I’m sitting here in my dining room with a rare hour to myself before I go to pick the kids up from school. The rain is pouring down outside my window, which tells me summer is over and I should be getting ready to hunker down for at least 6 months of nesting. Believe it or not, THAT sounds like heaven.
We’ve had a very eventful spring and summer. It’s been difficult and draining. Our family has been challenged in ways that I didn’t plan for…how could I? Our lives were turned inside out and upside down. But…here we are at the end…and I can’t help but feel grateful.
Two weeks ago, Dave and I went to see his oncologist. Although we knew the chances that the chemotherapy he received did not work were very low, those old feelings of worry and uncertainty still wormed their way into the pit of my stomach. Dave told me he was preparing himself for bad news. He was nervous, I could tell. I didn’t want to let him know I was feeling the same…so I smiled, held his hand and said “don’t be dumb…it’s going to be fine. It worked.”
To make a long story short – we got good news that day. Hell, we got the. best. news. possible. Dave’s tumour was gone…the medicine had worked. He was cancer free. We laughed, we cried, we kissed, we hugged. We rushed to get our beautiful kids and brought them straight out for ice cream.
“Remember the special medicine Daddy had to get for his cancer?” Dave said to them as we sat outside in the late-summer sun. “Well, it worked. Daddy is all better.”
Asher smiled and continued to lick his cone. I’m not sure he will ever fully understand what’s gone on in our family over the last few months. However, Cait is a different story. Before the words had fully parted her daddy’s lips, she had her arms thrown around his neck. It was the kind of hug where every molecule in her being was invested. Her eyes pursed tightly shut, her beautiful little mouth turned upwards into the most glorious of smiles.
There are moments that, as a parent, take your breath away. This was one of them. As I watched my husband and daughter embrace, my heart felt so incredibly full…and in that tiny moment, I realized I could feel grateful for everything that happened to us.
This doesn’t mean I don’t wish it never happened. Why would anyone want to go through it…but when something like this happens in your family, you don’t have a way around it. You have to go through it. The gift at the end is getting to look back and seeing what you learned along the way.
I learned that I can’t plan for everything. There are things in life that I will never (ever, ever, ever) have control over. I learned to be so grateful for my own health and the health of my family. So often, we take this for granted. I learned that I no longer have time for bullshit…or drama, or things that make me feel less than happy in general. I learned that I can’t do everything or please everyone…that I have to say no gracefully – and that I will feel better for doing it.
I learned that what matters most in life is my family. Our little party of four will be forever stronger because of this experience. It’s not something that’s tangible or necessarily apparent to someone looking in from the outside…but we know it. We know how lucky we are compared to others who have had cancer touch their lives. Luckier than those who have lost years of their lives to a battle, those who have lost loved ones and those who have had to look their children in the eyes to tell them that mommy or daddy isn’t going to get better.
“Dave is doing great.” Every time I say it, I can’t help but smile. Nevertheless, there is a little part of me that always remembers that this is not the case for everyone. There were others who visited the same oncologist that same day and got terrible, devastating news.
Finally, I’m not entirely certain that this is, in fact, the end of this journey. I feel like I may look back a year from now or even five years from now and realize that I have learned even more.
But, for today, I am grateful.