Today is my Mom’s birthday. Happy Birthday! I texted her this morning asking if it feels good to be another year older & wiser and she replied back saying, “this year feels like ten!” Yes it does!
For those of you that know my Mom, she is many, many incredible things. She raised six incredibly strong-willed kids for crying out loud, all of which think they’re: 1.) always right 2.) the most competitive & 3.) the funniest, so please imagine how loud that house was growing up! Among those incredible things, My Mom has a battle-tested heart when it comes to losing a child and because of that, a heart of compassion like no other. She’s also incredibly wise. She gives the best advice at the most needed times.
When we had that first procedure done on a Friday that led to the Monday appointment with the oncologist, my Mom called us on Sunday, asking to drive us to that appointment. I remember saying a few times, “No, it’s ok! Save your day off for a baby shopping day!” “Why burn a day of PTO on a doctor’s appointment that surely can’t be anything?” She insisted. No where in our minds was cancer an option, it’s kind of funny how naive we were, to be honest.
But they say a mother just knows.
My Mom waited in the waiting room as we were called back for the procedure. Some day I’ll blog about that experience (awful). Fast forward 15 minutes and in front of 4 residents, a nurse and the doctor, Kevin and I were told it was cancer, we’d lose our baby & we’d never have children of our own. I could barely get past the first syllable of “cancer,” let alone understand the latter two consequences. I remember Kevin was behind me, holding me. I remember feeling really small in what felt like a really big room.
The nurse asked if that was my Mom in the waiting room and if I wanted her.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
They brought my Mom in and while I’ve never asked her what it must’ve felt like seeing our faces, I can only imagine. The doctor brought her up to speed, she sat down and grabbed my hand. We cried, and cried. I don’t even know if there were questions asked. There was nothing to understand at that point.
We walked out of the hospital, got lost in the wrong parking garage, got into the car and paid entirely too much for parking. Shell shocked. There was silence. And then I asked, “So, what do you do now? Do you eat? Do you go shopping?” We laughed. But seriously, what do you do?!
We found a diner. We ordered french fries, which have become a staple in our beat-cancer diet. We laughed a lot at that lunch, somehow, someway. Kevin and I started discussing head coverings & hats. I said I’d need an orange one, Kevin said I’d need a Hawks one and my Mom finally said, “Would you two stop?!” – clinging to hope that maybe that biopsy would show it isn’t cancer.
While it would’ve been easy to just let that lunch happen, my Mom didn’t. She had the foresight to know we would need so much help through this, starting now. During the meal my Mom said something to Kevin and me that has ultimately shaped how we’ve dealt with this. She said, “don’t get angry with each other.” Stick together even when everything seems impossible. I couldn’t have known at the time the magnitude of her wisdom.
Having now gone through surgery, a memorial service, radiation & four rounds of chemo, I can tell you this: I feel how cancer destroys a person. I feel how losing a child destroys a person too. I can understand how that can quickly spiral and quite frankly, it’d be fair to spiral. And because of that, I can see how cancer can tear apart a marriage and I can see how the loss of a child can destroy a marriage. Cancer alone is the most isolating, fear-mongering, beast there is. But then to lose your child AND be told you’ll never have kids of your own. That’s a LOT to be angry about. That’s a lot for a husband to be told, all of which he has no control over, but completely alters his life. That’s a lot of opportunity to burrow into a hole and shut the world out. That’s a lot of opportunity to throw up your hands and give up on everything, frankly. When you have such deep issues like these, it’s easy to make the person you’re closest too, your punching bag. It is sure a heck of a lot easier to be mad at someone, something tangible, than over a cancer diagnosis or the loss of your child. It’s a heck of a lot easier to let yourself go to anger then I think it is to let someone in and to work through what you’re actually angry at with them. I am grateful my Mom planted that seed on Day 1, because fighting each other simply never became an option.
There’s a reason this happened to me. There’s a reason it happened to us. There’s a reason Kevin and I are married. We took a vow on 12/21 and we got a crash course test on what those vows actually meant to uphold, whether we liked it or not. It’d be easy to crack and run. But Esther 4:14. “Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created.” We are in each other’s life to FIGHT this, to beat this, to support each other at our worst moments and to one day, God willing, have a family of our own. There’s a reason my Mom knew to drive us that day. There’s a reason she gave us that advice. There’s a reason we chose to act on that advice. There’s a reason that today, Kevin & I are at our most vulnerable point in life, we are battered, scarred and near rock bottom and yet we are together, fighting like hell everyday, with a marriage I am proud of. We have even found a way to laugh a lot, considering. We have found away to dream about the future, albeit a very, very different dream. We will have our bad days as we all do, but our commitment to sticking together has given me the peace I need in that area of my life so that I can focus all my energy on beating this cancer.
And when we do that, we will focus all our energy into adoption. And then we will focus all of our energy on being great parents. We can do all of that, because we have stuck together.
So thanks Mom. A mother’s wisdom is truly irreplaceable.
I asked my Mom not long ago if she just ‘knew’ that first appointment and that’s why she insisted on driving us. Of course she did. I love how fiercely my Mom loves and cares for me, for Kevin and for Hallie. She has stopped at nothing to get us through, one day at a time.
I know you’re going to kill me for posting this but I’ll take it. Kevin and I are going to be ok, in part because of you, Mom. We are all going to be ok.
I love you!