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Tom Tom, Cruises and Tear Jerking Books

I really like my Tom Tom GPS that I got when we bought the new van.  I’m terrible with directions, Mapquest had a serious vendetta against me and I can’t tell you how hard a time I have driving down the highway, with my paper in hand trying to keep one eye on the road and one eye figuring out where I was on the page.  I was so excited when I got the GPS, my days of wandering lost in the streets of St. Pete were over!  I would confidently get from point A to point B without need to call Pete and ask “hey, are you near a computer?” 

But here’s the problem.  I need Tom Tom to say, “Hey, Anissa, next to that Citgo is a white house with 2 big shrubs in the front, you’re going to turn left right after you see the brown cat run across the road.”  What Tom Tom says is “Turn left in 500 feet.”  I’ll be very honest…I have no perception what 500 feet looks like, let alone what 500 feet looks like at 35 miles an hour, how many of the 500 feet have been used up in the time it took me to look up at the road and try to gauge 500 feet.  And if there’s two streets close together, which one looks more like a 500 foot road?  But I AM learning to understand what Tom Tom is talking about and getting more comfortable with its instructions.

Until today…Tom Tom told me take a right…I was in the middle of a bridge. 

I think Tom Tom is trying to kill me. 

The kids and I got up bright and early…early for a summer day…and met up with the Willis family to caravan down to Clearwater Beach.  We went down to the marina to catch a day cruise courtesy of the Brad Richards Foundation. 

Rachael and Mandy Willis

Rachael and Mandy

Rachael and Bella Cerchione (sister to Angelo Cerchione)

Peyton and her cousin Lexi Tucker (sister to Zach Tucker)

Rachael getting a big girl education from Ariel Kesler (sister to Sierra Kesler) and Alannah Willis (sister to Mandy)

Zack Willis, Jared Hawkins (brother to Nikki Hawkins) and Nathaniel grooving the guy thing

My future son-in-law, Cody Bertoch!

It was a fun-for-all with the kids running from level to level of the boat, checking out the view (the kids got to see some dolphins!) and spending time with bunches of our cancer family friends.  There is no way to explain how important these events are…these are the days that we spend bonding together outside of the hospitals and clinics, just getting to know each other better and strengthening our friendships.  It’s an awesome opportunity to catch up on each other’s lives and to just sit back and relax and laugh.  We need that. 

These are friends unlike any I’ve ever had.  I don’t know if there’s a real way to explain the depths of caring and understanding that we have for each other, probably because we know that no one outside of our world COULD understand it.  It’s a blessing to have.  In our early days of diagnosis, we thought we were doing as well as we could in coping all the changes in our lives.  We thought we were handling the fears and anxieties pretty well.  We were so wrong.  I don’t know if we knew how wrong we were.  It wasn’t until we met the other families, had people to give us the amazing support of understanding that we realized how isolated and alone we felt.

Natalie Willis pointed out that there are so many things that the books never prepare you for.  I remember that the social worker at the hospital gave me a great book about pediatric cancer, a book that outlined so many things and gave stories of families.  But there’s no preparing yourself for the reality of a child that becomes someone that you don’t even recognize anymore, for the struggle to maintain a normal life during the most stressful of situations, what it truly feels like to fear.  And there’s no one right way to handle it, to tell people “this is the best way to get through it”.  I know for us, these other families, this support group, these beautiful days of friendship are what’s gotten us through. 

A HUGE thank you to Brad Richards and Kasey Dowd and the Brad Richards Foundation for giving us such a wonderful day. 

I got a tremendous book today.  I am only a few pages into it and I’ve already bawled like a baby because I know how the story ends…an amazing boy’s triumph over death in the arms of the Lord…a family’s grief used to work tremendous good in the lives of others…a family that would reach out to many in need and become friends to all.  I got my hands on Sherry Tucker’s book “Unfinished Love: Walking by Faith Through Pediatric Cancer” and I am profoundly grateful that God brought these people into my life.  I never had the chance to meet Zach, the Tucker’s beautiful son who battled cancer with the greatest courage.  I am also hesitant to start really reading it, I know it’s going to hurt to read page after page of the Tucker’s pain, but I also know that the faith that they share, that they have exemplified will be a lesson in how to handle the most horrific struggles with grace and love.  If you’d like to get a copy, Sherry will be having book signings in the near future and I will make sure to post when she has them scheduled.  You can also order the book on Amazon.com.  I’m not going to lie and say it’ll be an easy read, this isn’t a fictional story of loss, this is a real woman who prayed over her much-adored son as he breathed his last earthly breath.  But you will be moved and inspired and you will fall in love with their family as much as we have. 

f.r.o.G…fully relying on God


ps…more pictures of the day on the Flickr link on the left sidebar!
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3 Comments on “Tom Tom, Cruises and Tear Jerking Books”

  1. #1 Heather
    on Jun 24th, 2008 at 9:40 pm


    I just LOVE your new site! It is so much easier to read . . . fresh, open and beautiful! Your hubby did a great job. Can I borrow him sometime? 🙂

    Looks like you all had a beautiful day! Wish we could have been there, but Kyle had a doctor’s appt. You know – one of those appts. we’ve had for a month and there was no way I was rescheduling!

    I am so sorry you had to go to another funeral. I will be praying for your friend who lost her husband. I watched Rhonda go through the same thing – it is so hard! But I am thrilled that Rhonda is so happy now and so excited about my new nephew. Hopefully when the time is right, your friend will find happiness and peace, too.

    Well, I better run! I’m supposed to be folding laundry – HA! We’ve got to catch up soon!
    Love & FROG . . .

  2. #2 Holly Jo
    on Jun 26th, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Man the kids look like they had a BLAST! You take the best pictures! Our site doesn’t allow many pics.
    I wish we could have attended this, what appears to be, FANTASTIS event! But Sean was admitted to the hospital today and we are S-T-U-C-K!
    Hope to be out and able to see everyone soon!

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