Monday, July 29, 2013

The big C

 Yesterday was My Oldest Brothers Birthday. 
The patriarch, manly, computer nerd guru, who never shows any soft emotions other than to preach his passionate opinions, tickle the little children until their small lungs can no longer take the physical workout of laughter, and snuggle all the animals, most of which is Jub Jub, the patriarch family cat that acts like a pride lion. Shawn is bold, opinionated, brilliant, loving, and loves his family so much and so obviously that it smacks you in the face.

I missed out on getting to know him as a child, because he was nearly an adult when I was born. The only Shawn I know is the Shawn that has treated me just like he treats his own children. He lets them be wild and crazy, isn't afraid to tell them to cut the crap, and will always be there for them. He is more like a father figure to me than a brother, which is a role that doesn't need to be filled considering the grandeur that is my own father, and yet, I feel as if I was blessed with more amazing and diverse male influences than any other person on the planet. Having five older brothers comes with many perks.
Because none of my brothers got the loud obnoxious rambling personality that I got (at least I think so), I often assumed as a child that it meant they did not understand me, or they had no personality. Jared (No 2.) and Casey (No.4) were the cool kids, snowboarders, skateboarders, pot smokers, and free spirits. I never knew them as well as I knew Heidi and Haylee. As the three youngest siblings, we shared a room right next door to Spencer (No.5)  and Jake (No. 6). Being the last 5 kids meant that we all shared until we were basically out of the house, or someone grew some balls and moved out. My most vivid memories of any of my brothers usually included after hours glow in the dark ski masks floating mid air in our pitch black basement room, associated with spooky horror movie noises coming from Jake, followed by the usual apology of snuggles while falling asleep to book of mormon stories on tape; And don't even get me started on "The Wall Trolls".

 But once they all became teenagers, I was still in my single digits, so I wrote them off as the typical older large mormon family siblings, but I never really got to know them until I was older. Now that I do know them, I realize all of their childhood quirks are still in tact, but the rest of the puzzles that are my brothers has been solved with this wide diverse glossary of unique qualities, that I sometimes cannot believe I am related to any of them. If I challenged their intellect by bringing up something about religion, politics, science, or perhaps I needed a good laugh or wished to be reminded of the times they locked me in the closet as a 5 year old for their own entertainment, every conversation would solidify my resolution that they are all truly great men. I genuinely credit my opinion of men, and relationships with the male gender in general solely to the male influences of my family. 

My sisters were always my challenge. I fear that one day, when I do actually have children, they will all turn out to be girls, and that will be my karma. I fight girls, hate girls, and I have always had troubles with them. My oldest sister Holly (No 3), moved out as a teen to follow love to Las Vegas. I didn't really see her until she was an experienced independent adult, with ages of relationship and life experience advice on her shoulders. I got smacked right in the middle of numbers 7 and 9, also known as Heidi and Haylee which at the time I hated, but now that I am older, I cherish all the basement hallway brawls, clothing wars, and tattle telling marathons. Heidi is my role model and the person that I look up to the most, and Haylee is my truest and greatest friend in the world, and I value her opinion higher than anyone on this planet. I hate the drama that girls bring, but my sisters are the syrup to the stack of waffles that is my family. Warm and gooey, and are the perfect compliment to everything. I really think that adolescence truly does just suck. I was such a brat and thought so poorly of everyone, and my sisters took the brunt of it. What a difference a little maturity can make, even though I still feel like a child most of the time.

The bottom line, is that my family is my life. My siblings are my life. The reason I am the person that I am today is because of my family. Imperfect, argumentative, bitter, stubborn, grudge holding, and paranoid as they are, I love them. I believe that your family is your strongest ally, and support system. They will always be there for you, no matter what. No truer words have been said, especially with the recent family trial in our lives.
The nightmare that March brought has given me more respect and love for not only my heroic brother, but my entire family.

The following is a post taken from my Brothers blog about the recent diagnosis of my sweet sweet Niece Rebekah:


March 3rd, 2013:
"The official diagnosis is rhabdomyosarcoma.

The days are blurring together now, and only five days in.  We can hope for gradual improvements, which we are assured will come.  I have been trading days on and off with Autumn.  On my shift Rebekah began the first night of chemotherapy and anti-nausea drugs.  There was diarrhea but no vomiting. Yet. Several times I had to arise to help her adjust her position in the bed, which is significantly complicated by the probes and tubes attached to her body.  Together we have learned that she likes to be cooled by a wet washcloth applied to her skin with gentle pulsing rubs.  After a session of that I can take a break on the adjacent futon in her room where I try to conceal from her the sound of my sobbing.

The following day she ate and drank well and was more mobile.  We got her out of bed to walk her to a scale and to the window and back to get her circulation and muscles a stretch.  After the walk I held her in the rocking chair and broke down.  It was the first time since Tuesday I have been able to hold her and I told her so.  She rubbed my cheek with her tiny hand to comfort me.

Autumn says this evening her other leg, the right one, hurts.  Rebekah's team of experts have decided they'd like her to start the anti-coagulant drug after all, but this is subcutaneously injected, so very hard for my girl psychologically.

I am still dealing with a significant amount of guilt that as a parent I failed to get Rebekah the help she needed sooner.  Once in a while a doctor asks me to recount for him or her "how she presented", which is like asking me to confess all the ways in which I am a horrible person.  I understand intellectually a case that exonerates us both, but emotionally I am just not there.  Now, how do I explain even piecemeal to my daughter the choice we are making for her to complete 35 weeks of chemotherapy spread out over the next year to keep her alive but not really living, all in the hope of making her well again?  For us it's an easy choice with a difficult consequence.  The alternative would be simply to let her die.  And I can't tell her that."

- Shawn Magill


At the time that this post was written, his words and thoughts were the only news that anyone in my family had gotten, especially for those of us who aren't around my parents home as much. My sisters and I all read this post and bawled our eyes out. I cannot speak for them, but as Shawns sister, I have never felt so much love and respect for him. Not simply because of the emotion that he so obviously smacks you in the face with, as usual, but the bold nonsensical writing and passionate educated grammar he uses to depict a true tragedy. Sometimes you need to grasp the reality of a situation so that you can understand how to cope, and while reading his words, my heart breaks for him, and his wife, and his boys. My soul aches for my darling Niece, who's journey has been and continues to be a rough one. The only comfort that this situation gives me, is knowing how incredibly strong and brave Bek is. She is a champ, and was blessed with the perfect parents to help her handle this diagnosis and journey. If anyone can win this battle, its her. 

Although I am sad to not have known my brother as an adolescent, or to obtain childhood memories with my older siblings, I don't think I needed it. My experiences and life lessons that I am learning through them is specifically tailored for my age, my personal and spiritual growth, and its meant to teach me how to treat others and raise my family. They have all been through some rough shiz, and I am so blessed to witness their trials and journeys as I grew up, because I learned so many invaluable lessons. Shawn's family's trial is definitely the hardest one to witness thus far. I hope that I am brave enough to take on the feats and challenges of parenthood as courageously and they have.

But the journey is ongoing. Prayers are still needed, and once again, in my family another young cherished loved one has been diagnosed with the big C. So hold your loved ones tight, Love them, care for them, cherish them, and thank the lord that you don't have to endure 35 weeks of Chemotherapy at age 5.