Tuesday, December 29, 2015


It occurred to me today that my best friend is not here.... Of course, I've known this, but it occurred to me in a new way. 

Harv and I had reached a point in our relationship (almost 20 years of marriage) where we were just comfortable with each other. It was nice to have someone at home that you didn't have to be "ON" for. We could just BE. That's one of the great things about a long relationship... Feeling at home with each other.

Yes. We annoyed each other sometimes. But, we loved each other... We had a relationship from the get-go that was easy. We felt comfortable with each other. We didn't have to be on guard or explain ourselves very often. 

That was one of the great things about being married...and being married to Harvey.

He sure was a good one.

I love that he was my best friend in the bestest kind of way... What a gift.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I find that I'm fighting the sad... It's lurking under the surface and I can feel myself trying to avoid it.

I don't want to be in denial...and I also don't want Christmas to be a sad time. Harvey loved Christmas. It bothered him the first time I experienced a sad Christmas after my parents died. So, I kinda think he'd want us to celebrate and be happy...

But the truth is, he oughta be here. So should Laura. 

So, sad is here anyway...in spite of my efforts to avoid it.

But I'm gonna do my best to savor the happy moments of Christmas...and to try to make it as special as I would if Harv were here... Well, I don't have nuts to crack and hard Christmas candies but we'll try to do the regular Christmas things.

Much love to you all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Laura


Laura was my oldest sister. There were six years between us and I think we clicked. When she was in high school, I was her "secretary" and would call her friends to see if they'd want to get together. When I was in college, I visited her most weekends when I didn't go home and then student taught across the street from where they lived so I lived with her and her little family. We had some fun times. I was able to spend a lot of time with my nephew when he was just a little bitty boy... (Now he's all married and grown up.)  

She and I did a couple of bike rides to raise money for the American Lung Association when I was teaching in Atlanta.  I traveled with her some when she'd go visit her daughters in San Francisco.

She was easy to be around. Funny. Fun. No pretense. What you saw was what you got with her.  She was creative. She loved her family deeply. She was easy to talk to. And I talked to her a lot -- especially after Mama died and while Laura was fighting her various types of cancer.

I last saw her one week before she died in April. We had no clue she was so close to the end, so I am especially grateful that she came to stay with us at the beach for our spring break.

I've told some people that when I want to talk to Harv now and realize I can't, the next person on my list is Laura. 

So... there are some adjustments. 

I am surrounded by wonderful family and friends...and I love them so much... But they're not Laura and they're not Harv. 

I kinda like that you can't fill holes of people that you love. They've got their own spot... especially for them...in our hearts. No one else should even try to fill that spot. It can't be done.

Monday, December 14, 2015

My December Grief


The other day I was just gettin' ready for the day and all of a sudden it occurred to me that I don't have a partner to grow old with... If I get sick, I don't have a help-mate to help me. There's no one here all the time that can run to the store for ginger ale if I need it or rub my head if I feel sick.

Another day I was thinkin' about starting to declutter the house in January and I started thinking of all of Harv's things... Some things I most likely don't want to keep... Seems kind of silly to keep 'em and hard to give 'em away. Shortly after he died I was gonna start cleaning out his things, but it was too hard.

And, here's a weird one... I was looking at my facebook page and "Married to Harvey Chute" jumped out at me. I'm not really married to him and I'm not really NOT married to him. Can't erase that one yet.

Yesterday one of my children got very emotional when I asked her to come to dinner... Turns out it was her father she was missing and it came out at an odd time. Then I hurt for her...and I hurt for me 'cause I can't fix it. It's hard for a mama not to be able to fix hurt children.

What's strange is that I've been "handling life" for such a long time that the realities of losing Harv are just now slowly beginning to creep in... On one hand, all of my realizations seem so selfish 'cause it's all about what I've lost -- not what he's gained.  And yet, I guess that's what grief is -- sadness about all of the losses that come when loved ones die...

Grief is hard. Always new with each loss. A helpless feeling.  But, I try to keep reminding myself that it hurts 'cause the love is deep... Those I've lost and that I mourn are deeply loved and treasured. 

(I don't really want to grieve anymore, though.)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Southern!


You'll never guess what just happened! 

I was walking Raney around the block real quick and I turned into a subdivision to make the loop... I saw a lady crossing the street with mail to put in the mailbox. Two things I noticed: she was older and she was wearing an apron. You don't see many people wearin' aprons these days... Least I don't wear 'em often. It kinda reminded me of Mama when she would bake... or fry chicken or something.

Anyway! I said "Mornin'!" And she said "Mornin'!" just like I did!!!!! I said, "You said 'Mornin' like a southerner." She said "I'm from Northern Louisiana." I said, "I'm from Atlanta." 

As you might expect we visited for a few minutes and talked about how people don't understand us when we talk. She told me she's 85. I told her that Harvey had died recently. She told me her husband died three years ago and how much she misses him. She said she was making strawberry bread and that it was his favorite and it made her think about him so much. I told her about lighting the candle for Harv each day and that I miss Harvey, too. She asked where I lived and I told her. She said "I hope you'll stop by sometime. I'm here most every day and especially after noon."  I said that I would stop by....

I think it's kinda funny that shortly after I posted my last blog post -- which included Harv's blog post about the southern in me -- that I would meet and chat with and feel like I had made a new friend with a SOUTHERNER! 

I liked that start to my day!

Thanks, Harv! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

I Hope He Knows

September 23, 2015

It might seem crazy -- and in a way I know it's crazy, but I've been worried lately about whether Harv REALLY understood how much I love him. I told him and he told me, but there was just something about the very last moment where I was hoping that we would gaze into each other's eyes and it would be like in the movies... 

It wasn't like that... It wasn't bad...but it wasn't like that.

Even before the very last minute, I told him that I love him and I tried to just BE with him (though, in all honesty, I found it hard to sit still and just BE 'cause often there were no words...and my brain didn't stay (still DOESN'T stay) still very well.)...but did he really, really KNOW?

I think when a spouse becomes a caregiver, the relationship changes -- whether or not we plan it or want it. And, so -- in 1996 when we got married and until I became a caregiver, I think we were pretty even in our relationship. We didn't really have any major issues. But caregiver/patient is different.... So -- there were times we weren't particularly sweet to each other. Not in a big, bad way, but I would fuss 'cause he wasn't following doctors orders or because I didn't like the idea of some of his pain meds or he'd fuss 'cause he felt bad and he loved me the most so I was easiest to get angry with... 

And, I'm not sure that there is a "beautiful" type of cancer, but stage IV colon cancer is not one of the beautiful ones. So, things that we never expected to deal with became just a part of life... I tried to downplay things that were less than pleasant. I tried to pretend not to notice things that made me uncomfortable... But stage IV colon cancer was a definite part of our lives... and try as I might, I still got frustrated and sometimes distant and often times a fussy lady.

So, since we didn't actually get the Hollywood ending as he took his last breath, I have been kind of holding onto this concern that maybe he didn't really, really, really, really, REALLY know how much I love him.

A couple of times recently, I asked my Sarah if she thought he really knew. Last night, she sent me this note with a link to his blog to show me that she knows he did:
If you read this, you'll hear the love he had for you. He loves you SO much and he ALWAYS knew you loved him and looked after him the best anyone ANYONE could have ever done. (Click link to read blog) http://harveychute.blogspot.com/2013/08/i-hear-southern.html And his dedication to Stone and Silt-- "For Carrie, who puts up with my various projects and pursuits, who is everything I could wish for in a caring wife and loving mother of my daughters, and who--most of all-- is my best friend."
He loved you SO much and he did die knowing that you LOVED him. I've heard you mention this concern before, and I wish so badly you would toss it into the wind and make it go away!!!!! He KNEW you loved him. I don't know what else to say, except that you don't need to worry. He knows you love him and he loves you.  ❤
I read the blog post and cried some... well, a lot. A lot more than I have lately anyway..... I'm actually crying a little bit right now, too.

And then today, I was coming home from doing some financial planning and this song came on the radio. I'm kinda hoping it was from Harvey to me.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Some days it's pretty nice being the only one in the house... 'cause I can sleep as late as I want most days... I can eat what and when I want to eat most days... I can pretty much do what I want most days...

But most days... it'd be nice if Harv was here to talk to, to laugh with, to eat with, to consult with, to fuss at, to collaborate with, to watch tv with, to taste wine with, to travel with, to dream with... It'd be nice to have Harv lying next to me at night and waking up with me in the morning...

And, I might even be okay with him playing the guitar right behind me while I'm trying to concentrate.

He was a good one.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Life right now...



When we first got home from hospice, the girls and I could hardly wait to rid the house of anything that reminded us that cancer ever lived here.... We put things back as close to normal as we could -- though I keep finding things that are reminders of cancer.  I don't actually like looking at photos of his last days because he doesn't look like Harv to me. And, the last couple of weeks his mind was befuddled and he didn't even sound so much like himself... but I know he was still there inside.

I think Raney notices that something or many somebodies are missing... She loves me a lot, but last night she heard a sound that I think she thought was the key in the front door. She jumped up and grabbed her toy and wagged her tail in the hopes that one of the missing somebodies would walk through that door. I believe the sound she heard was the ice maker in the fridge...

Sarah and Hannah are immersed in school and are, thankfully, loving it. They are enjoying their classes and both have good roommates.  Hannah is becoming very excited about computer science and the possibility of being in the graphic design program. Sarah is enjoying her classes as well. Both girls have found a few people to run with and they've been able to show their new runner friends some of the great trails that Bellingham has to offer. They have received lots of love to support them in their grief.

Celeste and Anthony seem to be enjoying the fun new parts of marriage and settin' up housekeepin'... Though being in the midst of learning about grief and in the midst of learning about marriage is somewhat challenging. They, too, --- like S, H and I --- are surrounded by good friends and are finding life and social events to be helpfully distracting at times.

As for me, I've taken some good walks with friends, eaten dinner with friends, and tried to take care of some of the businessy parts of dealing with a spouse's death. The businessy parts are my least favorite, but I'm trying to be responsible and trying to do what I think Harv would do.  I've also had to have a few household things taken care of and that's been a good feeling of accomplishment -- even if I had to hire someone to take care of it.

The moment that Harvey died -- perhaps a few moments before -- I cried... but I haven't had the kind of cry that I wish I could... I don't know why that is, but my theory is that (1) I've experienced a fair bit of loss over the past seven years and (2) I have been grieving for/with/about Harvey for almost four years and (3) there's a feeling of relief that Harvey's not sick -- relief for him and relief that I'm not taking care of a sick person and (4) all of that grieving and loss has kinda formed a protective shell around my heart, I think. Not on purpose. I don't even mind crying. I know it's healing, but I think there's something outside of my control that is being protective.

My lack of tears does not diminish the loss I feel. The house is too empty. No one is stomping up the stairs or hurriedly trying to time all his breakfast items so that they're ready at the same time. There are no work phone calls happening right now. KBoards is quietly continuing without its leader at the helm. No one is playing his guitar or other music too loud for my taste. There's no one gettin' excited about Christmas lights and new workshop projects. Harv's not sittin' at the kitchen counter these days while I prepare dinner or make my coffee. He's not joining me in the living room in the mornings by the fire. Harv's not hearing me fuss that he should probably change his t-shirt or that he's too wiggly in the bed... I'm not preparing for a trip with him somewhere warm and sunny in the winter. He's not sittin' at the dining room table tellin' stories with the girls. We're all not sittin' in the front of the tv watchin' Harv excel at Wheel of Fortune and then Jeopardy before we watch "The West Wing" reruns or "Frasier" or "Friends" or any number of movies.  I'm wearing his cashmere sweater instead of him wearin' it. The peanut butter jar still has lots of peanut butter in it. And the butter that had been used quite frequently for toast isn't being used very fast either. Harv is not here.

Yes. This house is lacking...this HOME is lacking... I feel it. Raney feels it.

And, at the very same time... people are continuing to reach out and fill the void. The truth is, as much as I enjoy being with other people for meals or walks or social times, the void is still there... This void won't be filled.  That doesn't mean I don't want people to still reach out, but sometimes a girl needs to just sit with her void unfilled and be.

Thank you to all of you who have been so good to us. Who reach out. Who call or text or send messages. Please keep doing it. Sometimes I will say yes...'cause it feels right. And, sometimes I will say "Thanks so much. I need to be at home or by myself."

Please pray for all of the people who are feeling the loss of Harv -- his growin' up family in particular. 

It's not right that he's not physically here, but I keep holdin' onto the idea that he's still hangin' around one way or another.  So, every day I light a candle and pretend he's sittin' by the fire with me. 

He was a good, good man. And, I am a lucky, lucky lady that we met and that we spent 20 years loving each other. For that, I am very thankful.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Celebrating Harvey

Yesterday we gathered to grieve and remember and celebrate Harvey. 

Thank you so much to all of you who attended, who prepared for it, who gave flowers, who served food at the reception, who have taken care of me, my family and my out-of-town friends. Thank you to those of you who traveled far to come let us know you love Harv and us. Thank you to all of the people I hugged and all of the people who had to sneak out before I got a chance to hug your neck.

I realized yesterday that I forgot to have a guest book there... So... if you were there and I didn't get to hug your neck, can you just sign in the comments below and let me know you were here? 'Cause I would love to have hugged your neck.

I'm attaching the video that Harv put together. He had been gathering photos and putting them in sub-folders for a while, but I never realized he was putting a slideshow together of his life. And, he included the music, too.  I love it.

I miss Harv. And, I imagine the missing will intensify. He was a good man.

Much love to you all.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Harvey Raymond Chute died peacefully on September 25, 2015 with family by his side.
He was born, September 16, 1962 in Lytton, British Columbia. He was the third child and the first son of Joe and Peggy Chute.
Harvey graduated from Kumsheen Secondary School in Lytton, BC and Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. He worked during many summers as a rafting guide in Lytton. He was employed for five years with Systemhouse out of Vancouver, BC and was employed for 24 years with what is now Northrop Grumman, Inc in their State and Local Health and Human Services Division.
Harvey had many hobbies and interests and loved to learn new things. Some of the things he enjoyed were: camping, hiking, guitar, snowboarding, laughing, woodworking, photography, travel, music and writing. He fulfilled a life-long dream of writing a book --- a young adult historical novel, "Stone and Silt" set in the region where he grew up. One of his favorite things is the Kindle forum, KBoards.com that he created for Kindle users and authors. It is currently the largest independent Kindle user forum on the web.
He loved being with his family and was so proud of all three of his daughters. Some of his most valued times were simply spending time with those he loved.
Harvey is survived by his wife of nineteen years, Carrie Hall Chute; daughters Celeste (Anthony) Fiorillo, Sarah Chute and Hannah Chute... His parents, Joe and Peggy Chute; sisters, Heather (Alan) Johnson, Lyn (Dennis) Warmerdam; brothers, Ross (Jennifer) Chute, Roger (Suzanne Paterson) Chute, numerous nieces and nephews, cousins, and family on both sides who love him very much.
There will be a Memorial Service on Sunday, October 11th at First Presbyterian Church, 1031 N Garden St, at 4:00pm. Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church.
Share your thoughts and memories at www.molesfarewelltributes.com
Arrangements by Moles Farewell Tributes - Bellingham.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Memorial Service


We will have a memorial service for Harvey on Sunday, October 11th at 4:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, Bellingham. We are celebrating that he's no longer sick...and so sad he's no longer here with us.

Today I began to notice that reality is slowly seeping in through tasks that must be done and the fact that I can't ask Harv to help me. 

This stage of the game is not something I feel good at, but we'll make it.

Thank you so much for the many ways you've made this journey less of a burden.

Much love to you all... 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

FYI


For those of you who are wondering... 

We are thinking of a memorial service on Sunday, October 11th here in Bellingham... I cannot give you a definite date because we are waiting to confirm that. I believe it will be fine, but don't make travel plans if you're concerned it may change. 

I should know on Monday if it will be a "go" and what time the service will be.

That is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and I think Monday, the 11th is Columbus Day for those of you who might get that day off work.

We love you, we love you, we love you... 

Un-freakin'-believable how good you are to us.

I will update as soon as I have a specific date and time.

Friday, September 25, 2015

His spirit soars...


My good husband is no longer sick.

We have a hole in our lives.

Thankful for much but still filled with sadness.

Many thanks for holding us up.

Lots of love to you all.

-Carrie, Celeste, Anthony, Sarah and Hannah
(and all of our family)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Tonight we move to Hospice House. We don't know how long he has, but we think it's the right move.

Because of Harvey's confusion/disorientation and because he's unsteady on his feet and we have stairs everywhere... I think it's time to have someone help me take care of him... He said "okay" when I explained things to him, but I think he's still processing everything...

While this feels like the right move, it also seems surreal. Whose life IS this? Surely my good husband Harvey is not near the end of his life! Surely I am not going to be a 53 year old widow. Surely our children are not going to lose their father... This can't be OUR life...

I know that there's no way for me to understand what's going to be on the other side of letting Harvey go... I know that I want him to stop being sick. I know that there aren't any good options. I also know that even though we'll grieve a lot and we will have a giant hole in our lives, we will be okay.

Thank you for praying for us...for loving us...

We love you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Update


Harv continues to be more confused and disoriented. He catches himself sometimes and realizes that what he's saying doesn't really connect... but sometimes he doesn't know it. He is sleeping most of the day. He gets up in the night about 3 times to drink a glass of milk.  His mind seems to be whirling all the time and that's where I think the confusion comes in... He's never really sure what time it is and sometimes he has dreams that seem very real.

Yesterday the nurse came and checked his blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen  & all were good. She seemed to think he was pretty aware even though she witnessed some of his confusion. So... I kinda felt better about that, but he really didn't sleep very well through the night. He came to get me once or twice and then I'm pretty sure he got up on his own once... 

Hospice nurse comes again tomorrow. I'll have a few questions for her.

He's still Harv in there somewhere, but he's also not. 

I don't know what the next steps will be or when they will happen. I will just do the best I can with the information I have and hope for a peaceful transition when the time comes... (Kinda makes me sick to say that.)

Every day somebody does something sweet for us... Sometimes it's cookies during the Seahawks game. Sometimes a friend sits with Harv while I run errands. Sometimes it's somebody bringin' the good kinda ice for Harv to crunch. Sometimes it's a text or a card or a Facebook message... People do my laundry and walk my dog and clean my house... People take my garbage to the street... And help me with the yard. People bring me food and wine and visit with me. People do wonderful things for our children. How does a person ever express how grateful they are for that kinda goodness?! 

I have no idea how to navigate these waters, but I know that I am surrounded -- and my children are surrounded -- by people who will help us...who ARE helping us.

If you're so inclined, please pray that Harvey and I BOTH sleep well tonight and that I can make a wise decision about when the right time is to move Harv to Hospice House. I want to do the right thing for Harv and I want to make a decision that is right for all of us.

Thank you so much for all of your support. How in the WORLD would we do it without you all?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Update


Hard to believe that Celeste's rehearsal was a week ago tonight...and tomorrow she and Anthony will have been married for one whole week!  Woo hoo!

As for Harv this week, we have changed his meds to a long acting pain med twice a day and he has not needed any pain meds for breakthrough pain. The nurse came yesterday and asked what his pain level was and he said "zero." So that's good.

He has slept quite a bit. He gets up in the morning and has a small bowl of cereal and then goes back to bed around 9:30 or 10:00... And pretty much sleeps until almost dinner time.  Then he's up until bedtime (9:30 or 10:00). He sleeps pretty well at night even though he gets up a couple of times.

When the nurse was here, she took his blood pressure and discovered that it's very low... so he stopped taking his high blood pressure meds and hopefully that will give him a little boost. I kinda think his steroid is helping ever-so-slightly with his appetite. Still doesn't eat much, but wants tastes more often, I think.

His mind is a little fuzzy sometimes and it takes a little longer to process things lately, but he's still alert and occasionally conversational.

When Harv was a young thing, he worked for years at Kumsheen Rafting Resort in Lytton, BC (his hometown, for those of you who don't already know.) If you haven't been to Kumsheen, I recommend that you check it out next summer. Anyway! They're having a big reunion this weekend. He really wanted to go. He was really looking forward to seein' all his old buddies. After the nurse's visit yesterday, though, we decided it was just too big of an event followed very soon after a very big event. She thought it was a bit too much to tackle for now.

SO! All you Kumsheen people! Know that Harvey loves you! And, even though he's not into Skype-ing, he is with you in spirit...and has very fond memories of those river-raftin' days!!! Thank you all for all of the fun and the great memories you have provided for him. 

Many blessings to all of you people out there!
Lots of love!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Wedding Weekend

We had a lovely wedding weekend.... Harv figured out the correct timing of his meds so that he had enough energy for the festivities... His brother brought a tent and a reclining camping chair so that he could "escape" when necessary. The setting was lovely, the ceremony was very sweet and the party was lots of fun.

A few pics:

Just before the father's first look. :-)

Harv walked S & H down the aisle, too!

❤️



A perfect day for a wedding! 

 

Thankful for the fun weekend... Thankful for the family and friends who made it so special.

Thankful for the rest this week...

Continued prayers appreciated.... Sarah and Hannah move to their dorm on Saturday!

Love to you all!

Saturday, September 12, 2015



 Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this day... Thank you for the wedding of Celeste and Anthony. Thank you for all of the people who can be with us today...and for those who are with us in their hearts...and for those who are in OUR hearts.

I thank you for all the people who have helped put this day together in so many different ways. Behind the scenes and up front. 

I thank you for Celeste and Anthony -- that they have each found a best friend in each other and that they have found a partner in life as well. I ask that you strengthen their current bond each day and that all of life's little journeys  -- the easy ones and the hard ones -- only deepen their commitment to each other. Please remind them every day that they, together as a couple and as individuals, should move forward... "From this day forward..." Not holding onto hurts of the day before but pushing forward in their commitment to each other.

I ask, Father, that this day -- and all the days following -- be full of joy. That we celebrate all the good things and cherish all the many parts of our lives that make us who we are today. 

Strengthen us all. 

With much gratitude for all you have done and all you will do.
-Amen.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


There's not a lot of news to report from the past few days... I think we've kinda found a good pain resolution for the time being. Harv's still not eating much and rests a good portion of the day, but he's alert and conversational when he's up.

People continue to amaze us with their love and generosity... I'm not kiddin'... in ways too numerous to count.

Pre-wedding festivities start Wednesday evening. And, then just a few more days after that until the wedding. Continued prayers for strength and energy for Harv during those days are appreciated.

Not a lot of words from me today. We love you. 

A lot.

Peace to us all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Dear All The Wonderful People in My Life,

My mother taught me to write thank you notes. My sister, Laura, was an amazing thank you note writer. I have tried to teach my children the same thing. I try to be good and Southern and polite and follow proper etiquette. 

But here's the truth... There is just so much goodness that I can't keep up. And, when I should be writing thank you notes, I kinda need to eat, or sleep or sit quietly and re-group.

So, would you all please accept this teeny weensy "thank you" as a GIANT "thank you?"  Would you try to imagine me huggin' your neck for bein' so good to us all? Please know that we TRULY are thankful even if you don't actually receive a note in the mail from me. I can't even get over how many creative ways you are being good to us. A cleaning coordinator? A dog walking coordinator? WOW! Applesauce made with our apples? Our laundry picked up and dropped off?!  Goodness gracious! And, there's more, too. Notes. Emails.  Cannot even name 'em all.

We are so grateful. Way beyond any words or gestures... Deeply, deeply grateful.

We love you.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Today has been quite full. Started with a visit from the chaplain who I liked a lot. She gave some good suggestions for conserving energy and focusing on the important things with the energy you have... Letting other people help with things that might be less important so that he can have energy for the wedding and our time together at home.

That was followed by a visit from our hospice nurse. She was here for a while and Harv gave her lots of information... She had some suggestions for helping his stomach and working with pain and appetite. We'll see her again on Thursday unless we need her again before that. We have specific things to do today and tomorrow to hopefully get his stomach behaving correctly.

Harv stayed awake for a while after that working on some paperwork. Then took a nap (is still napping).  I, too, took a nap.

One of our friends came to replace our bathroom faucet and another friend came to visit and drop off freezer food. And yet another friend (she's my college friend) is coming by so I can hug her neck on her way back to Seattle. I was honest with her and said I didn't have much more capacity for a real good visit... She obliged and will let me hug her neck in my driveway. (Mama might be embarrassed, but sometimes you have to be honest.) Wanted to hug her neck, though, 'cause I don't get to see her often. 

And still ANOTHER friend is coming over to walk my dog-baby. And ANOTHER friend just dropped off our dinner.

My world is full of wonderful people.

Yesterday it occurred to me that I have to kind of re-train my brain from the goal of trying to FIX all of Harv's issues to the goal of making him comfortable. It's not an easy switch.

Please pray for us as we figure all this stuff out... And, pray for me that I can figure out how to create the space I need while absorbing all the love and generosity that is given.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Yesterday Harv finished the third of three liters of fluids. I'd say he feels better, but his system still isn't really moving so much right now... He ate more yesterday than he had in previous days (combined) and this morning he had a bowl of cereal with a banana and a cup of coffee. He hasn't wanted coffee in months. 

He also walked to the street to get the newspaper and is currently at the kitchen table reading it while sipping his coffee.

On Friday, he was given the okay to take longer acting pain meds and I believe those, combined with his regular pills and maybe with the addition of much needed fluids, have made a real difference in how he feels.

His stomach isn't exactly behaving like he'd like, but he doesn't feel nauseous and he's eating... He is sounding and acting a bit more like himself.

Thank you all for praying for him and for being so good to me and our whole family...

We love you.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

God


Sometimes I doubt and get discouraged about Christianity and the church. I get cynical and bothered by churchy things.

But, I tell you what. If there ever was a sign of God at all, it is in the community of good people that surrounds our family...and have surrounded us throughout this journey. 

How do you doubt goodness when so much love encircles you? 

Every day... Even every hour since Harv declared he was in hospice, people have reached out... People close by and people far away... People who want to fix my faucet and people who want to mow my yard... People who collect half gallon jugs so we can make apple cider with our apples... People who want to sit with Harvey and visit... People who walk my dog and bring me doughnuts... People who send me wine... People who drop my dry cleaning off and bring us soup... People from far away who want to feed my family pizza. People who organize all the people.  People I don't even know! People who pray for us all. 

And somehow I think that everybody in many different ways just wants to make a difference... We can't ever really change the outcome of this story, but we can make the journey less scary....and that's what all of y'all are doing. 

I will never, ever be able to express the deep gratitude that I feel for all of your love. 

Some of you may not be Christians or even believe in God at all, but I will say that, for me, God is in all of the love we've felt... This is the best kinda church service ever. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

For those of you who have asked...



These are the things that we don't always NEED and actually COULD do, but sometimes just don't have the get-up-and-go to do... It doesn't come easy for me to ask, but I know people want to help and don't know how.
  • I've been ordering ready-made meals from ACME for the last few weeks and they've been great. There are three of them in a box for the week and that's pretty good for most weeks. Sometimes, though, I just don't want to fix anything... And, for me, in particular, I like to just have "happy hour" food.. Or, taco salad or pizza with a beer... Or somethin' that sits well in front of the tv. :-)  Might be nice to have a couple of meals a week that I don't have to think about.
  • We haven't needed it much 'cause it's been so dry, but it would be nice every-now-and-then to have the lawn mowed, etc.
  • It would be pretty sweet if somebody could give me the name of a house-cleaner who could come every week or two.
  • We have a minor kitchen faucet / Instant Hot issue... I don't think we need a real plumber, but just someone who knows what things do what and how to make 'em behave properly...
  • Occasionally, if you're at the store or out for lunch, and can text me, I might have a thing or two that we need or want. I'll pay you back when you get here. :-)  (If you don't already have my cell #, please email me at carrie.chute@gmail.com and I'll give it to you...)
  • Somebody mentioned a baby monitor... Does anyone have one we could borrow?
  • Someday we might have an apple project or two. (cider making, picking, delivering apples to food bank or making us an apple pie.... tee hee) 
  • It'd be great if somebody would occasionally take Raney on about a 30 minute off-leash walk... The girls have been good about it and I know that it would do me good to get out with her, but I am currently feeling like I need to stick around.
  • Sometimes I like to drink a good glass of wine...  
  • There might be somebody out there who would love to be the coordinator of all of these projects... That would simplify my life a little -- one contact for me. (CONTACT Shelley Knebel  ( shelleyknebel@juno.com ) if you'd like to help. She's my coordinator. ❤️ 
Those are the top-of-my head things... And, maybe some of y'all know of things that would help us  that we haven't thought of yet.

Thank you for letting me ask these things... Y'all are good to us. We love you.

P.S. Just so you know... I lose it sometimes. I might lose it again -- often.  (And I know that's okay.)
Love you.


Hospice nurse came today... Hooked Harv up to IV fluids and showed me how to unhook him when the drip is finished. We discussed pain management and she will get more pain meds to have on hand. In the meantime, he's taking what he has and I believe he is currently sleeping.

The trick for me is to allow him to sleep without checking on him all the time. Need to just let him be sometimes.

Another nurse will come tomorrow and hook him up with another bag of fluids. We're hoping that that will relieve some of his discomfort and he'll begin to feel a bit more like himself. The next few days will be trying to figure out the perfect balance for pain meds so that he feels good. We are hoping that we can figure it out and that things will balance out by the time of Celeste's wedding.

For those of you who have asked if you can help, I'll make a list of things that come to mind... If something "fits" you, maybe you could help out that way.  

Please pray that Harvey feels some relief... that we can find a good pain med balance for him and that he will be strong enough to walk Celeste down the aisle.

Love you people.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015



Just a quick note to let you know that Harv has officially signed the papers for hospice.

We are both looking forward to having him get some relief.

I keep wondering whose life this is... I just can't quite take it all in... And, yet, I know it's real.

Continued prayers are appreciated.

Many thanks to all of you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015




Still waiting to hear from the radiation oncologist... I called yesterday and spoke to his assistant who said that UW still had not sent his scans to them... She was gonna contact them and see what she could see. We hoped we'd hear from her today, but we didn't. Dr. Taylor doesn't work in Bellingham on Mondays/Tuesdays, evidently.... Hopefully, we will hear something tomorrow.

I have also been in contact with Hospice House to just find out information. We're not ready to sign up for that quite yet, but we think it'd be helpful to hear what it's all about. The nurse I spoke with was very helpful and said they can come to the house to discuss everything. 

The girls (all three of them) and I had a good talk last night about reality. It was hard, but it was good. I think all of us needed to just release some emotion together. 

Harv continues to either be uncomfortable or in pain. And, occasionally, when he exerts himself (walks to mailbox, stands up too long, walks up stairs too soon) sometimes he gets sick. That's not much fun. He's not eating much, but I'm trying to fill him with protein and some fatty stuff. A friend gave me a great recipe that, to me, tastes like custard... He liked it.

He's been sleeping much of most days. 

I've told the girls that I either want him to be healed or I want him to be healed. I don't want him to feel bad anymore. I don't want to lose this good man who is my husband, but I want him to stop being sick. 

I do not know how to do any of this... But we will do the best we can... 

Please pray for all the right things... whatever those things are... I don't even know how to pray.  Pray for our children. Pray for his siblings. Pray for his parents... And pray for me... 

Thank you so much for loving us.

Many blessings to you all.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Update


Last Friday Dr. Taylor (local radiation oncologist) called Harv to give results of the scan he had had the day before. It appears that the tumor that's causing the most pain and is the largest is the tumor that Harv had radiated earlier this year. Dr. Taylor needs to confirm that with UW Medical Center scans (which he hasn't rec'd yet), but he thinks that's the case. He's out of town this week but hopes to have that information when he returns next week.

If it is, in fact, the case, then that means that radiation is no longer an option. 

It's possible that there's a trial or some kind of chemo available, but Harv and I have talked and he feels that he's not strong enough to handle that.  He feels that most likely any treatments that remain available aren't worth the discomfort and toll on the body.

So... We'll wait to hear from Dr. Taylor next week and see what's next... But we believe that what's gonna happen is that we will treat his pain and discomfort.

Only 3 1/2 weeks till Celeste's wedding... We want him to feel as good as he possibly can for that.

We appreciate all the love.  We would appreciate prayers as we try to figure out how to navigate the next stage.

We love you.

Saturday, August 8, 2015



Celeste's wedding is in five weeks. FIVE!  :-)

We go to the radiation oncologist in town this week to see what he thinks. Not sure when he would start or how many radiation treatments the doctor will recommend. Dr. Lin has said that he thinks he'd like to add some low-dose chemo to that as well.

Based on Harv's experience last time with radiation, he is expecting to feel pretty tired and possibly nauseous from the radiation at the minimum. Maybe even more so if chemo is added.  He currently is already pretty fatigued and his appetite is not so great (He's eating often, but not a whole lot.).

SO! I'm asking if you will pray that the details of his treatment work well for him and that he will feel energetic for the wedding weekend. We'll be "on the go" from the Wednesday to the Sunday of that weekend.

'Preciate it!

Love.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Being at home seems to be a good thing... And, Harv has tried really hard to eat more proteins every day. I wouldn't say that he's overflowing with energy, but today he seems ever-so-slightly more "energetic." He even went for a walk to the mailbox... which is a pretty good walk. He might even try to go again later today.

We have a radiation oncology consultation scheduled for next week here in Bellingham. Hopefully, that will be able to be done fairly soon and with minimal side-effects. Want to be ready for the wedding (which is just about one month away)... After that consultation we will have a phone appt. with Dr. Lin and discuss what we learned and how, perhaps, a low-dose chemo might also fit into the plan.  

In addition to Celeste and Anthony's upcoming wedding, Sarah and Hannah are also gearing up to start at WWU at the end of September. Somehow all the little details of everything that's comin' up will fall into place, I know. Lots of fun things on the way.

That's all for now. Thanks for checking in. 

Love.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Away time...




We left last Sunday for five nights at Kalaloch Beach... It's a part of the Olympic National Park and it's one of our favorite places. Celeste and Anthony joined us for the first two nights as well.  

We always take our own food and cook in the cabin -- which we did again. We usually go for a couple of walks on the beach each day and, usually, Raney is off-leash the whole time and we can walk however long without worry about her being on-leash except for right close to the lodge/cabins. Not so this time. She is still healing and I'm afraid she might tweak her leg so she and I went on a short-ish walk a day and mostly on-leash.  She was kinda bored. She DID get a couple or three off-leash walks which made her very happy -- and sometimes defiant. 

This trip, Harv and Anthony brought kites and we rigged up something so we could attach the GoPro to the kite and see what happened. Actually, I didn't rig anything up... they did. Harv made this  gizmo that somehow attached to the kite and held the GoPro in place.  I think they tried it Sunday and Monday.

What we found out, though, was that going to the beach was just a little bit too much for Harv.  He had a time walkin' back up the stairs back to the cabin. And, he found he tired pretty quickly on the beach, too. Turns out that after a couple of days of tryin' that, it was determined that it was best to stay on level ground. And, he slept a lot after that.  And, his appetite wasn't very big. And, he was in a fair bit of pain in shoulders and back. So... pain medicine was had. Which helped.

We got home early evening yesterday and unloaded, ordered pizza and watched tv. Today was unpacking and decluttering around the house... (PLUS, let's go get the bridesmaids' dresses day). Harv woke up with way more energy and "enthusiasm" than I've seen in five days... So, it appears that home is a pretty good place to be.

Not sure what the next steps are yet with his medical care... Hope to find out Monday or Tuesday.

Thanks for checkin' in... Will update when I know more. Love you people.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Update

Sometimes you need a glass of rosé.

First of all, I had a WONDERFUL time in New York last week hangin' with family. I ate good food, saw a really great play that one of my nieces wrote and that both of my nieces are in, saw some sights and survived the heat and humidity (UGH! I had forgotten how oppressive humidity can be.) The best part was being with family. So thankful it was possible to go!

While I was in New York, we worked hard to try and figure out a way to reschedule our Dr. Lin appointment because it was accidentally scheduled on the same day as Harv's pain clinic appointment. There was no way he was gonna miss the pain clinic appointment. Thankfully, we were able to work it out so Harv could see Dr. Lin today... Which meant that we got up sorta early (not very, but sorta 'cause I just got back into town) to drive to Seattle... 

Harv had blood work, we saw a nutrition specialist and then we met with Dr. Lin.

Unfortunately, the numbers that are supposed to go down are not down and the numbers that are supposed to go up are not up. His CEA is at about 107 -- up from 70-something from last week. Other numbers are also not cooperating, but I don't actually want to look at the charts when they're ugly so I chose to avert my eyes and just listen. 

Dr. Lin doesn't think the chemo is working 'cause of what the numbers are saying and 'cause Harv isn't feeling better. So, we're going to stop the TAS-102. It seems to be more harmful than helpful.

Our time with the nutritionist helped a lot in trying to find foods that work for the cook and for the eater. I hope we can both put some of her suggestions to work and that it'll start making a difference in how he feels and that he'll start to gain some weight.

Next week we'll go to one of our favorite vacation spots and then when we get back, we'll do a CT scan and some more blood work. Dr. Lin thinks that maybe a combination of some more radiation and a little bit of chemo might be helpful for keeping things at bay.

Truthfully, we are aware that we've tried much of what we can try. Nobody's giving up, but the options are becoming fewer.

The plan now is to continue what we've been doing -- which is to fight the best way we can with what we can...and to squeeze as much good ("good" can mean different things at different times to different people) out of every day as we can... Which, truth be told, should be what we do every day, but you know... 

We are thankful for so much -- family, friends, where we live, good doctors... The list is actually very long...

As always, prayers, good vibes, well-wishes, rain dances, chants, good thoughts are all welcome. 

Much love and many blessings to you all.

P.S. Raney started limping when we got home. Same bad leg... Please, please, please say prayers that it's just a tiny little thing and not another need for a veterinary appointment... Hoping the anti-inflammatories do the trick. Goodness-stinking'-gracious alive!

Thursday, July 16, 2015




We went to Seattle on Tuesday for Harv's check-up and some blood work. We thought we would also be picking up the next round of the oral chemo that he's been taking.

Over the past few months, he's been a good bit more fatigued (sometimes has three or four hour naps in the afternoon) and his appetite hasn't been as good. He's fairly winded when walking up the stairs -- and sometimes just winded from walking at all. He walks pretty slowly.

The nurse practitioner that saw him recommended that he take a steroid and see a physical therapist to help him increase endurance and strength/ muscle tone. All of his blood work didn't come back but his WBC was low and his liver enzymes were up. So, they recommended we hold off a week on the chemo and go back down next Wednesday or Thursday for more blood work and hopefully start the chemo then.

Harv feels pretty good about that 'cause he thinks it'll make him feel better. I was bummed 'cause even though, after 3 1/2 years of treatment and 3 1/2 years of knowing that plans can change, I wanted to continue with the plan. ("Don't mess with my plans!") 

I think it's possible that the steroid has made a difference already... even though he napped for a while yesterday. He took a pretty good walk...and seemed to have a little bit more energy. Hopefully, after a couple more days of the steroid, he'll feel even better.

Today, I'm headed to New York to see my brother and his family and to see my nieces in the play that they'll be performing in at the Edinburg Festival Fringe in August. Emily wrote the play and she and Lisa are both in it... It's very exciting! And, Clif will be there, too. First time I've seen them all since May.

Prayers always appreciated. We love you.

-chc


Sunday, June 28, 2015


Harv has started (and almost completed) the first round of the new chemo. It's not unbearable but it is certainly not increasing his energy level. His appetite MIGHT have increased a little bit... He's slept well most nights with a combination of various "remedies." Last night was not one of those nights. Some nights (and I guess last night was one of them) he's not actually in pain, but his brain won't turn off -- regardless of the pharmaceuticals he uses to help him relax.

He does pretty well (usually) at the beginning of the day, but loses steam after lunch. Sometimes naps are very long. Sometimes he doesn't have an actual nap, but kind of rests.

Here's what I would love. I would love it if this particular chemo would do amazing things and shrink all of the tumors. I would love it if his energy was back and he was able to feel really good inside and out. I would love for some ridiculous and amazing miracle to occur and have his tumors just disappear.

So... if you believe in miracles, I would love it if you would pray for him -- and me -- and our family -- that this would actually happen. 'Cause that would be very, very nice. And, actually, even if you don't believe, you could still pray for one. :-)

I, for one, am weary. Granted, the weariness comes from more than Harv's cancer and the treatment and trips to Seattle... but I am weary.  And, I haven't heard Harvey use those words, but I think he might feel kind of the same way.

We have a relaxing few days planned for July and then there's a wedding in September. We would love to feel enthusiastic and energized for both of those things...and all that comes in between.

Thank you, people... And, much peace and many blessings to you all... 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

To My Mama Friends...


Dear Sehome Mama Friends and Friends We've Known Since S & H were in elementary school, 

While I am feeling sentimental about my girls growing up and moving out into the world, I am also feeling very sentimental about y'all... 

Y'all were there when S & H started playing soccer in kindergarten. We went to soccer practices and games and were cold and wet in the rain together... We participated in and helped with the Fun Run. We volunteered together at the Luau or in the classrooms. We were on PTA together.

Y'all were there in middle school when they first walked through the doors at Kulshan. It seemed so big and scary. We volunteered for the carnival and for the eighth grade dance and the tea. We were on PTA there, too... We worked the magazine drive together...and drank coffee and ate doughnuts. We went for walks together...

And you've been there in high school for many of the same kinds of things... 

Some of you I didn't meet until we all got to Sehome. Our children ran together on cross country or were in orchestra together or in French classes together... And, some of us even formed a book group together!

Seems like it took a little while for us to "warm up" and make an effort to get to know each other beyond cross country meets or orchestra concerts. But, I just want to say... I am so thankful that we did. I'm so thankful that Sarah's and Hannah's high school years became a very rich time for me, personally.

And, while this season is all about them growing up and while it's a tiny bit scary thinking about them going out into the world... It is also a tiny bit scary wondering how my life is gonna change now that they're no longer in high school. 

And, I just want to make sure that all you people out there -- from the Carl Cozier mamas to the Kulshan mamas to the Sehome mama friends -- know that I'm so thankful that our paths have crossed. We've walked this road together for a long time. We share that "mama thing" that only we understand.  
Thank you for being my friends through the years. 

Many blessings to each of you.

And, hey! Can we get together for a glass of wine sometime?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Teeny Weensy Baby Girls


Oh my goodness... About thirty seconds ago, Sarah and Hannah were born...and about thirty seconds after that, they went to preschool....And then kindergarten.

How in the world did they get to be eighteen in just a little over a minute and a half?

In a few days, they will graduate from HIGH SCHOOL!!!! 
My teeny weensy baby girls who slept in the same crib for a few months 'cause they fit in one -- first side by side and then toe to toe.
My teeny weensy baby girls who were very afraid of the giant Carl Cozier playground when they arrived in kindergarten.
The creative, intelligent little girls who didn't really like much food other than chicken nuggets and pepperoni pizza.
The little girls who did not love swimming lessons... 
Who sometimes wanted to assert themselves and their preferences for clothes and who taught me the phrase "I wanna do what I wanna do."
The girls who took about 15 books to bed at night instead of stuffed animals.

Oh man... how in the world did THOSE little girls turn into young ladies so quickly?

Their high school years did, in fact, go very fast. People told me it would happen...and it did. But those years have been full of some really great memories (and a couple of family events that I would like to throw back and request a do-over). They've been great students and have studied the violin and become runners... They've made the most of their years of school while balancing it with just plain ol' regular life. 

They will start school in the fall at Western Washington University. And, while they will be close, they will no longer be living at home... which will be very, very strange. I might even miss them a lot.

Oh my goodness, I think I just might miss them.

Thankful for so many good family members and friends and teachers and coaches and families who have made their lives (and mine) so much richer. 

I am SO thankful that someone out there decided that those two little girls should be created and that I would be the lucky winner... There are no words that can express the gratitude that I feel... 

The tears might start pretty soon...