Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Letter To Mason

When I found out Mason was in the hospital, I had bought a card for him to let him know how much he meant to me, and that I hope he'd get well soon. Sadly, I couldn't give him that card with the words I had wanted to write. Instead, several days after he passed, I wrote the following to him. Hopefully it can be read by a phriend today at his funeral service. I wish I could be there to say goodbye, but I will be going down by the Niagara River at the time of his service to remember all the wonderful things we shared.

Dear HB,
I had bought this card when I found out you were in the hospital. It's short and sweet, but it says everything about our friendship. I feel like I've known you forever instead of the 3 short years we got to know each other. I feel such a void now that you are gone. I miss starting my days with you, and I miss you being the last person I said goodnight to. I miss all our conversations in between.

But-I am sure you hear me talking to you all during the day now. I'm sure you are hearing me yell at Mittens for getting in my way. I am sure you are listening to my poor (according to you) choice of music as I try to get through my day without you. I know you are rolling your eyes and making faces at me for eating fish, or drinking straight from the milk carton. You will always be forever with me, Mason. You touched my life in so many ways, I can't even begin to list them all. I have never known such a strong person, such a fighter, such a kind soul. I only wish I had gotten to meet you in person.

Mason, my dear hb/sc/cw (you know what those mean), good-bye isn't something I am going to say to you, for I know that I will meet you again one day in a much better place. Instead, I invite you to visit me any time here in Niagara. I will continue to talk to you every day, and I'm sure you're going to wish I'd shut up! I'll look at Masove every day and think of how much you meant to me. You will always be in my heart, my friend. I could never let you go.

Love & smooches,
Colleen....your SC

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

Sad and shocking news today in learning about the death of Michael Jackson at the pretty young age of 50. I don't care much about all the negative crap about him in the past several years. I love his music. LOVE it. He is such an American icon, and I know his music will live on forever. Here's a live video of one of my fav songs, Billie Jean!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Growing up with pulmonary hypertension and congenital heart disease was sometimes lonely, because there wasn't anyone around me who felt the same way I did physically. No one had to stay out of gym because they got too tired and too short of breath like I did on a constant basis. No one had to wear a holter monitor like the one time I had to in 4th grade. Talk about trying to play mum ball in class, all you could hear was the monitor thing making noise. Although I could always go to sports games, I wasn't able to participate in any type of sport, because again, it was just physically way too much for my body to handle. I didn't really regret any of this. I thought it was just me and my normal. I thought I was the only person out there who really dealt with this kind of thing, but that was ok.

I graduated high school, and started college. I worked, went to classes, and in the last year of college, started going out a lot more. I graduated with my education degree, and began working in the field of teaching. By the fall of 1997, I started teaching preschool, a job that I really loved doing. In 1999, I had moved out of my parents' home, down the street, had a boyfriend, started a master's degree, and was still partying most weekends. I did this all while still dealing with a lot of physical limitations. I still thought it was pretty normal, because heck, I grew up this way. No one else really realized how bad it could get sometimes. And I didn't usually complain.

April 19th, 2000 was the day my PCP ended my teaching career. I had been getting way too sick that year with bad respiratory ailments, and she told me I had to quit my job. While I was devastated at first, and felt so lost at the time, it was one of the best things for me. She used to feel so terrible for telling me to quit, but now she knows that if she hadn't, I might not be here.

Eventually a couple years later, my health still not doing that great, she referred me to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. On my first visit there, I was put on oxygen 24/7, and Coumadin, a blood thinner. The oxgyen was the first time I actually felt ashamed of my health. Who the hell wanted to be seen in public with that on?? I sure didn't. Despite all the health issues I dealt with, I had always been pretty shy and didn't consider myself very attractive for the longest time. Being on oxygen sure wasn't going to improve my self-image!! It was a very trying time for me. And rather depressing.

After several visits to Cleveland, I was put on Tracleer in October 2003. When I got the first package of it through Accredo, I saw a paper for a website for support of people living with PH. That website was for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. I typed in the web address, and it was the most amazing site I'd ever seen.

There. Were. People. Like. Me.

I admit, I cried for several days reading posts on the message boards before I actually made my own post. I just couldn't believe that there were others out there who were short of breath most of the time, who were really tired most days, who felt they couldn't function sometimes. There were people who weren't able to work because of this disease. There were people getting lots of tests done, and people who were on a few different treatments. I was just so amazed, and sooo greatful that I had found a place where I could completely relate to others in regards to my health.

The PHA has introduced me to so many different people, in so many different places. I have become close to several people, and it's been such a great community. And yet, I almost feel like, while it's a blessing to be in a community where everyone understands what you are going through, it's also almost a curse. Maybe curse isn't the right word. Sometimes it's just so tragic to be a part of a group with health issues. Growing close to people you most likely may never meet is an extremely hard thing, especially when someone you are close to passes away.

I have had several phriends die in the close to 7 years I've been a part of PHA. On Sunday, June 14th at 6:30pm EST, I lost an extremely close phriend. A best friend. Mason came onto the boards and into the chatroom around the summer/fall of 2006. I remember one night in chat, after he was there for awhile, I asked him if he had any type of messenger so maybe we could chat sometime. He said yes, he had Yahoo, and ever since that moment, a wonderful friendship grew.

Mason had had a very rare type of PH called PVOD. He had been put on Flolan when he was initially diagnosed with PAH, but he wasn't getting any better from it. The doctors finally figured out he had PVOD, and the only cure for that was a lung transplant. He was listed, and had his transplant 3 years ago....June 19, 2006. He had a pretty good recovery, a few bumps in the road, but in the beginning, he was able to do quite a bit since being so suddenly sick before having the surgery. He started coming to the boards, and chatting with others in the evenings, and helping others who had PH, and particularly PVOD (which are far and few between). He definitely was a gem to have!

Mason and I shared September birthdays. His was exactly a week after mine, and he surprised me with a card and a little gift not too long after we had started chatting a lot on Yahoo. I thought it was really sweet! A week later, I sent him a card, and almost the exact same thing he had given me. I think he was a bit irritated because basically we broke even. LOL I just had wanted to show the same kindness he had shown me. That was Mason, though, thinking of others!

Christmastime came in 2006, and Mason and I exchanged gifts. I made him a tealight lamp, since I was making them at the time, and he really liked it. I also got him a gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods. He wasn't sure what the heck to get me, but he ended up getting a snowman music snowglobe. I thought it was really neat, especially since I like to keep anything snow related out during the winter. Another thoughtful gift!

Our birthdays came around a year later, and once again Mason sent a rather nice card, and money to use for something. I put it toward a George Foreman grill, which I can't stop using, and a Dirt Devil Kone vacuum. He was rather happy that he could help me get two useful things! I ended up giving him a CD he had wanted (I kept pretending I didn't have CDs yet to make it, since he kept asking about it lol), and some money, too.

Christmas 2008 made me realize just how special our friendship was. I had gotten him a gift card from Barnes & Noble that I customized with Mittens' picture, since I knew he had been wanting to buy some books. But his gift got me crying. He had bought a pair of turtledoves, and he gave me one. He wrote in his card that the doves were a sign of our lifelong friendship, and that when we looked at our doves, we would think of each other. I couldn't believe it. It was the most thoughtful and sweet gift I had ever gotten. To think this was coming from a 20yr old young man was unbelieveable.....but then again, Mason was no ordinary 20yr old. It's why I shed tears at this wonderful gift, until I opened the other half of the gift. Chocolates!! That got me smiling for sure!!

I think in the last several months of Mason's short life were the most endearing to me. Somehow along the way, we started calling each other nicknames. He became my hb (honey buns), I became his sc (sweetie cakes), and every once in awhile we'd also use cw (cutsie wootsie....I made that one up lol). Mason became so important to me. I'd start my day with him in the mornings, and he was usually the last person I said goodnight to. I'd talk to him about 500 times in between it felt like. He was a best friend, we talked and laughed about everything. We used to play games together, share videos with each other, just random stuff. I didn't feel my day was complete without talking to him. When I went away to visit Lisa and her new son back in March/April, Mason had just gotten home from yet another hospital stay. I felt so relieved, because I couldn't imagine not talking to him for the week that I was down visiting in NC! I had brought my laptop with me, and even though I was having fun with my family, I STILL made time to talk to Mason. I have a text from him while on the road down to my sister's, and he had asked me how long I was going to be there for. When I said a week, he answered, "OMG, a whole week without my sc???" It was just things like that that made me realize we really did have a special friendship.

This week has been the suckiest week ever. I did nothing but cry the first several days. When I wasn't crying, I was just sad. I thought about him constantly, I kept talking to him to ask if he was ok. It didn't dawn on me Tuesday morning, not even 5 minutes after I got up, that Mason WAS telling me he was ok through a song. I had heard it the day before while driving around after a doc's appt. I kept asking for a sign to let me know if he was ok, and the song would be on. Tuesday morning, I thought I was ok, but started crying immediately before even putting my contacts in. I again asked Mason to let me know he was ok, turned on the radio and 2 seconds later, Halo by Beyonce was playing. In my heart of hearts, I knew Mason was trying to tell me that he indeed was alright now. And while it still really really hurts.....while I'm still wishing one of my best friends was still here with me...with us, his phamily....I know that Mason is breathing freely now. I know he's no longer suffering, he's no longer in pain.

I never got to meet Mason, and that has really hurt so much. I know I will one day, whenever God is ready for me. I know I'll meet Mason when we are both happier and healthier and able to do just about anything we darn well please. I just wish I had a chance to actually meet him face to face, to hug my phriend I loved so much, to share laughter together. It wasn't meant to be though, and I will one day get over that (I hope).

I am thankful that I did get to know such a wonderful and caring person in the last three years. I can't believe that short of time seems like forever to me. I will never forget his kindness, his humor and quick wit, and the times we did spend together chatting away and getting to know one another. Mason, I know you are up there smiling down on us. Please know how much you were loved, and how much you are missed. I know I will never forget you as long as I live.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Flooring Pics!!

No kitchen flooring!! Everything got ripped up, including the subfloor.
The wallpaper was all pulled down, too!
The body drawing of Ron on the subflooring. LOL!! Kinda faint, but you can see it if you look closely!My face contribution and the date we ripped up the floors!
My niece's drawing!! Isn't it cute?? I think it was a self-portrait! lol
Part of the new wood laminate flooring!
More wood flooring.....
Ta-wa (as my nephew says!) Dining room flooring is done!!

The rug is back in place, and looks nice with the floor!

The newly painted's a green color, not sure if you can really see it!
I tried another shot in the corner, still not sure the green comes out all that good!
Some of the new kitchen floor!
Part of the kitchen floor!
Almost done with the kitchen!
Another Ta-wa!!! Kitchen flooring is done!
The kitchen going into the dining room!

Remodeling! Part 4!

Yesterday was another day of remodeling at my parents, but there wasn't much I could do, except kid patrol again. My mom showed up with the kids at my house a little after 11am, so we hung out in the yard for awhile. I showed them London, the pigeon (who is still residing with us despite the fact she's supposed to have a home?? Oh well! lol), and they were fascinated! That kept them entertained for about 10 minutes. My mom was trying to clip weeds, and the dead lilacs off the tree, and I got a big garbage bag so the kids could help clean up since they loved doing it yesterday at my parents. However, my nephew just wasn't having a good day, so my mom said she needed to walk back down to the house. My niece didn't want to go! I said I'd take her inside for awhile.

My niece had a blast finding all my bettas, looking for Mittens in the cupboard, and coloring and playing with stickers on my kitchen table. She LOVED sitting on the high chairs! I realized a little after 12 that she probably hadn't eaten, so I called my mom to make sure. She said no, so I made my niece lunch! She was thrilled with the grape jelly I used on the pb&j sandwich, enjoyed the applesauce, and told me several times how much she liked the Oreo thin crisps I gave her for dessert. Hey, I'm glad I had stuff to please her!! After she colored some more, I walked down with her to my parents' house. I stayed there for awhile, playing with Play-doh with her and Joanie. Joanie was trying to "let go" after watching our niece smoosh several colors of Play-doh together to make a pizza. Those colors were so hard to separate. LOL! After that, I headed home to actually take a nap!

I went back down to have dinner with the family, and hung out for a couple hours. The kitchen floor is done, but the back stairs still need to be finished, and a few things here and there. However, the floor looks awesome! I really think Ron did a great job on both floors! I'll post pics in a new post!

We are going to put a backsplash up in the sink area, and then I think the kitchen is done, except for the stuff my mom still wants to do. The dining room and kitchen both have a new lease on life, I think!! I am glad for the past two weekends because I got to see my family so much, despite how tired I got! What else can we remodel???? LOL!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Remodeling! Part 3!

During this past week, I really felt rather crappy until Friday. I know I overdid it last weekend with the helping out, but I'm glad I was at least able to help! Although I did want to go help paint the green color in the kitchen, I just never felt well enough to go over and do it. But when I got over to my parents' this morning, I walked into the kitchen and I thought the color looked nice! It brightens up the kitchen, and doesn't make it seem too small, which it is. The only thing I really did was help with a few touchups, and then I helped with kid patrol! Ron worked on the kitchen floor the whole time, which wasn't as easy as doing the dining room. He still has to finish up tomorrow, but there isn't a ton to do. He got 2/3rds of it done, so at least that is good! So, I'll be back down tomorrow again!

It's been nice seeing the kids so much, and my family. I only wish Lisa could be here. She did call this afternoon to see how the progress was going, but having her here would have been fun! I am hoping that maybe they can try to visit this summer, but we'll see. That is quite a long drive with a little baby!

I am off to bed early tonight! I think I'm so tired because we spent a lot of the day outside, and it was really nice. So I got lots of fresh air, no nap, and I'm rather sleepy!! Pictures will go out next week, when I can just put up pics of both rooms!