Six words that helped me alter my perspective on how we were going to deal with the blow we’d just received about Kate’s cancer. This is courtesy of my friend, Michele, who I haven’t seen since she graduated a year before me in high school. I don’t know if she realizes the powerful impact of what she said to me back in those early days but it made a real difference.
I was consumed with fear and sadness over what our little girl was facing and I was absolutely “there.” It’s an ugly place…”there.” It feels dark and uncertain and as if I’d never have another happy thought again. It felt a lot like what I imagine the dementors felt like for Harry Potter. (Nerd alert.) Every time I looked into her tear-filled eyes as they were taking blood, accessing (or de-accessing) her port, I felt like that exact despair is exactly what I was going to feel for the rest of the time we are fighting this. When I finally started to feel accepting of our new future, she got sick and didn’t eat for DAYS. She lost weight and energy and again, I was smacked in the face by “there.”
I don’t know if it was just time I needed to soak this all in, or knowledge (what with it being power and all) but after a while, it started to not hurt to eat or think or hear some other new statistic or treatment plan. I started being more accepting of this role I’d taken on that I never wanted and that allowed me to feel a bit of peace. It allowed Michele’s words to start to really MEAN something. I knew I couldn’t stay. I went, I did my time and it was time to pack up and head to a brighter place. Kate needed and deserved the very best of us. She wakes with smiles and she deserves to have parents who greet her with the same. She giggles and plays and she has moments where cancer is NOT the only thing in her life. We deserve to have moments like that, too. She needs to look into my calm eyes when she’s scared and she needs to believe my reassuring voice when I tell her it’s going to be okay.
We’ve had people tell us how strong we are and that we’re amazing parents. We’re not. We have a lot of weakness in this situation, I assure you. We still feel pain and fear. I’m terrified of having these last two weeks “off” and how Kate will handle the next two weeks. Every oral medication dose causes me actual pain in my chest. But I no longer stay there. We are just two parents who love each other and our child more than anything can really describe. Just like you. We aren’t amazing. We are just doing the best we can with what we can. Just as you would. As the saying goes, “you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”
That’s where we are today. We aren’t “there” anymore and we’re on our way to wherever that brighter place is. There are a whole lot of great things on that path; we just now have a bit of a clearer perspective to realize it.