Sunday, November 22, 2009

Approaching Holidays

This year, the holidays don't hold as much trepidation for me as they did last year.  Our choice to celebrate Christmas away from home last year felt like the wise thing to do since we didn't want to do any comparisons to the picture-perfect Christmas of 2007; Peter's tumor was stable, he was feeling energetic, and he simply devoured all of the Christmas spirit we could throw at him!  His absence last year greatly influenced our decision to pack up the car and drive to Florida for a week to celebrate in a way we had never done before, and we made some amazing memories with the Parkinsons and each other that made last Christmas more memorable than I could have ever hoped it would be.  This year, we are going to go back to celebrating at home, and next week will mark the beginning of what I'm sure will be a rich and emotional month of celebration leading up to Christmas morning.  The trimming of our tree will be the activity which I'm sure will stir some of the fondest and most powerful memories; each of our children has many ornaments associated with them, either because they made them or because we purchased them with that particular child in mind.  Hanging Peter's ornaments as well as his stocking will serve to not only honor his memory, but it will also remind us that although we can no longer see him among us, he's very much present in all of our thoughts.  Building and decorating our gingerbread house, cutting our paper snowflakes, baking Christmas cookies, and reenacting the Nativity on Christmas Eve will all remind me of the joy Peter had during his last Christmas with us.  I'm sure that many more things will remind me of Peter as Christmas approaches, and I think I'm ready for it.  What I mean is that I'm prepared to feel the emotion of missing him and allowing tears to flow perhaps a little more frequently than they do at other times during the year.  It's okay to miss him, and it's okay to feel sad for a time; when I let those feelings flow, they tend to leave behind feelings of peace and reassurance that life is progressing the way that it needs to and that Peter is where he needs to be right now.  I will see him again, and my Savior Jesus Christ, whose coming into the world we will celebrate this Christmas, makes my ultimate reunion with Peter possible.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Time to Get Writing Again

Some people get distracted for a few moments, but I apparently can be distracted for much longer periods of time! What can I say? Life has really thrown a lot of new wrinkles our way over the past four months, including sending a son to college and me starting a new career. On top of all that, I finally put my shoulder to the wheel, my nose to the grindstone and my hand to the plough and submitted the manuscript for Peter's book to Covenant Publishing. Now that things are beginning to settle down a bit, I feel like I can devote a bit more time to the writing that I depend on so much. For many people, writing is a chore or a necessary evil, and I can completely understand that; however, for me, it is a lifeline. Writing allows me to truly examine the current state of my mind and heart, and I do it pretty much every day. I admire people who write for a living, but although I would like to see at least one story published to the world, writing in and of itself is the important thing to me. I plan on writing about every topic I can think of on this blog for the foreseeable future, but I think I will always come back to how Peter's passing continues to shape and reshape my way of looking at life, death and the purpose of it all. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Happenings

Mom's masterpiece
The proud grandmas!

The whole family flanking the graduate

All decked out!

This summer has been busy for the entire family, but especially for our two oldest, Nathan and Spencer. Since Nate's graduation on June 5th, the boys have been on a week-long back-packing trip to New Mexico with our ward's young men, and they just returned from a week down in San Antonio attending our church's youth camp called Especially For Youth, or EFY. I'm proud of my boys and the young men they are rapidly becoming; they both stood in church today and bore their testimonies of the gospel, and they always keep things fun and lively here at home. I'm attaching a few pics of Nate's graduation, and he was particulary proud of cake his mom made for him declaring to the world that he is a BYU Cougar at last! Lindsey's been just as busy with Girl's Camp and keeping up with her friends here at home (we just haven't been as diligent about taking pictures to share!). She is not happy with the fact that summer is now a third of the way over!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Big Week for Nate

Our oldest son, Nathan is a very busy boy this week. He graduates from high school next Friday, and he is knee-deep in all of the wrap-up concerts and awards ceremonies. He finished in the top 10% of his class and was awarded one of the two outstanding band students for this year. Tonight, he had double duty; he spoke at Seminary Graduation at church at 7 p.m., and as soon as he was finished, he changed into his band tux and drove like mad to the high school so that he could perform in his final high school concert and be honored as a graduating senior. He has loved his high school experience, and he is looking forward to his freshman year at Brigham Young University starting this Fall. Since Nate won't turn eighteen until July, he will be able to go to a complete year of college before he goes on his mission next Summer. He's quite simply a fine, outstanding young man, and I am very proud to be his dad.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sorry...It's Been Too Long

Since the anniversary of Peter's death, life has taken many interesting twists and turns for the Barr Family. First off, we packed up the family and took a long-planned, two-week trip to Europe, leaving on Saturday, March 14th and returning Sunday, March 29th. Even before Peter's illness, we knew that we wanted to make one last special trip as a family before Nathan graduated from high school and before we all went our separate ways. We saved our tax returns for more than four years in preparation for this event, and as we realized that Peter would not be making the trip with us, it took on an even greater significance. We toyed with the idea of not taking the trip, or perhaps scaling it down somewhat to make it more affordable; however, shortly after Peter's passing, we realized how much we needed to make this the trip of a lifetime. Tina spend months pouring over Rick Steves' travel guides for Germany, Austria, the Netherland and Belgium, and we began working out the budget. Ultimately, we purchased round trip tickets from Dallas to Munich (via Atlanta), rented a mini-van, and covered over two thousand miles of European bliss in the two weeks we were gone. We saw and did things that I believe the children had only imagined, and we were able to relive some of my fondest memories as a missionary in the Netherlands over twenty years ago, hooking up with friends and acquaintances who played a pivotal role in my two years of service back in the eighties. The trip was a whirlwind, and as all wonderful things in life, it was over before we knew it; we did, however, take over 800 pictures and kept a meticulous journal of our travels, so anytime we want to relive the memories, they are right before our eyes.

Since returning home, life has been in fast forward. Work for me has been more demanding than in any other time in my twelve-year career with my company, and the children are on the downhill run toward the end of school. Tina continues to work at the Cake Stand in McKinney and enjoys working for a business that really utilizes her talents and gives her artistic side a great deal of room for expression. Nathan graduates from school a week from this Saturday and will begin his college journey at the end of August at Brigham Young University. This time next year, he will be anxiously waiting for his own mission call to arrive, and we can't wait to learn where in the world the Lord wants him to serve. Spencer completely loves soccer and orchestra, and he will likely be one of the varsity goal keepers next season as well as an officer and concert master in orchestra. Lindsey is excited to have her first year of middle school behind her, and she has her sights set on participating in athletics next year, both in track and perhaps in tennis as well! We continue to count our blessings in spite of the trials and challenges life places in our path, and we rely continually on the Lord to help us make sense of the great changes that continue to happen in our lives. Peter is always with us. We visited his grave today as part of our Memorial Day observance (okay, he's not a veteran, but he did fight a great battle!). Tina, Nathan and I all dreamed about him over the past few weeks, and he seemed to be offering each of us comfort. For me, he was giving me a great big hug, which was priceless. My son's death has turned my world upside down in many ways, some of which I never expected, yet I have to believe that all things are working out the way the Lord intends them to. We are slowly learning that life can go on, and the surges of grief, though they still occur, are farther apart and take place with less intensity. We know that Peter is in a wonderful place, and even if he misses us as much as we miss him, we all know that we will see each other again and enjoy the family bond we all cherished while he lived among us.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Little Boy I Remember

I think back on this past year and all of the amazing, terrifying, joyful and sorrowful experiences we've had, and I simply can't believe what we've been through. A year ago today, Peter completed his journey with cancer, leaving his compromised little body behind to enter God's paradise. The only way I can describe his absence is like missing a limb; his death left a void in our lives that will never fully be filled, but we are slowly learning how to function without him in our home. To honor Peter on this sober occasion, I wanted to share with you once again the eulogy from his funeral. It captures just how much I love and admire my little son and the towering spirit that lived for eight years in that tiny frame. I also wanted to share a few pictures that many of you may never have seen before; they show the Peter whose life changed dramatically when he was diagnosed only a short time later. God bless everyone who continues to cherish Peter's memory and expresses love and comfort to our family.

Peter Galbreath Barr

January 28, 2000 - March 11, 2008

On January 28, 2000, Scott and Tina had just said good-bye to Tina’s mom, Ann, a day earlier, driving her to Baltimore’s BWI airport so that she could fly to Utah and be with a daughter who was actually going to have a baby that week. Tina was due in mid-February but had been experiencing premature labor pains since around the second week in January. This prompted Ann to fly to Baltimore a week earlier to help Tina rather than traveling to Utah where Tina’s sister Katie was also fast-approaching her due date with her third child. Grandmas are wonderful, magical people, but it’s really hard for them to be in two places at once! Once Ann arrived at the townhouse in Baltimore, however, Tina seemed to respond very well to her premature labor medication, and after almost no contractions for close to a week, Tina decided she couldn’t keep her mom from jetting off to Utah to be with soon-to-deliver Katie who would most certainly win this round of the “Bergen-Sister-Baby-Derby”. Tina’s baby, it seemed, would be content to hang around until the appointed due date, and Scott and Tina settled in for another two weeks of anticipation. On the 28th of January, however, not twenty-four ours after Ann departed, and as Tina sat chatting with her on the phone hearing how she had arrived safely in Utah, Tina’s water broke: Peter Galbreath Barr was about to enter the world in very dramatic fashion!
Peter seemed to know that he was destined to be on this earth for only a short time, and the fact that he was in such a huge hurry to get here and get the fun started underscores that notion. Rather than go month-by-month, year-by-year recapping Peter’s brief but marvelous life, I will highlight some of Peter’s amazing attributes by sharing a few stories that clearly illustrate them. After hearing these stories, I am certain you will agree that if the quality of a person’s life is measured by how many people they impact for good, then Peter Barr lived a fuller and richer life than most people experience in a span of seventy-five to ninety years. He was just that kind of boy.
For anyone who knew Peter, they knew him as not just a friend, but as a dear friend with a smile that could light up any room. The Lord blessed Peter with many siblings, cousins, classmates and children from church with whom he could forge lasting bonds of friendship. His sister, Lindsey, was probably his closest friend in this life, and the two of them could scarcely be separated before or after his diagnosis. Their imaginary games would last for hours, and just when Scott and Tina thought they were finished playing, they would inform mom and dad that they had just finished “thinking” about what they were going to do and that the playing was only just beginning! They dressed each other up in all kinds of wild costumes, they made countless cozy forts with couch cushions and dining room chairs, they infected their friends in the neighborhood with their love of Pokemon and pretending to be baby animals, and they lived each day looking forward to the next chance to play together. Lindsey wasn’t the only recipient of Peter’s total friendship package. Peter knew his good buddy Cayden Fry since they were both in diapers, attending Primary classes at church together, going to the same pre-school and even attending the same elementary school in Kindergarten and 2nd grade. This past year, they were even classmates after Cayden’s family, to our delight, moved into our neighborhood, and Peter loved having his lifelong pal in Mrs. Trimble’s class with him. Cayden, for those of you who might not know, is the artist behind the picture depicting Peter surfing a polar bear down an avalanche, so it’s clear that these two have always had a strong bond between them. One day near the beginning of the school year, Cayden’s parents came to school to have lunch with their son, and true to Walker Elementary tradition, Cayden was allowed to invite a friend to sit with him and his folks. He chose Peter, and when it was time to say good-bye, Cayden was feeling very sad. Cayden had been very sad about leaving his old school and was trying hard to see the positive side about switching schools. Peter put his arm around Cayden’s shoulders to lead him off to play at recess, and when Cayden, through some reluctant tears indicated that he didn’t want his parents to leave, Peter replied, “Hey, I’d just be happy that they came!”
Even animals responded immediately to the friendship that Peter offered, and we’re not just talking about his devoted doggy Scamp, either. One of Peter’s favorite places to visit in this world was Sharkarosa Ranch out near Pilot Point. It is a wildlife sanctuary with all kinds of fun animals to not only see but with which children are also permitted to interact. Lemurs, monkeys, camels, assorted deer, horses and many other creatures awaited Peter each time he visited, but his heart belonged to the kangaroos, especially his little buddies, the joeys. On our very first visit to Sharkarosa, Peter bonded immediately with a baby albino kangaroo named Alabaster, and Peter was allowed to sit in Alabaster’s pen and feed him from a bottle. What was unique about Alabaster is that he had a crippled forepaw and would not have survived in the wild. We believe that the two of them saw each other as kindred spirits, and every time Peter went back to Sharkarosa, the trip wasn’t complete without an opportunity to feed his pink-eyed, snowy white friend who always remembered Peter the moment he stepped into the pen. Other joeys also bonded with Peter over the course of his year-long love affair with Sharkarosa; during his eighth birthday party, Peter sat in the joey pen with Itchy and Eevie, the two little pals who later visited him at his bedside just before he passed. While in the pen together, Peter learned that kangaroo joeys communicate with each other by shaking their heads and hears. Peter proceeded to “communicate” with his two little friends by shaking his head back and forth. They responded almost immediately by hopping around him, grooming him and tugging on him as if to say, “come and play with us!” Peter showed everyone who came in contact with him unconditional love, and that is what made him a powerful, lifelong friend to so many people as well as every other one of God’s creations he encountered.
I mentioned earlier how Peter’s friend, Cayden, depicted Peter surfing a polar bear down an avalanche. That fanciful notion, born of a thought Peter shared with his dad shortly after his diagnosis, symbolizes another of Peter’s Christ-like attributes, and that is courage. Ever since his diagnosis on December 9, 2006, Peter did indeed surf a polar bear down an avalanche as he battled his tumor, and never once did he ask , “Why me?” or complain that what was slowly transforming him and his life each day was unfair or terrible. He simply mounted that polar bear and took it for a ride! During his battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, Peter endured thirty radiation treatments, seven months of various types of chemotherapy, two surgeries and heaven knows how many pokes, pricks, yucks and other assorted unpleasantries. He saw his hair begin to fall out and watched in dismay as his body gained thirty pounds as a result of medication he needed to take to control swelling in his brain. Did this deter him from having fun? Not in the least. He went to Disney and conquered “Expedition Everest” like a pro. He rode horses and made a movie at a dude ranch in Colorado. He played his first and only season of soccer as his team’s goal keeper, following in his older brother’s footsteps. He skied down a mountain, cavorted with rescue dogs, and drove a snowmobile in Montana thanks to our friends at Eagle Mount and Bridger Bowl. When his right hand went numb as a result of his progressing tumor, was he discouraged? Not a chance; he simply put his pencil in his left hand and moved on without a moment’s hesitation. The journey of dying from cancer would seem like a maddening, terrifying prospect for almost anyone, but for Peter, he treated it like the chance to have the adventure of a lifetime. He treated is as though he had the opportunity to do something special and unique. He treated it like he was surfing a polar bear down an avalanche, not even worrying about what would happen when his ride came to an end; he had the courage to see the wonder and the miracle of each moment he experienced.
Another attribute that greatly aided Peter in his journey was his irrepressible sense of humor. We can’t count how many times we heard people comment during his life that this child always seems to be smiling! It’s almost as though he could see the fun and funny side of every situation he encountered. He wrote a story that appeared on CaringBridge a few months ago in which he tells the adventure of a tiger cub named Cobu. Cobu was fishing by himself one day but found himself far from home after falling into the river and being swept downstream. As soon as he realized how lost he was, he meets a girl tiger cub named Coru who invites him to play with her. “But I’m lost,” replied Cobu. “That doesn’t mean you can’t play!” retorts Coru, and off the two of them pounce together to have some fun. He loved hearing and telling the jokes that so many of you sent to him last year via CaringBridge, and he even saw the funny side in the changes happening to his body. When he would step out of the bath tub in his mom and dad’s bathroom, he could see in a full-length mirror every pound of the weight he had gained from the medicine he needed to take. Rather than getting depressed, he would smile and start dancing in front of the mirror making his jelly-belly and all of his little fat rolls shake and jiggle! Peter loved playing games and created some of the most dramatic and hilarious ways to roll the dice when playing Yahtzee and came up with some of the zaniest, goofiest words when he was his dad’s Scrabble partner. As his family rode the DART train down to the Dallas Zoo in early February, Peter was already losing his mobility as well as the ability to speak without great effort. That didn’t stop him from seeing the humor in things happening around him. About halfway through our trip, a clearly disheveled woman with mounds of unruly blond hair on top of her head stepped aboard the train and sat down right in front of Peter and his mom. Peter said nothing, but it was obvious that this new passenger had caught his attention. After she stepped off the train, Peter leaned over to his mother and whispered, “She was having a bad hair day!” Immediately after he was diagnosed and knowing that something was gravely wrong with his little body, Peter still couldn’t contain himself. He spent the day he was in the hospital getting his brothers to pull him around the pediatric floor in little wagons and playing ceaselessly with the buttons on his hospital bed. “This is the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at!” he would exclaim with his one-of-a-kind Peter smile exploding from his face. That smile and his ability to find fun in every situation saw him and his family through some of the darkest hours of this past year, and they are almost certainly causing quite an uproar on the other side of the veil.
A few months ago, one of Peter’s Primary classmates from church ran to his mom after church; like all of our dear friends, the mom immediately quizzed her son for news about how Peter was doing, obviously seeking information on his health. Her son took it a different way. “Peter’s doing fine, mom,” the youngster replied, “He knows all of the answers!” This pretty much sums up the last of Peter’s attributes I want to share, namely intelligence. Peter excelled at everything he attempted (except maybe tying his shoes), and he picked up many things far earlier than his parents ever expected. He spoke in full sentences near his first birthday, learned to swim before he was three, and rode his bike like a pro well before Kindergarten. He always had something to say, something to share, a story to tell, or an observation to make, and he almost always figured out a clever, silly way to say it. It’s hard to imagine what went on in Peter’s mind or how he processed things, but one experience showed guile and maturity far beyond his then six years of age. His brother Nathan was having his fifteenth birthday party at our home, and the house was packed with teenagers having fun and playing games. Peter was not about to be excluded from the festivities, and Nathan agreed that Peter could participate in the main activity of the night, the game called Murder In The Dark. For those of you who don’t know the rules, one person is chosen, unbeknownst to all of the other players, as the “Murderer”, and once the game begins, it’s their job to eliminate all other players through a series of covert hand squeezes without getting caught (everyone is seated in a circle and holding hands). Peter’s parents observed the game in action and saw the systematic way that players were being eliminated by the “Murderer” commenting to each other that whoever it was, they were extremely patient and calculating since no one had a clue who was bumping them off! Ultimately, the game got down to the final four players, and Peter was among them! As poor Melinda Woomer frantically tried to accuse Peter of being the “Murderer”, she quickly realized that in that instant, there was no one left to second her guess! There she was, all alone, staring down into Peter’s cute little smiling face as he said in a voice both innocent and sinister…. “You’re too late!”
Peter certainly understood things that no other child his age might have needed to understand, especially about his eternal destiny. Peter learned early in his illness that leaving this life was a very real possibility, and after a few fearful moments, he embraced that outcome as he drew on his faith in his Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Only a few weeks before his passing, Peter’s dad lifted him out of the bathtub so that his mom could get him dried off, dressed and ready for bed. Peter had been give a brief window in which he was able to speak again after several days of being incomprehensible in his speech, and his mom asked him if he was scared at all. When Peter shook his head, mom began to rehearse again all of the reasons why crossing over into the next life would be a wonderful thing to him, but before she got too far, Peter raised his hand as if to quiet her concerns. “I’m good…I’m good,” he whispered. Peter felt his Heavenly Father’s love and knew his Savior, Jesus Christ. He had felt the comforting, healing power of the Holy Ghost, healing not his body but soothing his spirit and preparing him for the next phase of his incredible voyage, and he had the intelligence to know truth when he felt it. He had wisdom far beyond his years, giving him the capacity to show patience and submissiveness even under the gravest of circumstances that served as an example for his whole family.
Peter Barr exemplified many things, but the attributes of friendship, courage, humor and intelligence are what his family will remember most as they reflect on the miracle that was the life he led. The impact Peter and his God-like qualities had on his family, his friends, his school and his community may never be accurately measured in this life. He leaves behind an almost unbelievable legacy for an eight-year old boy. He showed hundreds if not thousands of people how to face the greatest hardships in life with grace, humor, dignity and faith, and we could all see the love of God shining in his sweet, freckled face. Your family loves you, Peter, and we rejoice in the fact that through our Savior, Jesus Christ, our reunion in eternity is not just a hope, it is a certainty.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Polar Bear Swim

At the end of January, Tina and I invited some close friends to participate in a memorial or sorts for Peter in honor of his birthday. Since Peter loved both swimming and polar bears, we decided to jump into the freezing-cold pool (okay, we heated it to 65 degrees) and eat cake afterward! The atmosphere was magical, and we appreciated the enthusiastic participation; we only wish we could have invited more folks. I hope you enjoy the pictures of the cake (made and decorated by Tina at the Cake Stand where she works) and some pics of us in the pool.

Some people have asked me about the title of this blog, so here's my explanation. Peter's fantasy about surfing a polar bear down an avalanche made me think about what that polar bear symbolized for me. I didn't like thinking about the polar bear as the tumor; although big and potentially frightening, Peter thought such a trip would be thrilling. I then began thinking about Peter's fantasy polar bear as symbolic of Peter's journey with cancer, and now that Peter's journey is complete, we now have to make peace with it. Maybe one day one of us who remains will mount that polar bear ourselves and see where he takes us, but for now, we simply need to live with it and learn from it. I guess the polar bear represents the grief and the wonder that remains for us as a family; we can sit in a corner and cower, or we can cautiously approach it and with outstretched hands, learn the valuable lessons it can teach us.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Difference a Day Makes

I guess the best way to describe my mood yesterday afternoon was toxic. I felt a ton of negativity, and after reading my entry from yesterday, it showed. In the past, I probably would have apologized for floating that message out there for public consumption, but sharing my feelings actually served its purpose. I almost immediately felt relief from the oppressive feelings that held me in their grip, and I felt like I could get through them after a few difficult hours. Grieving is hard and unpredictable, and when I feel the upsurge of emotion, I remind myself of a line from one of Peter's favorite books: I can't go around it, I can't go over it, I can't go under it...I have to go through it! On my next entry, I will share how our family celebrated Peter's birthday with a modified polar bear swim with a group of people who have been very supportive of our family over the past two years. It really helped us honor Peter in a fun way without letting the obvious sadness of not having him here spoil the joy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Difficult Anniversaries

Sometimes I feel very ill-equipped to cope with the challenges facing our family right now. Like everyone else in the world, we feel the pressures of the worsening economy as well as anxiety over our new government's ability to offer relief to those who need it most. My employer has taken some strategic steps to avoid layoffs, which has lessened my worries over my job in the short term; however, when my group's primary mission is to drive sales within the corporations whose names continue popping up in the headlines (for all of the wrong reasons), I can't help but feel apprehension over what 2009 will bring. I am a man who works to live rather than one who lives to work; I try to maintain balance between my professional life, my family life, and my personal interests, particularly my activity in church, and so far this year, my professional life keeps trying to encroach on the other two equally important areas. Maintaining balance at this time is critical for me and for my family; we made it through the crucible of our first holiday season without Peter only to find ourselves facing his birthday, the anniversary of his baptism, and the anniversary of his death coming up on March 11. I rely just as heavily on my family to help me cope with such solemn milestones as they do on me, and as the world and the demands of earning a living continue to pull at my attention, steal precious time and drain my emotional reserves, I often feel spent, irritable, distracted and ineffective at the tasks I need to perform each day. I feel my anger and resentment increasing, I lose patience with myself and others more easily, and I find myself forgetting important details that sometimes come back to haunt me. I have no easy answers for this situation, but I do know that I can probably expect more of the same before things begin to improve. Peter's death is less than a year behind me, and I still find myself thinking of him constantly. I miss him so bad that I ache inside, and the weight of sadness that I feel at times feels overwhelming. It seems like the rest of the world has moved on, yet our family continues to labor daily with sadness and heartache; although the pain isn't constant, the moments, minutes or even days when it descends upon us are exquisitely intense. At this very moment, I feel a dark gloom hanging over my head, and I find at times like these, the only way to dispel it is to write about it with as much clarity and honesty as I can muster. It feels totally unfair that I have to contend with the day-to-day drudgery of earning a living, dealing with the relentless demands of corporate America and its dispassionate profit-driven sensibilities, when I feel like I'm suffering from emotional autism. I simply can't tune out the noise. I vacillate between wanting to be embraced and wanting to be left alone. My focus and my concentration is challenged at best, non-existent at worst. During my company's sales meeting this past week, I dreaded each meeting, each breakout, each banquet because I knew that the caring people with whom I work would each ask how our family was coping with Peter's death, yet at the same time I drew strength from the fact that they cared enough to ask. I have people who rely on me, and I don't want to let them down; however, I know that I'm not the same person I was two years ago. Discovering the dimensions, the contours, the limitations, and the capabilities of the new and evolving me will take time, trial and error, yet it doesn't seem like the world is interested in affording me the time I need. It's all very confusing, and I can easily get carried away in feelings of hopelessness. It's at times like this that I need to remember that, although I am weak, I can draw unlimited strength from above if I remember to humbly ask for it. I think that's why we're still moving forward in spite of the confusion and uncertainty we face each day, both from the chaos of the world and from the strong emotions related to our grief. Tina just reminded me that all we have to do is make it a day at a time; we don't need to worry about next week, next month or even next year when the emotions start to unravel and the world rears its ugly head to steal our peace of mind. All we need to do is concentrate on today and let the Lord take us by the hand and lead us through the challenges of the here and now. I pray that we can do that and appreciate the peace we have been given.