Jamie Laguette-Stevens.my cousin

My dear cousin, Jaime you were such an amazing woman, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, and friend.

This past Friday, my cousin passed away of cancer after 1 1/2 years of fighting this horrible disease.  She was a fighter until the very end and never lost hope-EVER.  She would constantly post on her Facebook for all to see that she was a cancer warrior and that she would beat this with the support of her family and friends. KATNER (Kickin' Ass, Takin' Names, Repeat)

One day last October it hit me how angry, sad, upset and just downright mad I was that the Lord would allow such a horrible disease to enter my cousin's body at such a young age.  I wrote to her, because I knew the words that I had intended to tell her, would not be able to make it out of my mouth without bursting into tears.  I told Jaime everything that I had been feeling for the days leading up to that moment, what my fondest memories were of her, and us, and our families.  I told her how amazing, inspirational, beautiful, and funny she was...how I had always remembered her to be since we were young.  I guess you could say I laid everything out on the table...and I'm glad I did...not just because I got to tell her everything I wanted her to know, but because I didn't get a chance to say goodbye.

Because I feel compelled...below are the words she wrote back to me and I will hold near and dear in my heart forever.  You can see the absolute determination and drive she had to beat her cancer, and that's just sheer fearlessness on her part to have such an awe-inspiring spirit everyday of her courageous fight.

Jaime Laguette-Stevens October 3, 2009 at 10:47am
Dear Natalie,

Words cannot begin to express how much your email means to me - it brought tears to my eyes. It is one of the nicest, most thoughtful, caring emails I have ever received, thank you. The feelings are definitely mutual and I think about you all the time. I love seeing your updates on facebook and it makes me SO happy to see you SO happy.

I completely understand your reactions and I would never fault you for that. I know that I am in your thoughts and prayers and that's all I could ever ask for. I am very open about my cancer journey so please never hesitate to ask me anything or feel vulnerable.

I too get upset about why I have this ugly disease, but one thing I realize is I cannot question why. I just have to keep my head held high and know that this too shall pass, as difficult as it is. I honestly believe that God put this challege in front of me for me to accomplish so that I could be the strength and inspiration for all others out there living with cancer or yet to be diagnosed. You rarely hear about the survivor stories and there are SO many. I know I will be a survivor so in the meantime, I am fighting with all that I have!!

As I write this, I am astonished with how well I feel physically, mentally and emotionally all things considering and that's all I can ask for. I am a human being LIVING with cancer who will BEAT it!!

Thank you again for your email and very kind words. I hope we can all get together again soon!

I love you,

I love you my dear cousin.  You fought hard, really hard...and even though you have parted ways with your loved ones and friends we will all meet you again in the most precious place, Heaven.


Week in Review with the Tran kids

Today I will say goodbye to my favorite Asian munchkins in the whole wide world...the Tran kids.  I was fortunate enough to spend an entire week with them while their mom left for boot camp.  Surprisingly, the two hardest parts of the whole trip were being sick and having to still maintain their schedule, regardless of how I felt (I guess that's where my motherly instincts kicked in), and the second thing was of course saying goodbye to them.

During my stay we shared a few tears, tons of laughs, lots of cuddling, but more than that it was about creating memories.  I kept thinking to myself, if only someone could've taken pictures of our time together so I could cherish those memories forever on paper, but I'll just have to cherish them well within my heart.

I feel like after this past week I could write a book on kids saying the darndest things!  Ethan seriously said the cutest things all week, as well as his sisters, who for the most part just speak mumbo jumbo with occasional real words & sentences.  Some of the highlights of the week and what the kids said to me are as below:

- "Auntie Natalie thank you for watching me and my babies while my mom is away."
- "Auntie, I love you" (he said this probably on the hour, sometimes more)
- "Auntie, you are so good to me and my babies."
- "Auntie, I really hope you get better.  I wanted to get you a watermelon, because that always makes my throat feel better."
- "Auntie, if you make red soup (aka top ramen), that always makes me feel better.  You should try it!"

*My favorite thing he said to me came last night as he was playing his Wii sports game.  He was playing as 2 players with one remote in each hand.  Somehow my Mii won his Mii and so he said, "Auntie, you beat me again! I know how much you love beating me when we play the Wii!" It was the gosh honest truth coming out of his mouth and so adorable because for the first time he wasn't getting mad at me.  You see I'm beyond competitive...yeah you heard and read correctly, I don't even let my nephew or anyone else for that matter just win, because it's the right thing to do.  I know it sounds harsh, but losing builds character and why not start them out young?  I've finally proved my point with Ethan, that as long as you're having fun, it doesn't matter if you win or lose (for now that is...) =)

The few words/sentences the girls, Ellie & Avery could muster up all week that were so cute to hear were...
- "Auntie, I fall down!" (Avery)
- "Auntie, love..." (both girls)
- "Mommy, airplane" (Avery)
- "Kisses" (both girls)

We had such an incredible time at various parks, the mall, and of course at home.  I'll definitely miss my Asian munchkins, I'm just simply amazed at how fast they are growing.  I'm glad that I continue to have so many opportunities to be with them and help guide them along their way.  My life would not be complete without them.

Below are a few...ok maybe more than a few images from our time together.