Saturday, May 27, 2006

Life Turned Logistics

...Services will be held Friday, June 2nd, 11am at Rose Hills Memorial Park. 3888 S. Workman Mill Road Whittier, CA 90601. Further details are available at

...Following the services, there will be a celebration BBQ at the Harding’s home in West Covina. Directions will be available after the memorial.

...An educational fund has been established for Dalton’s sons, Iain and Dalton. If you would like to make a contribution to this fund in lieu of flowers, please make checks payable to Ecclesia Hollywood and indicate “Harding Children's Fund” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to 5419 Hollywood Blvd. Suite 303 Los Angeles, CA 90027.

For Iain…
Tricia is compiling a box of stories and photos of Dalton to be kept for Iain. She hopes to give Iain a better idea of who his father was as friend, teacher, and co-worker at different times in his life. If there is a story or photo of Dalton that you would like to share with Iain about who Dalton was or how he impacted your life, please consider emailing it to him at

Friday, May 26, 2006

At 1AM Friday Morning...

...our beloved friend Dalton joined the Lord after an eight month battle with cancer. Although the last eight days in ICU had been excruciating, it happened peacefully: his heart simply stopped beating. Tricia was with Dalton at the time, as was Joseph Barkley. When Tricia noticed Dalton's heart rate dropping, she asked Joseph to read aloud the 23rd Psalm. When Joseph had read the last word, Dalton passed away.

Please continue to pray for Tricia, Iain, and the rest of the family.

Dalton Update

For the last eight days, Dalton has been in ICU at the Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina. He initially collapsed as a result of sepsis, pneumonia, and ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress). Because of decreased oxygenation, many of Dalton's bodily systems are failing. Even though his stats fluctuate, the overall picture suggests a steady decline, which may lead one to conclude he won't recover. Currently Dalton is non-responsive and heavily sedated to control the pain. So visiting hours are reserved for immediate family only. But your prayers for Dalton, Tricia, Iain, and the rest of the family continue to be much needed and appreciated.

Monday, May 15, 2006


I made it to the spa this week. A dear friend came over, shopped for my groceries, and cleaned my house. So, I made it to the spa. I enjoyed lunch al fresco on a lovely spring day, read mindless girly magazines, and let someone grind my back to a pulp in the name of relieving stress. I am ever so grateful and would do it all again. The thing is...a day at the spa is just that - a temporary escape. What I really desperately need is to discover a way to live joyfully every day in my life just as it is.

I finally decided it was time to start the antidepressants. I really didn't want to. I've been through lots in my life and always managed to stay upbeat and positive without any medical assistance. But yesterday, I realized that I was moping and whining and criticizing and sitting on the pity pot and eating crap and having mini-anxiety attacks. I don't want to do any of those things any more. And so far, life is still really hard, so I'm going to try some medical asssitance.

145.6 is what Dalton weighed today at City of Hope. Before he got sick, when he was running every day and eating right, he weighed 188. My heart felt like it dropped 3 inches in my chest when I saw that number. But then I'm not sure what I expected. Dalton asked for a wheelchair when we arrived at COH and rated his pain 8 out of 10. Then when the doctor asked Dalton how he was doing, he replied in a hoarse, slurred voice "I'm just impatient. I want to be healed and be done with this." I just sat there and stared at the door while the doctor answered, "Your cancer isn't curable. They tried their best, but when it spread to the liver, it became incurable." Dalton just nodded and said "Ok."

He doesn't talk much these days. He'll talk even less now that they upped his pain meds again. It's not that he isn't social or doesn't want to share. It's just that he's high and his faculties are compromised. He's physically here, but most of the time he's mentally somewhere else. I battle resentment on this issue. I desperately want him to be free from pain, but he's my husband, my best friend. I've already lost him physically and now I'm losing him mentally and spiritually. It frustrates him as well, but we've almost reached the point where he's only aware of it if I point it out. If I could just learn to suck it up and nod when he includes me in a conversation he's having with someone who isn't in the room, he'd be better off. I'm trying. Really, I am.

There is more to post, of course, but I'm falling asleep and that is a very good thing. Talk more later.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Big Love

No, not the HBO series about polygamy (although I must admit that I really like the cracks me up and makes for very interesting conversations). I'm talking about the incredible offers of help that have come our way these past few weeks. I just want all of you to know how much it has meant to us and to me in particular. And, yes, I am trying to find ways to accept them.

We met with the oncologist on Thursday. Dalton had to go in socks, because his feet were too swollen to fit in his shoes - a rude reality check on just how swollen his legs really were. For those of you who've been with us since the get go, Dr. Iqbal (ick-ball) is back from maternity leave, and this was our first time seeing her since January. In addition to the obvious question of getting the cancer under control, we talked about Dalton's gurgling cough, the swollen legs, and confusion/fatigue. The good news is that Dalton's kidneys are still functioning well, so he is able to take some meds to help get rid of the fluid buildup in his legs. The not-so-good news is that the fluid is there because his blood protein is really low and the blood protein is really low because the liver isn't functioning especially well. They also prescribed some meds for the cough and believe it or not, gave him some ritalin for the fatigue/confusion. That's my husband - hyperactive! That one is at his discretion and can be used if he is having difficulty staying awake or focusing and doesn't want to sleep through it. As usual, I've been to the pharmacy 5 times this week and that's after having friends make two of the trips for me. You know those commercials where the Sav-on pharmacist knows you personally by name? That's me!

Even though it had only been 10 days since the last chemo (normally they wait at least 14), Dr. Iqbal decided to get Dalton back on a Friday schedule. Thankfully, Dalton's blood (red and white cells and platelets) tolerates the chemo well, so it isn't too risky. Unfortunately, we lost out on the "best" part of the cycle. Days 11-14 tend to be up days when Dalton can talk and visit with friends and play with Iain. Instead, he's been kind of out of it. At the same time, Dr. Iqbal felt the scans showed stable disease, so Dalton isn't switching chemos yet. This is a good and probably buys us some time.

We have an appointment at City of Hope (COH) next Monday. It's closer to the house, we have friends down the street who often help with Iain, and they (COH) were fabulously attentive to my mom while she was there. Every time Dalton ends up at USC/Norris hospital, we toss around the idea of switching, but circumstances have always convinced us otherwise. After this last experience, however, we want to get into COH's system and see whether we'd be better served there. To be honest, though, I'm a little nervous about going. Our current docs don't talk in timelines. We don't ask; they don't offer. My fear is that the COH doctors will tell us what we really don't want to hear. It's one thing to know what the statistics say and see what is happening to the body. It's another to hear phrases like "You have ____ long to live." Doctors take such authoritative tones and right now, God needs to be our authority. Don't misunderstand, He is the authority, but I need my spirit to recognize Him as such. Fear can counteract that and make us all go to very dark places, and I want to stay out of those places as much as possible.

Since getting home from the hospital a week ago, Dalton had been sleeping in the chair in the living room. It helped to keep the fluid from pooling in his lungs and therefore helped with the cough and the gurgling and the pain. I think that the lungs might be getting better, though, because last night, he was able to sleep in our bed! Thank you , God, and keep praying.