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The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect


Clay and April’s Most Amazing Summer Ever!

Hello Friends,

I apologize for the long recess I’ve taken from Coal Creek Farm.  I’ve got a hand full of drafts that I wrote, but I just can’t seem to finish any of them when I start writing about Clay.  Clay read this post and said, “It does seem that you’ll write about anything, but the cancer.”  It’s just too hard, I can’t do it yet.

Clay is well.  He is recovering and the cancer is gone.  We are so thankful.  I still feel pretty numb about all of it.  It feels like years have passed since we first found out he had cancer, it is such a weird feeling.

So,  would you like to join me in a little summer show and tell?  It’s about cancer, but not really.

Summer 2013

IMG_1350This was two weeks into treatment for Clay.  We were celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday.  Clay still had energy and his wicked sense of humor.

IMG_1365This was later in July.  Isaac went to camp for the first time.  He clung to me in fear and dread.  I had to peel him off me.  He was so miserable.  He cried, moaned, wailed, and said, “I love you so much, don’t leave me!  I’m just a tiny baby, you can’t do this!”  Don’t let his smile fool you, he was an absolute mess of snot and tears.  Clay took this photo and then we went straight to the hospital, which was our daily routine for seven weeks.

IMG_1353That is the true color of Clay and I.  He’s pink, I’m yellow.  It’s weird.  I look like the sick one here.  I want to write about what it’s like to watch the person you love more than yourself suffer, but every time I think about it, I sob…deeply.  I’m not sure how long it will take me to get past that feeling.  Consider this my hug to all of you who know what I mean and if you lost your loved one, I am still hugging you.



IMG_1381My summer looked a lot like this.  I was a single parent to our four amazing kids.  I can’t say enough great things about them.  We all linked arms and marched along with life.  Nobody complained about what they needed.  My older two kids really showed their true character and did a great job of taking care of their little brothers when I was taking care of their dad.

IMG_1420Ellen stepped in and became my running partner for the half marathon training.   I would call her up and she would drop everything to go run with me.  Many times those runs didn’t happen until late at night when Clay was sleeping and I felt okay to leave.  Several times I had to hug her and tell her how much it meant to me to have her by my side.  She would stop to walk when I needed to and never complained that I was too slow. This is a girl who had just finished a year of college level track training.  She was in such great shape and she pulled the reigns back to lope along with her old mom.  Her level of compassion, patience and love for her parents is beyond what I’d ever expect.  Again, if I think about what she did…I sob, blah!  I wish I could sell a manual on how to raise this great of a kid, cuz I would be a billionaire.  But, this child it truly a gift to me from God.  It’s true.

IMG_1429The love I held in my heart for him before he got sick is just a small dent in comparison to the trench that has been dug deep into my being for him now.  I’ve known this man for 25 years of my life.  I’ve lived with him longer than any other person.  I hope I never have to live without him.




We had unexpected appointments like getting his hearing checked on days when I was spray painting drawer pulls.


And an unexpected accident.  Ellen was t-boned in an intersection while driving to work.  That was a long day. And a lot of phone calls and a lot of searching for a new/used truck.


We had family come and love on Clay.  This is his father praying and anointing him with oil.  It’s nice to have a priest in the family.


Clay’s work sent love in the form of a Vitamix so we could blend up food for him. My fridge and pantry were the healthiest place in town.


I grew a pretty nice garden.  I sold veggies at a small farmer’s market until Clay’s treatment schedule got too heavy and I had to stop.  It was a great experience and I’ll do it again this year.

IMG_1558Every single morning Monday through Friday he went to the hospital.  Then we would have about two hours to run any kind of errands before he would get too sick and need to go home to crash.  And then we would do it all again the next day and the next day and the next day….

IMG_1568We sent Seth to public school to finish his Senior year.  I can barely remember enrolling him, but I know we did it sometime during the summer.  This was his first day and he’s doing great this year.  He’s growing up really fast.  I can’t believe he will be done with high school.  MY BABY SETHY BOY!

IMG_1606At the end of Clay’s treatment, when he was really sick.  I was running with Ellen late at night and pretty much body slammed myself on the road.  It was not pretty.  I thought for sure I had broken my ankle and I cried not because it hurt like Hell, but because I thought I wasn’t going to get to run the half marathon.  And it hurt like Hell.

IMG_1622But, it wasn’t broken, just badly sprained and I recovered in time to run the race.  When I got home that night Clay woke up and saw that I had hurt myself.  He had to cut the dangling skin off my knee….shudder….and wrap my ankle.  He took good care of me even thought he was sick.  It was pretty sweet to see him trying to make me feel better.  I felt really stupid.  I’ll spare you from the gory pictures.


In September we accompanied Clay on his first business trip back to St. Louis.  I worried that he might over do it.  I took my two little boys along with us and let them have some fun.  I was feeling a little guilty that I hadn’t taken them anywhere all summer, so we toured around St. Louis and had a great time.  This picture is at The City Museum.  Isaac obviously is holding an L up because he Loves me.



IMG_1663This is the view from Clay’s office building.  That’s Busch Stadium, it is an amazing view!  And seeing my husband standing there post treatment with his two little boys staring longingly at the home of the Cardinals is the most beautiful view I could have.

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