• Posted on February 1, 2017 4:23 pm
    McCall Dempsey
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    For the last ten years, February 2nd has been a bittersweet day for me. While I wish our wedding day, conjured feelings of love and joy, my heart pulls the opposite way. My day was lost stolen by my eating disorder. This is a notion not many can understand or relate to, even my own husband. Rather than look back on my wedding day as a Cinderella Story, I see it has my personal hell. I was a prisoner in my own mind, trapped inside calories and weight. My bright orange, digital scale giving me my daily worth. I watched the number sink lower as our wedding day approached. My close friends and family wrote off weight loss as "The Bride Diet" because it is normal for brides to shrink down for her big day, a notion I fight hard against today. I have waited ten years to reclaim our day. A day that should have been about Jordan and me, joining hearts and hands to spend our lives together. Six years ago, I spent our fourth wedding anniversary in treatment at the Carolina House. I spent that day grieving my wedding and what should have been. Deep down I had hope that one day I would reclaim what should have been mine. That day is now here. Jordan and I have had more bumps on the road than many of our friends. But we don't walk through life asking "Why?" We embrace the cards we are dealt and walk forward with faith, gratitude, perseverance and love. Someone once asked me what has carried Jordan and me through all of our tough times. It took me no time to answer: laughter. Jordan isn't my rock. He melts and falls with me, but I can always count on him to make me laugh. Even on our worst days, his light heart brings a smile to my face. He reminds me that laughter and joy are never far away, some days we just have to look a bit harder to see them. Six years ago, Christy asked me what recovery looked like. And six years later, my answer has slightly changed. It used to be walking on the beach with Jordan, but now it is skipping. Our life and our love has been tested over and over again. My heart is filled with more love and gratitude I can't help but kick my feet up in the sand and skip with joy. My energy is no longer spent on what I look like, how much I weigh or what people thing. My energy is spent feeling the joy, the sadness and every emotion life throws my way. I am living life. And tomorrow, Jordan and I will reclaim the day that was ours all along. A video posted by McCall Manning Dempsey (@mccalldempsey) on Feb 1, 2017 at 10:47am PST ​ Cheers to ten years...and cheers to LIFE and LOVE.

    Eating Disorder, Live Life, Relationships
  • Posted on December 6, 2016 3:45 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    1

    Tomorrow, December 7, is my birthday. However, I will not be with my family and friends. Rather, I will be surrounded with love, pain, joy, sadness, hope and courage. I will spend my birthday with the brave men and women at Castlewood Treatment Center in St. Louis, Missouri. I truly cannot think of anywhere else I would rather be. Growing up, I often heard my family and friends say, "Oh, McCall, stop being so sensitive". I tried my best to not 'be sensitive' and to 'toughen up', but no matter how hard I tried, I still hurt. I was (and am) a sensitive being. Nothing was ever going to change that. And I hurt alone and in silence for many, many years. I now consider my sensitivity my greatest gift. It is something I hold sacred. I honor my sensitive heart, taking care of it and loving it as it beats through every human emotion. Recovery has taught me to follow my heart, allowing it to feel, give and receive. Because of my soft heart, I am able to sit with others. I can literally feel their pain, hurt and loneliness. And above all else, I can let them know they are not alone. To be perfectly honest, my heart has been really heavy lately. Personal changes are happening, but moreover, I have carried so much hurt in my heart as of late. After returning home from Thanksgiving, I saw the devastating news that a fellow Wolfson Hospital cancer warrior lost her battle. I never met Kate, but she was just doors down from Marjorie during the summer of 2015. Her death hit me hard. I followed her story and there was no doubt she was a light to everyone who met her. Last Tuesday, Kate's mother, Lisa, posted a beautiful picture.  Tears poured down my face as I saw the picture of Lisa cuddling her baby in the final hours of her life here on earth. I don't know the pain of losing a child, but I have cradled my own child while covering her in desperate prayers for healing. I could feel the pain, love and unbreakable bond between a mother and her daughter through my computer screen. My heart carried her hurt. Days later I received an email from a young woman questioning if life and the fight for recovery were worth it. We've connected on the phone many times since her initial email. I do my best to remind her that there IS still light and hope and that the fight is TOTALLY worth every battle scar...but I also know how painful those dark moments are. I know how exhausting the fight is and that giving up often seems like a better option. I told her I would sit with her in the pain. I carried her hurt. On a daily basis, I hear from aching parents, lonely teens and adults drowning in shame. I sit with them, hurt with them and pray for them each night. I am very aware I can't save anyone, we all have to save ourselves. But that doesn't mean we have to walk the journey alone. This life is filled with so much sadness and pain AND there is also SO much good. 'Life is freaking brutiful' as my friend (who hasn't met me yet), Glennon Doyle Melton would say. Sometimes the sadness is filled with happiness and vice versa. It took me a long time to absorb that concept - joy during times of sorrow. Nothing confirmed the joy and sorrow theory like Marjorie's NICU and cancer battle. Watching my child fight for her life, not once, but twice, made realize that life is hard AND that there can be so much joy during these times, as well. The friends, family, doctors, nurses, prayer warriors and fellow cancer families that God put in our lives during these dark times, were our joy, our inspiration and our hope. They made us laugh and sat with us as we cried. They carried our hurt, while we watched with aching hearts as our precious baby fought for her life. In my short six years of recovery (and life), I have been blessed with so many people who have carried my hurt. So for me, carrying other's hurt and sitting with others in the darkness is such a gift. It is an honor for me to crawl back into the dark with those struggling and say, "There's nothing I can say that will fix this, but I'll hang with you here as long as you need me." Sure, sadness is not fun. Many reading this will probably wonder why don't I guard my heart better. That's just not who I am. God made us to feel, to love, to hurt and, most of all, to LIVE. Embracing sadness and sitting in pain is me living out God's purpose. There's no doubt my passion stems from years of my own pain and hopelessness. Nothing brings me more contentment than helping others through their dark times - sitting with them and connecting them with professional help. And I do guard my heart in many ways. If I allowed myself to follow every pediatric cancer or eating disorder story, I would basically live in fetal position in my closet. I am selective and I practice A LOT of self care. I shut down, I write, I absorb the joy that radiates from my two tiny humans and I call my therapist (obvi). My life since recovery has been learning to walk the beautifully imperfect balance of self care and helping others. So while I carry a lot of hurt in my heart, I also carry so much joy, love and light. My birthday wish is to sit with you, wherever you are. I spent so many birthdays feeling alone and hopeless, I don't want you to do the same. I hear you. I honor your pain. I sit in it with you. Thank you for giving me the best birthday gift and allowing me to share in your darkness. And to sweet Kate, may your light and love live on through each of us. You were truly your own light during many dark days. We will always "remember to smile" for you.

    Authentic, Eating Disorder, Live Life
  • Posted on October 8, 2016 9:52 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    To my dearest daughter on your second birthday, I wish I could look back on this day with loving memories and joy. But I can’t. Your birth date was one of the most difficult days of my life. I will never forget the sounds and sterile surroundings of the OR room. Your daddy sat behind my head, resting his face next to mine and holding my hands that stretched out on the cold steel table. When Dr. Glas finally pulled you out, the nurse came around the curtain and held you up. “She’s beautiful, mom and dad.” She said as she held you up for us to see your precious face. You looked back at us with wide eyes, as if to tell us, “I’ve got this mom and dad.” Tears streamed down my face – and your daddy’s too. Those precious few seconds would be my only glimpse of you on your birth date. My body had been through too much and I was unable to see you until the following day. I could not get to you fast enough the next day. Waiting for the doctor to make rounds and free me from the catheter and IVs, was agony. Unable to walk, your Aunt Anne and daddy wheeled me down. Daddy already had the NICU drill down – sign in, scrub in. I followed his lead, trying my best to clean my hands with IVs hanging from my arm. He pushed my wheelchair into your tiny room, where your NICU Momma Lisa was already there loving on you. She lowered your bed so I could get my first glimpse at you. I slowly reached my hand through the tiny porthole of your Plexiglas home and touched your tiny fingers. Tears welled and streamed down my face. You were so beautiful – and so tiny. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. But there you were. You clearly had a different agenda. Your birth set the tone for the spirit you carry with you today: small, but MIGHTY. Tough, but loving. Wild and free. Full of LIFE and ready for life’s next adventure – even if your mom and dad aren’t ready. You clearly have your own timeline and march to your own drum. Your contagious laughter and independence are going to carry you so far in life, my sweet girl – I just hope daddy and I can keep up with you! I don’t know why you have had to endure so much in your short two years, but I do know that there is NOTHING you can’t overcome. You have captured the heart of so many – and you have so many angels flying on your shoulders, watching over you, protecting you when we can’t. I often think about how I will tell you about your birth and tumultuous first year of life. I still don’t have the answer, but I don’t think I have to. You will let me know when you are ready. You will lead the way in your own life – just as you always have. Marjorie Mims, you are a shining example of what life is about. Perseverance, discovery, love, hope and faith. May this year be filled with tons of laughter, Minnie Mouse, wagon rides, black beans & cheese (lots of cheese), dancing, singing, sparkly & squeaky shoes, hair bows, big brother tackles, friends and HEALTH. You are my hero. You and your big brother are my heart and my light. I prayed long and hard for you. I dreamed about you before you even kicked your way into this world. I thank God every day for not only blessing me with a baby girl, but a feisty one who is going to be a world changer. You’ve already changed my world for the better. I know this isn't the birthday we planned on. Hurricane Matthew drove us out of our home, but we are together - and that is all that matters. You continue to teach us that no matter what curveball life throws us, we will march on - and we will do it with laughter and love. The world is your oyster baby girl and I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for you! Happy happy birthday my precious angel. Here is to the best year yet and prayers that your daddy and me can keep up with you! We love you, peanut!

    Faith, Family, Health
  • Posted on August 25, 2016 11:26 am
    McCall Dempsey
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    10am. My sweet Lola is curled up in my lap as I write. In a few hours, I will give her a final hug and kiss. My precious baby, my first baby. Her body is tired and I can't bear to watch her suffer anymore. Even Lilly, our bulldog, knows it is time. She is mushed so close to me, facing outward as if protecting her big sister for what is to come. She gently turns her head every minute or so, checking on both Lola and me. We are still here...for now. Dogs are funny that way. They can always sense our emotions and foresee things we can't. Lola has been next to me through my darkest days, witnessing me suffer more pain first hand than anyone else. Born on Jordan's birthday, July 10, Lola came into our lives 2005. My mom and GaGa picked Lola up from the breeder in the midst of Hurricane Rita. When GaGa first laid eyes on Lola, she knew she was mine. GaGa scooped her up in the pink fleece blanket she had sewn the night before. The same pink blanket she is wrapped in now. Jordan convinced my mom and dad to get me a dog because he knew I was lonely. He was on the road playing professional golf and I was working in Jacksonville, Florida. My social life was non-existent because of my intense work hours as a production assistant at the PGA Tour. But unbeknownst to Jordan and everyone else, what was really crushing my social calendar was my eating disorder and deep depression.  Lola bounced into our condo and into our hearts in September 2005. She was ours and we loved her so. We celebrated her first Christmas and birthday just like we did our two legged babies. Lola basked in our love and gave it all back ten fold. In those dark moments of my life, when I didn't want to exist anymore, Lola would curl up next to me, licking my face, reminding me how loved I was. Whether slumped on the bathroom floor or in a puddle of tears in my closet, Lola was always there. She was the only one I would allow in to see me, to see the real me...the hurt, the pain, the despair. And when I returned from treatment, there she was...climbing and kissing all over me as if to tell me how proud she was of me. She and Lilly joined me on every afternoon walk and gave me the courage to stay steadfast on the path of recovery. From our wedding day to babies to every move in between, our Lola has been the mascot through it all. While Lilly receives much attention for her hilarious antics, Lola is boss lady. Lilly always acquiesced when Lola went to steal her food. There is no doubt Lola is the queen of our house. She will forever be the queen. My mom just called and squeaked out through her tears how hard it is to have a dog because you know you will inevitably have to say goodbye. She lost her dog Zoe years ago and vowed never to get another pet, the loss was too great. I disagree. What is the cliche saying, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." Pretty fitting for today. I would care for, clean and tell Lola goodbye a thousand times over, if it means I get another eleven amazing years with her. Lola took a turn for the worse in June. We thought we were going to have to put her down then. After a lengthy discussion with my best friend's mom (who recently put down two of her fur babies) and my vet, we decided to try one last Hail Mary. The steroids worked and gave us nearly two good months with her. But now it is time. Today, I did not have to call and ask questions or Google, "How to know when it is time to put your dog down." I knew because Lola told me so. Lola has not eaten in days. She no longer has control of her bowels. And most of all, her breath is labored. As I gave her another bath this morning, she looked me in the eyes and told me it was time. She is tired. I scooped her out of the bath, wrapped her in a warm blanket and said, "Okay. I hear you this time. Thank you for keeping this crazy zoo in line. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. You will always be mine. This is not goodbye. I love you always and forever." 1pm. She is now gone. My sweet Lola left this earth wrapped in the blanket Gaga first scooped her up in. She left feeling the warm touch of Jordan and me and hearing us tell her how much we love her. She left in peace. Before we left for the vet, I knelt down to let Lilly give Lola one last sniff and kiss. But rather than focus on Lola, Lilly looked up and gave me a big kiss as if to say, "It is okay, Momma, you're doing the right thing. She is tired. It is time." Lola always loved riding with her head out the window. Today she was too weak to lift up, so I held her up just like she's held me up throughout the years. The sunshine beamed down on her precious face and the wind blew her hair. One last ride with my LolaBean. Dogs are worth every expense, chewed shoe, house mess and heart ache. They know our souls, our spirits and love us unconditionally. You really don't know love unless you've known the love of a furry companion. It is a love like none other. I thank God for giving me so many wonderful years and memories with Lola. I write this in shock that she is gone. Her empty bed next to my desk. While my heart is absolutely shattered, I am at peace knowing Lola is no longer in pain. And most of all, I find solace in knowing that all dogs go to heaven. Fly high my sweet Lolabean. Love you always and forever.

    Eating Disorder, Family, Live Life
  • Posted on August 22, 2016 1:56 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    Just over a week ago, my beloved hometown of Baton Rouge was practically washed away in one of the worst floods in US history. My 93-year old grandmother and mom were stranded on the interstate for over 30-hours. Some of my dearest friends and their families have lost absolutely everything. While my friends spent the last week escaping floods and ripping out floors and drywall, I was on the beach with my family. Manning would laugh with delight as the salt water washed away our sand castles. I did my best to stay in the moment with him, but my heart was breaking for the people who witnessed the water washing away their actual homes. Today, as my family and I sink back into routine life, I can't help but think of those in Louisiana who would pay anything to find routine and normalcy again. The sadness hit me this morning. Tears fell and my heart started to absorb the hurt and the distance that stands between me and the town I love. My Facebook stream is flooded (pun intended) with pictures of devastation, but more so, pictures of the best of humanity, of a community rising above a terrible summer and historic devastation. Yes, that is my Baton Rouge. These are MY people. There is no black or white, young or old, rich or poor. It isn't every man for himself - it is everyone together, rising above. It is what we, in Louisiana, do best - we rise, we conquer, we celebrate. Because even on the rainiest days and the darkest nights there is still something to celebrate: life. My mom and grandmother still found friends and a reason to toast, despite being hot and on the side of an Interstate. We rise. We are unBRoken. I am carrying that spirit with me today, as I made Marjorie's first oncology appointment at our new hospital in Savannah. We haven't set foot in a clinic in two months - and it has been oh so nice. It knocked the wind out of me to say her diagnosis aloud: neuroblastoma. Can I go back to the beach now? Back to the place where worries seem to wash away with our sand castles? I guess living in paradise would be nice, but it isn't real. Life is what is real. Life is what sucks sometimes. Life is what is hard. But life is also where you find the love, the joy and the people who make the sorrow all worth it. We will never know why things happen - and sometimes accepting that piece is the hardest of all. But what we can do is fight our way back - back to life, back to normalcy. We can choose to rebuild. As much as I don't want to take Marjorie to another Oncology clinic, I will. Because that is our normalcy. As much as my friends don't want to tear down the walls of their homes and rebuild, they will - because they will fight to regain their normalcy. The flood has forever changed all of our lives. Cancer has forever changed mine. But we rebuild, we reschedule and we march on. Because at the end of the day, there is so much we can't control. We can all learn something from my bayou kinfolk. We can spend our days asking ‘Why me?’ or we can choose to rebuild, finding faith in humanity, strength in ourselves and of course, always finding a reason to celebrate. So cheers, y'all! Cheers to life, love and LOUISIANA! Laissez les bon temp rouler! Forever and always unBRoken         Links on how to help friends and their families: Sarah Duncan Smith Mandie Tracy's Family Baton Rouge Flood Recovery Amazon Flood Registry  - run by my dear friend Carolina Grace Baton Rouge Area Foundation - Louisiana Flood Relief Fund Amazon Wishlist for Woodlawn Elementary School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Amazon Wishlist for Sherwood Academic Magnet Middle School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Flood Recovery Fund for Schools in Baton Rouge Junior League of Baton Rouge Diaper Bank Check my Facebook page for other ways to help! And please message me to add your family's link or others way to help <3

    Faith, Family, Inspiration