A big day came and went last week and in the midst of all our busy-ness I hadn’t had time to reflect on it until this quiet Monday morning. I just dropped the kids off, grabbed a hot cup of green tea and settled into my favorite spot at Heine Brothers coffee. Yoga class in 45 minutes. Aaaahhh. This is the life I am thankful to be living.
Last week Tuesday, February 8th, 2017 Bennett turned 9.
Apart from the consistent parental angst of watching your baby grow up (where does the time go???) this day carries a lot of emotion for me as it marks a time in our life when we were overwhelmed and scared, but also incredibly hopeful. I was diagnosed with cancer originally when I was 30 years old, 7 months pregnant. Together, Bennett and I endured biopsies, scans, lumpectomy, doctor appointments and 4 rounds of chemo. I remember sitting in the infusion chair for the first time watching toxic chemicals steam into my vein and feeling him kick. I had worked so hard to have a healthy, natural pregnancy – no diet coke, lots of leafy green veggies, water, and exercise. And then… chemo. Yet, through it all we had a deep seeded hope. We would get through it. Every step of the way there was talk of the end of treatment. Remission. The light at the end of the tunnel was brilliant.
On Bennett’s birthday friends and family surrounded us. It was a joyous celebration when he was born healthy and happy. Our hospital room was like one big party. (Despite the fact that I was completely bald and in the middle of chemo.) I was so thankful for him to be here. A complete relief to know he was safe and outside of my toxic body. Nine days after his birth I returned to chemo treatments. On his 3 month birthday I had a double mastectomy. I recently uncovered a journal I kept during this time and was reminded how hard those first months were.
“I feel like these first months of Bennett’s sweet life have been overshadowed by surgery and chemo fatigue. I have an empty disconnect not being the mother I want to be. Yet, through this we have laughed and cried with amazing friends & family. We are not alone. I know we will get through this.”
Now, this little miracle is 9. He is strong and courageous, kind and a problem solver. He loves soccer, basketball, fishing, swimming, hunting and reading. Yesterday he lay on top of me in the grass and looked for animals in the clouds. He holds my hand and wants me to read bedtime stories. He has a temper as fiery as his bright red hair. His nine years have been joyful – love and hope have shined much brighter than sickness or sadness.
But, now as I face metastatic breast cancer – this birthday is hard. Under my laughter there is a deep seeded fear of a day when I won’t be here to bring him breakfast in bed or look at his baby book together and tell him the story of the day he were born.
This past week I had a short fuse. I was anxious. I realized I was overwhelmed by change- the emotions of Bennett’s birthday mixed with the major Hope Scarves office move.
As I faced these big changes I was really sad for days gone by. I am grateful for all the amazing times in the Hope Scarves office and the pure joy of raising Bennett. But I am sad that these experiences are behind me. I want to freeze time- to go back and live in those magical moments again. I am afraid of the future.
The crazy thing is the longer I live with MBC the better I have felt and the stronger my body has become. I am one of the lucky ones. As time marches on there are moments I forget I have cancer. I actually care about everyday things like car shopping (time to trade in the minivan) and redecorating. Other days I feel like a ticking time bomb. Like something inside me is just waiting to go off and destroy the stability I’ve cautiously become accustom to.
I work through these changes – I acknowledge they bring me angst. In the acknowledgement I find peace. And in the peace I find laughter, gratitude and love and allow these feelings to exist with my pain. I don’t know how long I will live- but I know I have the power to live the very best life possible. We are raising our children right now. Not in the past, or the future. Right here. today. We are building Hope Scarves – one day at a time. I may be broken, but that doesn’t mean I can’t live each day in a way that makes me whole. This is true for each of us.
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.