Sunday, August 24, 2008

Joshua's Celebration of Life

Joshua had a wonderful time at his party, as well as everyone in attendance. It was a nice day starting with the cooperating weather all the way to the setting sun. We danced the night away literally.

Before the party birthday cards and gifts arrived from across the country; all the way from California and Florida and nearly everywhere in between! Josh just loved receiving mail and although he cant yet read, he enjoyed all the cards and saved them all!

At the party we had long-distance visitors from as close as Bolivar and as far away as Kentucky! It was exciting to see everyone, it really was a day to celebrate.

I thought the day was starting off a little bumpy because we were blowing fuses when it came to trying to cook the food - but the park manager was bribed with a some vittles and he was more than happy to fix our problem.

The girls and I spent weeks making things and getting ready for the party, in particular the piñata. What took days to create, took minutes to disassemble! Actually for mere posterboard and newspaper it was stronger than I anticipated. I would venture to guess that there were upwards of 20 kids, we lined them up from shortest to tallest (with the exception of Joshua who went first, but only Nathan was smaller) and they each were allowed 3 whacks. To the tune of "I Want Candy" steaming through the speakers, they went through the line up 2 times. A few good whacks let out a spattering of candy here and there, and we were worried a blindfolded kid would smack a candy-starved child in the head with the bat when one didnt wait for the other, so in the end we ended up ripping it the rest of the way open for the eagerly awaiting kids.

The cake was a huge hit, it really turned out beautiful, beyond my expectations. But as hot as the day was, the frosting started to melt some and was sliding off one side of the cake. But it still tasted yummy! The cupcakes were a nice addition to the cake and the kids couldnt pick them out fast enough.

Before Josh opened his presents, he presented his brother with a gift for being a "Super Brother". In the days leading up to the party, Josh helped to make and model a cape that I fashioned with a huge yellow "N" on the back. Joshy made a great model but informed me that he wished he had one with a "J" on it. Cute - so out to the fabric store I went. Anyway, there were three gifts bags on the table that didnt belong to Josh, he kept this secret for over a week! He was excited to hand them out to his sisters and bestowed upon them an offering for being his "best medicine" over the last 3 years. At this point my eyes started to leak a little. I didnt think I would cry this day, but he was so proud, and spoke so well. Kaitlynn and Halie both got butterfly rings, each in their own style and Kenni received a pair of butterfly earrings. The butterfly is a perfect symbol of childhood cancer as it represents change and hope. I Had wracked my brians in the weeks leading up to the party trying to think of something to give to the girls to let them know how important their role was during Josh's treatment, it was my friend Karen who suggested the rings and as soon as she said it I knew it was the perfect idea! It was ironic because as we drove to the jewelry stores together we speculated on ideas for the rings, but neither of us thought about the butterfly, and it was one of the first things to catch my eye. It was kismet!

Joshua received lots of cool gifts, each of which he is extremely thankful. Josh and Nathan could hardly wait to go home that night and rip open all the packages. He received lots of actions heroes, including Power Rangers and Ben Ten which was right up his alley. He also had been asking for Webkinz non-stop prior to the party, of which he received 2! One was a dinosaur who he named Cocoa who is a boy malu and the other is a leopard who he named Cappachino, she is a girl. He got a kick out of seeing them on the computer when we registered them, but last night I got a kick out of watching him take them to bed with him along with his new Spiderman afghan. If you can see the slideshow, check out the details involved. It is absolutely gorgeous. Jon's Aunt Kay and her friends from Kentucky made blankets for our whole family and you can see the time and love put into them all. Josh also got an awesome green big boy's bike. The very next day he dug out his helmet and had us push him down the street. He cant ride it on his own yet, but it's just a matter of time. It's amazing to see how much stronger his legs are getting already, what a difference from this year to last!

After he opened his gifts, we held the chemo ceremony. Karen and my mother went around the pavilion and collected all the balloons while Josh was opening presents. They tied several balloons to one of his pills bottles filled with smarties (but dont tell Josh, he thinks his chemo was in there). It took more balloons than I had anticipate to lift them off, but he was excited to have the biggest bunch - lol. So everyone else that wanted to participate in the release with us came to a clearing and got a yellow or orange balloon. Turned out we had the perfect amount. We all counted to three and after Josh released his group balloons the rest of us released ours. It was quite a sight watching them all lift off. Despite all the extra balloons, Josh's didnt raise as fast as the singletons, and briefly got stuck in a patch of trees, but they worked their way free quick enough and those pills are now gone forever!

After the balloon release, it was time to announce the winners of the guessing game. Guests were asked to guess how many times Josh was admitted to the hospital, how many spinal taps he endured, how many times he was poked, and how many pills he had to take during the course of his treatment. On the cake table was a huge apothecary jar (read: pickle jar) filled with make-shift pills (read: Reece Pieces), representing how many pills Josh has had to swallow over the past 38 months. The prescription label on the front of the jar read:

Fromknecht Pharmacy

(814) 403-9431 Erie, PA 16504

Patient: Ima Lifesaver



Qty: _____________ Refills: call anytime

Prescriber: Dr Joshua Michael

Rx # 082308

The winner of each category won a small commemorative gift (except that we left of of the gifts at home on the table...) The winner of a pin cushion and the exact number of symbolic pins went to my soon-to-be step-brother, Ray Jr. How many pokes has Josh endured over the past 164 weeks? He guessed 136, the actual amount was 134, give or take a few pokes that had to be done multiple times due to nurse error. So he was probably closer than I was... The winner of a hospital care package which consisted of a coffee cup filled with some hard candy, some spare change for vending machines, a toothbrush and a deck of cards was Jon's best friend, Jimmy. Over the last 3+ years, how many days were spent inpatient? Jimmy guessed 28, but the actual number was 43! His daughter Gabby, was supposed to be the winner of a stuffed bear with bandaids on it's back, but that was the prize left lonely at home. The question was - How many spinal taps has Josh had in the past 38 months? She guessed 20, and the actual number was 24. Finally the moment everyone was waiting for - how many pieces of candy filled that giant pickle jar. It took nearly 8 pounds of Reese Pieces minus the brown ones and the girls and I counted each and every one of them. Winning the jar full of candy was my sister-in-law, Kim with a guess of 3438. Ironically, coming in a CLOSE second was our friend, Janice, Halie's old t-ball coach, with a guess of only one more... Over the past 1146 days, how many pills has Josh taken? The real answer 3318. An average of 3 a day, which seems a lot when you consider he was only 2 when this whole thing started. Kim was pretty close, if she were on the Price is Right, she would have just missed the dual prize! My brother broke into the jar of goodies before the night was over!!

The kids rounded the night off by dancing. They danced to the Chicken Dance, the Macarena, Soldier Boy and who knows what else. I had a good time watching them and the few adults that joined in here and there had me in hysterics! All in all it was a memorable night. Thank you to everyone who made it so special, even those of you that couldnt make it - you were with us in our hearts!


Alina said...

oh i miss you i miss you i miss you!!!! I soooo wanted to be there.... had preliminary plans... oh grrrrr!!!

Congrats to you all ... you are an amazing family - with amazing strength.

Love 2 7 from us 6 !!!!!

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