Friday, March 6, 2009

Unfolding (Re-Posted)

This is Janelle, I snuck into Karalee's login, because she said I could re-post this post from her blog on here. As sisters we say share and share alike! I loved this post. It speaks volumes of Ashley and the amazing wife and support that she is to Robert. I also think it speaks to the wonderful, supportive relationship that Ashley and Karalee have always had. I don't think Karalee can remember life without her little sister around! They have always been great friends.

Ashley and I in 2002

My sister Ashley has always been my best friend. She was born one month and thirteen days after I turned two. From the first time I saw her in the hospital, I was totally enamored. We have a home video of our Grandmother trying to help me hold her, and me very adamantly telling her that "she is my baby." We spent our younger years pretty typically for sisters separated by a couple of years. We laughed, played, fought, made up, made believe, and were good friends. As we grew older though our relationship changed... It deepened and improved. As we did. We shared a room for 13 years until our older siblings had all moved out when I was 15. We were both ecstatic to have "our own space". After years of sharing it sounded so exciting to be able to decorate how we wanted, and not always have someone around. And it was exciting. We both painted and picked out bedspreads, our rooms reflected us as individuals, and they were very different. Like us. It didn't take long for some of the novelty to wear off, in fact only a night or maybe two. We still loved having our separate spaces, but at night we were so used to having the other around. We missed talking and giggling until we were too tired to keep it up and just conked out. So we still had our rooms, but we would both always sleep in one room or the other. It was around that time we became truly inseparable. It was as if moving into separate spaces made us realize how awesome our friendship was. We had SO much fun. It was the best of all worlds, we completely understood one another, we did silly and outrageous things, there was unconditional love and acceptance. It was awesome and the kind of friendship that I believe only comes around a few times in your life. It was only improved by the fact that we were sisters. The long night chats, joining together to convince our parents to let us stay out crazy late, road trips, advice, boyfriends, jobs, the complications that come with life, but always knowing that we had each other. We overcame everything together.
I truly can't imagine my life without her. For all practical purposes as long as I can remember I never was without her. As we have gotten even older our relationship continued to shift and grow through a myriad of experiences. We grew up and had to go different ways and experience life on our own. I traveled for a year while I was working, Ashley moved to Arizona to work for our aunt and find out if she wanted to train as a Montessori teacher, Todd came home and I got married. That was a particularly challenging change for us, we couldn't quite figure out how to maintain our relationship when I had a husband. Then just a few months later Ashley met Robert, and just over a year later Ashley got married too. It was so sweet to watch her knowing how wonderful being married is.
There was one thing that never changed though, no matter how far away we were or different our lives, all it took was one phone call to have the other one there to see you through it all. And there were a lot of phone calls. No great event in my life has not been shared with her.
And then there was The phone call. One Friday night while I was at home relaxing with my husband and daughter Ashley called me. She told me they were in the hospital, and Robert had just been admitted. She explained that Robert had gotten blood work and they had found leukemia. She didn't know exactly what was going to happen, but they were going to start treatment fast. Robert was very ill.
I hung up the phone shocked and speechless, as my husband asked what was going on, and tears streamed down my face. I managed to breathe out the basics, and he held me while I cried. After a while of this I wiped off my face, we loaded up our daughter, and my incredible strong and loving husband drove me to see my oldest, dearest, closest friend... my sister. I needed to be able to wrap my arms around her and see her face. She had been strong and stoic on the phone, but this I knew would have floored her. When we got to the hospital I had to leave my husband in the lobby to watch Tyler, because children were not allowed on Robert's floor. I rode up in the elevator holding my sides and wondering what I could possibly do or say to help, but knowing no matter what I just had to let her know I was there. For her. As I walked off the elevator I saw her with a few people in the lobby on that floor. She came over to talk to me, still brave and strong. Then we hugged, and the tears flowed. She admitted her fears, mostly of the unknown. And we hugged again.
After that evening I never saw Ashley cry again. Although I am sure she did sometimes in private. What I did see amazed me everyday. I saw all of the courage, bravery, loyalty, faith, hope, and unconditional love Ashley had always carried in astounding amounts grow and grow until they were three times the size.(Are you picturing the Grinch's heart? It was just like that, except hers was so big to begin with.) I was astonished every time I spoke to her to hear peace and sureness in her voice. She was Robert's rock and anchor, and without meaning to she anchored so many of us.
Well nine months later Robert's treatment was complete. He had been through four rounds of chemotherapy, and one bone marrow transplant. He was thinner and balder, but no less funny or warm. It was wonderful to watch him in the following months as he grew hair and started to look more like himself. And Ashley ever the graceful and loving wife. It was wonderful.
Then there was another phone call on Friday February 6, and as much as it felt like bad deja vu, it was also totally different. My phone rang, I looked at it and it was Ashley. I figured she was calling about the movie I said I might go to with her. I answered and said, "Hey gorgeous" Ash said "Robert is in the hospital again, they just admitted him" And then you want to know what happened?!? She put me on hold so she could answer a call from mom. It was a cruel, but necessary evil. When she came back on she very calmly explained that Robert's last batch of blood work had shown leukemic cells. They had gone to the emergency room, and had been admitted after three hours. They didn't know a lot, but they were going to start chemo again on Saturday or Sunday. We exchanged I love yous, talk to you laters, and hung up. Feeling a little stunned I told Todd. He was really concerned about how I was doing, and that was when I realized how much Ashley had taught me, as I felt nothing but peace and hope. If you would like a perfect example of why my little sister is one of my biggest heroes keep reading this blog!

Ashley I love you times infinity.

*Robert is still in the hospital. He is feeling better today than yesterday. He has been having some discomfort in his lower abdomen/groin, and they ran some tests today to find out why. The test results from one test already came back showing that he has colitis (inflammation of the intestinal wall), which is quite typical for chemo patients. He is running a low grade fever off and on. They are anticipating him being in the hospital till Sunday. He has been sleeping a lot the past 48 hours. We haven't received any more information from Dr. Gollard yet. Please keep the prayers coming! Thank you!

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