Courtney’s Purpose

On Friday morning my Mom, my sister’s and I met with Steve McPhearson, one of the ministers from Chase Oaks Church who would be holding Courtney’s service.  We talked about memories of Courtney but most importantly the gift Courtney left us with that gave us the comfort of her moving on to her new home.  I think Steve might of had more tears that we did. 

It was such a beautiful wake for Court on Friday afternoon.   Courtney looked heavenly.   No more IV’s, No more tubes, No more pricks and prodding.  She almost looked like she had a slight grin.  Looking beautiful came natural to her with her eyelashes that resembled Angel’s wings.  Her hair combed to both sides, long and wispy.  No more tangles and wrapped up to stay out of her trach.  She was wearing her CF Lung tree shirt (the one she had just given to me while she was in the hospital, and I gave it back to her) and her jeans like she requested.  The table next to her held a basket of pretty pink flowers she had received, but most importantly the shirt she wanted to wear…but Mom said some people might not get it and understand your humor Court.  The shirt was a bold red color and it read “Do I look like I care?”.   It was good to see some old friends and family we haven’t seen in a long time.   A lot of people came dressed in Courtney’s favorite colors of pink and green, but nothing prepared me for the colors we would see on Saturday.

When you have a total of 15 people and 3 dogs staying at your house, when you normally have 4 and 2 dogs, nothing can prepare you for the chaos of showers, feedings, sleeping arrangements yet laughter, hugs and love.  Try getting everyone ready by 8:45AM and leaving the house on time to get to the church by 9:15AM.  Well, we did it and had plenty of time.   Saturday morning the family all met in a separate hallway from where the service was being held to gather our thoughts, give our hugs and prepare for the service to be.   I had walked over to the room where the service would be to check it out.  Just before you walked in the room, they had a table set up with a green silk cloth aligned with pictures of Court.  Candles lit in front of her pictures and the memory book for you to sign.  When you walked in the room, Courtney’s casket was at the front of the room draped with white and green silk cloths. It was breath-taking.  Kelly brought an array of red, pink, lavender and white roses for each family member to hold and lay on the top of Courtney’s casket.   We all gathered our rose and assembled towards the Legacy Room where the service is to be held.   We walked in from the back of the room and everyone rose to their feet.  The presence of pink and green was overwhelming.  My Mom and Bruce along with Nanny walked in first.  Scotty and I with our two children followed, proceeded by Kelly and Marty and their two children,  then Lindsay and Chapin and little Cammie, and so on…there was about 40 family members who all walked in and layed their roses on Courtney’s casket families at a time.   We were seated and minister Steve starts with an opening prayer.  He then spoke a little about where Courtney was from and who she was survived and proceeded in death by.  He spoke about her character.  He spoke about her giving her time to the church by helping with the children.  He spoke about her faith.  He asked everyone to stand who was wearing Pink or Green to show their support of Courtney’s favorite colors and nearly a third of the room stood.  There was standing room only left in the back of the room with about 250 seats.  He then asked me to come up to deliver some words about Courtney.   This is what I shared with everyone:

I opened up with “I’m going to try and hide the sweat stains I have under my armpits.” 

Thank you all for coming here today to celebrate the life of my sister.  If you are here today it’s because somehow Courtney touched your heart, either in person, through one of her family members or the stories you read about her. 

Our Sister, Courtney Lynn Hill was born on May 2nd in 1983.  This same year our Dad lost his Mother our “Muzzie”.   Right away Courtney had an important guardian angel watching over her.   When Courtney was born she had meconium ileus, which means Obstruction of the intestine.  At 12 hours old, they had to remove 9.5 inches of her intestine.  It was at that time; she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and spent the next 4 solid months of her life at Children’s Hospital in Dallas.  Courtney spent the rest of her entire 26 years of life in and out of the hospital, and never complained.  She spent Thanksgiving’s; and we would bring it to her.  She spent Birthdays; and we would bring the party to her.  But there was this one time…Lindsay was in labor at a different hospital in Dallas and Courtney was at UTSW.  Courtney wanted to be there for the birth SOOOOO bad but she was in the hospital, so what could she do?  Well, Courtney convinced one of her nurses to let her go meet her new niece ( so she technically snuck out of the hospital) but went right back.

Remember that 9.5 inches of intestine I told you she had removed at birth?  Well, along with that surgery it gave Courtney a 6 inch horizontal scar right across the lower part of her belly.  When she was about 5 years old, Mom took us shopping to get new bathing suits for the summer.  Courtney decided she was going to try a 2 piece.  She goes into the fitting room to try it on, and comes out and acts embarrassed.  Mom asks her what’s wrong.  Thinking to herself, is it the large scar on her belly she doesn’t want anyone to see?  Courtney quickly reply’s “Everyone will see my belly button”. 

That’s exactly how Courtney lived her life.  Carefree!  It’s not that the disease didn’t bother her, (because there are a lot of bothersome complications that come along with it) but that’s exactly how she was created and it was just a part of her.  Unless you REALLY knew Court you wouldn’t know she was carrying around a grave genetic (inherited) disease. For those of you who don’t know what Cystic Fibrosis is…it’s a genetic disease that causes the production of abnormal secretions, leading to mucous build-up in the digestive system and in your lungs.  It hardens which eventually leads to needing a lung transplant ( like the one she had on Sept 26th) and like I said before, sometimes the removal of parts of your intestines.   With the hardening of the mucus in her lungs came coughing.  Sometimes uncontrollable coughing and coughing and coughing.  I’m sure most of you have experienced bronchitis, some kind of chest congestion in your lifetime and had that annoying cough, kinda like the one I have right now that won’t go away.  Imagine living your entire life like that?!  She wasn’t contagious, if anything you were more contagious to her.  One time, Courtney was visiting family up in New Jersey (one of her FAVORITE past times) and had gone with Nanny to the doctor’s office.  Courtney stayed in the visiting room while Nanny went back for a check up.  Court started to have one of her coughing fits and started getting the looks from a lady sitting not too far away.  She coughs again; the lady asks if she has a cold.  Courtney replies, nope.  She coughs again; the lady asks her “Are you sure”?  Courtney replies, “Yep, I’m sure”.  She coughs again; the lady asks her “Would you like a cough drop”?  Courtney replies, “Sure, Thank you”.   Knowing the cough drop wouldn’t help her. 

She never wanted people to feel sorry for her.  Courtney always lived her life to the fullest and never held back from places she wanted to go.  She took a trip to Europe by herself for two weeks, and on a cruise to Mexico she swam with dolphins; just a couple examples of her adventurous side.  Courtney had a beautiful free spirit and one who was easily admired.  Not only did she have several life long friends from going to school in Plano, but she also had many, many online friends, “Cysters” and “Fribros” from several Cystic Fibrosis forums.  She was so strong and determined to do it her way, right up to the end.  As a matter of fact, one morning she was getting ready for school and she was going up the stairs in our two-story home and she was so sick, weak and breathless.  Mom asked her if she wanted to stay home from school that day, and she said “Nope, I’m OK”.  She tried so hard just to be normal.  She always thought of others before herself.  She was very thoughtful and always gave the best gifts!  This brings me to my next thought.

Courtney loved and adored children!  Courtney was a child of God, and her livelihood was to love, play, and watch over children.  Courtney has 2 nieces and 3 nephews whom she would consume her time with, by her choice.  I’m speaking on behalf of Lindsay, Kelly and myself that she would call us up and asks us what we were doing.  Nothing, I would say to her and she’d say… I’d like to take the kids to the movies, or take them swimming, or take them Ice Skating…I could go on forever.  Her life long dream was to have her own Child Care School, and she attended some college to pursue that dream.  Unfortunately, with this harsh disease that dream was cut short due to her weakened immune system.  It was suggested that working around children with her susceptibility to infection would diminish her life expectancy.  However, that would not stop Courtney from watching children.  She had kids who she baby sat for who would beg their parents to go out on a date so Courtney could watch them.  She had several nanny positions, but in her last job she called these children her own.  Alyssa and Tate had a special place in her heart.  She adored her nieces and nephews and her nanny kids as if they were her own.  Depending on who she had with her for the day, she would refer to them as I’ve got “The Kids” (Kaden and Shaffer), “The Boys”  (David and Daniel), “The Baby” (Cammie) and “My Kids”  (Alyssa and Tate).

Up until her last day in the hospital, she had so many Doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists and even the cleaning crew who adored her.  They would say “She’s the easiest patient”.  She would never complain to them.  They would ask her how’s she’s feeling.  She would reply “I’m fine”.  Do you need anything?  “I’m good”.  She had 4 nurses at one time who came in to visit her from the 3rd floor (where she spent most of her lock down days at) to come see her in her in her final days.  As a matter of fact, she had 3 nurses crying in her room the day she died, or I should say the day she was re-born. 

Courtney touched so many people throughout her short 26 years of life.  I would sit and wonder why someone would have to endure some of the pain and suffering she went through, but not anymore.  I know why she was here.  I witnessed it in those last few days of her life.  Courtney was able to share a gift with us, only an Angel on Earth could do.  I truly believe that was her purpose.  Her God-given purpose was to share with you God’s love and the eternal peace you will have if you have accepted Jesus in your heart.  There was no fear.  Her unwavering love for God was shown and was a true testament the day she went “Home” on November 24th. We are so proud of the pure way she lived her life. Courtney has shown true strength and is an inspiration to so many.  She will never be forgotten. 

I’m thankful for the time we had with her and I’m looking forward to seeing her again at “Home”

After I finished my Eulogy,  Courtney’s friend Patti, who is one of her Cyster’s she met online had flown in from NY stepped up to speak.  Patti shared with everyone a glimpse of the life of a CF’r and shared the story of them meeting in NYC and going to the Top of the Rock.  The coughing and laughing fit they had that day.  Great Story! 

After that we played a photo video of Courtney from the time she was born to date fillede with the song’s of Natalie Merchant “Wonder”,  Kutless “What Faith Can Do”,  and Kenney Chesney “I’m Alive” and “Wish you were Here” by Mark Harris.   I will download the video on the blog once I get the DVD from Mom’s house.

Here’s what’s really cool.  While Courtney was in the hospital these last 2 months she had a special visitor who would come and sit with her nearly every day and keep her company.  His name is Ryan Campbell.  He’s the Chaplain at UTSW.  They would talk about children, her nieces and nephews.  He would talk to her about his 2-year-old son.  He knew that speaking of kids always brought a smile to Courtney’s face.  He was a blessing.   Chaplain Ryan was one of the witnesses who watched Courtney make her journey into heaven on Tuesday.  He witnessed her homecoming through her eyes and he shared his perspective with everyone on Saturday.   What a gift! 

After Chaplain Ryan finished, minister Steve McPhearson shared a closing prayer with everyone and then we had another great gift.  Tyrone Johnson, Chase Oaks leading music minister sang “I can only Imagine” for everyone.  Not a dry eye in the house.   I’m hoping we changed some peoples lives from this amazing journey of Courtney’s.  I know she’s definitely given me a new perspective.  Thank You!

Again, words can’t express the gratitude to all of you for sharing your love and support.  We had/have enough food to feed an army.   We have raised nearly $2500 towards Courtney’s $15K goal.  Thank you!!!!  You have all asked what you could do to help and if there is anything you can do.  Well, I know what you can do to help.  I would like to ask all of you to join our team online and spam everyone you know and try to raise $500 for Courtney.  *Wishful Thinking*

If you would like to participate in our birthday celebration at the CF Great Strides walk on May 1st and the celebration of us meeting our goal for Court, please join our team at the link below.  If you would like to contribute to Courtney’s goal, please see the link below.

THANK YOU AGAIN!   I will continue to share with you our journey throughout the next few months of working on our goal for Courtney, so please continue to check the blog. 

http://www.cff.org/Great_Strides/MeganThomas5889

Thanksgiving Day

Today was a beautiful day with family.  Kelly hosted Thanksgiving and we had a house full!  There was a total 23 people and 1 in spirit.  Kelly even saved a spot for you Court.  I know you were right there with us.   I’m so thankful for my husband for cooking these last few days for the 11 people staying at our house (15 including myself and our kids).  I’m thankful I have the roof over my head to house my family members who drove ALL the way from New Jersey.  It’s about time!  ;o)  I’m thankful for my loving family.  Thank you Aunt Jane for bringing the food over, it was delicious.  I’m thankful for my wonderful friends.  Thank you Kacie for the mexican cassarole, my family devoured and I didn’t even get a piece because I ran to Target.   Thank you Brooke for keeping my kids a couple of times.   Thank you April for watching the kids.   I’m thankful for my sister’s.  We will get through this together.  I’m thankful for my job, being supportive and understanding.   I’m thankful for the two beautiful children I have.  God planned them for me.

I’m thankful for tomorrow.  Good Night.

Services

Wow, words can’t express the appreciation for the outpour of love and support from all of you.  It’s so awesome to read and hear your supportive comments and it’s has definitely helped us all.  Time is tight right now, but I wanted to let you all know that we will be having a viewing on Friday the 27th at the Allen Family Funeral Options in Plano from 3-5pm.

Her memorial will be on Saturday the 28th at 10am at Chase Oaks Church in Plano.

If you can make it, please dress casual and Courtney has wished for no black. She would like to see her favorite colors, pink and green.

In lieu of flowers, we want to grant Courtney’s wishes by supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

http://www.cff.org/Great_Strides/MeganThomas5889

I’m Alive, I’m home

These last few days with Courtney have been some of the most amazing days of my life and I will never forget them.  As most of you know, Courtney has been battling her life with Cystic Fibrosis for 26yrs.  Courtney resigned from her battle on Friday the 20th and since that day it was like a huge burden was lifted from her.   No more anxiety, no more worries, and no more pain.   I’ve lost a lot of people in my lifetime, more than most do until they are “older”, but this loss has never been so comforting and so bittersweet.  These last few days, Courtney has had lots of smiles.   She was able to request food she wanted.   We were all surprised when she asked for Mom’s Chicken Chow Mien yesterday, and when she heard Mom was making it for her she mouthed “YES” and made the motion of pulling the elbow to chest with a fist.  So cute!  She had so much energy yesterday, moving her arms around and mouthing stories, keeping up with everyone.  At one point, she acted as if she was bummed and mouthed that she wished someone had a camera, because she wanted her picture taken with Nanny, Aunt Joan, Aunt Jane and Cousin Laura and her friend Courtney Stevens.  Thankfully Aunt Joan did have her camera on her and they were able to take her picture one last time.

Mom spent the night with Court last night and at 8AM this morning Courtney requested that Chaplain Ryan come in.  She said she was ready to go home.   Mom thought at the time she wanted to go home in Allen, TX.  Courtney threw the sheets off her legs as if she was about to get up out of bed.  Mom told her you can’t get up.  Courtney mouthed, “Yes I can walk now”.  Mom covered her back up and got her comfortable.   If you only knew that these last couple of months, Courtney has had no energy and unable to walk because of her muscles and legs deteriorating from being in the hospital bed for so long.  She couldn’t even lift her legs to get off the bed.

What I’m about to tell you all, is the purpose Courtney was here.  The gift to share this with you all is one of the many reasons God created Courtney.  This is the shortened version, there is much more…  Around 9AM this morning with Chaplain Ryan, Mom, and our Brother-in-Law Chapin in the room all of a sudden Courtney got wide eyed and started waving her arms in the air and mouthing that she was Alive, and Home.  She waved her hand and said “Hi Daddy” to our Dad who passed away over 8 years ago.  She was being greeted by all the Angels and loved ones who had passed on before her.   She started running with her legs on the bed, making the running motion with her arms along her side.  She was saying over and over “I”m Alive, I’m home”  Her legs were coming off the bed, which she hasn’t been able to do the last 2 months.  Lindsay arrived and was able see her waving her arms and praying with the Angels around her.  Lindsay said it was like she was already on the other side and they weren’t even in the room.   Kelly, Nanny, Aunt Joan and I arrived just before 10am and they had just given Court some medication to help her sleep.  She slowly started to decline.  She slowly closed her eyes and raised her arm over her eyes as if something was very bright.  She took her last few breaths and just like that she was gone.  There was no pain, no suffering.  It was a very precious morning.  Courtney gained her Angel wings at 10:54am.

Thank you all for following Courtney’s story and giving us the strength to get through this.  We’ve had so much support from family and friends and this transition has made it easier on us.

Courtney made some final wishes before she left us.  She has asked us to continue to support her Cysters and Fibros and wants our CF Team Cookie’s Monsters to raise $15,000.   Anything for you Court!  She said she wants to wear jeans and a t-shirt at her viewing.  She wants everyone to wear her two favorite colors pink or green to her funeral, no black!

Courtney – it’s no surprise to me that you get to go home just before Thanksgiving.  I’m so happy for you and I’m thankful for the time I had with you.  You are home with Dad, Poppy and many others who love  you dearly.  You are in no pain!  You are running the golden streets.  Have fun and we will see you soon!!!  XOXO

PS, Court said no flowers, donations only.  The link to donate is on the blog.

http://www.cff.org/Great_Strides/MeganThomas5889

Sunday night

Courtney is hanging with us and as always in good spirits.  She’s had a lot of special visitors and has had a busy day.  Not a lot of resting so I know she’s tired.  Her friend Jennifer just left for the day and currently she has Aunt Joan, Nanny, Aunt Jane and Cousin Laura.  Mom will be coming down shortly.  I am going to spend the night with Court.  She just ate her third rice crispy treat for the day and I’m sure will be resting soon since they increased her morphine to 8mg in the last 30 min. 

Rest Easy my Lil’ Sis.  I love you with all my heart!

Making special requests

These last couple of days have been so special, and moments I will never forget but one who never forgets is Courtney.  She has had some particular moments when she has stared to mouth some stories and remember things that bring back memories.   She’s still sharp as a tack.  Yesterday afternoon she asked for a slice of supreme pizza, and she got it.  She even ate half of a breadstick with marinara sauce.   Kelly stayed all night with her in her room.  This morning I got call from Kelly and Court wanted rice crispy treats and I brought it.  She heard Scotty made Chicken-n-Dumplins yesterday and she’s asked him to bring her some.   Anything for Court!   Courtney has been good spirits, with lots of smiles, although she’s starting to feel some pain.  They’ve turned her morphine up to 7mg and her blood pressure is at 86/58. 

Thank you for your continued love and support.

Quick update

We have been blessed to have Court with us one more day. Her vitals dropping just slightly. She had some great visitors today and Alyssa made her day. If you could only see the smile she gave today. Kelly is staying with her overnight.

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