Monday, March 26, 2012

dream adjustments

it has been a week since it seemed our world
was shattering
piecing together a new dream is the work at hand

thank you to everyone who shared hearts and stories
and hope
with us here at the message board of the blog
as well as personal emails
means the world to me and our family

I wanted to share a bit about the process
of the last week
each step was major internal work
and I definitely could not have done it alone...

on Monday evening last week, we got the phone message
that was devastating
and I knew that I was going to have to dig very deep
to find a new way other than the depression
and anger that I felt towards myself for not
having "plan # 2" in place
Bryan assured me that he would not have been a willing
participant in making a backup plan of applying to MIZZOU
and I assured him that I should have found the way
to make it seem like a good idea.

anyway, what was unfolding was the very serious fact
that we were most likely too late to get certain elements
of financial aid from MIZZOU because of deadlines past.

what I was not processing at the time was the fact that
Bryan was still being offered a substantial academic scholarship
from Columbia College - 70% off tuition - and I needed to remember that
and see how and if we could make something work

on Tuesday, I called his guidance counselor at Hickman
and had a good cry and listened to her insight and her
clear advice for me to get my act together and stop blaming myself
and that she believed Columbia College to be a good fit for Bryan...

I realized that I needed to settle things in my heart and mind
Bryan and Gary and I all had questions about what had happened
I needed the answers and most importantly I needed
to help with the dream adjusting that Bryan needed to move forward

there was only one thing to do:
communicate and set up a meeting with Columbia College
as soon as possible
as soon as I could know that my emotions were in the right place
waiting was not an option
so knowing that I had the day off from work to have treatment day
on Wednesday morning,
I emailed and asked for a meeting in the early
afternoon... I took a piece of paper and wrote down what I needed
to ask
went for treatment and that went fine - I have been on a chemo break
for two months
and on that day, I was taking the least amount of anything
since the very beginning of cancer 5 1/2 years ago
my tumor markers were up a bit
so I am on Tamoxifen again, but there was this good feeling
that I had lost 20 pounds - because I wanted to - and I can
stay off chemo for at least another month when I will have a CAT scan
to make sure we stay ahead of the game...

so, the juggling act of dealing with this cancer thing
seemed so small in comparison to my concerns about Bryan

it turned out to be a very important and significant meeting:
we could finally understand why we had to wait until the very end:

Bryan was in the position of # 12 out of 135 scholarship day participants
competing for 10 awards
in years past, there has always been one or two students
who have decided to decline, going to another school, etc...
so there was a chance that if that happened, the # 11 & 12 students
would be the 1st and 2nd alternates.
that did not happen...

it was a long and heartfelt conversation
I learned a lot about certain aspects of the "politics" of the process
and clearly saw the frustration of the counselor who still
believed that Bryan should have been one of the top winners.
Bryan has a strong advocate there in this person.
I did ask all our questions, and when the counselor said
that Columbia College would experience a real loss,
would not be as great of a place if Bryan Page was not there,
I agreed with him.

He said that he would do everything in his power to get as much
monetary aid in Bryan's corner as he could
Bryan can have a job in the Admissions Office (that would be great)
...there is a lot more but I am trying to pull the main points

The most important thing that needed to happen was a meeting
between Mr. Kruse and Bryan personally
that did happen that same afternoon
they were going to connect by phone but as it turned out
Bryan stayed after school to support his girlfriend and her music lesson
and I picked him up just before the phone call was to happen
so we just drove straight to the College
and Bryan went in alone to meet with him

it was a very important meeting
it was the beginning point of healing

the way the dream is defined has been altered
Bryan will not live on campus and we talked that out
with the counselor and feel strongly that he can still have
as complete an experience as he makes it...

as it turned out, Mr. Kruse was going to the hospital
the next day for surgery that would put him out of the office
for at least a week, so the timing was crucial that we all
communicated last Wednesday

we are in the process of reworking everything
the thing that Bryan was saddest about:
he had been looking forward to using the college fund that
we do have for him in other creative ways, such as taking
trips with his brother...
now all the money needs to go to tuition and books

I told them both that such a worthy dream is meant to come true
so let's keep moving forward together and adjust that dream
not dismiss it
or lose it
but hold tight and see the light of another new day

the other night
on Friday
Gary Bryan and I decided to watch a couple of light tv shows
that we had recorded
it was the beginning of Spring Break and the end of an ordeal
we endured together

at one point, there we were, all in our chairs, couch, whatever
and we just all started laughing at the silliest dumb thing on the show
it struck all of us at the same time
and I saw the couch Bryan was on just going up and down from his
big laugh
Gary was throwing his head back laughing
and I let it out, too, in my usual boisterous
"you can always tell where Mom is in the audience" style...
we had not really laughed in weeks, now that is a loss
that needed to be fixed and we fixed it

Brandon came and spent time with us yesterday
and everything seems more peaceful.

there are many things to be learned from what we have experienced
it is going to take me time to get the realizations
and that is okay.

"Keep calm and carry on."
I have that saying right over my head in my room.
Good idea to do it. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"going through it"...

there are so many ways of handling deep disappointment
as a family
is better than


we finally found out late yesterday that Bryan
did not win one of the ten scholarships
he came in close, something like #12...

I had my falling apart experience on Sunday evening
even though technically there was still one day left
Bryan came to my rescue
in a typically wonderful Bryan way:

he had a homework assignment to do a paper
using satire as the style of creative writing
in the middle of this whole wrenching time
he has his sense of humor intact
and writes this great "newspaper" article
with professional-style graphics about the "bullying of gingers (redheads)"
and it is hysterical

so while I was just in the biggest crying jag in years
moments before
he has his arm around me
and I am laughing my head off reading his paper...

last night I did my best to be there for him
I did not have the same wisdom he offered me the night before

what happened?
in July when we first started on this whole adventure
going to both schools
I wanted him to have as much exposure to possibilities
as I could manage

early on, Bryan was told by an Admissions counselor
at Columbia College
that he would receive one of those scholarships
no doubt about it
was the attitude
I cautioned about holding onto that
but I held on ~ we both did

I see many mistakes on my part in retrospect
and I see what I perceive to be communication problems
at significant junctures along the way

we did not need to go through these last two weeks
the way we did
and all the details of the misleading messages
I cannot live through one more time right now

so on to the next road
we are in scrambling mode to pull together options
we are in learning mode and some of it hurts

it was not brilliant of me the way I handled everything
in my sadness there was a grief because I realized
that I was holding on to believing that Bryan's security
for four years was set
and four years to me in my position is a long time
if I could know that he was in a good safe place
an environment where he was "more than just a number"
as he would put it,
then somehow I was safe, too...

the drama will subside,
I will call a meeting to share our side of the experience
in case it could help some future family not have to go
through more anxiety than necessary - like letting us know...
I want to move on to finding the way to make
Bryan's next years inspiring

there will be a way

there is a new TV show coming out called "Touch"
and I find the premise intriguing
I need to get ready for work so I will let that go for now
yet there were basic ideas in the series pilot
that are helping me cope with this situation at hand

we will use this experience and learn from it
we will go through it
around it
inside it
tear it apart and not let it tear us apart
we will build on it
and I believe we will meet people meant to be met
and we will chart a course
get in the dirt and shovel the path
wipe the sweat off our foreheads
and laugh


because we will get through it:


Saturday, March 17, 2012

two weeks = too long

this has been the longest two weeks
my handling of the waiting to hear whether Bryan
has received a scholarship
or not
has not been the most inspiring example

the earliest any of the ten winners could expect to hear
was on March 4th (I believe that was the case)
with a public announcement on the 5th

Bryan came home from school on that Monday and happened
to check his facebook page
and saw GREAT NEWS for a friend of ours:
Lauren had won one of the five big scholarships
and the award happened at Hickman High that day at lunch
Bryan eats lunch in the Fine Arts building so he missed
the presentation
we felt happy for her and her family (Jeff's daughter / Jeff is a
part of our HMM group from years ago...)
and at the same moment realized that if one family had
been given news, perhaps all ten families had? and we had not

I watched Bryan's face and his spirit sink and a wave overcome him
and me, too
he realized in that instant how much he counted on winning
and how much he had grown to want to go to Columbia College
over the months of preparing for the competition and meeting
people along the way through the entire process
he had received such open support and encouragement
that it seemed certain that he would be included
I know that we both held a certain kind of reserve
created a certain protective coating and distance
in case things did not go as hoped...
we talked about not taking anything for granted
not being arrogant
not wanting to expect anything
and at the same time
hoping and hoping.

Bryan shared with me that he had begun to see himself there
and thought in terms of planning for his future - starting there...

then all of a sudden a silence
and the earth was not solid under our feet

I decided to email the Admissions Counselor who had guided us
every step of the way
to ask simply if all the winning candidates had been contacted
and what the timeline was for notification (if there was still hope)
I had not been clear about that from the outset
he emailed me back and explained that over the course
of the next two weeks - up until Monday March 19th - each individual
had a time slot allotted to him or her for the presentation
of the awards

I know what it is like to wait for things like cancer test results
or for my hair to fall out
or for whatever for me but this has been much harder by
light years
I want my sons' dreams to come true
if Bryan does not win a sholarship to this school
we cannot afford to send him there
and he will go to the University (an excellent school)
and he knows that he will do
his best to accept that ~
going to Mizzou is what Brandon wanted and it has been very good for him
Bryan is a different person...

I have literally gotten sick over this whole thing and
I am not proud of that fact.
Stress is not my best friend.
There is nothing we can do but wait.
Bryan did everything he could and I am proud of him no matter what
happens with this one award...

I have watched how Bryan has handled the pressure and am so impressed
I have apologized to him for not being the "more adult" under the
he has developed as a man in so many ways
there is a depth to him that I admire deeply

Brandon has been checking in on Bryan and the other night
Thursday night
I really appreciated his support for his little brother
Brandon was over at our house and we were talking about
this and that
and at some point in the conversation it came up that Bryan
was frustrated with his cell phone and wanted to get another one
but that would have to wait (another wait)

Brandon had a phone that he loved at one point
super duper camera capabilities, too, and for whatever reason
has another that he now uses, with the older one stored away
about a year ago or so Bryan had wanted to buy it from him
but that didn't happen...

long story shorter
Brandon all of a sudden said to Bryan:
"Okay, Bryan, I am going to give you your Birthday and Graduation present
early - I am going to give you my (fancy-dancy) cell phone!..."
Bryan's smile made the sun shine at night!
I was so thrilled for both of them.
we made it happen that the phone was in Bryan's hands that night
and after a couple of back and forths to Brandon's house to get
all the parts
Bryan had one piece of a happy puzzle in place

yesterday Bryan (who had charged the phone overnight)
brought it to school to show his girlfriend and friends
it is like entering the new millenium or something compared to his old phone
and when I picked him up at the career center at the end of the school day
Bryan got his first call on his new phone
it was from Brandon
who texted (almost exactly) "how's the new phone, CHAMP?"
and I was just so happy he called Bryan a champ.
I am crying now because he is and he needed to hear it

we do not know what will happen in terms of the scholarship right now
but we will know within the next couple of days
how we handle the news with Bryan
whatever it is
is meaningful to me
there is one thing that I can guarantee:
he will be surrounded by people who love him
and see him as a "champ" and we will carve a path together


Wednesday, March 7, 2012


what an amazing blast of a time - three nights
after weeks and weeks and hours and hours of practice
for the incredibly talented cast and crew

I saw the performance four nights in a row
the first time with Gary (Wednesday night final dress rehearsal)
as parents were able to go and take photos
so few came and so our applause and laughter really mattered
so of course I obliged

then on the opening night I went alone with hundreds of folks
and then the atmosphere was

watching Bryan dancing was just beyond words
he was smiling constantly and it was contagious!
his dance partner Nora was just perfect...
Olivia was fabulous a Rizzo, and her songs were absolute high points
huge applause every time
every night
so much to say about each and every player on stage
it was like watching a professional traveling troupe
Gary made that point after he saw the performance on Friday evening

Friday was with Gary and his mom and my friend Carla and her son Cameron
Saturday I went with Brandon and his girlfriend Mahdi
and behind us Bryan's teacher from middle school now a family friend forever
and her sister and children from out of town...
the theatre was PACKED with the biggest attendance
in over ten years - YES!

the standing ovations were like explosions of energy
and we felt like we were dancing with the stars

the friendships, traditions of the musical theatre life,
all of it was just an experience of a lifetime for Bryan and for me, too
it was hard for it to end,
although that level of craziness with long late practices can
only last so long and then there is school and regular life
yet we still find ourselves humming and beebopping
and holding on

at one point during the cast party they gathered in a circle
arms around each other, singing "piano man"
and crying their eyes out together
how great is that?
for the many seniors, their last time together
memories woven together, melted together
tears and laughter shared
they are free to feel and show it
Bryan expressed to his friend Mason Scott (played Danny)
how grateful he was for Mason's support...
endless stories...

now Bryan is singing all over the place to prepare for an audition
he has been asked to participate in for the musical RENT
there will be a student director and this will be in-house
for the musical theater class
I will not be able to see it
but that's ok
Bryan has found something very special in this world he has
discovered with his fine arts friends

on Saturday evening I had the immense honor of "accidentally"
sitting next to the mom of the brilliant Teacher/Director/Choreographer
of Grease
what a wonderful treat for my heart...

Ms. Robin Steinhaus will always have a special place in our hearts and lives
she is an amazing talent who knows how to bring out the brilliant shine
in young people
standing ovation for her
for my son in his jeans and black Converse All Star high tops
his prom suit and leather jacket
his orange hair and smile that wouldn't quit
for Olivia and her beauty & style, her command of the stage, her presence
and heart
an ovation for all the behind the scenes work, the musicians, the band leader,
Lindsey's beautiful job as Sandy
and on and on with each character so perfectly portrayed

on Saturday afternoon I got to meet Jessie who played "Frenchy"
and it felt like I was meeting a movie star! how fun

when Bryan ran to Brandon after the final performance and they
did their crazy hug and flying in the air flailing around routine
I laughed and held onto that moment