(originally posted by Wendi)
Sorry that there was no weekend update. We were pretty tired going into the weekend and the Wi-Fi was pretty spotty. Right now we are at MDA waiting for the results of Mark's morning labs. He started out the weekend neutropenic (low WBC), which meant shots all weekend done at home by me. I never thought I could do it, but it's becoming easy, although Mark always comments that it's ok if I hurt him because I'm not a professional. I always think I've done well, but I'm not the one getting poked.
He spent a lot of this weekend sleeping. He has seemed very fatigued. Yesterday morning we went to the store and to grab breakfast. He never left the car, just sat as we drove around. After our hour long excursion, he was exhausted and took a four hour nap. I wouldn't be surprised if when his labs come back today, they show that he's at least a bit anemic.
The big news is this is Mark's last week! As long as nothing comes up, Friday will be his last day of this first round of treatment. Then we'll spend an extra week here recouping before jumping on a plane to head home. We're so excited, and Mark is spending a considerable amount of time plotting what he'll be doing with his friends once we're home.
Other big news is that Frank flies in tonight!!!! I'm so excited for him to meet everyone and have a chance to share in what life is like here. He will stay for one week, then take Bella home with him, so we'll come home in stages: first he and Bella, then Mark and I, then the following week, Jim (he is staying to finish off the school year with his Challenge II class).
Bella will be dearly missed when she leaves. After a bumpy start in which she tried to act like a baby, she has taken up the roll of benevolent older playmate to the younger children. Several children come into the main room of the house calling her name, afraid she may be elsewhere. Last week, as she was playing outside with one little boy (Asher), our friend Emily went running outside yelling her name. Her mom commented that she had been worried that Bella might be heading inside soon and that she might miss her. A short while later, I noticed Asher sitting on his mom's lap instead of playing, so I went out to check on them. "What's wrong?", I asked. "He thinks Bella doesn't like him anymore", she said, smiling. Bella was on the playground playing with Emily, so I went and told her what Asher had said. She slid down the slide and put her head on her hand, smiling slightly. I worried that this might be a sign of some mischief she had played on him, so I asked if she had done something to him. "No, mom," she said reading my mind, "I'm trying to think of what I can give him to cheer him up." She remembered an Easter basket full of presents she had been given earlier in the day, rushed into the house to grab it, and presented it to him. "Here, Asher. It's for you! Let's play with it all together. The playground can be our house." With both young children happily in tow, she headed back to play.
This is not an isolated instance. If happens daily and has endeared her to many at the House. One dad told me that the first time he met Bella was when she approached him with something she and I had made and gave it to him as a gift. He was worried she might later change her mind, so he left it in the main room. "I feel bad, " he said. "Now I know I should have taken it. It's just who she is, always giving." This is why I brought her, because there was something in her I hoped would be cultivated by this experience, and that is exactly what's happened. One of my friends lamented, "I'm going to have to start preparing my child now for her departure. He was upset today when she went to take a nap. I don't know what he'll do when she's gone." I'm so thankful for the blessing this has been for Bella and her new friends, even in the midst of this tragedy.
That's all for now; thank you all for your continued support and for continuing to walk this journey with us.