We have been taking the curves these past few weeks — having good days and bad days (and perhaps more accurately, good hours and bad hours). Bret is staying on the Sutent drug but at a lower dose, which seems like a better cocktail for treatment of his tumors but it prohibits healing of the large, open wound on his stump. Our days are spent in bed entertained by documentaries, movies, current events, and great food, when Bret’s stomach is agreeable. A few months ago, Bret asked his parents to stay with us out here in Pultneyville until…well, indefinitely. It’s like we’re on the road trip again — Betsy and Jim with us here and Aaron and Ryan joining us when they can. We don’t know how we can ever thank them enough for this time together and their amazing support. We also feel like our “ride in a good direction” continues as Bret reads all his blog comments, emails, texts, and cards. Although Bret’s fatigue doesn’t allow him to post updates or respond personally, he/the Hoefen family continue(s) to be deeply touched by all the support and Bret wanted us to express how much it means to him.
As we continue to reflect back on our journey of a lifetime, I thought I would share some of the curves along the way.
When Bret was diagnosed with cancer, he wanted to get a motorcycle. But not just any motorcycle, the one he had dreamt about and talked to his brother Aaron about for a long time –a Harley Davidson Fat Bob. It really is the coolest bike. The crazy thing was, he had never ridden a motorcycle, but Bret, as with everything he attempts, excelled extremely quickly. We would start out by taking little trips on the Fat Bob down the road to Burnaps for ice cream. Ice cream provided the perfect destination…but the ride together, me squeezing Bret tight and him learning how to “take the curves,” provided the perfect journey. This was just the beginning of our road trip.
Now that it has been over a year since Bret was diagnosed with CCS, I think back on this tumultuous time with both happiness and sadness. Sadness because I don’t want to ride this road we’re on without holding on tight to Bret, and happiness because these have been some of our “best days.”
People ask us, what was the highlight of your road trip? Well, for me, the highlight was truly the journey itself. I have to admit that when Bret wanted to take a road trip across country, I wondered: How would we survive that long in a car together? Seriously! We do well for the first couple of hours in a car but then it goes downhill. But I honestly don’t recall feeling that way once on our trip of a lifetime…this journey wasn’t about getting there; it was about taking the curves (like on Glendora Mountain Rd), taking the back road (seeing the bayous of Louisiana), taking stops along the way to enjoy the view (ahh, the vistas of Gila National Forest in NM), just taking time together (like “watching it get dark” in Key West).
But one of my “best” days was when Bret, Bets, and I were driving down Highway 1 (south of San Francisco), where the curves of the road parallel the contour of the amazing Pacific Coast. Then “Om Nashi Me” by Edward Sharp started playing…the simple lyrics “I love you, And I love you forever, And I’m loving you now” as we drove the winding road seemed to capture, well, EVERTYTHING! And I cried out loud to Bret, “We made it Baby!!!!!!” as the tears rolled down my cheeks. Everything had just led up to this moment.
When I tried to convince Bret we should fly to Alaska instead of driving there in order to make it there in our condition, he said to me: “as cheesy as it is, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” Instead of being on the road this summer, as we spend time together here in Pultneyville, I’m reminded of Bret’s blog post in which he said the intent of this blog is to “continue creating stories, building memories, and sharing my adventure”…I would just add “taking the curves.” I love you forever Bret!
To view video online, go to: http://vimeo.com/29506912