Death. Cancer. Moving. Three words that come to mind about this past week and the past couple of weeks. It is truly a shame that all three words have to do with one fantastic caring person. About 2 weeks ago we (Woodstock) found out that Cookie Wiebe was diagnosed with cancer. Nothing deflates a happy bubble from summer break with news quite like that. Over these past couple of weeks there has been a lot of talk about death, not only at Woodstock but especially at Mt. Hermon. In all of this though, not surprisingly, Cookie has been strong as ever!! Also Dave as well, to be at her side and both staying so optimistic and strong!! Truly inspirational!! On coming up dooty with the students, some of us went to visit Cookie in the hospital and while we were there she was enthusiastic, light-hearted and plain old being Cookie!! It was truly remarkable that even at the darker moments of her life she can be so strong on the outside and be such an inspiration for all!! Since their return from Delhi and her first chemo session, the nights have been up and down. Some good and some bad. Whenever I have seen her though it always seems to be a good night. Again not surprising, seeing this is the Wiebe's we're talking about!! If there's one inspiring couple I want to emulate as I grow old this is definitely one!!:) Full of life, energy and a lifetime of stories!! Nothing seems to bring them down, hold them back, or make them give up!! I am truly blessed to know such an amazing couple and wonderful friends/family!! When this week started they were talking about leaving Woodstock to return to the states for the third (possibly second) round of chemo and another attempt at surgery to remove the cancer. First surgery the cancer was "frozen" and was too hard to remove, thus the chemo to try and weaken it as much as possible. I/we all had a gut feeling they would return home for this, it was just a matter of when?? Now I have to admit I was thinking, 2 or 3 weeks, maybe even a month down the road they would return home, sometime around middle of October. Tuesday morning was just another morning. Did my morning run, fitness room, and breakfast routine, then homeroom with 11th grade. First period flew by with energy in the air and feeling good......then 14 minutes into second period, while the students were doing group work, I happened to sit down for a second at my computer and noticed an e-mail from Cookie. An e-mail that would put the entire period on hold. The line that stood out when reading: "we will be leaving Woodstock on Saturday." I couldn't believe it was already happening. Needless to say that moment of maybe 10 seconds seemed like 10 minutes of just sitting there in disbelief and sadness. I think one of my students must have called out my name 3 or 4 times before I finally snapped out of it. Sucked it up for that period and finished class in a blur. Luckily it was tea time and 2 preps after that so there was some time to be alone and think/cry. Mostly cry. I was smart and chose the upstairs bathroom so there would be drains around and no flooding!!;) But they were a flowing and it felt good (after holding it in for the entire second period mostly). When I finally stopped, mostly dehydration, I needed to get some air and luckily ran into Kate who greeted me in open arms and gave me a wonderful hug, just what I needed. The rest of the day was a blur as well. Honestly, just wanted to get home and have some time alone. After getting most of the emotions out on Tuesday, waking up Wednesday was a lot better start. Started with another morning run, fitness room workout and a perfect morning hug from Shubhra that seemed to last forever. So everything was starting off right. Well except for breakfast which had NO eggs, don't get me started on that. After breakfast we headed up to the senior school for morning assembly. This is where it got rough/emotional again. Cookie was giving devotions today, and basically reading her 4 points to death speech and being okay and accepting death as a possibility. Her speech was perfect. Such heart, passion, and emotion was built into it. Her words were poetic yet picturesque. There was one line that I will never forget, and she said "What other life do you have to go all out?" That right there sums up not only Cookie but the heart and soul of the Wiebe's. At that point I could not hold back any longer, tears were streaming again and again it was going to be another emotional day. For the most part only the morning was rough, after lunch it brightened up with my fantastic 10th grade health class. Full of energy and pulled me right out of the emotional sadness that was my morning. I keep thinking about these past couple of days and admire the Wiebe's strength during all of this. Meanwhile the entire staff is breaking down left and right. I don't know what we would do if we saw them breakdown. They keep us strong. They keep us full of hope. Most importantly they keep us striving to live life to the fullest and NEVER let anything conquer you. Not even for a second. To the Wiebe's, my friends, my family, and my neighbors for the past year I wish you NOTHING but the best. You have inspired me in so many ways I can't thank you enough for that. I love you guys with all of my heart. I WILL see you in 4 months when I return to the states, so save a game of Settler's for me and a bowl of popcorn. Thank you for an unforgettable and magnificent 13 months 3 days and 22 hours!!!!!!!! May God bless you and be with you as you begin your next journey back in Kansas and the next stages of chemo!!!!
Much love and prayers!!!
Steven Mark Luukkonen
Thanks for the memories Wiebe's!!!!:)