OUR STORY ... and how you can help.
2013 was the year. We had been living in a small house, on a coastal road, since arriving in Normandy in 2010, when we found a very old brick and stone house, surrounded by pastures, falling down barns in an odd corner on the edge of a quaint and vibrant town.
The house stood at the end of a long driveway, up on a hill ... on land infested with hundreds of rabbits. Built in the mid 1600's it sat on the site of a once prosperous orchard and cidery.
Rabbit Hill. We knew it was home even before we visualized the life that it would hold.
The house was empty and the surrounding areas non-landscaped. We have always been passionate 'weekend-warriors' and Rabbit Hill's projects and potential reminded us of our love of making things beautiful again. We must have visited it a hundred times before we had the keys in hand and were able to start working room by room -- of course commencing at first with the kitchen. Several months after moving in we began to visualize the grounds near the house surrounded by plantings, nothing formal, just things that would bloom and thrive. I had a crazy idea to plant a lavender field. Soon areas of the barn were filled with chickens, then goats and eventually a 'club' of webbed-feet amusers. At the same time, the house itself was also soon filled with family, old friends and new friends from around the world, with everyone of course gravitating to the heart and soul of the house -- the kitchen. Gathering, eating, sharing life ... everything was starting to feel perfect after an initial few years of strained adjustment to life in France.
When 2017 arrived, I was quite sure it would be the "new 2013", in fact, it would blow 2013 out of the water. We were devoted to achieve our dreams ... hardworking to a fault, but still putting family and our love of home first. And then by February things started going differently with several disappointments launching the new year that was supposed to be the best. But I remember thinking, as we emerged from that, that it was good to get that yucky business out of the way - so we could get on with the best-year-ever stuff.
What I did not think -- for one second, was that ... well this.
At the beginning of June, after several months of seeing all types of doctors, a tumor of cancerous cells was found in Alain's throat, localized to the throat, but spreading.
No one thinks these things up. Because you can't live like that, can you? It is like waking up everyday and worrying about being hit by lightning. No one does that. But certainly there are many more chances that you might get cancer in this world and less of being hit by lightning.
One week ago today -- we were reunited as a family after getting through one of the worst weeks I can ever remember. I never want to do that again. Ever. Alain was checked in to a cancer facility about 30 minutes from us for his first week-long stay for chemotherapy. (This will happen once a month through the fall. On the other weeks of the month, he will have daily radiation sessions on Monday to Friday. On Saturday and Sunday -- there are no sessions. We will rest). As treatment progresses, we have been warned that things will become harder ... and harder. Currently we are operating in daily life at about 50% of what we were able to do a few months ago.
I knew it would be hard. I know obviously what it takes to run the household and the farm. It is not solo-work, and what I failed at -- was asking for help, fully knowing this. On the week of in-hospital chemo, on Monday -- I tried to be a super hero, by Wednesday things were going badly and by Thursday, I was falling apart. The only thing I was good at was hiding how hard it was (publicly) -- and appearing to hold it together and look positive. Behind the scenes I was a mess. Every night I would crawl into bed exhausted and in tears, not letting on to our children how bad it was -- and spend the night wide awake from the anxiety of another day of struggle. I would sit at our kitchen table each morning and cry through three cups of coffee before starting the day.
Not only did I feel the impact of trying to keep our heads above the rising water without assistance, I was filled with fear about Sunday Brocantes / RABBIT HILL falling apart as we tried to survive what is ahead. Each day of that week, I felt like (despite hundreds of friends praying) that every single thing was crumbling -- and that inevitably-- we were losing everything; health, happiness, joy ... and yes, faith that God was in control.
A close friend had said, even just days after we received the diagnosis -- that, "You are going to need to learn how to ask for help.... and those that love you -- will rise up and be honored to be there when you ask".
So I am asking -- WE are asking -- for help, in every single area of need.
The next week-long chemo session will be on August 14th. This next time I want to be ready and strong.
I wanted to create a way for you to become personally involved in helping us and have created a page on my workshop site to host a support effort. This is completely and intentionally separate from our business and online shop, which we are committed to give our all to as usual, in order to meet our regular monthly expenses.
If you can come to the farm in person to help -- the gate is open, but if you can't come in person, please consider choosing an effort to sponsor. On the support page, you can select specific areas where we need the most help -- and sponsor the efforts needed to get through each day and week.
“Here are the two best prayers I know: 'Help me, help me, help me' and 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Anne Lamott