Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Marcus John Russell has earned his wings

From Marcus's carepage:

"Marcus John Russell passed away on October 26th, 2008 around 5:00am in his home. He fought to the end. He will be deeply missed by friends and family.

There will be a viewing held on Wednesday, October 29 at Nelson Funeral Home (162 E. 400N. Logan, Utah) from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Services will be on October 30, at the LDS Providence South Stake Center, (360 E. 450 N. Millville, Utah.) at 12:00 pm. with a viewing prior to the service from 10:30am to 11:30am.

Thank you all so much for your continued prayers, support and love."

I have been trying and trying to figure out in my head how to post this very sad news. Of course I've been quite busy helping my children deal with all this and of course helping Jess with all her needs... including her wound. But I think I'm in shock. I can't believe that he is really gone. My family is having a hard time, especially Jessica and Austin. We seem to take turns falling apart and holding each other up. I haven't cried yet but that will come. Last week was the worst for me emotionally. I knew that Marcus was suffering. He was blind, couldn't talk much and was in a lot of pain. He was so dizzy and weak that he couldn't even roll over by himself. He went down hill from there. Weds night I fell apart and wept while in the shower - my crying place. I've been very emotional all week thinking of him, his parents and my mom who have been taking care of Marcus. When I talked to my mom on Sunday at about noon (she had called earlier but Karl and I were both sleeping so she called us back later. She knows that Jessica keeps me up all night. Karl instantly became emotional. We tend to work that way... Karl and I usually take turns falling apart and it was his turn. Austin told his dad, "Marcus is in a better place." and Karl said, "yes, and he isn't blind anymore!" When Jessica woke up I told her in private that Marcus had died and she cried and cried. She asked a lot of questions and I thought it was interesting that she was concerned that the next time Aunt Karen and Uncle JR came, Marcus wouldn't be with them. It is going to be so hard on all of us.

Karl and the boys were dressed and ready to go to church when we got the news and they decided to stay home.
We spent the day & evening on Sunday talking about Marcus and where he is. My dad came to town and just happened to come to my house just as we were sitting down to have a "Family Home Evening" about Marcus and those who have gone on before us & the plan of salvation. My dad was able to contribute a lot to the conversation. It was almost as if we had planned on him to come to our Family Home Evening. Actually, my dad is always very late so it was better than if we had invited him to come. LOL

Marcus said his good-byes to his brothers and parents on Tuesday. Aaron (Marcus's brother - age 14) left to go on a band trip the next day - with Marcus really encouraging him to go. Aaron said that the band dedicated their whole year's performances and their performance Friday night and the band did the best they've every done. (Marcus was a member of that marching band and they have been soooooo supportive of Marcus the last 2 years) Friday night (at least I think it was Fri) Karen said to our mom, "it's as if Marcus isn't even here... I can't feel his spirit here"... and my mom said, "of course not. He's at the band competition." Aaron said that when they performed they could all feel Marcus with them. They made it to the finals!

The band members have been so supportive of Marcus. Two years ago when Marcus started the chemo and radiation his hair started falling out. When he went to shave his head, a bunch of band members shaved their heads too! Marcus's dad, brothers, uncles and cousins (all the guys) shaved their heads too. About 6 months later my hair was long enough that I cut 10 inches off and donated it to Locks of Love in Marcus's honor. They recently put on a fund raiser at their school for Marcus and his family. Marcus was able to attend and was so grateful for their help. You can read more about these events and see pictures on Marcus's carepage. www.carepages.com MarcusRussell (name for you to enter) and on Karen's blog: I Made It Through Another Day

Last November the Russells came to town for Thanksgiving. We had dinner at my youngest sister's house (Alice) but Jessica was too sick to attend. Karl stayed home with her and I took my boys and went to visit and eat. We had a good time and it was quite noisy with all the kids running around. My youngest brother, Stuart, and his family attended and my mom's sister came down from Mesa with her youngest son who is Jessica's age. Since Jessica wasn't able to go to the dinner, the Russells came to our house to visit the next day. It was nice since there weren't nearly as many people and Jessica got to really visit with them that night. I have some great pictures of that night. We didn't know that it would be the last time we would see Marcus... but of course we knew it was a possibility. Marcus was in remission at the time but with the type of cancer he had we knew it would come back. We just didn't know when nor how bad it would be. And of course there's always the possibility that Jessica could "go" at any time. She should have died many years ago but for some reason we have been blessed to have her here all these years. (I won't go into all the details right now but we have nearly lost her many times so we always have that in the back of our minds... this could be her last birthday, this could be her last Christmas, Thanksgiving, trip to the mall.... etc.) I made sure to take a few pictures of just Jessica and Marcus together and I'm so glad I did!

Here are all the cousins who were at Thanksgiving dinner last year in '07. Of course Jessica wasn't there so of course she isn't in that picture. These are all the kids... we also had 8 adults visiting with each other. Marcus is the one in the back, left-hand side with the hat on.

Me and my little sisters. Alice, Karen and of course me.

This was taken at our house. Marcus and Brandon playing video games.

Here you can see Jessica seated in the recliner to your left (Uncle John in the striped shirt in the background). Macus and Brandon on the couch and Noah and Jackson on the floor. Noah is the one pretending to be a bunny on the floor. LOL

Jessica and Marcus together. I just love this picture.

Here they are goofing around. Too bad this picture is blurry but it's neat to see these kids laughing, having fun and being regular kids.

One year ago Jessica's friend gave her the alligator that she is holding. That was shortly after Marcus was diagnosed and had surgery to remove his brain tumor. Jessica named the Alligator "Marcus because he is so strong, just like an alligator". The star that Marcus is holding is something that Jessica made for him at our local support group, "Tu Nidito". They were asked to decorate their star for someone who inspired them. Jessica said that she made it for Marcus because he is strong and is helping her be strong too. Jess saved that star for almost a year until she saw Marcus again. If you have ever seen Jessica's room, you know it was quite an accomplishment for her to keep it that long and not lose it! (her room is the black hole! - once something goes in, it never comes back out!)

My friend, Melanie from Hands, Heads and Heart has posted about Marcus and his family here and here. She has graciously requested prayers and RAKS such as cards to be sent to the Russell family. We are hoping that Marcus's story will travel the world since Marcus wasn't ever able to do so. He was (and is) a remarkable young man. We have been so fortunate to have him in our family for 17 years here on earth.... and for all eternity to come. Jessica and I have talked about how nice it is that he will be there when it is her turn to go to heaven. Hopefully it won't be too soon.

Melanie, and I were discussing the effects of a rock being thrown into a pond and what the ripples represent. If you do something good then it will affect all those around you like the ripples in the pond. Melanie said,
"Marcus is a huge ripple who is and will continue to affect many people with his story."

Here is a picture of Marcus that was taken just over a month ago. His face is swollen from all the steroids to help keep the swelling on his brain down. Look at his eyes. His eyes see beyond this life. In fact, he was already starting to lose his eyesight when this picture was taken. He couldn't walk because he was too dizzy but look at his eyes. He knew he was terminal at this point but still smiles. His eyes see something better to come. Something we can't see without faith. Marcus has that. His strength and faith have been an inspiration to me.

Here are the Russells. They are such a great family. Please continue to pray for them.

If you pass on this prayer and RAK request, please let me know so that Melanie and I can go to your blog and thank you. Here is what Melanie posted on her blog:
"If you are able, would you consider putting Marcus's pic and part of this post on your blog? Can we let others know who he is, that he was here? When Karen asked Marcus what he would like the world to know about him and he said, "I am the dark night - I am batman". (When you read their blogs, you'll see they are always ready to lighten the mood with a joke, no matter the circumstances) Nancy says: "He is a man of few words and he doesn't even want to think about what to say. (But they were excited about this idea of posting his pic and gave it their blessing) "BTW, Marcus has always been a fan of batman and a WWII buff. (Family) recently took Marcus to an air force base and the airman presented Marcus with a helmet and other things. They were impressed with Marcus's knowledge of the jets and he even knew all about a new one that will be available next year."
You can also leave comments for the family and get updates at: http://www.carepage.com/ (set up an account and then click on "visit a carepage".... enter "marcusrussell" no spaces - and it will take you to it)

Here is an address for RAKs (they gave permission to list it here)
I Made it Through Another Day
Karen's address is:
Karen Russell or Marcus Russell
100 W. 500 S
Providence, UT 84332

Thank you all so much! Your thoughts and prayers really do help. As I had posted before, we aren't able to travel to the funeral this Thursday. We are going to have our own little memorial for him - also on Thursday after Karl gets home from work. I'm also praying that all my family who are traveling to attend the funeral are protected and travel in safety.


Awesome Mom said...

I am so sorry for you loss! I am sending some big cyber hugs to you and your family.

Em's way said...

I am so so sorry nancy, thoughts are with you and all the family, love and strength. Fly high Marcus

Love and Blessings and massive hugs

Emma and family xxxxx

Posh Totty said...

I am so so sorry to hear of your loss, I am thinking of you and your family during this difficult time Xxx

falwyn said...

I'm so sorry. You and all your family are in my prayers.

Ruth said...

Oh Nancy, I am so sorry. I can tell what an amazing person he is. May God be with you closer than ever through this time.

Mindi said...

I'm so sorry Nancy. I can't imagine how sad you must be. You know he's just gone on to complete his mission in another life. Isn't that the coolest thing - and the comfort you have knowing he'll be there for Jess. How strong and faithful he was! ((Hugs)) to you and Jess.

Susan said...

Nancy, thank you so much for finding my tribute to Karen and commenting the way you did on my blog. I didn't think it would be found, with such an outpouring of love and support happening around the world after the loss of Marcus. I thought it would be swamped! I'm glad it wasn't, and I hope your dear sister is comforted to know she is also an inspiration. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. XX

Melanie said...

what are a wonderfult ribute to him and your family. the hardest thing to write, as always, your wrote it brilliantly

Starlie's Floral Design said...

Dear Nancy,

I came upon your blog because I was searching for a friend of mine. I discovered your blog and I hope you don't mind that I stopped in to read. I have had a history with cancer myself and would like to share a few insights if I may. When I was first diagnosed I was a young ballerina of 14 years looking forward to my dreams coming true in dance. I became very ill during an audition process and I ended up focusing on fighting for my life instead. I was given two weeks to live by the time the doctors figured out what was wrong with me. Many months past and many blessing and tender mercies were given to me. I was given a blessing by one of the 12 apostles at a very low point. The spiritual gifts shared with me that day and the lord's will, I was healed from that agressive cancer never to see it again. I am now 46 years old and my life is rich from experience, love, laughter and heartbreak. My heart goes out to you and your family as you deal with this loss. God has his way of using these experiences to refine our spirits in ways they never could be otherwise. I am a parent of four terrific children. One who was born with severe birth defects. I have recently recieved a (totally unrelated to the first cancer) diagnosis of breast cancer. It is agressive also but I am optimistic that I will be around to raise my kids. I know what it must have been like for my parents to watch, hope and pray for me as I fought through that difficult and terminal illness as a teenager. My heart goes out to your family and Marcus's family for the loss and heartache you all have suffered. When I attended a funeral service for my sister's nephew, President Monson (who is also a family cousin) said that "this young man's mission is not complete, he just accepted a transfer" That comment has brought peace to his mother because he was not able to serve a traditional mission as a missionary. I know Marcus accepted his transfer with as much grace and dignity that my sister's nephew did. God Bless you and your family.