Greetings and welcome to my first blog post of 2021. It has been awhile. Many of us hoped that we would get a re-set/re-start button when the New Year began—a reprieve from the craziness of 2020. But life isn’t like that. Turning the page on a calendar doesn’t change the political climate, the pandemic, the racial tensions, the joblessness, the atmosphere of fear, anxiety and depression. We can dream, we can hope, but real change begins when we re-set daily. We can re-set our attitude, our behavior, our choices, our responses, our relationships—each day—despite our circumstances. I have been learning this all my life, but especially in the eight years since I was diagnosed with cancer. Still chasing it, still living my best life despite the physical and mental challenges that come with fighting a beast of a disease. I love that those of you who follow me regularly often tell me that you like to wait to read my posts—to sit with coffee, tea, or wine, and let the words flow over you. Thanks for processing and reflecting with me--in faith and expectation that the Almighty God is with us, near us, and He holds us close.
Today’s post is the first of a two day series that includes a recap of 2020—as I look at the highs and lows in the Loy household. The second day will be about the rhythms that have kept me sane through all of this—life savers if you will.
We welcome each New Year with our anniversary. We celebrated 25 years while in Taormina, Sicily with our boys. We spent the last day of 2019 touring the countryside with our amazing guide Tita—visiting snow capped Mount Etna, and ending with a seven course lunch pairing at a local winery. 2020 began with a spectacle of fireworks that we watched from our villa overlooking the peninsula. Like all with hopeful hearts, we entered 2020 expectant with wonder. But, January began with a “series of unfortunate events…” continuing into a year of turbulence and vitriol. Like the rest of you, we navigated the best we knew, as a family of faith. One communication tool we use in community groups and Young Life is called Hi/Low. It is a quick way to recap and share what is on your heart. The rest of this post will be the highs and lows of our family journey through 2020 and our outlook for 2021.
High: Micah transfers to Colorado State Fort Collins and continues his freshman year while Noah finishes his senior year at the same college.
Low: I enter a deep depression—starting a slew of medical appointments trying to get my body back on track after a full year (2019) of chemo and radiation.
High: Trip to our happiest place on earth—Puerto Vallarta—getting to share with dear ones Martin and Angela Cachero. Food, sunsets, cards, games, and women for the WIN in Sequence. Guys may have different opinion.
Low: Two men dear to me died within a week of each other. Hugh Hart—the best next door neighbor dad growing up, and John Cummins—our dear friend and neighbor—a spiritual mentor to us.
High: With news of the pandemic looming, my boys returned from school as colleges shut down across the nation. Reassuring as a mom to have all of us together, probably not a high for them as they finished college courses on line from home.
Low: Another key male figure in my life—Rick Kaylor, dies on March 25. He and his wife Phyllis drew me in as family when I moved here in 1986 as a brand new teacher. Rick was my teaching partner for years and a mentor for me—professionally and spiritually.
High: I create a virtual book club business called FLIP to help the teachers and families caught in the uproar of emergency remote learning. Using many friends and educators as resources, I collaborated with my sister, with Noah as our web designer, and we marketed and launched this book club for elementary, middle, and high school kids.
Low: We all know it. We all felt it.
High: Noah is offered a job in sports marketing in Denver. He graduates CSU Fort Collins with many memories and dear friends, and like all other 2020 grads, there are no in person celebrations. Instead of a ceremony, his truck was packed and he turned graduation day into moving day.
Low: We all know it. We all felt it.
High—We add a new member to the family. Welcome Winnie—our little white Boxer mix with the cutest freckles ever—she completes our fur baby pack. Greg is WHIPPED!
Low—We all know it. We all felt it.
July: Micah stays home to work and take summer classes on line. He is our “tribute”—keeping me safe and healthy—groceries, errands, local eatery dine in pick up—Micah saves the day(s). And…Winnnieeeeee….she keeps us all entertained with her pool and water antics and sheer precious puppy-ness.
Low: We all know it. We all felt it.
High: My niece Mary Roberts marries Andrew Kain. Our whole family flies to Oregon for the intimate, beautiful wedding of 35 friends and family members. I absolutely adore them and their sweet love story.
Low: I find out the day I return from Oregon that my cancer has metastasized to my pelvic bone.
High: Staycation in Carlsbad to process, sleep, and prepare for more rounds of radiation and chemo. Nothing better than the beach in San Diego after all the summer tourists have left.
Low: Begin radiation and chemotherapy once again.
High: My mom and forever best friend Kathy come visit on separate weeks to take care of me and let me rest through my treatments. Mary and Andrew arrive for her two month work assignment on Coronado and Andrew works for Greg.
Low: Continued chemo and side effects that come with it. (My hair didn’t completely fall out this time.)
High: Mary and Andrew’s visit with lots of hikes, meals, highly competitive game play, Geocaching, and a beautiful winter wonderland trip to Lake Arrowhead with them as well as Greg, Charlie, Karyn, Joan, and Loretta Loy. Thankful for family.
Low: Beautiful and precious Lauren Hart dies after a year long fight with bone marrow cancer. I cannot begin to understand the depth of pain that my lifetime friends Dave and Patty Hart are enduring, losing their only child at the age of 23. This has been one of many, “I don’t understand this God” questions that I will not know the answer to this side of heaven. I do know this—that Lauren leaves a legacy—of strength, joy, and resilience.
High: Chemo ends and scan shows decrease in lung tumors, absence of bone cancer and no new cancer. This is huge news. I haven’t had a good report like this in a few years, but here I am still fighting on. The boys are back home for the holidays and we share memories cooking, baking, hiking, and once again—highly competitive game play.
Low: December 15: at a routine scan, I go into anaphylactic shock due to allergic reaction in the contrast dye. I have lived nearly eight years with stage four cancer, only to nearly lose my life on that MRI table. Last words I heard when fighting for breath were, “Mrs. Loy, do you give us permission to intubate you if needed?” This is a crazy story with will take up its own fully detailed chapter in my blog turned book journey.
CONGRATS! If you have stayed with me this long—you are sufficiently caffeinated or buzzed. Fist pumps and virtual hugs from me to you.
How do I wrap up 2020—a year of pain, politics, struggle, loss, change, death, joy, and community gathering? A year of engagements, graduations, birthdays, and weddings…all looking quite different—and ever so lovely. And the babies…oh the babies…our church family keeps growing and growing. So much preciousness at once. What does this tell us? That we rise up; that we are better together. Not on our own strength, but because we have a God who is in control even if we don’t feel it or see it or believe it. He is the God who sees, the God who saves, the God who reigns. As I rest on His promises and provision, I look to each new day as an opportunity to re-set and re-align, because with Christ, His mercies are new every morning. And we press on.