Remembering Some Difficult Days at Christmas

I've had several people ask me what I most want for Christmas this year, and while at first I couldn't really think of anything that I needed or wanted, I did finally realize there is something that I want more than anything.

I want a Christmas miracle for the Pakosta family. Tara's husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and it has slowly robbed their family of time with their sweet dad and loving husband.

Not too many years ago I was in the same place. About this time of year seven years ago, we were sitting in a hospital learning that our little son had cancer. I'll never forget the day he was diagnosed. I was watching TV with him in his isolated room as he recovered from having his colon removed. He was in a great deal of pain and was exhausted from the long surgery. The doctor came in and indicated he wanted to talk to me outside of the room. At the time of his surgery, we knew there was a mass on his colon. But we still had hope. I supposed naively that all would be well. The doctor seemed surprised as he used the word "cancer" as he described what the biopsy results had revealed. I felt sick. I told him I needed to sit down, and he pulled a wheelchair over so I could sit. I don't remember much of the rest of the conversation. Something inside me turned off as I tried to grasp the fact that my little boy had cancer. I can't even tell you how long the conversation lasted. It's completely gone from my memory. I only remember the moment when he told me about the cancer and the rest is the blur.

I do remember entering my son's room trying to look as if nothing was wrong. I wasn't even sure how to tell him, and I knew that I needed to tell his dad first. Joey was always good at reading me though. He knew something was wrong. Maybe he was just used to it always being bad news. Telling him later was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do.

From that early December diagnosis, we fought hard to beat that cancer. We had countless radiation visits, several weekend chemo trips, and surgery after surgery trying to remove one new area of growth after another.

Joey fought the hardest, and when I saw my strong, little man begin to lose his strength I knew we were in trouble. I remember when the pain of the cancer got so bad that he dreaded the thought of us touching him. His eyes glazed with pain would wince whenever any of us came near him. We couldn't hug him. And isn't that every parents' desire? To hug their child and make it better? To somehow comfort them and ourselves at the same time with a kiss, a hug, an arm around the shoulders? We couldn't do any of that. It was too painful for him. I wasn't prepared for that. Some part of me thought we would hold him in our arms forever. But we were robbed of that time with him and had to put those selfish desires aside to help him feel better.

I wasn't prepared to lose conversations with him either. Towards the end, he slept all the time. And when he was awake it was only to distract himself until he could take more medication to help him sleep. I couldn't unburden myself to him with all my worries, fears, and even my love. He didn't want to hear it. He had enough to deal with. So I had to hold all those feelings and thoughts in my head. I couldn't ask him more than basic questions when I wanted to talk his ear off knowing that these would be our last conversations. It just didn't seem fair.

I remember LONGING to hear him say "I love you," as if those words would somehow help me feel as if I were doing something to make him feel better. I did tell him that myself often or as much as he would allow us to.

There were days when he didn't want any sound at all. He wanted the room dark, quiet and cool. Sometimes even my mere presence was enough to disturb him. I couldn't even watch my little son as his days began to dwindle. My heart broke over and over again as the little time we had left was slowly taken by one painful thing after another.

No one can really describe what it is like to watch the person they love suffer. No one can really share how it feels to know your moments and memories are limited. No one can really understand what it feels like to have to both live your life and watch another lose theirs. Not everyone gets the level of despair, exhaustion, fear, hurt, and even anger that you feel when someone is sick, suffering, or even dying. And frankly, I wouldn't want you to know. I wouldn't anyone to understand because it would mean you would have to go through something similar.

And now I have a friend going through something similar. It frightens me. It worries me. It hurts me.

And that is why I want a Christmas miracle for the holidays this year.

Will you help me make that happen? You may not know Tara or her family. You may not even know me very well. But you have the opportunity to do the one thing that Tara cannot do right now and that is to help provide financially for her family. Tara is spending every moment she can at her husband's side. And she should. These moments are finite and limited. And worrying about the family finances is the one thing that she will not want to be worrying about.

Will you consider helping her family? Even a $10 donation can mean a loaf of bread, or a partial tank of gas to get to the doctors. More can mean full cupboards or paying off bills.

Please read more about Tara's story HERE.

Then if you'd like to help me make a little miracle come true, please consider donating HERE.

As a thank you, I'm giving away a few little things. You can read about those HERE. Thank you for even taking the time to keep Tara and Michael in your thoughts. Thank you for your silent prayers and positive thoughts. I know Heavenly Father answers prayers, and I think this time we can be His hands to help answer this one.


  1. (((hugs))) to you. I am continually amazed and inspired by you Jen. God bless you, your family and Joey.

    1. Raechelle, you have been through so much yourself as has Ashlyn. Hugs to you and yours!

  2. I can't imagine going through what you did/do Jen. Thanks for the link to support Tara's family. Hope your holidays are merry and bright.

  3. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Thank you for reminding me what is important. I would like to donate, but is there a way to donate through Paypal please?

    1. At this time we do not have a Paypal option set up. Let me do some digging on how we can do this though. :)

  4. Hi Jen, thanks for sharing your story and also Tara's story. I have the same christmas wish as you this year... a Christmas Miracle. My FIL was just diagnosed with colon cancer stage 4, so your story kind of let me know what to expect. i hope you have a merry and bright xmas this year!

  5. ((hugs)) from Texas. thanks for sharing your stories.


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