Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sharese Casteen, 1961-2009

The morning was supposed to go something like this...

Sharese's dad (Mr. Allen) was to drop off her mom (Mrs. Bennie) to relieve me from Monday night's night shift at hospice while he took Sharese's niece (Ashley) to the airport to catch her flight back to Hong Kong.

But, as we know, sometimes God has other plans...

Just before they arrived, literally right before they walked in the room, Sharese took her last breath. Being there for her death was not nearly as difficult as being there for her mom afterward. Mr. Allen had to leave to take Ashley to the airport. They were going to try to get her on a later flight (which they did). I stayed with Mrs. Bennie and later took her home. What do you say to a mother who's just lost her child? The rest of us saw a 48 year-old woman, Mrs. Bennie was looking at her baby. I wasn't going to pretend to know what she was feeling. She kept saying she would have traded places with her, that a parent should never have to bury a child.

I've never felt such conflicting feelings at one time. I was so very sad by Sharese's passing and my heart was just broken for the family but, at the same time, I was excited for Sharese that she was finally out of pain and had a new and perfect body. Her hands and feet are no longer crippled from the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, she no longer hurts from the excruciating pain she endured for so many weeks before God took her home.

Sharese was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 15. Through the years she also developed rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, a liver disease and within the last year MSRA, a staph infection that would never be completely cleared.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family now as they must adjust to life without her.

Sharese planned her own funeral. She chose her own dress, asked specific people to do her make-up and hair and wrote her own obituary. She only chose one song to be played at her funeral and it could not have been more appropriate. I can't yet listen to it, it's just too hard, but I thought others might enjoy it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another Birthday!!

Happy Birthday to my hubby, Mike!! He turns a young 35 today and still looks just as good, dare I say better, than the day we met! We will be celebrating with a family dinner on Saturday (following Matthew's party). Here's a few pix of him. See our boys' likeness in any of them?

6 years old

senior pic

with our first born

Happy Birthday Baby!! I love you!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Matthew!

Our baby turns 11 today!! Where has the time gone? In 5 short years, he'll be driving!!
I can't remember what we ever did before he came along. It must have been pretty boring. Matthew was so much fun when he was little. He had all these faces he used to make (as you will see below) and it was sometimes impossible to get a decent picture! He's always been pretty independent, insisting on doing everything himself quite early on. "Me do it." I must have heard that thousands of times!! He's still very independent and acts like an adult when he gets off by himself without Tanner. Matthew is a thinker. He analyzes everything and asks lots of questions. He struggles with school I think only because it's confining to him. He has bigger ideas! He's very hands-on and likes to figure things out for himself. He loves taking things apart and trying to figure out how they work. He's very intelligent, it's just not always reflected on paper!

Here are a few (ok, many) pics of Matthew through the years. I know it's a lot but how do you narrow down baby pictures?

This is Matthew about a month ago. He chose this picture for his 'now' pic so I went with it. He didn't want his picture taken this morning. I still see my little baby boy when I look at him.
Matthew's birthday party is not until Saturday. I didn't want his actual birthday to pass as just another day so I made his favorite chocolate chip muffins for breakfast and put a candle in it. Tanner and I each made him a handmade card and sang Happy Birthday to him before he blew out his candle.

O.K., time to get out the tissue!
Here is Matthew and I just minutes after he was born. It's not the most flattering of myself but I love it 'cause it's our first picture together. Though he was 9lbs. 1 oz. when he was born, he still seemed so small and fragile to me at the time.

Random pics along the way...

This was the day of his first birthday party. He was walking already! Every time I tried to take a picture, he kept walking toward me.
There was a period of time, probably about a year, that Matthew always wore a hat. We would bathe him and put his pjs on and he would go to his room and put on a hat. Oh, the struggles we had trying to get him to take his hat off for church! It's funny now, but it wasn't at the time!
I don't know what this look is for but I love it!

This is Matthew's very first haircut. He was almost 14 months old. I've often regretted getting those curls cut off so early but everyone thought he was a girl!

Look at that sweet face!!

Christmas picture.

This is Mike's favorite picture of Matthew, so I had to post it. Mike had built this 'souped up' engine for a friend and one night they sat Matthew on it and he just made this perfect face! I recently took out the reflection marks on his face and had this blown up to poster size and framed it for Mike to hang in his shop. He loves it!

I don't know why, I just like this pic. He'd been out helping daddy. He had his work boots on and, of course, a hat!

This is when he was in the hospital to have tubes in his ears. This is one of those faces we could never get a picture without! And, of course, he had his hat on at the hospital (and his Elmo shoes).

Here he is in my hospital bed as we were packing up to head home with Tanner. As you can see, he is not really interested in his new little brother, but rather what's on TV! Some things never change! :)

This is another pic I just love. No reason.
This is his new harmonica and he played that thing day and night for a little while until it finally, to our delight, fizzled out. And, what little boy can play a harmonica without a hat on? It just wouldn't sound the same!

I have always thought he looked so old in this picture and it was taken 2 years ago. We went to Wal-mart to get his film developed and he noticed he had one picture left so I took a picture of him. It's turned out to be one of my favorites. Isn't he handsome?
This is Matthew at Graceland inside the Sirius Radio studio. This was just this past November.

They grow up so quickly! While I miss him being little, I have come to appreciate every new stage in his life. Seems like each new phase becomes my favorite. I can't wait to see what year 11 has in store!!