Happy birthday!

Today you would’ve turned 48 years old.

2019 also will mark the five year anniversary of you going to heaven! How can that be?! I wonder what your days look like in heaven. I can’t even imagine.

You are so loved Doug! Your fun loving spirit was so infectious…even as a little boy! You were the best brother that God could’ve given to me.

Love you and miss you so much!

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Another year...another anniversary

Here we are. Another year has passed. Let’s be honest, this year has flown by! Year after year time moves at warp speed.

January 19 was the day my brother was born.  I wish that I was throwing a big party for him. Making him his favorite foods. Celebrating him!

The last birthday we celebrated was four years ago. He went off chemo that month because it wasn’t doing it’s job. It’s one job was to shrink the tumor instead it was sucking the life out of Doug. 

Doug relied on his faith and in the journey that God had for him. I think we knew what that journey may look like we but prayed fervently that a miracle would take place. 

So here I am, four years later still trying to understand why. Why Doug? Why our family? I guess I won’t know this side of heaven. 

Today will always be your day! You would be 47 years old today. I will always celebrate you and what you meant to me. Today you celebrate in heaven and I can’t even imagine!

I will love you always! Happy birthday kid! 

Three Year Anniversary

As I lay my head down tonight (Friday night), my mind is consumed with thoughts and memories of three years ago. We laughed. We cried. He struggled. It is almost paralyzingly. I went to bed hoping that he would make it through the night and a few hours later Doug entered heaven. I miss him so much! But I am confident that he lives in heaven with God The Father. I can't even imagine. 

I am reminded of these beautiful words:


He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;

To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.


When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources

Our Father’s full giving is only begun.


His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.


I looked up into the sky through the trees while I was walking around the dog park this morning. I want to believe that the clear skies and sunshine are sign from heaven that all is well.  


Birthdays and Time

This is my last year in this decade. How did it come so fast? Three years ago...THREE, I spent the week with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother's health had deteriorated quite rapidly since I had seen him the Christmas before. My parents had been staying for weeks at a time but the week of my birthday it was me that was going to help him while Melissa went to work. 

We spent precious moments in that little apartment. Quite moments. I watched him constantly. Staring at his chest while he slept. I was afraid that I might not see his chest going up and down. I watched him struggle to do easy tasks. Things that you don't even think about. Do you think about moving your leg before you start walking? I don't. I just start walking. He couldn't do any of it. He would get frustrated and I tried to be the voice of patience. Which quite frankly is hilarious. I am the least patient person. 

Because he would get frustrated, we had a pact. We would be patient with each other. Beautiful moments spent together! Being there with him was the greatest gift. 

Time though...it doesn't stand still. It is always in a constant forward motion.

There is a song from the musical Wicked that when I here it, tears usually well up in my eyes. It's called For Good. Because I knew Doug and was fortunate enough to love him and be loved by him, I have been changed for the better. The struggle was real and painful but anyone who knew him was changed for the better. He lived out his testimony and because he had a relationship with Jesus, he lives in Heaven today and for always!

It's weird to think I am almost in the next decade. I don't feel old. I guess it's just a number. I cherish my friendship and relationships of those people I get to do life with.

The note Melissa left for me on the bathroom mirror on my birthday.

The note Melissa left for me on the bathroom mirror on my birthday.

For Good
I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...

Page 19 of 365

Today is your birthday. Your earthly birthday. The day God chose for you to be gifted to us. We had 43 years celebrating you! Loving you in a very tangible way. With a hug. A kiss. Laughter that was so contagious! A passionate, opinionated, caring individual. God chose 43 years was all that we would have. He didn't want to wait any longer. He wanted you home and so now you celebrate your second birthday in heaven with Him and the people who we love that have also gone on to heaven.

There are days that seem still so unreal that you aren't here. I can't call you to hear your voice. To tell you how much I love you! To tell you that you are the best baby brother a sister could ever have. You are missed more than I have words to express but I have memories that will never be taken away from me. Even near the end, I can recall things that you said and did that make me laugh out loud. I love Doug! Forever in my heart!


I'e been wanting to share a moment I had this weekend. I'm finally able to jot down my thoughts.

On Saturday morning I was the photographer for the Territorial Men's Conference for the Salvation Army Southern Territory. It is strange being at a conference when you are one of three women but I had a job to do.

The speaker for the conference was Jonathan Evans. He was a college football player and was signed by the Dallas Cowboys. He is the chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys, co-chaplain with his father Tony Evans of the Dallas Mavericks and a Christian author, speaker and pastor. You may be familiar with his sister Priscilla Shirer.

Sometimes when you are behind the camera, you are concentrating on capturing the moment and you aren't paying attention to what the speaker is actually talking about. I was sitting on the front row in the chapel. I know he was speaking about Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. He was talking about being thirsty.  You know, when you are so thirsty that a coke or any other kind of drink won't quench your thirst. Water is the only drink that can satisfy that thirst.

As I sat on the FRONT row, in that moment I thought of my brother. As he was dying, he would often tell us how thirsty he was. He had cancer that was taking over his body and shutting it down. He couldn't swallow very well. He was SO thirsty! He would suck on little sponge lollipops but even then the little bit of water that came off that sponge, couldn't get it past his throat. He would say, "I want my thirst quenched." It is very difficult to watch someone you love so much, in so much need and something as simple as a drink of water you couldn't provide.

I was fighting back tears but I couldn't make them stop. Being the photographer you are always on the move, so I gathered up my cameras and made my way to the balcony where my husband  was and so I could let the tears flow freely.

Later that weekend I talked to my good friend Judy who understands the cancer journey. She said that Doug's thirst has been quench by The Living Water himself. Jesus took care of his thirst for eternity.

I am grateful that God gave me the best brother I could have ever imagined. I don't understand why He wanted Doug more in heaven than I wanted him on earth but I know that Doug lives with Jesus in heaven today and for eternity. That is the greatest gift.

Jesus said, “Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst-not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
— John 4:14 The Message

Two years?

Where has the time gone? Two years, how can that be?  

There still isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you. Sometimes it still doesn't feel real. The other day I was thinking about you and then reality hit me that I will never see you in the flesh again. You aren't just a phone call away. 

The legacy of your life lives on through the people that love you. You were a living testimony and I talk about you to people and I share your testimony.  

Tomorrow will be a day of mixed emotions. There will be sadness because we miss you so much. There is also rejoicing because two years ago you met Jesus. Face to face. What could be better than that? 

April 8 is a significant day in the Dake house. We are bringing our German shepherd puppy, Luger home after two years of Osa has being gone. We will be together getting to know our pup and reminiscing about you. There was never a dull moment with you. We are better people because of having you in our lives so there will be tears and laughter.

I miss you Doug! I am so lucky to have had you as my brother. You were simply the best! 

Photo credit: Digital Memories by Debbie Koehler

Photo credit: Digital Memories by Debbie Koehler

Relay for Life

I think about you everyday Doug. You are loved and missed. The one thing you wanted to come of this journey was for people to know Christ. You have touched more lives than you could've ever known. You have profoundly changed my life.  

Last Friday we participated in a relay for life in memory of Doug. My friends, the Farrell's came and hung out with my parents and me at Lilburn Park. It was a beautiful evening with friends as well as the weather.  

I didn't know what to expect when I signed up for a team. In honor and memory of Doug. Team Dougie Fresh. His friends called him that. Some of his family and certain friends [i.e.  John Zanders] call him Dougie. The name that carried over from childhood. I call him my brother and friend.

This relay was on a smaller scale unlike the event being held at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in the next couple of weeks. It was very nice for our first experience. We talked. We laughed. We walked. We shed a few tears thinking abouth this man, this gift from God that we had for 43 years. A son. Brother. Husband. Grandson. Nephew. Friend.

As the luminaries we being placed around the track, my loving "pop" as Doug would call dad, walked around the track to find Doug's luminary. He found it! We took photos of this memory. As the night skies became dark, a bag piper played as everyone who participated walked around the track holding a lit candle. The path was lit by luminaries for survivors, for those who are currently suffering with this evil disease we call CANCER and those who have gone on to a better place we know as heaven. It was a beautiful moment.  

Thank you to all my that helped me achieve my goal. We surpassed it!