#halliestrong

We are rolling into the time of year where every day presents a, “last year at this time…” 

Today?

That one stings. Especially as I see those same shoes today, sitting next to Hallie’s footprints. 

What’s funny about that announcement is we delayed it, because of that phone call we got a couple weeks prior to it last year. Standard practice in today’s world is to share your exciting news at 12 weeks, when it’s considered safe to do so. I remember checking off each week- 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. I remember making it to 12 and breathing a huge sigh of relief with Kevin. This kid was ours to keep! But then 12.5 weeks brought that call. Abnormal test results. No big deal. Pregnancy causes it. We will wait until the second trimester to explore it, when it’s safe for the baby. We went to Giordanos that night to shake it off. Pizza, of course. True to the Hart/Conrad way.

We went back and forth on whether to announce our pregnancy. There is so much joy to be had in that, especially as the first grandchild in our families. Truthfully I was the one who delayed it. I asked Kevin that we hold off in telling people. Somewhere deep down in me that “what if ” nagged at me. So we waited. We passed a couple more weeks. We finally decided to bank on those test results being nothing and took a gamble on the joy of announcing our exciting news carrying us through the remaining couple weeks until we knew for sure it’d be nothing. Kevin wanted to do a Prego jar or a bun in the oven (literally) but we settled on Bears shoes and our puppies to announce it.

Overwhelmed, we were, by all the love. I think Baby Hart was overdue by a lot of people’s standards. Carried us through it absolutely did. 

I am a very firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I believe with all my heart that all things work together for good, for those that love the Lord. It doesn’t mean I don’t wonder why we waited, why we finally decided to take a risk in announcing it. Cancer is impossible in and of itself – it’s incredibly difficult to speak too, and it’s impossible to relate too. But the loss of a child because of it? I am so thankful we felt that nudge too because Hallie has become our source of courage as we fight. How people fight cancer without hope, I will never know. You can’t survive it! Our hope has been beyond bleak on some days, but even on those days we have Hallie in our hearts. We fight because had we not had her, who knows what today, September 22nd, would’ve looked like for me, for Kevin, for our families. 

Every day is another “last year at this time” moment for us and as we near October 20th and November 4th, it’s going to get harder and harder. You think the emotions one year removed would be easier to deal with but they’re an entirely different set. Thanks for thinking of us and for your prayers as we continue to tackle each day. It all has to mean something, we do believe that! We are admittedly anxious for a day that it does start to really make sense. Until then, we remain #halliestrong! 

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A Diamond Earring 

My hair is officially that of a Pomeranian, or perhaps Simba as a little lion. The struggle of short hair + crazy curls + humidity is real. Very, very real. Especially when you aren’t a gifted “girl.” Where’s the ponytail option?! But at least it IS turning red again. 

Rewind to a few weeks ago, we were in PHX and my trusted stylist Kaela took me headband shopping. You laugh at how silly that seems but headbands are totally outside of my comfort zone! We tried on a few & she walked by my side that next morning into work, telling me over and over to just be confident while rocking it. I still never know what are real compliments and what are sympathy compliments but I made it through the day, got lots of love and now I’m obsessed. 

Fast forward now to a couple nights ago. I had gone on an Amazon shopping spree for headbands. Can’t put a price on a new found confidence that had been missing for a long while since having to shave my head. There was a 10 pack of vibrantly colored headbands, perfect for me. 

They arrived Wednesday. I tore the package apart to find the 10 headbands, but they were very, very different than the ones I had ordered. For those of normal emotional capacity, no big deal at all. For me, in my most vulnerable state, I was crushed. And of course when I read the listing, it said, “you will get a variety delivered, not necessarily those pictured.” Read, Beef, read! 

I started trying them on one by one. Going through my mind? “Ok, they aren’t that bad.” “Alright, that one is actually really cute.” “Oh I really like that one!” At some point I heard a faint clank but made nothing of it. I tried on a few more. I was actually kind of happy with them!

I heard another clank. It registered this time, I thought maybe my necklace fell off or a diamond fell out of a ring. Both were there, I continued on. 

One more clank and this time I saw my diamond earring on the sink top. 

I quickly put it back in my ear after a slight heart attack. That’s when I realized that my other earring was gone. That was the clank. 

I called Kevin in for a stage-five-emergency.  We searched high and low. He took apart the sink piping and found the back of the earring but not the earring. 

You see, these diamond earrings aren’t just diamond earrings. They are so, so special because of their story. Those who have followed my story know that the day I had to shave my head was one of the lowest of this entire fight. I never could’ve predicted it but that crushed my soul. My Mom gifted me with a pair of her earrings and I wore them the entire fight. Yes they were beautiful, yes I adored them, but what I really adored was her act of compassion. Those earrings were a symbol of the lengths my Mom went too to get me through this nightmare. I loved having that piece of her. 

And now one was gone. Just like my hair. Just like my daughter. Just like our normal. 

And it was gone because I was trying on headbands to try to best my circumstances. It was gone because I got the wrong headbands and I was trying to make the most of the situation, prove to myself it was ok. 

It was losing an earring, a diamond one at that! But it was also so much more than losing an earring and such is life as a cancer survivor & grieving mom. 

Bless Kevin’s heart.  He tore our house apart and consoled me, knowing how special those earrings wore. Knowing how it was so much more than just the earring.

During treatment, my bestie Hilary forwarded me a devotional that eventually led me to an app called First 5. It’s meant to steal the first five minutes of your day, five minutes that I usually fill with social media (which is fake, am I right Noelle?! 😂). When I downloaded it, the devotional series was a study of Esther. Pretty cool, right? Now it’s moved on to a study of Job, who lost all of his children. I can remember many, many moments over the past 9 months feeling guilty that I’ve asked God why. Why cancer? Why Hallie? Why my earring!! What I’ve learned is that God is big enough for our why’s, He wants us to articulate our why’s. But the chaos of life all makes perfect sense in His plans, as much as it hurts in the moment. I’ve clung to this. Even when I want to cry uncle and scream, “when do we get a break?!” – as I did that night. And as I articulated to God the next morning. And then an amazing thing happened. A friend reached out to me, in the most thoughtful of ways & with a specific purpose: to mark that day with me, as it was 6 months to the day from Hallie’s due date. She wanted me to know Hallie was not forgotten, Kevin & I were not forgotten. And boy, did it show me that yes, we have lost so much, but we have gained even more in so many ways. In true friendships, being one! And in faith, for sure.

And so, you move forward, gratefully, as best as you can, because it will all make sense one day. Even if it is with short hair. Or scars. Or tingly feet from chemo. Or with one less beautiful earring. 

We are 10 days away from my 6 month scans. Crazy, right? Time continues to fly. Scanxiety is a very, very real thing but I’m challenging myself this time around to not let my feelings dictate my faith. And to help, I am currently in the midst of a 4-airports-in-5-weekends stretch, which included a sister weekend that was so, so good for the soul. And for this weekend, you will get a kick out of this. All you wives out there, tell me this isn’t the best trip ever: this weekend our bestie Moe is cooking in a professional BBQ competition in Kansas City and Kevin is his runner. They hit the road at 3:45 this morning and will be camping at the BBQ spot all weekend, with the final judging on Sunday. Me and Sheila? We are flying down this afternoon and staying in a hotel near the competition. We are joining the boys tonight for BBQ festivities and hitting the town for girls days tomorrow. Brilliant, right?! It’s going to be an incredible weekend with the best of friends. Free therapy at its finest. Wish Moe luck!!

Kevin and I ask for your continued prayers as we head into those scans. Thanks so much for always making time for us. We love y’all!