Friday, February 20, 2015

The Journey Begins

(originally posted by Wendi)

Today we began our "vacation" to Houston. Originally we thought we had to leave the house by 8:30 this morning, but then we realized that I had misremembered the time. Thankfully, we didn't have to leave the house until 10:15. This was great, because it gave us time to repack everything I had already packed. I had been in a rush and we were out of room with no more luggage available. Frank to the rescue! We reorganized and ended up with everything organized plus extra room. Packing skill +7.

The trip was relatively uneventful. It was the first time Bella had flown (that she remembers). Everything was a fun new adventure -  breakfast at Beaches, the security line, moving sidewalks, being yelled at in Vegas for trying to take a picture by the slot machines, her grabbing the hand of a stranger, and finally making friends with our neighbor on the final flight. Her name was Felicia. She shared with me about apricot kernels and their ability to fight cancer; I shared with her about Classical Conversations. She was very patient with Bella, which was good since she melted down when we landed in Houston. Her ears really bothered her, and she made sure everyone knew it. Meanwhile, Mark and Jim got to sit in the last row with a woman who was not fond of flying. Did I mention that it was a very bumpy ride? We then navigated the intricacies of getting a cart, retrieving our luggage, and finding a cab.

Everywhere we looked, there were signs for MD Anderson. Needless to say, by the time we had checked in and headed down for dinner, everyone was a bit...snippy. Once dinner was on the table and the requisite trades had been completed (I don't like this Mac and cheese, I want your hot dog!), everyone seemed to mellow.

And then, the other shoe dropped.

Mark suddenly looked up and asked, "How long will it be until I'm a normal kid again, instead of a kid with brain cancer?"


"Well, never really. It will always be part of who you are now," I slowly replied.

His face began to turn red, and I could see the tears welling up in his eyes. I suggested that he and Jim head up to the room to lie down. He agreed. Before he was five feet from the table, though, he had found something to joke about, and he turned back to flash me a smile.

Since then we've been relaxing in the room, working on looms sent with us by friends, playing video games, watching tree house and pool design shows on animal planet. Everyone has relaxed. "Now this is getting fun," Mark remarked.

The only other observation is that it is strange to be in a place where you know that everyone is there for the same reason. To stay at this hotel, you have to be undergoing treatment at MD Anderson. The older couple who passed us. The people laughing on the other side of the wall during dinner The teens looking for the pool. Is it one of them? Or are they here with someone? I find myself looking for clues, and perhaps spoilers too. Because I still don't really know what this will look like for Mark.
No one does. But I find myself endlessly searching for clues anyway.

That's all for tonight. The weekend should be boring. Thank you for your prayers, gifts, encouragements, and love. Thank you to God for His never falling love.

Goodnight, from Houston.


  1. We are still praying.

    By Leann — Feb 22, 2015 11:11am

  2. Mark, all the things that make you who you are - good & bad, happy & sad, silly & wise - are precious to god and to all who love you. Wendi, remember that there many kinds of "cancer," even among those who are not going for treatment. You're all in my prayers.

    By Peggy & Steve Coquet — Feb 21, 2015 3:13pm

  3. Glad you made it safely and are settling in. What a nice service they have having a hotel for families to come to though I know I'd be people watching everyone trying to tell their story too. I would imagine it would be a bit overwhelming but also with bit comforting. My heart breaks at his comment. �� Know that you guys are in our thoughts and that God is ever present in this journey you are undertaking. May he illuminate himself for you in ways that strengthen and calm. Hugs for Mark!

    By Angel — Feb 21, 2015 2:03pm

  4. Thank you for sharing, Wendi. It really helps knowing that other families are wrestling with hard questions too. Love and prayers to you and the fam.

    By Janet Isenberg — Feb 21, 2015 9:47am

  5. Prayers continue for Mark and the Billington family. Glad to know you arrived safely and are settled in. Soon enough Mark will start his new "adventure". Knowing him, he will probably come home with a head full of more information on his type of cancer and educate everyone else. You are all in good hands with good doctors and with God. Hugs to all

    By Cooki — Feb 21, 2015 9:01am

  6. Praying. Grateful for your reflections on the moments of adventure, minutia of how it's all going and joy and grief. Praying....praying. ...

    By Leslie Alexander — Feb 21, 2015 8:27am

  7. God says do not be afraid because I am with you. May God comfort Mark and all of you. I hope he CAN feel like a normal kid some day. Poor little guy. :( You guys are always in my prayers. I love u Mark! Hugs!!!

    By nancy — Feb 21, 2015 2:19am

  8. Thinking of you tonight and lifting you up to the One who works all things for good for those who love Him. Sweet dreams to you all! Praying for a restful weekend and more "fun!"

    By Heather Lawrence — Feb 21, 2015 1:15am

  9. That makes my heart hurt. Poor guy. Give him my love!

    By Sharla — Feb 21, 2015 12:56am

  10. Poor Mark! I don't know how he is holding up as well as he is. I can't even imagine being in his position. May God's love enfold him and keep his spirits up. Hugs to all of you.

    By Much love, Mom/Grandma — Feb 21, 2015 12:45am

  11. Prayers.

    By Mrs Candee — Feb 21, 2015 12:37am