Friday, July 25, 2008

Bayley's Our Angel

Grandma and Poppop with Bay during his last hours

Heidi saying goodbye to her buddy, Bay

It's taken me 5 days to write this blog, or to even gather the energy to actually admit that he's not coming back. Bayley was put to rest on of the hardest days of my life. Below is a copy of the email that I sent out to family and's just easier to not have to write my feelings again.

Hello friends and family,
This email is a difficult one to write. Mac and I said goodbye to Bayley yesterday at 12:30pm and allowed his little soul to go to heaven where there is no cancer, no pain, and only His goodness. The tears have yet to cease. If you have been reading his blog you may have heard that he hadn't been feeling well lately. He came out of remission back in May (two months before his chemo was even scheduled to be finished) and since that time we have tried every possible chemo protocol, diet modification, and medications to get his lymph nodes to shrink. Its been a roller coaster of emotions because we would get so excited the day after chemo when they would come down just a little in size but then a day later his neck felt like he had swallowed a tennis ball. About a month ago we witnessed Bayley having a seizure (which was probably not his first) then two weeks later he vomited blood, a week after that a bloody nose, and then last Tuesday bloody diarrhea. He had another seizure on Friday morning and I had to beg him to eat breakfast. We were making ground turkey, rice, and boiled chicken for him for the last month or so. Friday night Mac and I spent the evening videotaping him doing his gamut of tricks....he all of a sudden looked great Friday night, as if he wanted to give us one last playtime. Then suddenly on Saturday morning, he refused to come downstairs in the morning and could not eat or drink all day. The poor boy was vomiting all day and laid on the couch in pain. We admitted him to the hospital that evening for IV fluids and medication to help the nausea and when we picked him up at midnight he was hungry. Again, another roller coaster of emotions because we thought that maybe he just had an upset stomach and he'd be alright. Then 5 am rolls around and the vomiting started again. Refusal to eat and dehydration led us to the hospital again yesterday morning for more fluid and medicine but nothing helped. He laid lifeless on our kitchen floor and could barely breath because his nodes were so enlarged. My parents were with us, my sweet friend Heidi, as well as Mac's brothers. We laid on the floor with him telling him how much he has touched our hearts and made us more loving people. We told him that it was alright to leave us (we actually begged him to stop breathing so we wouldn't have to make the decision) and that he had another journey to begin. I told him that there were probably little children in heaven that needed a dog and because he was so special that God chose him. Bayley had this unworldly ability to make everyone fall in love with him, even those who don't like dogs, his gentle demeanor, his selfless heart, his big brown eyes...he was irresistible. Even in his final hour he wanted to please us and make sure that we didn't think he was in pain....when we got to the vet to end his suffering, he got a quick burst and was able to walk to each of us to say goodbye and he even ate 4 treats!! He hadn't eaten in 2 days, it was like he just 'knew' it was time. It was a calming experience and Bayley looked like an angel. Mac and I laid with him, said our final whispers, and held him tight as he entered God's Kingdom. We will never forget our Bayley and pray to God that he gives us strength to deal with the pain. Our hearts are aching right now. I have the day off from work and Mac just called and said he's on his way home from work because he just can't do it. We realize he's a dog but he truly meant so much more to us....he was our daily companion, our unconditional friend, our creator of laughter and joy, but most importantly he was our son.
We decided about 2 months ago (when Bay was feeling great) that Bayley needed a companion and that we wanted our new dog to know Bayley and learn his characteristics so we put a deposit down on a puppy. The pups were born last Monday, the day Bay received his last chemo treatment and the day before he started to get sick. The puppy should be in our home late August. We just hope and pray that our hearts are mended.
Bayley's 6 short years filled our hearts with more happiness than we could have ever achieved without his big brown eyes staring at us every morning from the edge of the bed and making even the worse days bearable. There is nothing quite like the feeling of coming home every day to such a loving animal. Our home is quiet now and I keep waiting to hear Bayley scratch or breath or to hear the sound of his collar shake with his dog tags. All of a sudden our lives are different now and to tell you the truth, I hate it. I just finished reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom and the first chapter starts off " it might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time" Mac and I are currently trying to convince ourselves that Bayley was a special chapter in our lives and that with his death, we are about to begin our next journey, one that is filled with unparalleled memories of a dog we fondly called, Bayley.
We love you all and thank you so much for all the love and support you have given us over these last trying 6 months. Pray that Bayley's running around right now through fields of milkbones, swimming in the ocean waves, and eating filet mignon. He deserves only the BEST!
Sincerely, Rebecca and Mac Cummings

I love that big black nose.....he was always smiling. This was taken on Saturday

Bayley made a paw print for us to frame...again, picture taken on Saturday and he's smiling despite the vomiting and anorexia. Always wanted us to be happy.

Taken on Sunday, just a couple hours before he left us. His eyes tell you everything.

This is where Mac and I spent our Sunday morning...laying with Bay and telling him how much he is loved and that he doesn't have to struggle anymore. We gave him a million kisses!

He was my special boy and I miss him so very much.

This picture was taken a couple months ago at our old house...just being silly.

Our Bayley's in heaven smelling all the flowers

Right after we moved in. You can see his little buddy, Seger, sitting between us...they were best friends regardless of size.
Bayley loved swimming in my parents pool! My brother Shawn came to visit in June and Bayley was on a mission to steal the volleyball, he would actually jump up and out of the water to get it.
This has been a difficult week for Mac and I but we really lean on eachother for strength and sit around at night remembering all the silly things that made Bayley who he was. On top of the stress of losing our loyal companion, Mac's Uncle Chris was placed in hospice this week for his battle with pancreatic cancer. It just seems like we are surrounded by the ripping effects of cancer and we have been slowly watching our loved ones suffer from this cause. We need to support our national cancer research organizations both human and canine (Morris Animal Foundation Canine Cancer Cure Contributor) as well as the appropriate approach towards stem cell research. Life is a gift and our time here is short. Praise God for all His glory and honor Him through your love, respect, and patience with others. Bayley's 6 years were short, but in those 6 years he proved that God does not discriminate nor does He turn His cheek. Bayley's love was unconditional and constant. Bay's mission and message:

" see to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts." 1 Peter 1:22

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dave Matthews on the 4th of July......amazing!

One of my all time favorite things to do in the summertime is to go to Dave Matthews concerts. It's crazy but every time I go to a concert I get this overwhelming feeling of excitement and contentment, like there is no where I'd rather be than right there on the lawn watching Dave sing his heart out to every stink'in song with such passion... they are just a truly talented band. Unfortunately, the last four years living here in Charleston has required me to travel out of state every year to see him BUT!!!! this year he came to us!! He played at the single A baseball stadium which made it so much more intimate than any concert I've ever been to...the closest I've ever been to the stage. Here's a glimpse into our night (thanks to Heidi sneaking in her camera)
Heidi and I preparing for our night

This was at the end of the concert when the lights go on and everyone is disappointed that it's over
Look how close we were!

Perfect weather

Why does it appear that I was the only one drinking a cold beer on a hot night?

Mac lifting me up for a birds eye view...can you tell how big my smile was?

It was a good 4th of July.....a little Dave Matthews and a celebration of our 2nd anniversary on July 1st.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Our life has been a whirlwind....

Geez, I just realized that I haven't blogged in about 2 months, but there is good reason. Our lives have been filled with adventure, some good and others not so good. I will save you the boredom of listening to me complain about the closing process of our old/new home but lets just say that we lived out of boxes with about 4 sets of clothes, no washer/dryer, no plates/silverware/tupperware for about a good month. We got to experience the local laundry mat, ate lots of take out with plastic silverware, and probably reused a couple pairs of dirty socks along the way (for lack of washing equipment). I suppose I could have bought one of those wash boards and got to work but I was working full time, finishing up my studies, and stressing about the sale of our home. That thought takes me back to when I was in Nepal for a summer and I was living with a local family who obviously didn't own a washer/ dryer so they were trying to show me how they washed their clothes and after about a minute of me trying to do the same, they simply washed my clothes for me, sad.
But, we are finally in our new home and have enjoyed every minute of painting and repairs. There is so much we would love to do to the home so I will post pictures along the way as we try to accomplish our goals of home remodeling.
I wish I had better news to report on our Bayley but his cancer came back in May and we have been trying all of our last options to nip it in the butt, but unfortunately his left anterior cervical lymph node is being persistent and we can't seem to shrink it. We have stopped our initial chemotherapy protocal and have tried about three different ones since May but with no luck. It has been a difficult time for us and although we realize that our prayers are a little far fetched and unrealistic, we continue to pray and pray and pray and pray. The poor little guy actually threw up blood one night and they seem to think it was caused by an ulcer so he is on MORE medication to treat that. A very scary evening for Mac and I occurred a week ago when we were preparing dinner.......Bayley had a seizure which began with a limp of his rear leg, then his front leg, then his head drooped down at an angle and he fell into my arms, as I lifted his head to look into his eyes (all the while Mac and I are screaming/crying and Mac runs to get his keys to take Bay to the emergency vet) his big brown eyes had lost their soul. He stared blankly ahead and I thought for sure that this was 'it'. By the time Mac grabbed his keys Bayley started to walk towards him and collapsed and then got up again...with a limp...and then 5 seconds later was perfectly normal again. Scariest minute of my life. He's a little fighter and we'll allow him to keep fighting until he appears to be in pain (his doctor has given him about 2 months to continue this fight). We have been to his oncologist every week (sometimes multiple times a week) since January 25th. Almost every week he receives an injections and has blood work done and yet he LOVES going there. He has made so many friends at Veterinary Medical Center.....all of the techs, the front desk girls, and of course Dr. Taylor have all fallen in love with Bayley. His favorite by far is Shannon, she works at the front counter and every time Bay comes in the two of them run to eachother and Bayley starts squeeking and crying in excitement. They call him the 'model' patient. He is a gentle giant and never complains about the needles or the pills, or the dreaded slippery scale. Bayley is my sweet boy:) And so, we ask you again to pray for peace for Bay, that he may live these final weeks/months/*years*(hope) painfree and happy and that Mac and I can provide him with more love than he can handle and the strength to cope when it is finally his 'time'.

My graduation in May with my master of nursing in pediatric nurse practitioning...woot woot

Heidi excited, because with this graduation comes more free time to go out with her