We went to Angelina's for dinner, and I ordered flautas--my favorite thing to order at a Mexican restaurant. They were really good, but my favorite thing was actually the side of refried beans. They were amazing! We were feeling kind of Christmas-y and just very happy, so we ended up leaving a 100% tip for the server... that was fun :)
When we left the restaurant, we walked down the street to a candy shop, that had "nostalgic candy" printed on the sign. I knew there had to be some cool finds in there, so we browsed around the shop and bought some stocking stuffers for the kids. They had a lot of really interesting candy!
Jerry and I had a pretty relaxing morning, and then at around 10:00, I remembered that the post office would close at 11:00, and I wanted to go pick up Mark's mail. So Jerry and I hurried and got ready to go to the hospital, and then we stopped at the post office on the way.
You guys. I am SO SO SO appreciative of all of the support you've sent Mark in the form of cards. The P.O. Box was packed full today with 109 cards for him!! I was speechless, and my jaw dropped when I opened the box. I was so excited to bring the cards to the hospital. Thank you so much!
We stopped at Long John Silver's on the way, because Mark had requested fish and hush puppies from there. When we got to the hospital, we decided to take the stairs to Mark's room, instead of the elevator--he's on the 10th floor, so it wasn't just a flight or two! I wanted to get some "altitude" for my Wii Fit U Challenge. I've run three marathons in the past couple of years, but I was huffing and puffing by the time we got to the tenth floor!
Mark was REALLY happy to see us, and thrilled that we brought him Long John Silver's. He ate his lunch while Jerry and I took turns reading his cards to him. We went through all 109 cards, and Mark loved every single one. Every time a nurse or someone would come into the room, he would say, "I have SO MANY people that care about me! So many people!"
Mark kept talking about how much he wanted to go home, and this time, he wasn't talking about Heaven. He said he wanted to back to his group home. It was heartbreaking.
My mom called and asked about Mark, so I stepped outside the room, because I'd been on the verge of tears the whole time I was there. I told her what was happening with his pain, and then I pulled myself together to go back in. When I walked back in, Mark was talking to Jerry, and crying. He was really upset, saying he wanted to go home, and he kept apologizing for crying. It was awful. We told him not to be sorry, that it's perfectly normal to cry and get sad or angry about all this, but he just kept apologizing and telling us, "Thanks for coming!".
We'd been there for nearly four hours, but I didn't want to leave until after they'd given him the pain meds. The nurse finally brought in his morphine, and gave that to him, so I knew he'd be feeling better soon. We chatted a little longer, and I showed him again what buttons to push to turn on the TV and his CD player. I could tell that the morphine kicked in, because he got a little loopy, so I told him he should get some rest, and we said good-bye. He was so grateful that we'd come, and just kept thanking us. I felt awful leaving, but my parents had had the kids for nearly 24 hours, so we had to go pick them up.
We walked to the elevator, and when it opened, Kim (a friend of our family) stepped out, on her way to visit Mark. I was so grateful to see that she was there to visit him, because it was so hard for us to leave! I couldn't even talk to her without crying. Jerry and I went to my parents' to pick up the kids, and while we were there, Kim FaceTime'd my mom's iPhone, so that I could see that Mark was doing really well. I chatted with Mark via FaceTime for a minute, and he seemed MUCH happier, which was a relief.
This whole thing has been so much harder than I ever could have imagined. Mark is just so innocent, and has always been so happy; seeing him break down today broke my heart. But I just want to let you all know how excited he was to get the cards, and how loved it made him feel to know there are so many people pulling for him. (A few people have asked me if it was too late to send a card; of course not! I would love to see him get cards for as long as he's battling this cancer. The address is on this post.)
My parents are going to visit him tomorrow, so I think I'll go on Monday, and then again on Christmas. Today, he mentioned a bunch of old TV shows that he liked to watch, so Jerry and I are going to look for some on DVD that we can bring him for Christmas. I wish we knew how long he would be in the hospital, but there really isn't a plan for what happens next, so we'll see.