Harder Family

Harder Family

Friday, July 28, 2023

Update 7/28/23: Celebrating Life-Making the Days Count

Romans 12:10 "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."

In January of this next year (2024), Wayne and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage. The past few months have stressed to us the importance of love and commitment. It is easy to be in love, get married, and say the words to your vows "in sickness and in health, until death do us part." But it sometimes is a harsh reality for couples facing terminal illnesses along side their spouse. It stretches you and grows you in ways you never imagined. 

Nothing today looks like I thought it would when I married Wayne. I dreamed of traveling to Europe or some exotic island for our 25th anniversary. In fact, last year, Wayne and I were making plans to travel to Cancun to a fancy adult only resort for two weeks to celebrate our 25th. Unfortunately, all those dreams and plans changed when we discovered Wayne's cancer was back. We didn't want to travel overseas in case Wayne needed medical attention. 

What we have been walking through reminds me of what God says in Proverbs and James about plans. We may make plans, but God is the one who guides our steps and it is His will that stands. As I've said before "Heaven Rules". Wayne and I can live each day to the fullest not because of ourselves, but because we are plugged into Jesus and we know that God has a plan for our lives. We may not always understand, but we trust the One who holds us in His hands! 

In the midst of all recent hard and difficult days, we had fun dreaming and planning some kind of trip we could take together. After Wayne's last MRI, we decided the best thing to do was to take our trip now. Since we do not know what the future holds for Wayne, we wanted to make some extra special memories together while Wayne is doing okay. We know how quickly things can change with this cancer, as we have already been experiencing. So at the last minute, we planned a trip away to the Northeast to celebrate our anniversary early. Although it doesn't look anything like I planned years ago, or even a year ago, we are making the most of our time together. Once again, God is teaching me to rely on Him and not myself and my "plans".

Here is a brief summary of our trip so far:

Day 1: I drove us from KY to Buffalo, NY. I am racking up the miles this year! Along the way at one of our stops, Wayne tripped and fell at a Pilot. The store had a defective door entry that wasn't marked (no warning paint, signs or anything). We found out after Wayne fell straight on his face and bled all over the store, that an employee fell over the same door ledge not long ago and broke their arm. It was terrifying to see so much blood coming from Wayne's nose. Thankfully, nothing was broken, but his nose was messed up for a couple days. The fall wore him out!

Leaving for our trip!

While driving through New York, I came up with a list of why I don’t like New York: 1) Interstate 90 is terrible…better have an iron bladder because there are hardly any rest areas with bathrooms. 2) Since there are no bathroom rest areas (or very few), you have to find a city to stop in and that means you have to detour 10-20 minutes off the road because of the toll exits, which makes your drive even longer. 3) speed limit of 65…yeah, a joke. No one seems to follow it, but I sure didn't want a ticket, so I stuck close to that, which made the trip through New York longer. 4) New York looks like most other states I've drive through lately (especially Indiana). Note: I will give New York credit that it got a little prettier the more north we went, but overall, only a state to pass through.

Day 2: One thing that Wayne has done for the past 12 years is to support my dream of running a half marathon in the 50 states. I made it to 35 before I tore my plantar fascia, which has led me to retire my running shoes. Instead, I now use the elliptical to "run" my races. Since I have not run in any of the states we were driving through or visiting, I am working on them during this trip. Tuesday morning I got up at 5am and "ran" my NY race (state #37). We then drove from Buffalo, NY to Concord, NH. We visited the NY state capitol along the way. I guess you can't take the teacher out of me! We drove through many small towns in Vermont to get to Concord. It was absolutely beautiful. 

Day 3: I woke up at 5am again on Wednesday and "ran" NH (state #38). Since our hotel was in Concord, we had to stop and take a picture of the state capitol. 

Concord, NH

Augusta, Maine

From there we spent the day driving to Bar Harbor, Maine. We enjoyed beautiful scenery along the way. Once we checked in to our hotel, we drove up to Cadillac Mountain. Wayne was a rockstar attempting to walk along the top of the mountain with me. We wore him out since stairs and walking is so hard on him right now. That evening, his hand tremors were really bad. We decided to stay at the hotel and eat. I ran down to the restaurant by the bay and grabbed us dinner (lobster roll for me and fish'n'chips for Wayne).

Cadillac Mountain

Locally made blueberry soda. I don’t like soda, but this was really good.

Playing cards and eating dinner in our room

Day 4: Thursday we spent the day at Acadia National Park. Our first stop was Jordan's Pond for a mini hike, since we read that the parking lot fills up quickly there. Unfortunately, the "handicap" path really wasn't that handicap friendly. I'm quickly learning that handicap people are at a disadvantage in many places because things just aren't set up for them. I don't know how you get a wheelchair over roots and rocks. After walking about 1/2 mile, we decided to turn back because it was too hard on Wayne. We had talked about walking some of the Carriage Trails, but Wayne was concerned about me pushing him up inclines, so we opted to see other parts of the park. We drove to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Once again, Wayne was unable to take the walk down to the ocean, but he did get to walk to the lighthouse. From there we went to Wonderland for a hike the ranger told us was "pretty flat". Wayne made it through, but it was really rough on him. I am so honored that he pushed himself so hard to make memories with me. We enjoyed God's creation together as we explored Acadia National Park.

Path to Jordan Pond

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Wonderland Hike

We finished driving around the NE Harbor and headed to The Traveling Lobster for lunch. My goal while in Maine was to experience a lobster roll and a lobster bake, since that is what they are known for. After lunch, we headed to Sieur de Monts. This would have been an ideal place to push Wayne in his wheelchair for a longer walk, but it started pouring, so we got back in the car and put on our raincoats. We then proceeded to finish the Sand Beach Loop Drive and visited Thunderhole. I took the walk down and made a video for Wayne, since he couldn't make that trek either. Since the rain and clouds moved in, some of our views were limited, but it was still beautiful. 

Day 5: I started the day out at 5am again to "run" my race in Maine (state #39). After finishing, we packed up the car and headed for Vermont. We drove through the White Mountains of New Hampshire and are staying in the Green Mountains of Vermont. The drive was absolutely amazing! We saw so many signs in Maine, NH, and Vermont about moose...but did we see any, no! I was very disappointed. We are going to attempt to visit an area that may give us a chance to view them. 

Tonight we went to a local Tuscany restaurant in Stowe, which was delicious. Our waiter gave us a few suggestions of places to visit while we are in the area. After dinner, we decided to take a little drive. We drove through Smugglers Notch, which is a mountain path that was used to move supplies during the War of 1812, an escape route for fugitive slaves into Canada, cattle thieves also used this pass, and one sign suggested that pirates used this pass as well. Not only was it beautiful, it was fascinating to learn how this pass was used in history.

Prayer Requests:

- Please continue to pray for Wayne. Please pray that he has strength to enjoy the trip as much as possible and that his body gains strength. Please also pray that the doctors can figure out what is causing the severe hand tremors in his right hand.

- For our trip to be memorable and for safe travels.

- Silly request, but can you pray that we see a moose? We always seem to miss the animals. We have been to Glacier, Tetons, Yellowstone (2 times) - and we never saw a grizzly bear or a moose. My specific request is to see them safely from my car (but not hit them). LOL! 

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