“I’m here at Target so I’ll be home a little late. Tell Katie I’m on my way. I’m picking up the prescription and anything they sell that will get her better. Enough is enough.”
I asked my mom whether I should buy the cute little elephant humidifier or the one that you can use with those Vicks vapo tab thingies.
“Cute is cute, but get whatever will WORK!” she replied. She then added “get those pads you put in the shower to steam up her bath time, too!”
It was “some day” in January and I’d been logging Kate’s symptoms, eating habits, bowel movements and sleep patterns for days. We’d seen the oncology team and pediatrician and thought we were onto something when he prescribed nebulizer treatments for likely asthma. That cold she caught in November hadn’t gone away.
I didn’t know that on that “some day” in January, Target didn’t sell what she needed.
This Target. OUR Target. It’s a sick day for me today and I went to pick up medicine and soup and stopped cold in my tracks at the sight of the shelf I pondered in front of almost two years ago. (That statement, “almost two years ago” is plenty enough to stop me cold in my tracks) but today, I was struck by something else. Something I don’t talk much about.
Those days. Those weeks leading up to the end. I had logged her eating habits, bowel movements and sleep patterns for days but really…it was weeks. I must have known, right? I must have been sure something was really wrong to write it down that way – as proof. Proof to show anyone who would listen. I consulted, I called, I acted. But I didn’t do what I should’ve, which was insist what my heart was screaming.
SOMETHING IS WRONG.
And see, here is where you’ll tell me I did everything I could and that there was no way I could’ve known. I’ll nod politely and I’ll say “I know, but guilt is part of grief” and we’ll move on.
But this is the truth. I will carry this with me for the rest of my life. I will know that I should’ve done more and I will tell Katie that I’m sorry every day forever because I let her down.
Somewhere in between those doctor’s offices and those shelves at Target, I knew. And I should have done something else. And maybe she would be here.
I can give you all of the childhood cancer awareness facts there are to give. But this? This is the fact that matters. Childhood cancer is the reason I am a mother without a child and why my arms, and my life, are empty. Childhood cancer is the reason that something as simple as a sick day can be a PTSD attack waiting to happen.
Childhood cancer robbed my daughter of roughly 80 years of her life. It’s too late now for hers. But it might not be for yours. And believe me. If someone had come up to me that “some day” in January 2016 and said “do something ELSE” maybe she would be here today.
Don’t be sorry. Be active.