September 4, 2016

by Robyn Bryant


September 4, 2016

 

BLESSED! I would love to know who can see their blessings!

 

It’s Sunday evening and this has been a great weekend! As a family we started our weekend in Greenville, SC celebrating the marriage of Sammy (Sam Sandlin) and Sarah Thackston. Sammy is the son of some of our dearest friends, Scott and Cara Sandlin. It was a fun and beautiful weekend. I love Sarah! I have watched Sammy grow up. There were many things I loved during the weekend, but I loved watching Sammy the best. I know there were people taking pictures, but I am not sure pictures will ever duplicate the images in my mind. Sammy Sandlin was the most handsome groom I have seen since March 9, 1991 when I walked down the ilse to my groom. His love for Sarah surrounded him and it was so nice to see that on his face at the rehearsal dinner and during their wedding ceremony and at the reception. My friend, Cara looked amazing both days, Scottie was beautiful and I also loved Scott’s expressions and voice during the weekend.

 

Today, I just feel blessed! I woke up and spent time with a good book and coffee on our back porch, I took a nap and then Bailey and I headed to Costco. That was an adventure, the blessing would be that Chris will pay for our purchases.

 

Tonight, Bailey is working on songs for he Chapel Talk, I am thinking about the week ahead. Bailey turns 18, this Friday, 9/9. The next night we are hosting the Kennesaw State University Golf Team for dinner. We hosted them last year and are so excited to see their coach and the team again. We are also happy about seeing the coach’s wife and beautiful daughter. So this week is going to be good!

 

I am thankful for my best friend, Ann that always steps in and takes care of our dogs (not an easy task) when we are away. I am blessed with her friendship and tons of others. Tomorrow night, we will have dinner with 2 other couples we love.

 

Today, I am also thinking about October 16th. RACE DAY! This is the 5th year of Team CMB, a team that walks/runs to honor Christian’s memory. Race weekend has become one of my favorite weekends of the year. The race expo is always fun - I love the unexpected people that stop by and share personal stories. Every year, there has been a parent that engaged and told a story of their personal loss of child to cancer. That’t reallly awful, but it’s a reality. Childhood cancer is not rare! Unfortunately, I know that children die every day of childhood cancer and more children are diagnosed everyday. This is my world! I will forever be a CHILDHOOD CANCER MAMA.

 

What are your blessings????? I really want to hear them. My blessings are Bailey and Chris, and amazing friends that offer unconditional support.

 

So as always, Love Deeply, Forgive Often and Find Your Blessings, Robyn


August 30, 2016 Evening

by Robyn Bryant


August 30, 2016 Evening

 

There is so much going on in our lives right now and it’s good in so many ways and sad in others. Bailey is now a senior at Girl’s Preparatory School. Thankfully, she is experiencing senior year fully so far. But we all think about 5 years ago and all that Christian did not get to experience. Christian never dwelled on what she missed. I think that last year, she truly lived for every moment. Honestly, I wish I could live more in the moment. Tonight, I am thinking about so much...September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month - I read a great blog today that articulated that it really needs to be an Active, not awareness month. Our next couple of weeks are filled with so many great things - the wedding of a beautiful young couple, Bailey’s 18th Birthday, a great collegiate golf tournament in our neighborhood, Bailey’s Chapel Talk at Girl’s Preparatory School and then a great friend competing in The Chattanooga Ironman while raising money for 3 charities, one being The Christian Bryant Foundation. And then our big Race Weekend is October 15 and 16th.  So, things are good, busy, and extremely emotional. 

 

All that said, I cannot stop thinking about just a few words...How do you Survive the Loss of a Child? I do not have all the answers to that question, but I know how I survive and it might waiver on any given day. Those words were in my head tonight first because I shredded chicken, that sounds totally crazy, but about this time last year I was getting very close to a beautiful girl named Amber and later I learned she only liked her chicken shredded. Amber died of a childhood cancer at the end of 2015. I will never shred chicken without thinking of her and her sazziness and her Mama. I also got news from another childhood cancer Mama tonight that was bleak. And today, I had a coversation with a co-worker/physician that has a child with a new cancer diagnosis. So, How do you Survive the Loss of a Child?

 

Here is my answer....

 

It’s not easy, you walk a tight rope everyday trying to maintain composure and act like everything is great. The essential part of my survival has been the support of other Mother’s that have lost children. Margie Bruner and Vickie Pippin have helped me so much. And there are so many others and some of these Moms I have never met in person and one I have only met in person once (Maribeth Wansley) and I know I can call or text her at any time. Survival is knowing I am never alone on this journey. Survival is also my extreme awareness of nature and the beauty of God’s world and just watching the sky. Literally, if I had to describe the moments I have had in nature since Christian’s death, it might take a full book...it can be a fleeting butterfly, a red bird, a blue bird, a yellow bird, those random beautiful rainbow lights in the sky, a true rainbow, a family of deer with a tiny baby - that is a brief glimpse at some of the moments. I am so thankful my heart is more open to listening and watching God’s beautiful world. 

 

So, my daily survival is trust in God and knowing our earthly life is not the end. And my family of Chris and Bailey and Christian’s memory. I am so blessed that Chris is my husband. He is patient and kind and very tolerant living in a home with girls all these years. Bailey is such a blessing. She has so much going on right now and so many deadlines and her perspective on life and all that is good helps keep me grounded. I will talk about Christian and honor her memory forever and I will always celebrate her life. But, I will also celebrate and honor my marriage to Chris and Bailey’s beautiful life and her dreams and I pray for our future daily. 

 

I am a survivor, I am surviving the loss of my oldest child everyday. Sometimes, it’s hard to breathe, the loss is so acute, but I survive. I do not do this alone, I do it surronded by the love of my family and close friends and the support of other Mother’s on this same journey. 

 

Remember to Love Deeply, Forgive Often and Find your Blessings, 

Robyn Bryant


August 7, 2016 10:55 p.m.

by Robyn Bryant


It has been so long since I have written a long post. The past couple of weeks have been hard. I have missed Christian so much. We took a big family trip together and I think we all felt the absence of Christian. Trips and vacations are hard. Of course, on this recent trip, and most trips, I am the one to get quiet and it seems like I am mad at everyone. That is not the case, mostly, I am just sad, and trying very hard not to show it. What is worse, is that I am with the 2 people I love the most and I somehow cannot articulate how I feel. It’s all crazy and I do not think anyone could begin to understand unless you are a mother at a similar age that has lost a child. 

Allow me to regress to August 7, 2011 - 5 years ago. I was in 317 at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger with Christian. We had a lot of support and I had a good friend that had taken me out during the afternoon to have food and drinks. 5 years ago, August 7 was also a Sunday. At this point, Christian had been back in the hospital close to a week and we desperatly needed answers. I remember her telling Dr. Gratias, if you just give me some steriods, I know I will get better. That’s what happened in May 2011 when they could not diagnose her. Christian was so hard to diagnois. Christian was a week away from starting her senior year at Girls Preparatory School. She was not the average student. Christian was intense and driven and had big plans and she was in incredible shape. After she was sick in May, she spent hours everyday training for her senior year cross country season. She always wanted to be better. Her academic intensity is something that was always hard for me to understand. 

Monday morning, August 8, 2011 - became busy! Christian had amazing nurses during her 112 days of her last year. August 8, 2011, I know God sent Jennifer to care for Christian. It was a crazy day. Christian had mutiple diagnostic procedures. That morning, I thought she had some kind of uterine, ovarian cancer. I actually think I called Chris and told him Christian had tumors in other organs. It was an awful day!!! I never showered, of course no make up, I had on old hospital scrubs, late in the day, Dr. Eric Gratias entered the room and sat down. I knew he was going to deliver news we did not want to hear. But actually, and thankfully, 
Christian’s pathology had finally revealed she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia inducing HLH (Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis). Honestly, I did not pay attention to the HLH. I had researched it a little earlier in the week when that was a possible diagnosis. Christian was ready to face it all head on and get on with her life. And she knew the treatment came first. Christian had a fairly intense senior year planned as a lot of GPS girls do. Dr. Gratias and the clinic social worker along with Chris and I went and met with the facuty and heads of school about Christian’s senior year. She was not happy to be left out of that meeting. 

So, 5 years ago, my family’s world was turned upside down. Christian, was ready for the challenge and had all of her goals and just wanted treatment started, so she could go off to college even though her treatment would go on for more years. Christian had a plan and wanted it all to work. It would take me days to tell you the whole story. 

Christian Moseley Bryant died in the PICU at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger on May 26, 2012. She was a patient in PICU for 42 days when she died. The day she left was actually an amazing day. I cannot begin to tell you how many doctors and nurses came to say farewell to Christian. Christian’s journey was very private. We kept it that way because Christian was very private. Christian was actually cancer free at the time of her death, very rare complications and secondary HLH took her young life. I will miss her forever. The pain of her loss will be with me and Chris and Bailey forever. But, we all strive to carry on her beautiful legacy. 

I am always trying to focus on something positive! The Chrisitian Bryant Foundation was established to improve healthcare for children in our community, primarlily children with cancer. Christian’s obituary even implied that the dream was to build a new children’s hospital. Well, tonight and tomorrow and in the days to come, I cannot control my sadness, but I can celebrate in the fact that the New Children’s Hospital will be built. Most people have no idea, that we have and incredible Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga and that a huge and I mean a HUGE precentage of the patients overall are from Northwest Georgia. Since Christian died, my passion has been making things better at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. The Christian Bryant Foundation has made some very generous donations over the years. I have worked closely with the Children’s Hospital Foundation for the past 2 years. I really wanted to see a Golf tounrnament or major fundraiser happen in the Northwest Georgia area. I have literally lost count of all the patients form the northwest georgia (Dalton) area that are treated at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. Unlike adult oncolgy centers, Childrens in Chattanooga is part of the Children’s Oncology Group which is world wide. The treatment in Chattanooga is cutting edge. The golf tournament I have worked on for over 2 years is happening!!!!!! I wanted this tournament at The Farm because I so wanted my friends, neighbors and the community to understand that Children’s Hospital at Erlanger is OUR Children’s hospital. 

Tomorrow is diagnosis day, It always will be diagnosis day, l want to forget it it, but I cannot stop thinking about it. 

Thank you to all that have loved and supported and carried me and my family the last 5 years. 

Love Deeply, Forgive Often and Find Your Blessings, Robyn
August 7, 2016 10:55 pm


December 30, 2015

by Robyn Bryant


December 30, 2015

 

I know God is always with me. But rarely do I truly listen to his voice and feel his presence. The past 2 days God has made it so obvious, I could not ignore his presence. I will start with yesterday. Yesterday morning I was off on an adventure. I was driving to Whitwell, Tennessee for the first time ever. It’s not far, but in a different time zone and just someplace I have never been. I was on my way to see my friend Tonya, her beautiful and amazing daughter, Amber entered God’s Kingdom the night before and I just needed to see her privately. We have had a lot of rain in this area recently with flooding and I knew the Tennessee River was very close to my destination, so I allowed plenty of time. Rarely, do I take a leisurely drive anywhere. I considered my drive leisurely because I was not driving over the speed limit the whole way. I stopped at at rest stop just prior to where I was exiting the interstate - as I left this rest stop, I engaged the GPS on my phone. All was good, I made my left turn as instructed and then things got interesting. I was on a pretty narrow road, some of it was flooded, so I was dodging the deeper water and admiring the beautiful cows I was passing. I love cows. A beautiful red bird flew in front of my vehicle, I smiled and thought, it’s going to be a good day.  I continued to follow directions and when it said I had arrived at my destination I knew it was wrong. I drove a few hundred more yards, crossed the hwy and parked in the Sequatchie Market’s parking lot. At this point, I have no idea how to find Tonya’s house. I texted, Rodney, her fiance and told him where I was. He texted back, “stay there.” I told him what I was driving. I expected to see him, but in less than 5 minutes this big white pick up truck pulls up with an American Flag flying and I immediately recognize Amber’s brother, Zach. We have never met before yesterday. I followed him to their house. I was early, but I think it was okay. Rodney was coming out of the front door and talked to me and told me they needed to go the cemetary and ask if I would drive them. I went in briefly. I hugged Tonya tight and then we got in my car and headed to the cemetary. Zach went to, but he was still in his truck with this cute pup riding shot gun. Teena Casseday, the Principal of Whitwell High School and a lady I have come to admire tremendously met us at the cemetary. Tonya and Zach picked out the place that Amber will come to rest. We were standing there while the man from the cemetary was doing something. I look up in the sky and I see this amazing light. I started seeing these lights after Christian died. It looks like a rainbow off to the side of the sun. I have learned this light is called a “sun dog.” I have sent pictures of these to Tonya. I took her arm and showed her the light through my tears. Zac saw the light too, it looked like a small rainbow off to the side of the sun. I told Tonya, That’s Amber, telling you, “Mama, I am good.” As we stood there the light got brighter and the colors bolder before beginning to fad. This is the first time I have ever seen this light in the middle of the day. It is normally seen late in the day, close to sunset. We spent some time in the cemetary. We visited the grave of a beautiful warrior, Kennedy Griffith. It was interesting to watch and listen to Amber’s brother, Zach. He has definate opinions and voiced them. I respect that and honor that. I remember, that Bailey had very firm opinions at a very young age and I respected her opinions and they have all proved to be the right choicea for us.  So the day continues and we go to the funeral home and the necessary things are done there. While at the funeral home, I decide I am going to take the “locals” route back to Chattanooga. I ask opinions, but once again, Zach’s opinion was strong. He just told me not to drive too slow. I took the scenic route back to Chattanooga over Suck Creek Mountain. It was an easy drive and beautiful and I maintained a good speed and no one was riding my bumper. I stopped atWhole Foods and grabbed a few things and then hopped back on the interstate. At this point, it’s 4:30 pm in Chattanooga. I am guarenteed to hit traffic. I made it to my next destination (Costco in Georgia) without slowing down for traffic. At that time of day, that has nevery happened before. Then while on my fast fun through Costco, I run into someone that I need to talk to about something to do with money The Christian Bryant Foundation donated. I leave and arrive home and am ready to prepare a good meal for my family. 

 

Today was a work day for me. When I arrived at work I had some mandatory things to do before the year end. I finally accomplished all that right after lunch. I was thinking about Tonya so much and Amber’s visitation. She was just on my heart all day. But after lunch today, I decided maybe it’s time for me to ease back into patient care. The Emergency Department was crazy busy and triage was backed up. I grabbed my scissors, stethoscope (I actually used it) and pen and went out to triage. I helped for several hours. I was slow, but it’s the first time I have done that in 4 plus years. It felt good to be touching patients again and it also made me realize I have not lost my “gut” instincts. A side note, the primary triage nurse today was the only nurse who has been a nurse longer than I have and we are both, most likely, the only Diploma nurses left working at Hamilton Medical Center. We are both proud graduates of Georgia Baptist Hospital School of Nursing.  So, I know God was everywhere yesterday and he was with me today when I decided to go out and truly try to help triage patient’s in the Emergency Department that I love. Did I make a difference yesterday or today? I am not sure, but it’s not about me. Please continue to pray for Amber Slatton’s family and all those who love her. - Robyn