What is this?

What is this? I don't really know, other then a continuation of my updates and writings that I was sharing previously on Caringbridge of this journey through cancer and now widowhood and single parenting.

Maybe it won't end up being anything at all, or maybe it will be a glimpse into my heart, my life, my current situation, my testimony.

Whatever it becomes, I am touched that you are interested.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lifted up

I have been surrounded constantly by close friends and family. We have laughed together, we have cried together. What a blessing they all have been. It's in the silence and the redundancy that it hurts the most.

Grief is a strange thing. It comes at the oddest times sometimes. Like when a huge spider was crawling on the floor, and I instinctually jump on the sofa, laughing as everyone was trying to locate it. Matt came to the rescue, and once it was 'taken care of' it just hit me like a ton of bricks, I'm gonna have to kill my own spiders now.

Thank you all for your comments and messages. They have ministered to my heart. There are two in particular regarding Brandon's passing alone that have been such comfort to me. As USJET (from ar15.com) said in his comment regarding the passing of his father and Brandon alone, 'As you saw with Brandon, love held them back. They needed to be alone to take that walk.' So beautifully said USJET, thank you. And a friend's mother who worked in hospice, assuring me that it is not uncommon at all for some to wait until they are alone. Maybe that's why God put it on my heart to share those details, because he knew that these words would bring me such comfort.

From those near who can physically be my strength to those afar who's words and prayers have lifted me up, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
As we ate dinner last night on the deck in fellowship with friends and family it was so bittersweet. Some of our closest friends rallying together in support of our family and of each other, but missing one important person. I wanted him sitting there beside me so badly. But oh how good it feels to be surrounded by so much love right now.

From laughter to pain so quickly. This happens over and over all day long. You don't realize exactly how entwined your life is with your spouse until they are gone. Everything has his fingerprints on it. Everything changes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Well done my good and faithful servant

As most of you know, Brandon went to be with Jesus today. I lay here, completely exhausted, and unable to sleep, on his side of the bed. One of my best friends lays next to me.

The events of today just keep spinning in my mind. I can't believe this is real.

I have gone back and forth about what details to share, and what to treasure as only my own. Ultimately, there was a beauty to Brandon's passing that God is telling me to share.

We had worship music on, one of my favorite playlists. I had just finished showering and getting dressed and went to Brandon's bedside. How Great Thou Art by Carrie Underwood was playing.

This song has significance to us, and I felt lead to quietly sing along with it to Brandon as I held his hand. He always loved hearing me singing. (Not only is love blind, but it must be deaf too.)

Tears streamed down my face when the song was over as I quietly told him how much I loved him, and how grateful I am for the life we shared together . I reassured him that because of the love he showed to others, that Aria and I are so loved and supported that he did not have to worry about us. I told him that God will take care of us. I kissed his forehead and went to the other room.

A few minutes later I stepped out in the hall with my dad to make a phone call about having the oxygen and wheelchair picked up from the house. As I walked back in to get a pen, still on the phone and with my dad behind me, I noticed something was different.

I dashed to the bed, hastily hanging up the phone and tossing it, only to find that Brandon had passed. I lost it, angry at myself that I wasn't there. I had hardly left the room in two weeks, how could this happen?! My mom and Matt with Aria rushed into the room.

I was so upset that I was not holding his hand as he completed his calling here on earth. I am his wife, I needed to be with him for this, and I wasn't. I was on a stupid phone call.

Then suddenly I was filled with peace about it. This is how it was supposed to be. This was God's plan. This is how Brandon wanted it.

I truly believe that Brandon, selfless to his last moment, let go when he knew no one was in the room. He did not want us to experience those last moments which can be so difficult to see. Instead, we saw him at peace.

Friends and family surrounded us almost immediately. I have not had to think about anything, and I'm so grateful for that as I am in a daze. Halcyon Hospice took care of all the details, the faculty at Heritage Club cried with us.

My heart aches in a way I can not even describe, and I know the reality has not yet even set in.

Waking tomorrow will be difficult to say the least.

I go to bed tonight with an emptiness to my core. Yet, I have peace in this moment.

This path feels impossible, but I do know that God will guide me and carry me. He has provided for me through all of this, and many keep reminding me that He has a special heart for orphans and widows, and He will faithfully see me though the difficult journey ahead.

It is going to be the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I know I will get mad. I will feel forgotten. I will hate having to put one foot in front of the other. My miracle didn't happen. I will have to continue to live one day at a time, and trust God's plan.

Please continue to pray for us all as we face our tomorrow's without Brandon.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The latest & Fundraiser Details

I'm not quite sure what to update at this point.  Things have declined dramatically in the past 36 hours.  The nurses say his heart is strong despite all the other complications, which is why he is hanging on with all he has.  Not only is his heart strong physically, but also emotionally.  He is so dedicated to this life God has given him here.
As his breathing became strained last night I tried to calm his spirit, telling him that it's ok to let go.  His brow furrowed and he said with such heartache, 'I don't want to.'  My heart shattered to pieces.  I tried again this afternoon to reassure him that Aria and I are being bathed in love and support and we will be ok.  He weakly begged me not to make him talk about it.  So I won't.

I want so badly to calm his mind, talk to him of the beauty that Heaven will be, and not to be afraid because there will be no pain, only Glory.  I want to remind him of his own words to me a month ago, that the best that we experience here is only a glimpse of the greatness that God has for us in eternity.

Anytime he briefly opens his eyes he searches for me.  I scoot my bed up next to his at night so it feels as if we are in the same bed again.  Last night he woke many times only to say, 'Sweetie...I love you so much', and go back to sleep. 

Please pray for his continued comfort and for God to bring him home gracefully and peacefully.  I have not given up my prayer for a miracle, but I am coming to terms that I don't think it is in God's plan.  Pray for our strength as well, these next days will be the hardest yet.

Quite a few of you have asked about all the different fund raisers that many have put together on our behalf, so I thought to share them and links to them all in one place:

Giveforward organized by Abbey & Justin Pikul, and Jess and Steve Cordova:

Lifting the Hayslips Beef & Beer in Quakertown by many High School friends:
Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/967129176647547/
Donation: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=F0hrEsu2-Je7lgow-POQgALjWFzyPd_z5SIerLGjn...

Younique Makeup Fundraiser (4 days left) organized by Kelly Prince:

Thirty-One Accessories Fundraiser by Michelle Stoneback:

ThomasTypographix Artwork by Erika Thomas:
Digital download: https://www.etsy.com/listing/204097994/brandon-hayslip-special-edition-my-grace?ref=shop_home_active...
Faith Art Canvas: https://www.etsy.com/listing/203417933/brandon-hayslip-special-edition-david?ref=shop_home_active_4
Grace Art Canvas: https://www.etsy.com/listing/203417933/brandon-hayslip-special-edition-david?ref=shop_home_active_4

Geissele Special Edition Trigger: (Picture is in photos on caringbridge)
Details: Geissele Super Select Fire Trigger that has a picture of Brandon and Christina laser engraved on it. There are 51 triggers and all are serialized. 00 and 01 are going to Brandon. The rest Geissele will donate to those Arfcommers who will send in to Geissele a check or money order made out to Christina. Geissele will then forward all the checks and MO onto Christina. 

The donation amount is $250 (retail on the SSF is $320 so its a deal!). Geissele will pay for shipping and include cool Geissele swag. I ask that when you get your trigger you take a picture of it and share on FB, Instagram, Arfcom, etc with a link to the Hayslip Family's donation site. This will help get even more donations for the Hayslip's. 

Just call into the shop (610) 272-2060 and ask for Kelsey. She will be taking your name and address and reserving a serial number for you.

There was also a raffle on ar15.com, but it has been completed and was tremendously successful!

Wow, when I look at all of this I am truly humbled and so incredibly grateful.  Thank you to everyone that has been a part of these fundraisers, organizing and donating!  God Bless you all!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Joy in Pain

God gave me this thought to rest in today and I wanted to share it, as it is really calming my heart for the moment:

With every image of this battle that I fear I won't forget, I strengthen myself against the pain it causes me, knowing that though it hurts me to the core, it is ministering true love to Brandon in his time of need. Giving love far outweighs the pain I take on in serving my husband. True love is selfless, and this is where I get to bless Brandon. As Jesus took the pain of the cross out of love for us, Lord, let the love that was shown outshine the pain I feel. Let it overcome and encompass the hurt, and fill me with joy. Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ignorant Bliss

My heart hurts today. I feel like my hope bubble has popped. The reality is setting in.

Brandon is sleeping mostly now. This afternoon he woke numerous times in a row and could see me in the sitting room talking. I went to him immediately each time. After the third time I asked him what he needed, and he asked me what was wrong. (He could see my East Coast attitude coming out). I told him nothing was wrong, and he wouldn't accept that. I told him it was nothing he needed to worry about. He got quiet and I asked him if he was ok, and he said 'As long as it really is nothing I have to worry about.' My precious Brandon, always protecting me and worrying about me - even now. He has been resting peacefully since.

I think God has relieved him of most of the burden of this situation mentally. When he asks what's going on I just tell him we are at a recovery facility from his surgery. There are moments where he has said something that insinuates that he knows, but more times it seems he doesn't. But Brandon being who he is, has always internalized his worries, so I don't really know - and I would never ask. The handful of times I have had to answer his questions and deliver the news again already have been enough. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

I have been reading a book written by a friend of Brandon's cousin, who lost her husband to cancer at 29, leaving behind her and 4 kids, the youngest being a newborn, and it is truly ministering to my heart. I feel so alone, like no one can possibly understand what I am facing ahead. That I am going to be a burden on those around me as I pick up the pieces of my life. But reading about her journey and knowing that she made it through is giving me the hope I need. It seems impossible right now. I am scared of the pain ahead and how long it will last. But God got her through, and I know He will carry me too. I just know it won't be easy. But I have Aria depending on me, and I can not let her down. And God will not let me down.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Roller Coaster Ride

I keep praying for a miracle. I feel the need to give God options. I think this is very normal. Of course I start with complete earthly healing: from kidney failure, membranous nephropathy, cancer, blood clot and gastroporesis. Then I start with the options of 'or at least healing from this and that' because we can deal with the others. What a mind numbing process it is.

Lately I've just been praying praises and asking God to hear the unspoken cries of my heart for healing because I just can't pray them anymore. They have become robotic pleas from a heartbroken wife.

A miracle doesn't mean Brandon would necessarily jump out of bed and head out to golf, though it's no impossibility for God. But a miracle could also be a long road of slow recovery allowing for further treatment.

There are days when my hopes rise. Recently the swelling has been getting better. It still fluctuates easily, but it hasn't gotten worse in a while. It tickles your hopes. There are days when there are signs that point to any day now, then the next those signs are gone. I keep wanting Brandon to brush his teeth before bed to avoid dental issues because I have so much hope for a miracle and don't want him to need root canals. Its a little maddening.

The hospice team has been surprised on a few occasions to see him so weak, nearly unable to speak- only nodding or shaking his head, then the next day nibbling on bacon and drinking some orange juice with more light in his eyes and conversing lightly. His breathing seems so labored one day, then more at ease the next.

They say that though there are so many complications his heart is strong and though he may not be saying it, is likely having a hard home letting go because he has so much to live for. When we returned home from the hospital weeks ago he was ready to go to our heavenly home. He was so tired of the 9 week long fight that just got worse and worse. However, now that his pain is managed he has changed his tune. But I don't know how much is clear thinking as the heavy medications and kidney toxins can present confusion which we have seen. Though the times of clarity are more then confusion, and they are priceless. Aria by far produces the most smiles and responses from Brandon.

Please continue to pray for a miracle. I keep hoping that soon we can tuck away all the memorial service plans, and save the cemetery plot for 50 years from now. Be able to tell Brandon that we chose the spot by the lit up cross on the foothill near our house, the cross he always loved to see on our drive home. Please God....

We all continue to thank you for your support and following our journey.

Prayers for continued comfort for Brandon, miraculous healing, and supernatural strength for all of us who need to be Brandon's strength and positive light.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Love Multiplies

This is such a strange process. Nothing about this is easy. Sit and wait and watch.

Now that we seem to have his discomfort managed, I'll take any minute I can get with him. I have hardly left his side. The other day I popped out to the store briefly and received a text that Brandon said he missed me. So I cut it short and came back and when Brandon woke he told me he missed me and asked me not to leave for that long again. That's my hunnie. <3

Brandon's cousin Matt has stayed here every night so that I also am not alone, helping to keep Brandon comfortable, then family keeps us all company throughout the day and evening.

Aria has been able to spend a couple nights here too, which has been nice. Thankfully she is just such a content baby and sleeps through the night, we aren't disturbing anyone.

I am incredibly thankful for the numerous people who have literally put their life on hold to walk us through this. A cousin who has selflessly given weeks of his life away from his family. A girlfriend who has done the same, flying back and forth at a moments notice, cleaning and organizing our house without direction. A best friend who has flown a red eye flight from Colorado and gone straight from the airport to work after staying the weekend with us at the facility, all the while coordinating food drop offs, cleaning and visitors from afar. My parents who have been back and forth from Pennsylvania to Colorado more times in the past two months then they have in two years and have taken care of Aria overnights. Brandon's parents and brother who have been by our side or on call 24/7 for help, errands and handling tedious logistics.

Close friends just sitting with us and chatting to pass the time by and get occasional chuckles out of Brandon. Friends, family friends, church friends dropping off meals, care packages and baby clothes, sending messages of prayers and encouragement.

Hometown friends organizing a wonderful fundraiser event with dancing and raffles and kids activities in late October.

Forum buddies, whom we have never met, arranging what started out as a simple single item raffle, which has exploded into a huge prize list and over 800 raffle tickets. Coordinating prize packages from donors all over the United States and offering much of their personal time coordinating all the details, receiving the checks, answering questions and I'm sure many details I don't even know about.

A wonderful trigger company donating the special edition triggers with our picture on it, and all the amazing supporters that purchased them.

And that's just scratching the surface of the help and support we have had.

I wish I had words greater then thank you. Please know how much your support has meant, and know that it has lifted us up more then you will ever know. I know God is going to use this experience for a greater good and the love you have shown us will multiply and be given to others in need, and God gives me comfort that that is the best thank you I can give.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hope and Hopelesness

I wanted to share this devotional that someone reminded me of in a guest book post. (Thank you!)

http://davidwilkersontoday.blogspot.com/2011/04/when-all-means-fail.html?m=1 />

If I remember correct, this was the devotional posted the day before Brandon's grandfather passed away in a tragic car accident. This was also in the middle of our first battle with cancer.

I keep praying that God will allow me to rest in this truth when things get more difficult ahead.

It's hard to imagine things getting harder then they are now. But it will. The ache is not complete yet. I can still look into his eyes, hear him weakly call me sweetie, see him smile when he sees Aria. I'm scared of how deeply it will hurt to only have memories of all of that. We did all of life together. We work together, live together, and yet still enjoy all our time together. We rarely fight. We take on each other's interests with joy. We have always looked at it that HE doesn't have cancer, WE have cancer. WE have lupus. We are a team. And as hard as it is to watch the person you love the most suffering like this, I know it's going to be much harder on the other side.

I still have hope now. I still have my husband. I still have my little family we dreamed of and prayed for. I guess I'll have to find new hope on the other side to get through the days. Right now it feels like my hope will be to just make it through the heartache of each day.

I will do my best to cling to that devotional.

I pray that if you too are in the valley of suffering and if you are reaching hopelessness that it speaks to your heart too.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Faciltiy - Day 3

This is gonna be a quick post cause I'm tired, but I wanted to share a couple bright spots in the past couple days.

But first, I want to thank you so much for prayers that we make memories and have precious moments in this journey of such sorrow.

Like I've said before, Brandon's tender heart continues to shine. He is gracious to the nurses and all of us who are helping him, always saying 'Thank you for taking such good care of me'.

Since getting more continuous meds the past few days we've gotten to even have quite a few laughs with him.

Today he was joking with my dad about how golf would be a terrible sport for him to play with his lack of patience. And yesterday he could see my dad holding Aria in the other room and said, 'Your dad is so good with kids.' HA! This is funny if you know my dad was called Uncle Grouch by my cousins, so that made us laugh. However, he is better with kids then he would admit to. :)

Brandon pokes fun at us whenever he can, and when his energy is limited and words can be few, it makes us smile to still experience his spirit.

The brightest part of my day though was when we dressed Aria up in a cute jacket, hat and boots that Bonnie got her. (See pic). I held her up for Brandon to see and his face just lit up and he smiled from ear to ear. I haven't seen him smile like that in quite a while now, and I just loved seeing his love for his daughter. He kept saying, 'She is just too adorable.' She is the light of his life, not even I have been able to get a smile like that from him!

Not quite sure how to close up this post other then by saying thank you for your continued prayers. I continue to be humbled by the support and generosity of so many.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Facility - Day 1

We arrived at the skilled nursing facility today. It is very nice. The room is 'L' shaped and they kindly set us up with two beds in one room and a love seat, recliner, table, chairs and mini fridge in the other. It looks like a hotel in here, much more then a nursing facility. They even have a beautiful fresh flower arrangement, one I can actually enjoy without the fear of our cat eating the flowers and getting sick from.

I've claimed my spot where I can recline comfortably in the sitting area and see Brandon resting in the other room. We have worship music playing as I sit and wait for David and Mary to bring Aria.

My parents arrived last night and will be primarily watching Aria overnight while I am here. Hopefully she will continue to sleep through the night for my mom!

It's nice to be here and have the weight of care taking removed. I can just be his wife now. Hold his hand, tell him how much I love him.

This morning was very difficult. I realized that last night was the last time Brandon and I would sleep in our house together. That was incredibly hard.

It's silly how I still hope for a miracle. My mind thinks, well it would have to be one hell of a miracle at this point. Then I correct myself, nothing is too big for God to fix.

Please continue to pray for a miracle. A miracle of earthly healing to which only God can be given the Glory. That no doctor can explain.

Please also pray for my Lupus, it has shown some signs of awakening a bit. Probably the stress and lack of sleep. Hopefully I can increase some meds safely while nursing and keep it from flaring.

Thank you again for your prayers a a following our journey, and I'll do my best to keep you all updated.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The next steps

I don't quite know what to update with right now. To be honest this part is like the worst Groundhog Day ever. You wake up in the morning and have to come to terms with reality all over again, feeling utterly helpless as your heart is being ripped out of your chest and fear and sadness take weight on your shoulders.

The hospital bed is in the living room. Myself, David, David's girlfriend Mary, and cousin Matt have been camped out here with Brandon every night, waking every hour or two to tend to him as needed. Aria, my precious baby, continues to sleep through the night in her nursery. A real blessing from God.

Brandon is getting weaker and is resting most of the day, only drinking every now and then. We should be getting admitted to a skilled nursing facility tomorrow morning. Roger and David went to check out a couple places yesterday that have a private room available, which is a high priority to us with the baby and having privacy to grieve as we need. Unfortunately, nothing close by was available, so we will be going back and forth to Greenwood Village/DTC. But the facility is being very generous and allowing us to have a shared room all to ourselves, so it has two 'rooms' and a bathroom, so I can go nurse and rest in some privacy while other family members sit with Brandon. He truly has not been alone in this since the chemo treatment on July 14th. We can bring in a small fridge and microwave and air mattress so I can more or less move in for the remaining time, but Aria can not stay overnight, so that is going to be hard.

We have had some precious moments within this. Last night Brandon weakly said 'I have never felt so loved by so many people.' And this morning I quietly answered a phone call from my dad and Brandon woke, asking if they were coming out, and when I told him they were arriving tonight he said, 'That's so nice of them. I love your parents, they're so good to me.'

You never imagine having the ability to withstand something like this. If three months ago you told me I would be watching my husband go through this, not taking walks in the neighborhood with our new baby as we dreamed, I could not have fathomed how I would be able to do it. How do you handle the words 'inoperable tumor'? Then 'kidney failure'? Then 'nothing we can do?' Then 'hospice'? All regarding your 33 year old husband, and new father. But you handle it, one day at a time. Really, one breath at a time.

As I get overwhelmed with fear of being a single new mother and widow, grieving intensely and struggling with Lupus - I truly can't imagine how I'm going to do it. But, I couldn't have imagined doing this now - and somehow I am. God's grace is bigger then this and He is holding me up. I have to trust in His perfect plan. I know Brandon soon will see why, and understand, and it will be so beautiful. I know as he stands there before God he will hear "Well done my good and faithful servant" and it will all make sense. No more suffering, no more pain.

I try to remain there. In the relief Brandon will have, and the faith that God promises that He does all things for our good. Our eternal good, not our worldly good. And ultimately, if I am being used by God through suffering I know He is refining me for His purpose. But right now it doesn't make it hurt less. It just gives me the shred of hope I need to make it through this day and remain steady in faith.

Please continue to pray for Brandon's comfort. And we all need a lot of strength and peace.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Home Hospice

What a week it's been. I can't even put into words how overwhelming it is to be the primary caretaker of my husband and an infant. God's grace is the only thing getting me through right now. I have no option to fall apart.

Thankfully He has blessed us with an amazing baby. She has been sleeping through the night in her nursery already, at 2 months old.

The other night 9news did a little story on us. They did a wonderful job. Here is the link:

http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/2014/09/02/dying-father-wants-to-help-family/14994123/ />

Brandon also got an encouraging note from Jason Dufner, a pro golfer. That made Brandon so happy!

I can't remember if I had mentioned the video Tim Tebow sent Brandon too? So honored! http://vimeo.com/m/104636939 Password: secnation

Close friends and family have been in and out constantly, taking care of us. I am so utterly taken aback by all the support we have felt. Saying thank you can not even begin to express how we feel. For every kindness extended to us, I intend to pay it forward in the future. This experience will surely refine my abilities of helping others through the cancer fund in the future, Lord willing.

Brandon is hanging in there. His tender spirit is shining bright in this darkness. He is so gracious and kind, even in the midst of this mess. He truly is my hero and an amazing inspiration.

Many people have asked about visiting and unfortunately at this time we have to limit it mostly to family. Brandon is very weak and unable to visit much without it taking a toll on him.

I want to write more, but I've been trying to get this out for 3 days now, and if I don't post now - who knows how many more days it will be.

Thank you for your continued prayers for us all. We need them and are feeling them. This is the most difficult thing I have ever faced, and I know that it is only going to get worse before it gets better. I keep repeating 'One day at a time'.

Please pray for comfort and God's mercy on Brandon, and continued strength and endurance for us all. Currently 4 of us have been camped out in the living room, all caring for Brandon and each other as best we can.

And of course...prayers for miraculous healing.

On Wednesday a package arrived, a gift for me from Brandon. I had always harassed him about wanting a second band to go on the other side of my engagement ring. I like things symmetrical. So the plan was to get me one on our 5 year anniversary, however we were fighting cancer the first time then and did not have the finances. So we said when we start a family, that will complete it; engagement, marriage and family. That thought had been completely lost in all the chaos, until the other day when Brandon contacted my parents to see if they could help him get the band from my dad's jeweler, Carroll's Jewelers in Doylestown, where we got our wedding bands. Not only did they generously gift us the band, but also engraved Aria's name and birthdate and rushed it in the mail to us, so Brandon could give it to me. My dad was there the second they opened the next day to help make it happen. It's such a special gift that I will treasure forever, and something that I know will be passed on to Aria some day. I am so grateful for their kindness and generosity to us.