The story behind the tree house starts at the beginning of a very long and hard day. Not a, "I spilled coffee on my shirt and someone cut in front of me in line" bad day. A different kind of bad day. The worst kind. We woke up on the morning of May 30th with heavy hearts. Stuart's sister had been in the hospital for a month now, and was seeming to get worse. We knew things weren't looking up from what we had heard from the doctors and Stuart's parents. That morning we were outside in our backyard with the kids getting ready to head to the city where Leah was in the hospital. Stuart and I had just cancelled our anniversary trip to Nashville the week before due to this family matter. I remember looking at Stuart wondering how the hell I could possibly help him. Stuart is a quiet and kind man. He never wants for anything, he never asks for anything and he certainly would do ANYTHING for anyone he loves. How could I help my husband through watching his sister endure so much, AGAIN.
We had always planned on building a tree house for the boys, but we never really knew when we would get around to it. An idea popped in to my head! A TREE HOUSE. Lets build a tree house with the money we had saved to go to Nashville. Stuarts eyes brightened with the idea of this project. That morning, he dug the posts in to the sand box floor.
I came in to Leah's life when I met Stuart in 2009, when Leah and I were both 19 years old. It wasn't until later that I realized how much she and her family had been through. The brain tumour that was found when she was little changed her, and it changed her families lives dramatically. Sometimes life isn't fair. Leah was the same age as me. Why do I get to do so many things Leah did not? Her life was still filled with so much love and light, despite her struggles. She had a caring, kind and grateful heart. She cared deeply about the people in her life, with such a child-like perspective(Which is the best perspective, wouldn't you agree?)
So much of who I am is because of my husband and his family. My sense of priorities, my perspective on life and my faith in God... I will always credit Leah for that.
One of my favourite Leah memories is the time Stuart had picked Leah up from a place she was staying in the city. She was coming to stay with us for the weekend, so I instructed Stuart to help her pack to make sure she didn't forget the essentials. At home that night, when I went to help her unpack I found some interesting things in her suit case. As it turns out, Stuart didn't help her pack. Her suit case contained: two tackle box containers full of different earrings, a board game, some lotion, and a Shania Twain CD. Ha ha! Still makes me giggle to think about it. She was so cute, in so many ways.
Leah had troubles with so many things that all of us find easy. Things were harder for her and it made her frustrated, but she always seemed to have a sense of humour through it all and she was able to laugh at herself. She loved to give gifts to people, she loved her family, holidays, playing board games and cards. She loved her siblings, and they loved her...deeply.
Here it is! Built with love, sweat and tears - Marshall & Ted's tree house.
For the finishing touch, a sign to always remind the boys of their sweet Aunty Leah. Leah always had Oreo's stashed in her purse along with many other goodies. Marshall would instantly know when he seen her that she had some for him. She even gained the nickname "Aunty Oreo." It's made to look like an Oreo cookie. Each of our boys hand prints are on either side. Marshall and Ted might not remember her because they are so young, but they will always be reminded of all the good times we shared with Leah.
This sign was designed by Heather Pittet at Emerald Custom Creations. http://emeraldcustomcreations.com
The tree house served as great therapy for us and it will be very well loved by our boys. Our summer DIY project turned out to be an unexpected one, but a very healing one as well. I'm betting Leah just loves it too!
When leah was a little girl, she told her Grandmother "When I get to heaven, Im just going to run!" It's so comforting to think of Leah running in heaven, free of all the struggles she had with her health here on earth.
I took Marshall and Ted to the hospital the last day she was able to speak. Leah's last words to me was that she loved me. She also told me she loved Marshall and Ted. How lucky am I? What a great gift that was to hear.
We miss you Leah, every minute of everyday. Until we meet again my sister.
I love you too.
Some details on this thrifty little palace.