a stone’s throw away

If this were a piece of paper, it would be covered with eraser crumbs and smudges from all my attempts at an opening sentence. The emotions, the pace, and the details, mixed with the surreal nature of the past few days leave me a little cloudy upstairs. So don’t expect poetry as you read this update on the events that unfolded since you saw the three Macy men set out to “get their girl.” “Their girl” plus her John plus their Oscar comprise the family unit that wanted and needed to move to Oregon. This want and need were completely understood by the Philly friends who circled up and remain the power force behind making it happen.

[Before I tell the story I need to let you know something about the photos in this and subsequent posts. I will be very selective in what I share on this public setting. I want to be super careful to protect the privacy of each of my family members. For example, I have a very sweet picture of Sage talking to her aunt Rachel, but I don’t plan to post it because it was their own personal moment. You might misinterpret their expressions, and that risk isn’t fair to them. Plus I don’t want to make any of you squirm from the discomfort of feeling invited where you don’t belong. This happens to me sometimes; can you tell? For that same reason I want you to know that pictures I share of Rachel have first been given her stamp of approval.

One more thing. I use the word I a lot because I share stories from my own perspective. I don’t like speaking for someone else.]

OK, now that we’re all comfortable, let me bring you up to date.

The Macy men spent just a little more than one day in Philly helping and watching the camaraderie happen around them. People came and went every waking minute, some to say goodbye, some to help, some to pray. So much needed to happen in a short time! Photos were taken of each room to help Rachel and John orchestrate the move from long distance. A cat carrier was purchased so Yoda could move too. Someone sorted through Oscar’s toys, making sure all the Legos and Transformers get sent to Oregon.


Mauri caught this scene as he “modeled restfulness” for Rachel, whose brain and conversation had shifted to overdrive. They were ready and waiting for the taxis to the airport, which arrived nearly an hour late! Tense! Then the driver didn’t know the way, of all things, requiring Rachel’s help with directions. She saved the day!

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Finally the time came to say goodbye to their Philly home. Many happy memories are stored in their hearts, especially the ones since Oscar’s arrival six years ago.

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Meanwhile, lots of bustling preparation was happening in their temporary home in Oregon. John and Erin needed to move much of their stuff out of the living space (They’ve had practice; remember this?) Hospice delivered a medical bed like she had in Philly—absolutely essential for the comfort challenges Rachel endures.

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All little-girl accessories removed to make way for little-boy accessories.

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The added touch of Mother Nature, via Aunt Julene.

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A bucolic backyard to enjoy outside or just as pleasantly from the inside.

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Necessities for the family feline.

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And the finishing touch—the requisite welcome sign. Erin put her heart and soul into these preparations, accomplished through the grace and servanthood of her own community of friends. She even enlisted the help of two nurses, a married couple, who helped think through placement of furniture to accommodate Rachel’s specific needs.

And then! After taking these pictures of the readied house, I headed down the road toward Portland International Airport. I parked in short-term and met John’s mom, Elizabeth, inside the terminal. We chatted and waited and waited and chatted. We were both sitting on pins and needles, so eager to see the traveling sixsome.

R:J first class

These two enjoyed the comforts of first class. Rachel’s lymphedema, a most uncomfortable part of this stage of her illness, is eased by elevating her feet.

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Arrival! Finally! Flying west means these bodies feel like it is midnight.

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Oscar’s other grandma had entertainment at the ready. We each walked out with a dinosaur on our belly then quickly piled people and stuff into cars and headed toward Newberg.

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More words offered to make the welcome clear — “You are home, and we are glad.” So glad. Tears and smiles came easily as John and Rachel scanned the rooms. I carried sleeping Oscar in the house, down the hall, and into bed. And it was good.

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Morning came soon enough. We expected the Legacy hospice nurse and social worker mid to late morning, so Erin, Elizabeth, and I arrived in plenty of time to wait for their arrival. I was eager to give Rachel the book published from all of her blog posts. All of her diligent efforts to journal Oscar’s first four+ years of life needed to be preserved in something they can hold in their hands.

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Some passed the time by harvesting golden raspberries.

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And when all of the questions were asked and answered, we asked the nurse to snap a picture. Because sometimes I need to be on the front side of the camera.

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What’s next? Cousin time! They and the uncles showed up with Burgerville lunch, and the party moved outside.

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Better look fast! All four of the Macy-side cousins in range.

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Brynn offers Aunt Rachel a bracelet. And about this point in the afternoon I climbed in my car and drove home.

Now that this post is written we will climb in a car once again and drive back over to say hi. The distance between us this past year has been challenging, becoming more so as Rachel’s cancer progressed. Now they’ll be a stone’s throw away. A blessing we hope to enjoy for quite a while longer.

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9 Responses to a stone’s throw away

  1. Kevin Hoffer says:

    Praying for everyone!

  2. Carol Bullis says:

    So very touched by this story of family love and beautiful friendship. May God bless all your days together.

  3. Annette says:

    thank you so much for allowing us in to the powerful circle of love your family has. thank you also for allowing us in to these moments with Rachel as some of us are far away. this allows us to process what is happening as well as rejoice in knowing she is so well taken care of. i can almost feel the warmth of the Oregon sun, fresh berries, Burgerville, cool nights and crisp mornings energizing this family.
    thank you Sherry for these connecting moments with your family as we too say good-bye to Rachel.

  4. Karen Schelhaas says:

    No words at all. Just basking in the picture you’ve painted of what love really looks like. Thanks for taking the time, dear woman. Prayers continuing from

  5. Aneta Hullinger says:

    Sherry, You do such a great job sharing their journey. We continue to pray for strength and memories that you can share daily. Hugs sweet cousin.

  6. Ridgely says:

    The smiles in these photos are so genuine and the love is so evident. This is a remarkable story of family and friendship, grace and mercy, and even joy. We are so grateful to know you all.

  7. Janet says:

    Sherry – Thank you so much for the update. Please know that we are sending our thoughts and prayers for your entire family. Our hearts are heavy for all of you but we praise God that Rachel, John and Oscar are back in Oregon surrounded by their loving family. Please keep sharing your journey with all of us. We love you all. Janet

  8. Pam Beall says:

    I can’t put into words what my heart is feeling. I love your family and have been blessed to have been a part of so many of the good years. May our Lord walk with you through this journey.

  9. Myrna White says:

    Sherry…you are a gift to your family in innumerable ways, but your talents of chronicling events with words and pictures are unsurpassed. All you have done to create the keepsake for your family as you’ve shared John, Oscar, and Rachel’s return to Oregon is moving beyond words. You know oh, so well that photos help to preserve memories; you have created a storehouse that your family will cherish the rest of their lives. Thank you for letting us “in” on all that’s been done to bring Rachel home so that she is surrounded and enveloped by the love of family.

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