Sidney Update and bloggy catch-up

Many people have asked if Sidney and I are settled back in at home, if routines are back to normal . . .

Not really.  The last few months have been good.  Hectic, but good.  And emotional.

Sidney is content to be home.  Sid and the kids quickly folded us back into their daily.  I am not back in the swing of things yet.  I keep getting bowled over by waves of emotion  . . .

when I knock on the boys’ room in the morning, open the door and see both my boys waking up together in the same room again

when I go to kiss my girls awake

when my boys stand at the stove together making omelets

when music and song fill the house again, always, singing, humming, violin, clarinet, cello, piano . . .

when my boys sit side by side at the table eating and laughing together

when the kids play Twister


when eating supper together and we remember the times we used to tie a sock around Sidney’s mouth to remind him to stop talking so much . . .

you know, just normal everyday family life

it is so precious.

For weeks after Sidney and I got home, Lincoln, Rachel and Prairie just followed Sidney around.  Whereever he was, there they be.

Below, Sidney is doing something thoroughly unexciting and mundane on the computer. But “Look!  It’s our brother on the computer.  Let’s all crowd around and watch him!




Sidney took it in stride.  Mabye he even relished it a bit, basking in all the love and attention.

While Sidney basks, it is easy for me to get bogged down in all the catching up I have to do.  Then I look out the window


and see my girls in the rain, focused on something very small.


They study it and take pictures.  As if it is the most amazing creature they have ever seen.


They are also loud and silly.


Which totally distracts me from brooding thoughts.


We celebrated Sidney’s 18th birthday.


After the party, when everyone had gone home, Sidney 2 and Sidney 3 put together an engine he got for his birthday.


So many things changed.

A few key things the same — like me, watching my husband and asking “Why?”

He never really answers that question.


And Prairie wants to show how flexible she is.


We’ve all been exercising together.  Prairie destroys all of us with her flexibility.  I am pretty sure my foot is about a mile from head when I attempt this pose.

But since I’m the picture-taker, ain’t nobody getting that picture.


Sidney’s Social Cave

Sidney’s Make-A-Wish request was a room to hang out with family and friends and chat, because chatting is Sidney’s favorite thing in the world.  At Ronald McDonald House, he discovered that pool was a fun game to play while chatting.   So he specifically requested a pool table, seating and a jukebox.  He got a few extras thrown in that he was not expecting.

His room is almost done.  We are waiting on some more seating and I plan to add a comfy rug to the cold floor and nice shelves to hold his science-y things.  But we are already enjoying his room.

I spend most of my time trying to keep my toes out from under a pair of big, heavy work boots.


Sidney’s Homecoming

From Home with Love …

We are home.

All of us.  Together.  Home on our hill.

Sidney and I crept up the driveway on a Saturday evening, two weeks ago.  No one knew we were coming home early.  They were all busy preparing for Rachel’s 13th birthday party, which was the same day.

The evening was full of surprises.  The family got a son and brother home.   The coming-home son got his own surprise — an almost finished room in the basement.  One by one, as aunts and grandmas arrived, each walked into the living room, not expecting to see the one they were missing.

It was a good evening.


Of doors and kingdoms


From Memphis with Love . . .



“. . . the cross is to be interpreted as the coming of the kingdom on earth as in heaven . . .” (Wright, 244)

“The resurrection is, from Mark’s point of view, the moment when God’s kingdom ‘comes in power.'” (Wright, 246)

“Jesus’ followers, equipped with his Spirit, are to become in themselves, individually and together, little walking temples.” (Wright, 247)

“What will happen though, is that you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  Then you will be my witness in Jerusalem . . .to the very ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7 – 8 )

“I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins . . .” (The Apostles’ Creed)

For the past 8 months, my son Sidney and I have lived in Memphis while he receives cancer treatments at St. Jude.  We are at the hospital almost daily, and eat and sleep either at the hospital or the Ronald McDonald House with other cancer patients and their families.  We meet all kinds of people — kind people, irritating people, hurting and fragile people, strong people, smelly people.  Some who draw you in and some who make you want to run the other way.  I am learning a lot about people under stress, my son and how others view him.  It is perplexing at times.

Sidney has made many friends and maintains contact with several patients and families who have moved on.  One particular family has been at St. Jude since Sidney and I arrived back in June.  We have known them the longest.  Bhavesh and Chan Chal traveled from the other side of the world with their small son, Manan.  They miss their family and culture but are friendly and eager to chat and learn about people here.  Like most people in Memphis, they met Sidney first.  I met them later, via Sidney.

Bhavesh and Chan Chal frequently tell me that Sidney is different.  They see a sparkly future, an adult Sidney who impacts the world.  While it naturally pleases my ears to hear such praise of my son, it also makes me a bit uncomfortable.  At the risk of being called a terrible mother (which has happened before) or looking like a terrible mother (yep, there is precedent), I confess I don’t see it.  What I see is a brave young man whose desire is to be a husband and father, a young man who laughs, makes others smile, a young man who wants to serve.  That is enough for me.  I am proud of him.  But it is rather ordinary, isn’t it?  There are many brave, kind and fun young people here.

A few days ago, Bhavesh and Chan Chal told me about the first time they noticed Sidney.  They were sitting in St. Jude’s main lobby, waiting for the shuttle.  That lobby is a busy place, many people in and out, the spry and healthy use the revolving door.  Wheelchair patients and the slower-moving struggle through the heavy, double doors.

A less mobile patient was struggling with those heavy doors, and Sidney jumped up to open the door.  Bhavesh told me, “Here was this young man, who was sick, getting up to help someone else.  I was sitting there, healthy but occupied wth my own worries and my own family.  Most people were sitting there focused on their own worries. But Sidney sees other people.”

Is it that simple?  I wondered.  Is the simple act of seeing a small need and performing a small service enough?

The words of NT Wright sprung to mind.  He says God’s people are meant to be “kingdom-bringers.”  That seems like a grand thing and our world does not appear to have many people engaged in grand, kingdom-bringing activities.

But I remembered that the people of Jesus’ day expected grand actions and large sweeping changes — overthrown goverments and a new kingdom ruled by the God party.  However, Jesus worked in ways neither expected nor understood.  He spent most of his time doing small things —- seeing people, being kind, healing outcasts, teaching, touching, blessing small children. He saw needs.  He served.  He washed feet that were probably smelly.

Perhaps our “kingdom-bringing” activities are the grand occupations of looking to see, opening doors, removing obstacles, making a way.

If we are “walking temples” as Wright puts it, then we must open doors to people, even when we don’t feel like it.  We must invite with our whole being and our actions should convey “Welcome, bring your whole self in, sins and all.  You are safe here, this place where sacrifices are made and sins are forgiven.  No, don’t worry about your soiled feet and dirty rags.  I will help wash your feet and find clean clothes for you.  We’ll do it together.”  The vulnerability of such action makes me squirm.

Can I be that place of sacrifice and forgiveness?  Even when I’m sick and and tired and don’t feel like it?  Even for people I don’t like?  Can I risk the abuse and disappointments that will surely come?  I’m not sure, but it feels imperative to try, to watch for those who need an open door, to be a person who opens it and encourages them to come inside . . .



  • Wright, N.T.  How God Became King:  the Forgotten Story of the Gospels.  HarperCollins, New York.  2012

Kid Quotables


From Home with Love…

“Yeah, glass breaking smells like ting-a-ling.” Lincoln

“Rachel, you blubberstick!” Rachel

“Well, it used to have a big smell.” Prairie

“I’m going to name my mountain with lollipops!” Prairie

“I can’t remember my face.” Lincoln

“Tasting is believing!” Prairie

“You’d need a separate maggot for that…” Lincoln

“Unions are basically basic though…” Rachel

“OK yeah, go and come back with mer-muffins.” Prairie

“It’s the Age of the Munchkins, Lincoln.” Rachel

“… 9y minus mineteen…” Lincoln

“It’s on my scoo shelf.” Rachel

“I don’t know what your finger thinks of you, but…” Prairie

“… Chalm down, Prairie.” Rachel

“I might not care if you touch it or not, I just don’t want you to touch it!” Rachel