The rest of our visit with Joe's parents and Pam's family went great. We had great family dinners with lots of conversation and laughter. On Sunday, we all went to the Tempe Rock Gym for the afternoon. This was our first time there and everyone had a great time. I, of course, was not up to physically participating, but did enjoy my role as photographer and cheerleader.
One last picture of the cousins together before Joey has to leave to go back up to Flagstaff.
This is a little out of order, but my school, Gilbert Elementary, has an award ceremony each year during the last week of school. Awards are given out to students for a variety of positive behaviors and character traits. Things such as kindness, sportsmanship, improvement in academics. This year, my principal, Sheila, decided to establish an annual award given in my name. It is titled The Martha Hitzel Sunflower Award. Sheila said it would be given each year to a 4th rader who had "blossomed" in academics and character, and sows the seeds of friendship and caring. The student will be given a plaque and a savings bond for their future education. I am so honored to have this award established in my honor! It was given out for the first time this year and Sheila asked Joe and Janaya to present it.
The award was given to one of the children from my class and I couldn't think of a student who better exemplifies the characteristics of the award. I am so proud of him!
Last weekend, Joe, Michael, Pam, and I went up to Flagstaff. Joe went to orientation at NAU with Michael. Pam and I went with Joey to help him get registered for a couple of classes at Coconino Community College. He is working as a cook at Black Bart's Steak House in Flagstaff and absolutely loves it. He has decided to work towards his Hotel and Restaurant Management degree. Thursday night, Michael stayed overnight in the dorm on campus. Joey came and hung out at the hotel room with us. We got pizza and watched the Lakers/Celtics game. At half-time, we had to run out for Baskin Robbins ice cream - the best ice cream ever! Friday, we went to a movie matinee and then out to dinner at Joey's restaurant. It was easy to see why he enjoys working there so much. The people were so very nice and friendly and all commented on how much they enjoyed working with Joey. We had originally planned a short hike on Saturday, something I would usually love doing, however I wasn't up to it physically. One of the most frustrating things about this cancer is that mentally I still feel able to do all the things I normally would, but my body just isn't able to cooperate. Joe, Pam, and I ended up coming home. Michael stayed with Joey and the two of them went to a Rap concert Saturday night. I am so excited that they are going to be in Flagstaff together this fall and have the opportunity to do things together.
This past Monday, Joe's cousin, Mary Monica, came to visit from California. She is celebrating 5 years as a breast cancer survivor. She planned a wonderful ceremony for all of her family and friends to celebrate her life and to thank them for the support they have shown her during her journey. Mary Monica has been a wonderful emotional support to Joe and me since our journey started a year and a half ago and we both so wanted to be able to go and participate in her celebration. However, with my health being kind of precarious, we were very hesitant to travel. So, instead, Mary Monica came to visit me! It felt so good to finally be able to wrap our arms around each other and exchange a heartfelt hug. We laughed and cried and had a wonderful visit. I was sad to say goodbye, but so glad I had the chance to visit with her.
I was also able to go to my monthly bookclub meeting this month and had a wonderful time visiting with friends I hadn't seen in a while. I'd missed the last two meetings. I was exhausted when I got home, but it was worth it to get to spend time with my friends.
So, as you can see, the last couple of weeks have been filled with good times with family and friends. I'd be lying if I said there weren't days when my decision to pursue hospice care doesn't scare me and make me sad. It is hard not to second guess myself and worry that I gave up the fight too soon. However, I am staying focused, as much as I possibly can, on living in each moment and celebrating it. The hospice nurse assigned to me is absolutely wonderful and she does everything she can to help me achieve the goals I set. They are also doing a great job of helping me keep my discomfort under control. That makes a huge difference in my ability to enjoy the things I am able to do. So, deep in my heart, I do know that I've made the right decision and am comfortable with it. I'm so enjoying each day right now and that is totally because I have such wonderful family and friends.
I love each of you and hold you close in my heart!