Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Weekend

Me, 2 brothers, and our niece Belle.
This weekend was not only Easter weekend, but also the weekend of the 5k supporting melanoma research. I am so incredibly blessed to have so many amazing people in my life that all came together this weekend to honor my wife, their friend, daughter, sister in-law as well as honor and support all of the others there whose lives have been affected by this terrible relentless disease. Some of my family members flew and drove in from out of town to be here this weekend for support and comfort on the first Easter without Adrienne here with us. I am so grateful to have been blessed with such amazing, supportive, and loving family.

The run was very emotional for me and many tears, laughs and memories happy or sad were shared by us all. There were so many amazing people here whom I had only known through emails or stories they had shared on the 5k website, and it was so great to finally get to hug them and meet them face to face. My little brother decided to run it with me, as we both decided that we were there to support the cause and felt it was only necessary to put in some sweat and work in doing so. We talked and joked for most of the run, or at least until I was winded to the point that I needed to reserve my breath to continue running. At the very end of the run I was met by two very sweet ladies with tears in their eyes. They approached me and asked if I was Jesse Dill, Adrienne's husband. As tears filled my eyes and began streaming down my face I said yes through trembling lips. They were part of the family that started Miles4melanoma GA for their daughter, and little sister who lost her battle over 5 years ago. I don't  even think I was able to get many more words out of my mouth but just hugged them for a while and I felt as if I had already known them and their struggles. This was such an amazing moment and one that will not soon be forgotten. After the run they honored some survivors that come each year to participate and support the cause. This was so hard for me as they called out each name, I clapped, yet tears streamed down my face as I waited wishing and praying that Adrienne's was the next to be called. She should have been there with  me running by my side, and she should have been there to be called on stage as a survivor to be recognized for her strength. This all reminded me of a letter that I found in the notes on Adrienne's phone. I am thankful that I found it because I was unaware that she wrote it, but at the same time, it was very hard for me to read.  The letter was Dated April 15th 2014.... This was one year from her diagnosis, and almost exactly 4 months after she passed away. The letter read:  "Many of you know, many of you don't, but on this day 1 year ago I was diagnosed with stage IV Melanoma (skin cancer). In the past year I've undergone multiple surgeries, immunotherapy treatments, chemotherapy, radiation, etc. Today I am blessed to say that I am cancer free. There is no cure for my cancer so I know that this will be a part of my life forever, but no matter what the future holds, to be where I am today is a miracle all in itself. What a humbling year it has been"..... 
This is the Faith that Adrienne had, the courage, strength and strong mind that she had all while going through what she was. I wish to god daily that my wife could have read that letter to me last week, and that we would be looking back on this humbled as she said, and changed forever together. Now I am left here trying to put the pieces of my life back together after it was torn away from me without warning or remorse. I just keep telling myself, one day at a time, one breath, one hurdle, one prayer, one step, just baby steps.... I miss you my love and how you held me together, nothing is easy, simple or nearly as sweet without you.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

miles4melanoma Letter

I received an email today asking me to share some information and photos of mine and Adrienne's story with the people attending the 5k to support melanoma research. Through tears, and memories, painful or precious, this is what I came up with.

I am Jesse Dill and I am participating in the miles4melanoma 5k in honor of my wife Adrienne Dill who was diagnosed with melanoma on April 15th 2013. Adrienne and I were married March 30th of 2012 in Savannah GA at Forsyth Park.  I truly never thought that beautiful day in March when we were at an absolute high, that merely a year later we would hit our absolute low with her diagnosis. It still boggles my mind and confuses me to the point of exhaustion. My wife, best friend, and Love, lost her battle Dec. 13th 2013, an unrealistic 8 months after being diagnosed.

Adrienne was loved and will forever be loved by many, not only for her contagious smile, but for her heart of gold and loving kindness.  She was involved in many charities & fundraising events even up to her last month’s here with us. One that I was unaware of was that she was writing numerous other cancer patients and sharing thoughts, support and prayer all while going through the battle against the wicked disease that took her from me.  This is a quote from a book that I read that was given to me by a dear friend while at Adrienne’s bedside in the hospital. “I strive to be grateful, not for the pain itself, but for the opportunity to respond, to form good out of what looks bad.”  With this situation that was dealt, for an unknown reason, Adrienne reacted with more courage, strength and Faith than I have ever known until this point in my life. While by her side through every surgery, treatment, and day long hospital visits, I did not hear her complain or get angry asking why this was happening to her. I do not possess that kind of strength but was able to hide my fears from her the majority of the time so that I could support her as best I could. One of Adrienne’s favorite bible verses, and now mine, is Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I saw Adrienne’s Faith and relationship with God grow each day, as well as ours as a newlywed couple. In a situation such as this, it seems that anger towards God is something that a lot of people experience, and I would be liar if I said that there have not been nights where I have felt enormous amounts of anger. But Adrienne was not, and I am so thankful for that and so proud of her rock solid strength.
I guess that as confused as I still am, that the true reason that we are all here today falls back to that quote. “We are striving to be grateful, not for the pain and grief that we are going through, but for the opportunity to respond, to form good out of a point of darkness in our lives.” Every person here today has been through a dark time in their lives due to this disease that HAS to be cured. I saw a poster for this very same 5k at one of the first visits to the Oncologist and remember telling Adrienne that WE were signing up for the next one together. How my heart and so many others long for her to be here with us today to walk or run by our side in celebration rather than grief. We will always love you baby and keep your memories alive.  

Adrienne had an unbelievable love and gift for children, and we had many in our lives. Unfortunately, Adrienne and I waited a little too long before having children of our own, as we had planned to try at the beginning of 2014. This is a picture of Adrienne and I holding our precious Goddaughter Stella. She is missed but never forgotten by all these children and loved ones whose lives have been impacted by her.















Monday, April 14, 2014

"The Blessing"

Another amazing song. This one by John Waller   "The Blessing"
This one reminds me of Adrienne so much because she will not only remain a huge blessing in my life, but in the lives of many others that knew her. She was and always will be a blessing for life.

Let it be said of us while we walked among the living
Let it be said of us by the ones we leave behind
Let it be said of us that we lived to be a blessing for life
Let it be said of us that we gave to reach the dying
Let it be said of us by the fruit we leave behind
Let it be said of us that our legacy is blessing for life

This day, You set life, You set death right before us
This day, every blessing and curse is a choice now
And we will choose to be a blessing for life

Let it be said of us that our hearts belonged to Jesus
Let it be said of us that we spoke the words of life
Let it be said of us that our heritage is blessing for life

We will choose to be a blessing for life
'Cause blessings and curses are choices
'Cause blessings and curses are choices
Will we build up, tear down, the moment of truth is now

For your Kingdom
For our children
For the sake of every nation

We will choose to be a blessing for life, for life
Blessing for life

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Four Months

It has been four months since we have been blessed with your company here... Four painful, confusing, blurry, lonely months that still feel like one long nightmare that I continue to pray for an end to. I have been so busy these four months trying to keep my mind off of everything and to surround myself by loved ones who can provide bits of comfort. Some days it feels like progress is made taking steps in the right direction and others it feels like I'm regressing back to where I do not want to be.
My family is flying in town this weekend to support Miles4Melanoma and Team Adrienne at the 5k we are doing in your honor. Nearly 70 participants have signed up raising well over 3,500 towards melanoma research. Half of the team I have yet to meet, but they are all lives that were touched by your beautiful heart. I love you baby and miss you. http://events.melanoma.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1100124

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fall Wedding

Taken just before my little brother's wedding.
Adrienne and I were married in March of 2012 in the beautiful city of Savannah, GA.  We were blessed to have perfect weather and the company of so many amazing friends and family members from near and far. We all have so many fun stories and memories that we share from this day. Wes, one of my 6 brothers met his wife at our wedding. She was a Friend from college and one of Adrienne's bridesmaids, and of course he was a groomsman and the two of them were paired to walk down the isle together not knowing that they would be taking this walk again in the near future, but at their own wedding.

Adrienne & I with two other Dill brides!
Their wedding was set for November of 2013 in the beautiful mountains of North GA. Adrienne & I were both asked to be part of the wedding party. We were so thrilled to be there and celebrate with them as well as support them like they had done at our wedding. All of the excitement was sort of disrupted shortly before the wedding...

Just a few weeks prior to the wedding Adrienne, her family, and I had a post treatment appoint with the Dr. to discuss the scan results... I am not going to go into detail at the moment but will just say that the results we received that day were not what we expected, prayed for, begged for nor should have gotten. This day was the first time that I broke down in front of my wife in tears that I could not hold back no matter how strong I tried to be for her. We were both scared, confused and shocked that this was happening. We talked about it daily, how she had overcome so much, surgery after surgery and treatments all without breaking stride or a complaint of feeling sorry for herself though she had every right in the world to. She is one of the strongest people that I have ever known in my life and the fact that we did not get the good news that I know she deserved completely broke my heart. After all she had been through and overcome already, why this.... why more... We both truly in our hearts and minds believed that the fight was won, that we could have our normal lives back and continue on pursuing the dreams and goals as a newly wed couple should. Unfortunately this was not the case...


My oldest brother, his wife, and Adrienne. Love this picture!
After receiving this news we started researching more treatment options as well as Doctors. We did not tell many people at all about the news we got and did not intend to until after my brother's wedding. This was to be the happiest day of their lives and Adrienne & I were at an absolute low with crushed spirits trying so hard to not let it show. I remember watching her walk down the isle that day as a bridesmaid having to do all I could not to burst out weeping. Though I fought it, tears streamed down my face as I watched the woman that I married less than two years prior walk down that isle. Just knowing what was going on in her body and the fight  before us was more than I could take standing there that day. It makes me so angry because these should have been tears of joy and celebration for the marriage between my brother, and our good friend, but they were tears of pain, hurt, and confusion..... As hard as this time was for both of us I am so thankful that she got to spend this time with my family and will Cherish the memories from their wedding forever. Little did we know that they would be some of the last. Thank you for your love, thank you for your memory and thank you for your undeniable heart of gold that made an impact on the lives of many.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Summer Fun

As summer fast approaches it brings along with it many fond memories that Adrienne and I made together. I grew up in the snow and still love it but I have most definitely been converted into a summer loving beach bum with my sweet southern bride to blame. We always stayed busy taking weekend getaways to the beach, camping trips to the lake, baseball games and any possible concert that we could find. I love good live music but Adrienne had a deep appreciation for it and we were always on the lookout for the next one to check out. 
 
This summer will be different and the first time in years that I will not have my best friend, wife, and sidekick with me to continue making these memories... A first time attending a concert without her singing by my side or trying to get me to dance; That first ball game without my arm around her in the bleachers; The first beach trip that I will watch the sunrise and set trying to imagine her next to me rather than holding her in my arms. So far I have gone to a concert and baseball season opener which were both bitter sweet. They bring me some comfort in the form of familiarity, which is rare for me at the moment. They also make me feel more lonely and intensify the sting of her not being here.
 
Last night at the concert I could see her standing there dancing and singing along to every song just like she would always do. She would often catch me watching her sing and give me that flirty, contagious and beautiful little smile so full of love. None of these things will ever be the same without her, but I am going to continue doing them trying to allow joy and life into my heart as well as to keep all of these good memories alive within me.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sunny Visit

Painfully, on Adrienne's Birthday in February, I went to design her headstone as I stated in a previous post. This is something that no spouse should ever have to be tasked with, let alone a newly wed doing it for his young bride who would have been 27 this year... Just seeing that age, her birth date, and all of it makes my heart ache and causes so much confusion. Today as I sat next to her headstone glancing around at all of the others surrounding her I wondered their stories, the pain their loved ones went through or what they left behind and couldn't help but notice all of the dates. 1930s, 1940s, some older, and some a little more recent but none as recent as 1987... I am in no way saying that it is easier to lose someone you love because of their older age or any other circumstance. I am simply saying that to me, in my mind, and what I'm feeling is that its not fare and I will NEVER understand it.

The stone turned out beautifully and I ran my fingers across it, over our wedding pictures etched in it, the scripture on the back, and your name numerous times wishing it belonged to anyone else but you. I picked one of your favorite pictures from our wedding that had our both of our rings around the stem of a white rose, as well as a picture of the bouquet you held as I watched you walk down the isle. They are both perfect and add colorful life to the stone.

The sun was pouring down today but there was a nice comforting breeze flowing as I sat talking and praying with you. I played our first dance song on repeat for a while trying to remember the comfort that holding you in my arms brought. I instantly cry every time I visit the burial site but sitting there listening to this song caused another river that seamed to have no end to stream down my face. If only that day we had our first dance I would have had some sort of insight to what the future held... We could have prevented this, I Could have spent more time with you rather than working, I would have surrendered to you rather than arguing at all, I would have held you more and all of the thousands of other should have, would have, or could haves... These tare me apart daily and I find it so hard to block them from my mind.

The last time we listened to that song together was the very last night I slept with you by my side. I had a weird feeling that night in the hospital so I crawled in bed at your side, held your hand, and listened to our song as I slowly drifted to sleep...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Faith

Why is it that when our lives seem to be flawless and near perfection that we often take our blessings for granted and seek God a little less or a more casually rather. I may be speaking only for myself but I have a good feeling that this pertains to many others as well. Shouldn't it be the opposite? When all is well and we are full of love and happiness shouldn't we seek him more and THANK him for our many blessings instead of becoming complacent in our FAITH? Its kind of like viewing our relationship with God to the relationship we had with our parents in college or other stages in our lives when we believed that we were independent but truly were not. Their numbers were still on speed dial but rarely used unless WE were in need of something....

The minute our lives are overturned or we are faced with unbearable hurdles to overcome we go running back to these relationships that we have set on the back burner as we are so deserving of them still being there for us. I see that I am guilty of this now more than ever as I am going through these trying times of grief, pain and loss. "The lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." So much truth in this scripture and the only real comfort that I have found through the healing process this far has come from seeking him through scripture and prayer.
I guess I just feel guilty that the closest my relationship seems to be with him is in times where I am struggling and need him. We always need him...

Adrienne and I had always talked about our faith and how we wanted to continue taking steps towards strengthening it. Together the past couple of years we started taking steps in the right direction by going to church more, studying scripture and slowly making changes needed in our lives. When I lost her there were and at times still are moments I feel anger towards God and Id be telling a lie if I told you different. I don't think these moments are avoidable and as long as I do not let it change my beliefs and what I know to be true then the moments will pass.  I guess the reasoning behind this post is because I do not want to treat my Faith like a AAA card and tuck it away to collect dust until something goes wrong and I am in need.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"From Where You Are"

These lyrics really hit deep at the moment. I often find songs like this and put them on repeat. The styles and genres change depending on the day. Its amazing how influential music is on your mind spirit and how it can enhance or completely change the mood you are in. Adrienne loved music so much and had a very good musical taste as well. She was also my little Road trip singer riding shotgun.
Lifehouse "From Where You Are"

So far away from where you are, These miles have torn us worlds apart
Oh and I miss you, Yeah I miss you
So far away from where you are, I'm standing underneath the stars And I wish you were here
I miss the years that were erased, I miss the way the way the sunshine would light up your face
I miss all the little things, I never thought that they'd mean everything to me
Yeah I miss you, Oh and I wish you were here
I feel the beating of your heart, I see the shadows of your face
Just know that wherever you are, Yeah I miss you, Oh and I wish you were here