I Let Myself
The first time I experienced true heartache was when I lost my uncle while I was a senior in high school. He had a sudden heart attack and it left my family crushed. We are still healing. The most devastating moment in my life was when my daughter, Lucy, was diagnosed with cancer. That’s no secret. We continue to have highs and lows as we worry about her chemo late effects, which are hearing loss (she wears a hearing aid), loss of strength in her lungs (no signs of loss yet) and the possibility of leukemia (yes, a side effect of chemo is another type of cancer).
I’m not naïve to heartache anymore. The idea of “this can’t happen to me,” does not exist in my world. Bad things will happen. It’s not if, it’s when. That’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s difficult to keep your head held high. It’s difficult to put a smile on some days. It’s difficult to console others when they are going through tough times. So how do we all do it? How do we get through life when life can be heartbreaking?
This is my secret. I let myself cry. I let myself be mad. I let myself Google those bad “what ifs” until I’m blue in the face, so I can close my eyes to get rest. I let myself feel every feeling I have and not bundle them up. I’ve learned that if I bundle them up and push them down deep in my gut, I will explode at the most inappropriate times. I’ve learned that I will push the people I love away and I will not welcome new people in my life. I let myself feel. Then, I allow myself to live and experience the beauty in life.
So we play with babies. We swim in the pool. We have dance parties in our pajamas. Yes, we even play T-ball.
My husband and I noticed a spot on Lucy’s eye last September. Well, let’s be honest, I noticed this spot on her eye when she was a baby. That’s what mamas do. We inspect our children. We know every inch of them. We know them better than they know themselves. This spot looked like extra skin in the outer corner of her eye. I noticed last September that it grew to be more like a bump or bubble. I showed her late effects team at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. After a few visits with eye doctors, we were told that it would need to be removed, but they are not concerned of malignancy. It’s just another fluke thing that Lucy has in her life. This procedure is an outpatient surgery and it will take place on June 13 – the day after she turns four-years-old. It’s three years and three days after an amazing surgeon removed the monster from her abdomen.
I’ve been preparing for this procedure for months now. I have 7 days left to prepare myself. It’s a simple procedure. She is only sedated due to her age. They doctors are not concerned about cancer. I have no reason to be scared – right? That’s what “they” tell me. I’m still heartbroken. So how am I getting through it? I’m letting myself be heartbroken. I’m letting myself Google when I want to, because it makes my mind rest after I’m done. I let myself cry in the shower when I crack. I let myself be mad at the situation because it’s a sucky situation. I have to let myself feel – because I’ve got to get over it for Lucy. I got to take care of my baby girl on that day. If I don’t feel now, I will feel it that day when Lucy needs her Mommy to be strong.
Lucy turns 4-years-old on June 12. She has her procedure on June 13. She will have her yearly check-up on June 15. This is the life of a pediatric cancer survivor. This is the life of a mom of a pediatric cancer survivor. This is life because she is ALIVE! God's got this.