Leslie's Journey.....

Thank you for being a part of the journey.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Second Tree...

Be in prayer for those traveling and those preparing for the Second Tree service in Archbold on Saturday.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First Tree

Please be in prayer for those traveling to and those preparing for the first memorial service.
May those in attendance be truly blessed by the message of celebrating eternal life.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Next Chapter(s)...

One week (and change) now, into the next part of the "journey". So much to say. Still learning so much every day. So many blessings. New burdens. So much I'd love to share. My heart is aching to write again...
In a proverbial "turning of the page", this blog is moving. Some people struggle with the MySpace thing... and I've got to admit, it's a little heavy on ad's and just plain shady stuff for my liking. And, I don't intend to make Ginny keep copying/pasting the way she has (thanks again, by the way, Ginny!)... So, here's where you can find "...another chapter"-- a blog on the life of Daddy and TJ after Leslie's victory over cancer. The URL is:
Thanks again, everyone... and I truly hope to see you (virtually, or even better-- in reality) in "another chapter".

p.s. A housekeeping note-- To those of you interested, here is the Memorial Service schedule/plan for Leslie:

Each service will be an open-invitation event. There will be a short "service", which will include some worship and reflection time, and the reading of Leslie's favorite (children's) book, "The Tale of Three Trees". A must-read, for those of you who have kids. The services will start late-morning or early-afternoon, and will be followed by an outdoor reception. The reception will be held at each of the 3 locations, to dedicate a young oak tree in Leslie's memory. The oak tree is just a perfect image of Leslie-- strong, elegant, simple beauty. And 3 trees will do more for the life Leslie has left behind on earth than a single morbid grave site would. And plus... it plays in nicely with "The Tale of Three Trees" theme. Leslie knows/ knew that this would basically be the plan, and is/would be honored. So... here's the schedule. Times to be solidified as the dates near...

Saturday, August 23, 2008- Washington, IL. (Leslie's hometown. Dedication of the "first tree".)
Saturday, August 30, 2008- Archbold, OH. (My hometown. Yes, I know it's Memorial Day weekend. My apologies to any scheduling dilemmas this causes. Start time of the service will be 10a.m. EDT. Dedication of the "second tree".)
Saturday, September 6, 2008- Bolingbrook, IL. (Leslie's last earthly "home", and where her journey became a ministry-- where forever people will remember her and "think of God". Dedication of the "third tree".)
There is an educational trust fund for TJ being set up in Leslie's memory. Please contact me privately if you wish to honor her in that way. My email address is tyson_aschliman@yahoo.com. My home phone number is 630-312-8500.
I want to add that I almost didn't allow the trust fund to happen. I have been convinced by people wiser than me that this IS, after all, a good way for people who have been touched by Leslie to reach some sort of "closure", and offer a gesture that will make some significant long-term difference for her family. HOWEVER... I do want to say, that if you REALLY want to honor Leslie in a way that will REALLY make a difference in your OWN life, and in the lives of others, there is something else you can do... Take your significant other out for a nice dinner. Or a weekend get-away. Or a week on the beach. These are the things that Leslie longed to do over the last year of her life, but was never able to enjoy with me. The first surgery took her sense of taste and smell-- we never again were able to do our favorite thing for "date night". (Spend a whole lot of money on really, really good food and drink, at a unique and dimly-lit restaurant together.) Her health kept us from traveling. Nothing would honor Leslie more than for couples just to love on each other, spend time together, and bring happiness and wonder to their pallets (or sunshine to their faces), in her honor. Couples just don't do enough of that these days, if you'd ask me (or Leslie). If it makes you feel better, email me and tell me about the event. I'd love to hear about it!
Anyway... back to blogging at the new site. Thanks again!

My 3-year old pace car...

…..OOPs! Didn’t realize there was another epistle….

Monday, August 4, 2008

So I kind of expected to be basically paralyzed with grief for... I don't know... the next 7 years or so. It took me 7 years to learn to love her the way I do, so I figured it'd take that long to learn to live without her. Somehow it seemed the earth would stop turning, and the world would stop needing anything from me. You know... like a bereavement leave, or something.But on Sunday, July 27, I woke up and got out of bed. That's what people do. I took a shower. Shaved (I was long overdue... started a new shadow of stubble that had never known her face, and never would.) And I went to pick up TJ from Aunt Dana's house, where he had spent the previous week in innocent and gleeful oblivion. Poor kid has no idea what a big week that was for him.We went to the Zoo. It was as if nothing had changed-- at least to him, and in regards to our interaction. He was all into the animals and sights and sounds, as he always is. I was fighting tears of emotion-- not sadness-- as around every corner lay waiting another beautiful memory. The Brookfield Zoo has been a favorite place of ours since we moved up here. It was a perfect day at the zoo-- 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Leslie just loved that kind of day, with a quiet glow about her. The memories as they flashed through my mind were so precious-- and there wasn't a single one where Leslie was being pushed in a wheelchair or needing her oxygen tank. She was young, strong, beautiful, and laughing. (And getting out the Purell after leaving the ape exhibit.)TJ didn't even ask. I don't know why he would have, in retrospect. Mommy not coming along with us on our little outings was nothing out of the ordinary over the past several months. To be sure, in his little not-yet-3-year-old world, nothing really changed for him, day-to-day. It had been quite some time since she was really able to do the "mommy" things that mommies are supposed to do. TJ (I hate to say it, because it just seems so unfair to Leslie) had already adjusted to life without his mommy. The only thing that changes for him is that now he can't go upstairs and kiss her goodnight before I put him to bed. But to be honest... to him, Mommy being in Heaven isn't really much different from Mommy being in the upstairs bedroom hooked up to IV's and an oxygen tank. (I don't need to say it... but for his Daddy, it's not as simple-- ah... another time, another blog...) Anyway, this whole "adjustment" of TJ's has been an ironic answer to prayer, really... God has already built that beautiful hedge of protection around his little heart.Anyway, I felt compelled to ease the news onto him over lunch at one of the outdoor Zoo restaurants over his "shark-dog" and juice box."Hey TJ, I need to tell you something." He looked up at me-- ketchup on his face, big brown eyes. I almost broke down crying right then and there. But I held it together. "Last night was a very special night. Last night, Mommy went to Heaven and she's with God now!""And JESUS?!" He asked. We'd prepared for this moment."Yup!" I laughed, still fighting tears. "And do you know what she's doing?""Is she getting my drum ready?" he asked, in reference to the stories Leslie and I used to tell him about heaven, as she grew sicker."YES! And someday we will all play BAND and worship God together! You, me, and Mommy!""Is she getting a cymbal too?" He was starting to get very excited."A GREAT BIG cymbal. LOTS of them!"His response was a glowing, dimply gasp of surprise/ excitement. He held his smile and looked at me for a while, and then re-focused on his shark-dog and juice box. And that was that.
From time to time, he asks when Mommy will come back. (He knows the answer, but it's an exercise that he needs to go through, I'm learning.) And at night we pray and thank God for Mommy, and tell Him to give her big hugs and kisses from us. There are times when he is quite "needy", asking simply for his paci and to cuddle with me. I know it is in those times that he is deeply missing her. But he doesn't say anything about her. Perhaps he doesn't even recognize it's the mommy-shaped void in his heart that is making him feel like that. Whatever the case... not only have I been shocked and thankful for how that little guy has been getting along this past week-plus-- he is actually the glue that's holding the pieces together for his daddy so far, as well. Not only has God answered Leslie's and my most gut-wrenching prayer of the last several weeks (to be with TJ, protect him, keep him "happy", and so-on), but God is indeed using TJ to be an ongoing answer to prayer in my own life, and in the lives of our families. (Something about "...faith like a child..." comes to mind.)Karen the homecare nurse came over Tuesday to pick up some infusion pumps and equipment that were no longer needed at 432 Butterfly Rd. I grabbed Jack (the Lab who is way too excited to hear the doorbell ring) and was pushing him into the basement when TJ answered the door."Why hello, TJ! How are YOU?" Karen always loved Leslie and TJ so well when she came over."NURSE KAREN!!" TJ answered, dancing a giddy gig. "Mommy's ALL BETTER!" He threw his hands up in the air and his face was lit up with the most amazing smile I've ever seen in my life. Karen just looked at me, not knowing whether to laugh or cry."Yes she is, TJ. Yes she is." Was all she could answer.Like I said. A daily answer to prayer.

I took him to a "Tubbies" (Cubbies) game, compliments of "Mimi's Friend Ginny" for an early birthday celebration. The game was actually at "Wrigley North" (Miller Park in Milwaukee-- a little baseball humor there). The Tubbies were playing the Bwoowers. We got there so early the gates had not opened yet, but the TGIFridays on the Left Field Terrace was opened, so we went there to watch batting practice and get some snacks for a bit. TJ was just in awe of the hugeness of the place. He's been to Wrigley already, (already in love with the place), but Miller Park is just so different. He was enthralled with the big yellow slide in left field that Bernie Brewer goes down when the Brewers hit a home-run. And he'd never been that close to the field grass and "baseball dirt" (warning track) before. (His favorite part about baseball is the dirt.) His eyes were just like saucers for the whole hour. Just before we got up to leave, I saw a ball jump off a Brewers bat from the batting cage at home plate, up into the hazy glare of the late-july Milwaukee sky. It looked like it might be coming our way...

*THUD* ... clank-clank.It hit the wall of the restaurant, directly behind where we were sitting. There was a mad scramble among the lookers-on-- half out of fear, trying to get out of the way, and half looking to find the ball, to be the lucky fan to take home a souvenir. I joined the fray. Just before I got up from the dining table where we were sitting, I looked down. The ball had settled right there between my feet. Right under my table. I hadn't even felt it land. I grabbed it and handed it to TJ. He was just amazed."TJ! A REAL BASEBALL! Just like the Cubbies play with!""Is it MINE?" he asked in wonder."Yup!""I can take it HOME with me?" He might as well have asked me to pinch him to see if he was dreaming."Yes! It's YOURS!""It's HARD!" He said. He's used to playing with kid-safe spongy baseballs in the basement.

After the exitement settled a little, the "why-game" started up. "Why did that Bwoower man hit the hard ball to me?" he asked."Well, I think that God made it land there... " I mused."Why?" he kept up his part of the game."Maybe it was kind of like a special gift from Mommy," I continued. "I think that Mommy wanted to be here with us, so she just asked God to make that ball land right between my feet, so you could take it home. She knew that would make you happy." I truly believed that was the right answer, not just a fairy tale to sell to a 2-year-old.He thought about it and then answered, "Or maybe that Bwoower man just saw me and hit it up to me."I laughed so hard. "Maybe it's a little bit of both of those things, buddy."We had a great time. The Cubbies won. We ate peanuts and ice cream and I even shared my Mountain Dew with him. (I know, I know... so sue me!) On the way home late that night, his tummy started hurting. I told him that it was probably from the pop that we drank."Pop can be very yummy, but you drank quite a bit of it, TJ. Too much pop can give you a tummy ache. That's why we don't have it very often. We only have it on very special days like Cubbies games.""Maybe next time I will only have one or two or three sips," he said, after thinking about it a bit. Smart kid, that one is. A little later, his tummy was still hurting, and I was trying to distract him, reaching back and holding his hand and trying to soothe him as I drove."Maybe we won't tell mommy that I had pop," he concluded. I could just feel her glare coming down through the night into the sunroof of my TrailBlazer. "What were you THINKING?" I could hear her say...We made it home. He felt better in the morning. And we headed to Ohio to be with Mimi and Papa (my mom and dad) for a few days. We'd been trying to make it over there for the past few months. But hospitals, doctor visits, and overall health kept us from getting there. We even missed the family vacation at the parents' place in Florida this year. That was crushing for all three of us. We'd been looking for a small window of opportunity to make the road trip down (flying was impossible, due to the state of Leslie's skull and sinuses after all her surgeries). That opportunity never materialized...Until now. TJ and I flew down together yesterday (thanks for the tickets and the free rent, Mimi and Papa!). The trip was very tiring, but now we're having a blast. It's so good just to be alone with him. He has been so sweet, so encouraging to me, and full of love and laughter.

Like I said... an answer to prayer. Every day a blessing.He's sleeping now-- one of his afternoon nap-a-thons-- which gives me some time to think. To breathe. To settle in and dig into this next chapter. I'm learning that God didn't intend for me to tackle all this at once. A man can only feel so much pain in a single sitting. There are only so many tears that can be shed before dehydration starts setting in. And He's given me this wonderful little pace car, (TJ), to keep me from burning out before I reach the finish line.
Posted by Tyson Aschliman at 12:38 PM 1