"Our Little Trooper"

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Yarn giraffes, paper mache bowls, and joy...

I realize that a lot of my posts lately have been about me spending time with Rowan's dear friend Charlotte. I have a lot of other blog posts to catch up on too, but for some reason the Charlotte ones are the easiest for me to get done.  Tonight I realized that reason they are easy to write, is that when I spend time with Charlotte, I experience joy...and quite honestly, joy has been hard to come by since Rowan passed.  I also feel Rowan's presence when I am with her.  When she laughs, I hear him laugh with her.  When she encourages me sweetly, I hear him encouraging me too.  It is a beautiful thing. 

Today, we had another one of our playdates.  We did two art projects this time.  We did not finish either of them.  But we both agreed that that was fine, because it meant that I had to come back even sooner to finish them both.  As always, we had a blast.  We laughed, we shared puns, we talked, we planned our next projects, etc.  The pictures below will show you how precious she is, and how priceless our time together is.  I don't know what I'd do without it right now.  I am so grateful for her presence in Rowan's life, and my own.

First we started a paper mache bowl...

Then we realized that it needed to sit for 5 days before it hardened and we sealed the inside of bowl to complete it.  

So, we started a second art project, yarn giraffes...


She made the small cardboard giraffe and I made the larger one.  Charlotte said that they could be her and Rowan.  Then she put one of Rowan's memory cards by them and took a few pictures.  I love how we talk about him every time we are together.  Not in a sad way...we just talk about him.  About his favorite color (orange), his favorite animal (hippo), different places Rowan and Charlotte spent time together (Build-a-bear, the Zoo, the Do-Seum, the hospital play room, etc.).

As I mentioned, we didn't get time to finish the yarn giraffes either, but I think we were off to a pretty good start.

When it was time for me to leave, she reminded me that we needed to do our traditional "selfies" and her "crazy face" pictures.  Then we threw the yarn all over our faces!

She wanted me to do the crazy face picture today too, so of course I did...

To say I love this precious little girl, doesn't even say enough...sweetest thing ever.  I love spending time with her.  I hope she never gets tired of me, because I need her in my life.

Love you Charlotte!
See you soon:)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Birds of a feather: Teaching Charlotte to sew...another one of Rowan's beloved hobbies

I have been trying to go visit Rowan's sweet friend Charlotte as often as possible over the past few months.  She has either been in the hospital or mostly homebound during this prolonged treatment for her repeat battle with Leukemia, so I try to distract her with some fun...but she lifts my spirits more than I do hers, I'm certain of that. 

Charlotte and I love to do all the things she used to do with Rowan (which was usually in the hospital playroom)...play board games, tell jokes, and do lots and lots of arts and crafts.  I bring a different art project each week, and she picks a new board game out of her closet each week.  Then we spend a couple of hours together, sitting on the floor, and then at the kitchen table, playing, talking, and laughing.  It brings me such joy.  Sometimes I tear up...and she catches me.  Then she quickly cheers me up with words of encouragement or a funny pun.  Recently, I decided to bring a sewing project and teach her how to sew.  Rowan loved learning to sew.  He helped me with several special quilts I made, 3 of them were even while he was hospitalized in Seattle.

Charlotte was really excited when I showed her the sewing project I brought.  Her eyes got really big and she said "Sewing? Like with a needle and everything?  Even my grandma hasn't taught me how to sew!"

First, as usual though, she wanted to play (or should I say beat me at) a game, so she ran to the closet and picked Battleship this time. 

We had so much fun, and she won, like she always does. Then she had me take this picture of her, calling it her "victory pose".  It was exactly something Rowan would have done in this situation;)

Then it was time for our craft project.  She is a fast learner and picked it up really quickly.  She even said "I didn't know I'd be such a natural at this." 

We worked for quite a while, but didn't have enough time to finish that day because I had an appointment I had to get to.  She begged me to stay and just be late for my appointment, telling me "It's ok, they'll understand, my Dad and I are late to all of my appointments."

I told her I was sorry, but that I promised to come back in a few days so we could finish.

I did return, just a few days later, and we got straight to work. 

(This was the first needle that she knotted herself.  She was so proud! The week before she would thread the needle with a needle threader and I would knot the end, but this time she wanted to learn to do "the whole process" by herself.)

Charlotte was in rare form that day, extra funny, or should I say extra punny.  She kept saying things like "what's the point of this step?" and "sew, what do we do next?", and she would giggle and look at me and say "see what I did there?".  That is something Rowan did all the time.  He loved puns too, and always said "see what I did there?".  Charlotte could tell I was starting to tear up, even though I was laughing and smiling, so she leaned her head on my shoulder for a second and said "it's ok, I know you miss him.  I do too."

Now, Charlotte and I did not make perfect owls.  As a matter of fact, we messed up so many times, it was comical, mainly because we would just be talking away and skip a step.  But still, we would "improvise" and keep going. 

I even sewed my owls head shut before remembering to stuff it.  Instead of undoing the stitching, I decided to cut an opening on the back of the owls head, stuff it, and stitch it closed afterwards.  Then Charlotte and I realized that made it look like it was Rowan, and his Chiari brain/skull surgery incision, so we decided that was a perfect mistake.

Charlotte was most excited about the stuffing part of the project.  She couldn't wait to play with the poly-fill.  Just as we were about to begin that step, she suddenly burst out with, "wait, get your phone! I want you to take a picture of me with a beard." 

After I took the first picture, she interjected again, "wait, take another one, I want to be doing this...", and she made a very thoughtful face and started stroking the bottom of the beard. 

Again, I teared up, because it was something I have pictures of Rowan doing...and her mannerisms were just like his in that moment.  They are so similar in their personalities...it's a beautiful thing.

Here are our finished projects...

Shelby is the little owl (she told me she names everything Shelby), and the big owl is Rowan.  Charlotte wanted the big owl to be Rowan because he was older than she was.  She loved how much orange there was on the owls, because that was Rowan's favorite color.  She asked if that made me happy.  I told her, yes, yes it did.

We took selfies with our owls. 

We always take selfies together.  It's tradition now.  And she always gets to take a silly picture too, with some crazy face... but only after she lets me take a regular picture first:)

Then she rolled around on the floor, begging me once again not to leave, making carpet angels on the ground. 

I promised to return this week, with a new art project...and I am.  I look forward to it so much. 

Before I left, as I went to go wash my hands, I was blessed to see one of the last art projects Charlotte and I had done together, on their kitchen counter...her "I am..." collage board.  It made my heart happy.

Then, as I was getting ready to go, she came running back out with her "beads of courage" because she wanted to show them to me.

She asked me how many beads Rowan had.  I told her that we never finished collecting his, but that I did have a big bag of them from the first few transplant months in Seattle.  She asked if I would bring them sometime so she could see them and she asked me where they were.  I told her they were in his room.  Her eyes got big and she said, "He still has his room?"  I told her yes, that I just had not been able to go through all of his things yet, and that I didn't know what to do with everything yet.  She suddenly realized this was a sensitive subject and she looked into my eyes, patted my back and said "It's going to be ok."  I tried to swallow the lump in my throat and change the subject, so I made light of it and joked "who knows, maybe I'll just turn his room into a museum and charge people for tickets to come see it all."  I laughed and she got serious for a minute and said, "but not me right? I won't have to pay will I?"  I assured her she would not, and she said "ok, good, because I'm his friend."

Gosh I love this little girl.

Oh how I wish I was taking Rowan to play with her himself, but the next best thing is she and I playing together, talking about how she's doing, thinking about Rowan, remembering him, and giggling together for hours.  It is the best part of my week.

Please pray for Charlotte, for perfect treatment, for comfort, and for total healing.

And Rowan, I hope you enjoy watching Charlotte and I from heaven...your spirit is in every detail and your memory is a part of each moment.

We both love and miss you dearly buddy.