful.
Darric's father was one of the strongest men I knew. He worked every day of his life until he got sick. He raised an amazing family that he cared about more than anything in the world. He loved hunting, fishing and being around his friends at camp. Snowmobiling will never be the same with him not taking up the rear.
His spot on the couch sits empty these days with his memories all around.
I may say that I'm happy to see the past year go, but honestly I know the year ahead has a lot of hard days to come as well. Every holiday we'll be thinking of Richard. Every time one of the kids do something special, we'll wish he was here to share it with us. He always laughed at my jokes and he gave my kids the best love a papa could give. Rest in peace Richard...