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Friday, July 1, 2016

Even Less Sugar: Creeping Up on the End

Hello, friends.

Not long ago, we officially transitioned Ian to hospice care. The nurses are lovely and available, there is minimal disruption and chaos, and we are just at home, being.

That being, however, changes slowly but significantly, by the day.

Ian no long rolls himself to sleep on his side (his preferred position). He leans a bit and is unable to correct it. He has lost most interest in food.

Yup, you read that right: Ian + Food = Not so much.

He understands everything, and his face still responds to the appropriate emotions ... albeit a much less wide smile and sharp twinkle, they're still there.

But they are fading.

His eyes don't focus as much, so he has a bit of a walleyed look. His voice is a whisper, and unless it's a common response in context ("thank you," "I love you, too," "Sure," "Nope,"), there's little chance of understanding what he's trying to say. But he doesn't try too hard anymore, either.

Last night he seemed alert but confused. As I have done MANY times before (due to his short-term memory loss), I explained the reason he lies there, unable to communicate.

"We're nearing the end, hon."

Furrowed brow: "Really?"

"Yes. The chemo drugs stopped working. The tumor is growing, and that's why you can't brain or speak and why you might be confused about things. I'm so sorry."

Tears used to fall after this conversation, but yesterday he stared, blinked heavily, and stared some more.

I told him that I had no idea what my Ian would want to be sure I knew or considered or took care of at the end, but that he didn't need to let any of those thoughts trouble him. I have people taking care of the important things, and although we are all going to be sad and angry and depressed and lonely and hurt and hollow, we're going to be okay.

"Everything that you would say to someone before you die you've said. I know you love me, and the kids, and you want what's best for us, and you're sorry to be leaving us. You don't need to say any of that - we know it. Just be at peace, tell me if you're in pain, and let us take care of you."

I've discussed funeral and burial things with the kids. They've both had their private "tell Dad everything you want him to know and would regret not having said" conversations. MY. KIDS. ARE. AMAZING.

Ezra is the sweetest, most empathetic child I have ever met. He just wants "everyone to be happy," "knows God has a plan even though it's not what we want," and "we should have a train that runs through the entire house so it can deliver stuff to us" [proceeds to detail the route, in excruciating detail, through every room in the house, while sitting with me in the dark on the porch].

Audrey had a dream that Ian passed away and "I didn't get to say stuff, so I made sure I did." She is joyful and bubbly, and clings to me just a little (not her M.O.). She is pouring on the funny and laughter (yes, I know she's overcompensating and hiding the pain) to lighten the mood and cheer me.

They are both heading to camp on Sunday. For two weeks. Two VERY uncertain weeks.

Would you please pray with me that Ian holds on until they return? I'd like them to say goodbye in his final moments. I'd love for them to not associate yearly summer camp with Mom appearing way too early, walking up to tell them the sad news, and taking them home early. And if none of that is possible, please pray I parent well and according to their needs; that I'm able to share grief and hold my babies and absorb their tears. That I can point them to Jesus, Who does not falter or fail, without "sounding like the people who are supposed to say that" (guess who?). That I continue to make wise choices for our family in light of our new reality, and that people accept those choices with grace.

This long road will soon reach a bend, but will keep meandering through forest and field.

I miss my best friend. He wanted to do this hike with me.


  1. Dear,dear heart breaks for all of you...I'm crying as I write this, so if I make typos, just know it's through the tears. I hope you keep your blogs, and especially this one. It's beautiful and your love comes screaming through. I've done a lot of grief work, and you're right on target. Since you have hospice people, ask them if they know of the booklet "Gone from my sight" may be known in all hospices or just indigenous to Indiana, don't know. Great booklet that gives you a timeline and the earmarks for what to look for as far as approaching the end. I got mine for free (everybody does). It was great when we were losing various people, sort of something to cling to and say, "okay, this should be coming next"....sort of a road you were walking with them. If they don't know of this (hospice) and you think you'd want one, let me know....I'll try to get Indiana to send you one via mail. I am so terribly sad for you all. And I am so terribly glad that you all know the Lord. He will somehow pull you through. If there is anything else I can do for you, please, please let me know. Love and grace to you all. Becky Evans

  2. (Virtual) hugs, tears, prayers.

  3. Rachel, our friendship has not been a long one, conceived out of common pain of caring for a loved one who was ill. Right away I was drawn to your strength, your courage and your humour and how you handled the worst nightmare of your life. I admire you. I pray also the kids get to say their last goodbyes, enjoy some summer fun before their lives change forever.
    My heart is with you, I hope for a peaceful death for you precious Ian. Sending love......

  4. Rachel: I am in awe watching you cope with the logistics of caring for Ian and your precious children, as well as yourself. You are amazing. Life is so precious and I have been reminded of that again and again as I watch your family, friends, and church family surround you. When words aren't enough, there are prayers, tears and hugs. Lots of hugs. I love all of you. I am sending my prayers, tears and hugs. - Tracey

  5. My heart is broken for you and your kids. Many are grieving with you, including me. God Bless

  6. Tears, hugs and prayers. I am in awe.

  7. Wishing all of you strength, comfort, peace...

  8. Dear Rachel,
    I worked very closely with Ian while he was at PLS. I work for GM. Please let Ian know that he was always a pleasure to work with. He is that type of person who nobody has a bad thing to say about. Dedicated, trustworthy, funny, thoughtful, and just an all around good guy.
    He has touched the lives of many. We are all pulling for him and your entire family in this very difficult time.
    Your tireless dedication, love, and commitment is an inspiration to us all.
    Nick D

  9. Rachel I am praying for all of you especially Ian. I love Ian. hugs and prayers and tears. God watch over the Maize Family.. shelby tooch

  10. Rachel, I worked with Ian years ago with Artisan /GM and have followed his journey and prayed. I have never met you however I always felt Ian had the most wonderful wife and prayed for you and the children as well. God had the plan a long time ago and I have shared the hills and valleys of Ian journey with everyone that knew him. God bless

  11. Brian Tucker
    Love you Rachael! Ezra and Audrey are awesome, we have been blessed to know you all through FPC. I will always be thankful for Ian helping me to learn how to coach softball and how much fun Brielle and I had together because of this, I had so much fun when we went to Chevy youth baseball at PNC park with the Pirates, they wouldn't let Ian and I on the field, we just wanted to walk on that beautiful turf, We asked but they said "kids only guys" but we got to sit in the rain and watch our kids take ground balls from Nick Leyva and laugh!

  12. Ian, Rachael, Ezra and Audrey - My name is Cari, i ended up on your blog through another Carrie. i do not know you and you do not know me, but i have been where you are, with a father who loved his family well, stayed strong and courageous through the fight, and struggled at the end to tell his family all the things his heart held but his body would not relay. Rachael, your words have touched me, moving me to reach out, comment (out of the norm for me) and pray for your family. God bless you as you walk your journey, remember that you are never alone.

  13. Almighty Father, please continue to bring peace to the Maize family as they face Ian's last days on earth. Give them strength to tell him all they wanted to share with him. Even though Ian cannot communicate, he will hear them and will always be close to them. Ian is a wonderful father, husband, son, and friend. We will al miss him but we give thanks that he has been in our lives. I also pray that all the family and friends will continue to reach out to Rachel, Audrey, and Ezra in the days, weeks, and years ahead as they transition into a new mode. Watch over Audrey and Ezra as they go to camp and keep them strong when they return home. I ask all these prayers in your Name. Amen.

  14. Ian, Rachel, Ezra and Audrey--you may not remember me, but I still want to be praying for you--not just today, but in the difficult days ahead. I'm so glad that Jesus is in your hearts and your lives, and I pray that he will be especially close to you now. I wish that we could do more! He will never leave you nor forsake you!

  15. As a daughter of two veterans my thoughts and prayers are with you and your children. May G-d be with you and your family at this time of need. May Ian find the peace and comfort he so deserves. Please also thank him for his service in the military.

  16. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. As an army combat veteran I thank Ian for his service in the Navy.

  17. You are in my daily prayers.

  18. Your family is always in my prayers. You are an amazing wife and best friend to Ian. May the Holy Spirit guide your every moment, and know that you are all loved.

  19. So sorry for the loss of your beloved Ian.

  20. My condolences on the loss of your beloved husband Ian. May his memory be blessing now and forever.

  21. May God give you peace and make all things new for you as you walk this road of grief. Praying you through....I'm incredibly sorry for your great loss.

  22. Your family has been on my mind a lot this week. I am so sorry for your loss.

  23. Tears and more tears. I don't know you or your family, but my heart breaks for you nonetheless.