"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mysterious but perfect ways...Happy Birthday Mattie!

Most of you know about the special connection that Rowan has with his angel in Heaven friend, Chrissie Patterson, and how close our families have become over the years since her death.  Well, Chrissie's Mom, Lorraine, had entrusted me with Chrissie's old clothes about a year ago, and the plan was that I would make some small keepsakes for the other children out of them.  There were boxes and bags of precious items of her clothing, and at first I was overwhelmed about where to begin.  Then, they adopted Ruby, the newest addition to their family.  They mentioned on several occasions that she reminded them of Chrissie in a way.  I color coordinated all of the clothes, dividing them into different color groups, and I noticed that there were just a dozen or so pieces that were in red color range.  Since the newest member of their family was named Ruby, I took that as my sign to start with a small quilt for Ruby first, and told Lorraine that I would do that for her for Christmas this year.

As I started working on the quilt, I purchased just three materials, one for the backing of the quilt, and the other two to kind of tie the whole quilt together color-wise.  The rest of the quilt was completely cut and sewn together from Chrissie's clothes.  I backed each piece with fusible webbing since they were of so many different materials (some stretchy, some knit, etc.).  It took me several months, but I thought it really was coming together nicely.  The whole time I worked on this quilt though, I kept having reservations.  All I could think about was Mattie, Chrissie's older sister.  God just kept placing her on my heart.  I started doubting myself, and thinking "I should've done Mattie's first."  See, Ruby wasn't here yet, so she didn't ever meet Chrissie.  Mattie on the other hand, Lorraine's first daughter (and only biological daughter), was extremely close to Chrissie (who was adopted from Serbia).  It was keeping me up at night, and I wasn't sure how to change it.  I had already told Lorraine I was making Ruby's quilt.  Then I decided to just text Lorraine, and ask her what Mattie's favorite colors were.  I told her how God kept placing Mattie on my heart.  I told her to let Mattie know that I was making this for Ruby, but that her quilt was coming next.  I wanted to know her favorite colors, so I could at least start Mattie's.  Here is where it gets interesting...

Lorraine told me, "Mattie's favorite color is red for sure.  Then, she also likes teal or aqua blue.  And she loves loves loves polka dots!"  My heart dropped.  This entire quilt was red and aqua, and 2 of the 3 materials I purchased were polka dots (red and white, and aqua and black), and Chrissie's fancy black and red polka dot dress was a main component of this quilt as well.  I had never showed Lorraine the quilt in any of it's stages.  She had no idea that she was describing the quilt I had just made...to a tee!  I told Lorraine that maybe that is why Mattie has been on my heart so much throughout this whole process, God was telling me to give it to Mattie.  I had my own ideas originally, that is was for Ruby, but I was wrong.  It was always meant for Mattie.  Rowan then dreamed about Chrissie again a few days later, and woke up telling me "Mom, that quilt is for Mattie, Chrissie told me last night."  That settled it!

I still didn't send Lorraine pictures of the quilt.  I wanted it to be a surprise to her and to Mattie.  She told me that Mattie's birthday was coming up in January and we decided to change plans, and meet somewhere for Mattie's birthday, so I could tell her the story and give her the quilt. Lorraine did not tell her anything about what was going on at all, she only knew that Rowan and I were going to meet them.  Today was the day...and it was perfect!

Mattie started crying before she could even get it all the way pulled out.  Then I started crying, and asking her "Are those happy tears? Please tell me those are happy tears!"  We were a mess, but she did love it.  And it gave me such joy to give her this.

As you can see, I tried to use every inch of the beautiful clothes...every applique, each piece of trim, every snap, the buttons, the ruffles, and even the zippers. 

And Rowan gave it some Rowan love to finish it off.

Amazingly, it seems that what meant the most to Mattie and Lorraine were the special little scraps of material, the trims and adornments from her outfits.  They both kept pointing at different parts of the quilt saying "oh remember those pants", or "oh yes, that shirt", or "look, this is from the dress she wore in that picture with you."  That was music to my ears.  It is the reason I used everything I could from the outfits.  To strangers, the material was just that, material.  But to the Patterson's, those outfits had memories, every one of them.  They remember pulling those shirts over her little head, zipping up those sweatshirts, tying those bows, remembered getting her dressed for church, etc.  Mattie even told me, "I remember every one of those.  It just made all those memories come flooding back."  I am so grateful it meant that much to her, and honored to have been trusted with those memories, not just the clothes.

Once we were done crying and talking about how God brought this quilt to fruition, Lorraine had a special surprise for Rowan too...a cross, but not just any cross.

This was a beautiful, colorful mosaic cross that a friend of hers had made from some of Chrissie's costume jewelry.

Such a special treasure.

The place that we met today was a cute little popcorn store in Wimberly called "Papahoos".  Lorraine and I had first tried to think of where to meet, that would be somewhere in between our homes.  She wanted to make sure Rowan would be able to have something there too.  She had first mentioned a candy store in Wimberly, but then she found out it had closed.  A friend then told her about this popcorn store because it also had candy and lemonade (two of Rowan's favorites).  They had so many delicious varieties and flavors.  All as colorful as the quilt and the cross:) Lorraine even arranged for the owner (the husband) to take Rowan and Mattie to the back so he could see all the equipment, because he said "I've never seen popcorn pop before."  Then we got to talking to the other owner (the wife) and she told Rowan to come back anytime.  We mentioned how special the friendship was between our families and before you know it we were sharing the whole story or "Rowan and Chrissie" with her.  She hugged Rowan and told him to keep that special connection with God, and Chrissie in Heaven, and to keep sharing it all with her Mom.  Once again, we were reminded that God works in mysterious ways.  We don't always get what we want.  Things don't always go the way we plan.  See, the quilt was always supposed to be for Mattie, I just didn't know it.  And, the candy store being closed, meant we got to go share our story with the owner's of the Papahoos and Rowan got to go see how popcorn is popped.  It's sometimes difficult to remember that it's His plan, not ours, but that it is ALWAYS perfect!

Happy 17th Birthday Mattie!


Carrie & Rowan...

and Chrissie

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

She said Yes! But not about what you think...

I received a call from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance yesterday, informing me that the doctors have decided to proceed with HLA typing for Rowan, Zoe and Ian.  They needed medical history for Zoe and Ian to get the orders started.  The woman explained to me what would be involved for Zoe or Ian, should one of them be the best match for Rowan.  Whomever is the best match, and consents to being Rowan's bone marrow donor, would have to travel to Seattle for a 3 day stay initially, then come back home for 2 weeks, and return for another 8 day stay.  They would have their own medical workup first and give blood samples, and then the bone marrow samples would be taken next.  We've discussed this possibility with Zoe and Ian a little bit already, but it was still an unsettling call.  When I hung up, I explained everything to Brian and to Rowan's home nurse Cindy.  My mind started racing, and I have to admit that I started temporarily freaking out, wondering: Is this really it?  Was it really time already? Are we sure about this? etc.  Not Rowan though.  No, Rowan simply clasped his hands, squinted his eyes, tilted his face up to the ceiling and whispered "please, please, please".  I was shocked.  I asked him, "Rowan, what was that? Are you saying please, as in please you want it to be time for a transplant?"  He said, "No, I was asking God for Ian to be my match."  When we asked him why he wanted it to be Ian, he said "I just want it to be my brother, because I know Zoe is really afraid of pokes.  I don't want her to have to go through all that.  Well, I don't want either of them to have to do it, but I really don't want to Zoe to be afraid." 

...Even in potentially life changing moments like this, this kid is thinking of others.  Remarkable.

I talked to the Doctor in Seattle some more last night, and their transplant board is meeting about Rowan's case this week.  We really would appreciate prayers for them to make the best, clear decisions for Rowan.  They have had ongoing concerns since he still has gotten septic, and been battling the g-tube site infection and now RSV, even though we have been doing these much more intense immune modulating treatments of the daily neupogen and ivig every 2 weeks.  They feel like he should be doing better, staying healthier.  She assured me that she would be in touch and that once they have the results back from the kids HLA typing, which takes a couple of weeks, they will have a plan.  So, for now, we wait, but things definitely just got a little more real.

When Zoe got home late last night, Rowan and I talked to her about this all.  He told her he didn't want her to have to do it, since she was afraid of pokes, but asked her if should would do it if she had to be the one.  She told him that she would do it even if it hurt, if she was the best match.  It was surreal.  You shouldn't have to watch your 8 year old talking to his 20 year old sister, asking her to make choices to improve, and potentially save, his life.  I had to just take it all in and capture the moment for what it was...and thank God that I have children who care about each other more than they care about themselves.

After Zoe left the room, Rowan had tears in his eyes and I asked him if he was ok,  He said, "Yeah, I just can't believe Zoe and Ian would do this for me.  And I really just wish it didn't have to hurt them. I'm used to pain.  I can take it, but it's not fair for them."

Wow...we can really learn from this kid's selflessness, I know I am...