andybarwick
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journal

my journey and observations about life

Life's Last Days
This life’s setting sun will arise in heaven’s bloom. - § A.W. Barwick

I recently traveled to my childhood home to visit. While I was there, I visited my Uncle that has Stage IVb Pancreatic Cancer. It is the most aggressive cancer at the very last stage.  It meant a lot for me to spend time with him while I could.

I remember in 2011 when I was facing death. There were so many things that I wanted to do. I wasn't ready to die. I eventually made peace with what I could not control. Nothing short of a miracle followed in the coming years. A recovery that no one expected. 

I wanted to spend time with my Uncle. He has lived a very good life. He is facing something for which miracles do not exist. But that is ok. There aren't always miracles or expectations beyond what we face. I wanted to share time with him because it was something that I didn't have.  Having someone that can relate to that door at which you stand in front of, is always needed during those times.

People didn't visit much when I was ill.  Isolation surrounded me for several years. A very few close friends and family visited, but they had to travel great distances to be by my side. It was hard to keep my spirits up.

I knew that my uncle needed this more than I did. I knew that place where he was. He was very gracious and full of life.  There wasn't anything more that he could have asked for. His last days are filled with the memories of a life lived in grace. It is a good place to be.

 

Andy BarwickComment
Warrior Within
Peace
Peace graces my side accepting that my life, my fight has and never will be in vain - A.W. Barwick

 

The fight is never over. So many of us have quiet daily struggles that we have to either face head on or be knocked down. We must stand back up even when we have been knocked down. 

There will always be that opponent that will knock us down even when we fight with everything we have. That is when we take a breath. We wipe away the sweat and the tears, then the new fight begins. 

We redefine ourselves in this moment as someone stronger, someone brave enough to move forward. 

My friend Jennifer Huggins reminded me of this with her organization Fight To End Cancer where they literally fight raising proceeds to end cancer. 

The good fight is never in vain. Above all, never lose hope and the will to fight.

Andy BarwickComment
Secret Treasure
Bracelet

It is amazing how you continue to find how
wonderful a father’s love is even after death. 
We keep things hidden just for us to enjoy and
remember. When we pass, they are love
letters to our children. 
• Andy Barwick 

 

One wonderful Father’s Day, my oldest daughter Reese made me a bracelet. That particular year was my first year being a single father. My youngest overwhelmed me with wonderful drawings and a beautiful candy jar she made just for me with her mother’s help. Reese seemed disappointed in what she gave me. I couldn’t wear it because it was too small and she was upset. She held it in but I could tell she wanted to express more and didn’t know how. I hugged her and kissed her so tightly. I was so thankful for her being her and taking time to give something creative from within to me. And then I saw that smile that I live for. 

I keep this bracelet still in my secret top drawer. I have little things hidden here and there that remind me of how much my girls love me and special moments they represent. They may be gifts, drawings or little things that meant a lot to them growing up and remind me of who they are in spirit. But the real reason I keep them hidden is because it reminds me of such a precious and pure love that only a father can have for a daughter. No other man can ever replace a father’s unconditional love. And as a future mother, she will pass that unconditional love to her children as only she can. Keeping the little creations also reminds me that someone loves me for me and treasures my love for them. 

One day when my days have passed and my children go through my hiding places, they will find these special things. They will know how much the gifts and trinkets really meant to me. They will know that I put them in a special place that only I would be able to see them everyday. And they will always know that my love for them will never end. 

Scars on 38
An amazing transformation from September 2011 to July 2015

An amazing transformation from September 2011 to July 2015

scars are stories
of how life could
not break apart
the hero inside.
• andy barwick

 

In September 2011, I had to make the toughest decision in my life at that time. I had developed unknown complications with a neuromuscular disease that was destroying my spine. I went from an avid exercise fanatic to a wheelchair within a matter of years. I was facing a decision of dying an agonizing slow death, dying on an operating table or stopping the progression. The distant hopes were that I would regain strength to walk again even if I had to use some type of assistance. 

When I look back at these pictures, I see the scar covered and the mass of titanium controlling the chaos underneath. I also see that picture from this Summer of 2015 smiling and active as a dad. A complete turnaround thanks to the best surgeon in the world, advances in modern medicine and learning to overcome tremendous adversity. 

The scar that remains is a reminder of who I was not the man I am. It reminds me of the beginning of a new journey facing the impossible and becoming a real father again. It reminds me of the constant pain and being able to practice pranayama to be able to stop taking pain meds voluntarily in 2013. It also sadly, reminds me of the loss of friends and my spouse that couldn't handle the rest of the journey. 

But those weeds have been pulled from my garden and the roots I hold close to my being are trusty and true. I live an extraordinary life of being able to do what most plan to do when they retire one day. I help others. I make nothing doing it. But I give everything I have to help others. After all, I couldn't have made it without the help of so many behind me. 

Never give up on the impossible, the improbable or delay what your heart is calling for. This is your life, explore the goodness within. © 

 

Andy Barwick Comments
Doubting Hope
Sunsetab

There isn't much comfort in words when you go through these things. I shared this with a friend desperately helping Lexi Crawford survive Rhabdomyosarcoma. Words first off that don't bring any comfort or solace, but do reflect the reality of feeling numb when overwhelmed by the meeting of exhaustion and faith. 

Even when you know that there may be thousands of people praying for you, you can feel isolated and alone in your struggle. You feel abandoned and hopeless.  I have been there so many times. 

What I'll share is just my experience. Hope isn't an outcome. Hope is something that sustains us when all else seems to be lost.  Whatever the outcome, never lose hope. There is joy in hope. There is pain in hope. There is abundance in hope. There is suffering in hope. Just know that your hope not only sustains you but it sustains millions that will follow your legacy to come. 

So hope is never hopeless or worthless. Hope and love are our greatest gifts. Never lose hope. © 

I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors Yann Martel: 

Even when God seemed to have abandoned me, he was watching. Even when He seemed indifferent to my suffering, He was watching. And when I was beyond all hope of saving, He gave me rest and gave me a sign to continue my journey... - Yann Martel

 

Please read Lexi's story