Monday, February 16, 2015


Marjories Miracles
We were having a dream vacation. A long anticipated getaway after 4 months of hell over the summer with Christian. It was summer time in South Africa and we were having perfect weather and the time of our lives. I hardly had to carry anything with me as Beau took care of all of the bills and had data on a school phone which we used to get around and look up information about the area. We had been in Cape Town for almost one week and were looking forward to filling our last few days with some relaxing time, maybe a few movies before we headed to our safari.       
Friday afternoon we went to see a movie and to the botanical gardens in Cape Town which were stunning. We then picked up our laundry and met some classmates for dinner on the waterfront. All of the food was so so good. Saturday morning we woke up early and made the steep climb up Table Mountain. It was physically challenging and the views over the cape were breathtaking, astounding, humbling. There’s something so symbolic about hiking to me and the work it takes that lead to new perspectives on the geography your living in. Not to mention the glorious vistas that lead to inevitable humility before God and his creations. We finished the hike and drove down to Camps bay where we were staying. After googling where to get a smoothie we found a yummy place (Kauai smoothies) sipped them on the beach and ironically talked about our children and what physical feats we would go through to save them. A dramatic example of how much physical strain we think we could endure before dying.  We never talk about that. The beach was busy on that Saturday morning and we got back in the car, sticky and salty ready to go home. Next up, take a shower and head to our lunch reservation.
After taking our shoes off I decided to head out to the pool chairs to check email and relax before showering. I saw an email from Aimee Hsieh titled “sad news” my gut reaction was intrigue and fear for what she would say. As I read her words
Hi friends,
As you may already know, our dear, sweet, Marjorie passed away this morning after being sick with the flu this week….”
And that was as far as I got before it felt like my mind was spinning into oblivion. I began hyperventilating and repeating “no! no! oh my gosh!” as Beau, lounging next to me, kept repeating “Amy! What? What is it?” But I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t say it. I put my head in my hands and sobbed as he grabbed my phone to read the earth shattering news I had just read. I cried and cried hardly able to speak. My next gut reaction was that I had to call Mary. I needed to tell her how sorry and sad I was. It was weird how much I needed her. I asked Beau for his phone that had minutes on it, so that I could call and he timidly asked me if I thought it was a good idea. Emphatically I insisted that I had to right that second. He then suggested that I wait till I was a bit more composed but I just couldn’t.  I’ve never been very patient. I called knowing she wouldn’t answer and left a blubbering message about how sorry I was and how much I loved her. I honestly don’t even remember what I said other than at the end I wasn’t making a ton of sense so I finally hung up. The housekeeper Hazel came out to make sure that everything was ok to which we reassured her and then I was glued to my phone. I finished reading the email Aimee had sent as well as all of the responses that were coming in from our friends. All, of course, were so emotional and devastated. My favorite was from Molly Tagge
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I had no idea! Oh my gosh! I'm completely in shock! Poor Mary and Derek! This is completely devastating! Oh...Mary!!!!!
It was what we were all thinking she just wrote it down. It’s just so Molly. I then saw that Madison Fitzpatrick had written me with the news hours and hours before. Like I could have found out the night before if I had checked my email before bed. Part of me was glad that we had been able to enjoy that amazing hike together and have that moment on the beach because the rest of the trip wasn’t the same.
After a lot more crying and a shower I then began thinking what the next step was. Beau was sweet and kept saying that we could fly home at any time. So I got on the phone with Virgin Atlantic and told them that my niece had passed away and that I needed to get home ASAP. The representative was really understanding but ultimately it was going to cost us $6k per ticket to get on a flight that day or the next. Another blow. I was going to miss EVERYTHING. How could I not be there for Mary, for all of the services and to process what had happened? It seemed so ironic that the first trip I take out of the country (let alone on the other side of the planet) in 5 years, something so traumatic and earth shattering happens. We had lunch reservations at La Columbe for that afternoon and debated going for a while but after feeling the defeat of my helplessness to be there I figured we didn’t have anything else to do.  It was the best restaurant I’ve ever been to in my life but my brain felt foggy and I didn’t want to take my sunglasses off. We sat for most of it in understanding silence. But honestly, I didn’t even notice. My brain was going a million miles a minute thinking of all of the details and memories of Miss Marjorie and what Mary was going through and what she had to face. And every so often I would blurt one of them out to Beau, to which he would reply something sweet or affirming. He never got impatient or frustrated from my inability to communicate or be present for the rest of the trip and I love him for it.
We drove back to our Airbnb rental in more silence and when we got home I passed out. It had been a long day and it was only 3 pm. I woke up and rolled over to see Beau reading his book just waiting for me. That evening we saw a movie and got dinner I fell asleep and just like they say in the movies, I woke up the next morning and it was still fresh enough that I had to remind myself that she was gone. And once again the sadness settled in all over me and the tears flowed.  The next morning we checked out of our Airbnb to go to Stellenbosch- wine country. That night after Beau had fallen asleep I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed someone to cry with. I had been texting Katy Smart and a few of the other girls to get details but I just had so much sadness to let out. I laid down in our bed and my heart ached. I couldn’t shut off my brain to the sadness my whole body felt and therefore couldn’t sleep. I just kept saying “oh Marjorie” tears continuously streaming down my nose and onto the sheets.
I finally got up and went to the bathroom and face timed with Katy. We didn’t even say “hello” we just both started sobbing and continued to sob for 10 minutes amongst broken sentences back and forth. At the time she was gathering gold frames from everyone and putting the pictures of Marjorie she had printed in them for the wake that evening. At the end she told me that I should try facetiming Mary just to see if she would answer and that she was sure she would like to hear from me. After we hung up I felt almost cleansed. It felt so good to just cry with someone who felt how I felt. Per her suggestion I face timed Mary but wasn’t surprise by the no answer so I went back and lay in bed.
At one point I saw Mary Staples show up on gchat and my heart jumped. I still hadn’t talked to her and was anxious to get some airtime- I’m not sure why other than to tell her I loved her. To my surprise it was Derek on the other end. He was writing his talk for the funeral. My initial reaction was that I couldn’t believe he was speaking at his own daughters funeral.
Amy Jewkes
are you there?
Mary Staples
hi Amy, it's Derek
we miss you guys, but appreciate your call the other night and your kind words. thank you so much
this has all been very hard
Amy Jewkes
we are a mess over here
i'm so so so sorry derek
i can't wait to see you both and cry with you
Mary Staples
we're going to need it
Amy Jewkes
i love marjorie like shes my own
Mary Staples
i know
we've had so much love and support here
Amy Jewkes
of course you do marjorie was the best little girl i've ever met
she really was so special derek and i'm not just saying tha tnow
i tried face timing with mary earlier but i'm sure you guys are very busy and overwhelmed. i'm just going to keep the love coming till you tell me to stop
it's the only thing i can do from so far away
Mary Staples
i know, she was perfect
we are swamped with people here at the house
I'm typing my talk right now
Amy Jewkes
i'll let you to it but would eventually love a copy. tell marjorie goodbye from tennyson and i
i am so devastated i can't be there in person
to give her a kiss
Mary Staples
I will. I'll tell her shortly. Thank you so much. Love you guys.

As the emails were shooting all over my inbox about various aspects of the services, I felt so connected to all of our friends who were in Boston but at the same time felt like I was in a bad dream where despite your best efforts to run away or towards something your legs won’t move. The distance was hard to accept. As people discussed going to the wake over email, the thought that  Tennyson and I wouldn’t get to say goodbye to one of our best friends hit me and I just couldn’t shake it. By the time I got back to Mary and Derek, Marjorie would be laid in the earth and gone for the rest of our mortal lives. How? Why?  It was all just too much. The next morning we checked out of the winery we were staying at and had another amazing lunch at another winery. The landscape in Stellenbosch is unbelievably beautiful and it was nice to have some scenic driving. We caught a late afternoon flight to Johannesburg and checked into another hotel. Late that night our time was Marjories funeral. Leading up to both the Wake and the Funeral were the saddest times for me because of my absence. I asked Madison and Katy to snap a few pictures for me so I could get a visual which they sweetly did. Afterwards I face timed with Katherine Smith who gave me every detail of the service. I was so grateful to her. After more tears we finally said goodbye. I had to do something, so I wrote Mary an email with more words of love.
The next day we left to our safari with very limited internet connection. We had to drive 4 hours through “the bush” there and Beau had an interview when we got to the lodge that he was prepping for. So I put in my headphones and listened to music as I drove us through the beautiful landscape of rural South Africa. Every thought was about the Staples. Every song I cried for them. I was a really beautiful experience for me. We got to the lodge and had an amazing safari. Every breath taking vista, sunrise, sunset, animal I thought of the Staples. First in that they needed to come and go on a safari because of what a beautiful, consuming disconnection from reality it all is and second because of how you feel God through the beauty of His creations.
So while I wasn’t there for that weekend where heaven met hell, I still wanted to share my experiences and feelings over the loss of sweet Marjorie. I see her everywhere. In places where I have memories with her. The time I felt prompted to take the 2 rather than go around to the 90 so that we could drive by the temple and as we passed it Tennyson said with the biggest grin “Marjorie!” “Temple!” The red balloon in the photo from the mall. During our girls night as I looked around at all of my dearest friends, including Mary, high on the mantle sat Marjorie and I felt her there, watching over us all and participating in her own way to our sisterhood of righteous women. She may be a memory for now but she still exists and I believe will be an active participant in the Staples home now and forever.

Love you Derek and Mary
                        Amy Jewkes

Summer of 2014 part 2

It makes me cry when I even think about it but by some divine destiny nearly all of our pictures from this summer have been lost. My phone got water damage at the beginning of October and despite a valiant attempt to recover the photos on it- they are lost forever. Around the same time Beau's iphone from the summer disappeared and with it all of the photos he had on there from our time in the hospital as well. Ugh it makes me sick thinking about it but oh well. Move

Christian got puffier and puffier (a side effect of all of the fluids from his first surgery) but when he was finally off of the fentanyl drip (continuous pain medication) we were transferred to the floor. My mom was there when a bed opened up and we were taken to 10 east. This is just one floor above where we spent 6 weeks with Tennyson the year before. I got the phone call at home and began packing a bag with one weeks worth of clothes along with toiletries. Beau dropped me off at the hospital and as I lugged my duffle bag through the lobby and entered the elevator I got as close as I've ever felt to having a panic attack. Luckily I was alone (which never happens) but my breathing became shallower and I thought the walls were closing in around me. The long road of recovery with my boy seemed to be stretching out ahead of me with no end in sight and the painful memories of Tennyson's stay were flooding in.

I held it together and found room 1025, the room my mom had relayed to me. It was shared room and we had the bed space right next to the door. The worst. I walked in the room and sat down in the chair next to my mom who was holding Christian and reading a book on her kindle. I didn't even wait for a hello before I broke down sobbing. I knew the mother in the bed space next to ours was there but I didn't care, I felt the heavy weight of a long term hospital stay pressing down on me and I just COULD NOT do it again. I was making this very clear to my mom between sobs, my duffle bag still on my shoulder. She looked at me and began the only "firm" conversation she's had with me in my adult life and during all her time with our family over the events surrounding Christian. And it was exactly what I needed. She told me to pull it together. That I COULD do "this" looking down at Christian as the object she was referring to. Sitting in a room and holding Christian while I waited for him to have surgery was not hard. We would take it one day at a time and we would take turns but that we could sit and be with Christian for 6 weeks and wait for him to get his surgery. As we were sitting there and she was giving me my pep talk, our nurse walked in the room. Sue. My mom introduced us and explained that I had spent 6 weeks in the hospital with my first son and was having a bit of PTSD. She wasn't overly empathetic but assured me that we were going to get through this. Little did I know that she would not only become one of my close friends over the ensuing weeks and months but an angel and advocate for our son.

After Sue left the room my mom also introduced me to our roommate who was also named Amy, a nurse, and her son had a similar diagnosis to Christian. I was polite but not in a state to socialize unlike my mom. Over all of our time spent in the hospital I was always to impressed with my moms friendliness and sincerity with the various people we met and interacted with. She was continuously giving every person the benefit of the doubt and was not shy about sharing her love with every child and parent she met. She made sure that every person at Children's felt like a part of a camaraderie and that we all needed to help each other. We needed each other.

Christian was on TPN total parenteral nutrition. This consisted of a yellow bag full of fluid, electrolytes and sugars and a syringe full of lipids. He would get one bag and syringe every 24 hours and that was all his care really consisted of was changing these two things and checking his bandaging.

My mom left either taking the T (which we had taught her to do) or a cab- her preferred transportation method. I got settled in with Christian and began reading. After a few hours my bum started to hurt from the chair and I was tired. Really tired. Beau came over that evening after work and helped me get my bed set up. Then we laid down on the blue plastic pull out chair/bed and he held me so close. I needed it. I was so nervous for what the night would bring especially with a room mate. Her TV had been on playing various shows all day and it just felt weird being so close together but separated. I just wanted my own room so badly. It was late so after a little while Beau grabbed a gingerale from the kitchen room and headed off to catch the T home. I settled into go to sleep after saying a prayer. I fell asleep to the "click click" of his IV pump and the muted TV noises of the show being played in the next bed over. Above me was a window out to the hallway where the fluorescent light filtered through the curtain and the "ding ding" of various call lights and alarms could be heard. Every 20 min either Christians or his roommates nurse would come in to do something. But I did it. I got through my first night. And it wasn't even that hard.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tennyson turns 2

I'm still trying to figure out how to celebrate a just-afer-christmas birthday. Everyone usually still has a Christmas day hangover and is in hibernation till new years. It's understandable. Well this year I decided to try a low key breakfast party with some family while we were in Utah since we usually don't get to do a lot of celebrating with my side of the family. We ordered some chicken biscuits from Chick- fil-a and had a chocolate cake I made. We finished with some sledding at the park near by. It ended up being really fun and warmed my mommy heart to see my baby being loved on by his cousins and aunts and uncles. 

When we got back to Boston at the end of January we kept the tradition alive and had a joint little celebration for Tennyson and Mary Fitzpatrick. Just some cake and Ice Cream at our little apartment and more of an excuse to get together. So fun seeing both of our families grow and next generation of birthday twins, Christian and Lucy, get to know each other. Love all these little rug-rats!

South Africa: Safari

We ended our trip to South Africa with a safari. Something we had been told over and over again that we had to do but hadn't put much more thought into what to expect other than that. I can tell you now that it is a life changing experience. Something that if possible must be done once in your life. We were at the Impodimo lodge in the Madikwe reserve. This was about a 3 hour drive from Johannesburg through the farm land to the north which was so beautiful.

 We arrived and immediately left on  the evening drive. Beau was immediately asking our guide a million questions about every animal we saw and the nice man (Tyrone) was polite and extremely informative. We learned by the second day just how intense these guides jobs are in having to track, guide, host, all while being a walking encyclopedia- and doing it with charm and ease for the comfort of your guests. Needless to say I made Beau cool his jets with the questions to give the poor guy a break. Our days were filled with delicious food, lounging in our hut or by the pool with an early morning game drive and evening game drive. And every evening we were dazzled by breathtaking sunsets and I saw the hand of God in every one.  It was magical, spiritual, and thrilling. If I lived in Europe, I would jump down to the "bush" and go on a safari every winter!

 Oh and it was Beau's birthday while we were there, so we had a private candlelit dinner!