Kevin & I were coming out of Union Station this morning on our way to work when a woman tapped me on the shoulder.  You could see that she was taking a chance, she clearly had something to say. She said to me, “I ride the train every morning with you and I have noticed you. I’ve noticed your hair growing more each day.” She then pointed to her own short hair. She said, “I’m cancer free, one year next week.”

It melted my exhausted heart. I freaking love the courage of a cancer survivor. So much. I love that she took a chance on me. I love that her hair looked so cute and I loved hearing that hers too came back curly and a different color. I love that she shared that she gets her cute look by straightening it. Lord knows I’m helpless in the fashion/hair department.

We went a little deeper and we exchanged what types we battled. She looked at me and said, “You’re just so young. So young.”

She then asked me such a simple question, with such a soul-warming smile on her face and with the most genuine look of concern,
“…but you’re good?” 

It felt like 5 minutes but I’m sure it was a 2 second pause. Am I good? Will I ever be good again? No, I’m not good, this life is so unfair. Yes I’m good, there’s so much good happening despite it all. Such a simple question. And simulatenously in that moment, I was processing how I felt so understood, so accepted, so encouraged by just those few words. After all, this lady gets it! She gets that pause. She gets the million ways to take it. She knows the journey.

I blurted out, “Yes. I’m good. Thank God, I’m good,” because good to a cancer survivor means one thing: being cancer free. And suddenly you’re hit with perspective. No problem, no hurdle, nothing can touch that. How easy is it to forget how lucky you are to BE cancer free. To be alive. To get to have “normal problems.” I found myself lost for words after, as we parted ways into the seas of CHI commuters hustling to work. 

The past two weeks have been a horrible flashback to how this all started for us. Nothing is wrong and I am healthy (!), but a PAP done during my scan appointment returned as showing abnormal cells. I got a phone call while at work. Holy deja vu! What was completely lost in translation and what would’ve been really nice to know before that phone call is that this is totally normal because the damage from radiation causes it. (In fact, some doctors don’t even do PAPs after treatment for awhile because of this.) So yes I’m horribly downplaying the experience, but all that matters is I’m fine, I’m good, all is well. However, add that to things you don’t do to a cancer survivor! And thanks to my good friend Ashley for taking the brunt of that reaction. ❤

So yeah, I have a million reasons to not be good. I have a millions reasons to ask why, or to be angry and don’t get me wrong, God gets a lot of that from me. But He also gets a ton of thanks from me for the exact reason that this woman was sent to me today: I’m alive. I’m healthy. I’m good. He seems to always get through to me when I need it most! Good is relative, good is what you make of it and good is not to be taken for granted. 

And what else is really, really good? We are officially on profile for adoption. Our book is live, as well as our online profile, as of this week. I’ve seen so many of you share it on Facebook already and you don’t know how much that mean to us! Quite the journey, eh? We pray for that baby out there that God has created to be ours & we also pray for that baby’s Mom, whatever her journey might be. We can’t wait for the day that our paths cross and change all of our lives forever. We so, so, can’t wait. 

So here’s to being good. And keeping the faith! And here’s also to that courageous survivor & her one year anniversary! 

Having Hope

I’ve created a new tradition for myself – Saturday morning boxing class followed by a solo trip to Panera for a soufflé and a coffee. Yep, I’m one of those that exercises to even out the calories I consume, instead of working out to ya know, get in better shape. I wish somebody could motivate me to eat healthy! But egg, cheese & bread, you can’t beat it.

I’ve found myself needing alone time more and more these days. Sometimes I just need to reflect. Sometimes I just need the quiet. Sometimes it’s because I just don’t have the energy to let anyone in that moment. Sometimes it’s just easiest to sit and be quiet. 

I think I had this idea in my mind that if I could get through Hallie’s due date and then the stretch of Mother’s & Father’s Day and then my birthday, (and ya know, beating cancer in all of that), I’d somehow find a peace with this new life of mine. I understand (I think?) that normal will never be normal again, but I had this hope that something would feel better. I’m not sure what that meant, but I kept my focus on, “just make it to July.” And then I woke up one morning this week and it hit me like a brick wall, last year at this time, I was pregnant. 

And here we go again. I laid in bed for a good 10 minutes as I played it all out.

I realized in a week is my best friends wedding anniversary, where we arguably took our first family photo without even knowing it. 

And then we came home, and I surprised Kevin with the news. 

And then we spent all of August telling our families and best friends.

And then we spent September going to our first appointments, starting to stockpile the cutest onesies, talking baby names, and for me, throwing up a lot, ha. We threw around so many ideas of how to announce to the world we were pregnant. Kevin was insistent on a literal picture of a bun in the oven or a jar of Preggo. His humor is something else. We settled on the most adorable pair of Chicago Bears shoes next to our puppies paws. They’d all be best friends after all. 

And then October came, and we started pinteresting nursery ideas. I had to crush Kevin’s dreams of elaborate murals – like either of us have that type of talent! For once I was the simple one. It’s weird the things you remember. I remember texting my mom on my bus ride one morning something along the lines of, “we only have five months left, that’s so soon!” 

And then October 20th. 

And then….

When I played all of that, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. Again. There is no “get to” date. Every day I wake up will be spent re-living this nightmare over & over. I’m not sure I can describe the emptiness in that reality.

I try to balance that weight with hope. Hope that something has to give. Hope that we will get that call sooner than later that a mom has chosen us to be the parents of their child. Hope that cancer never crosses our path again. Hope that God really did have to send Hallie to save me, hope that her life wasn’t in vain, hope that I will hold her one day. Hope that this isn’t just an “unfair” situation for nothing, that something has to come of it. I don’t think I ever knew before this how much having hope is a choice. Hope doesn’t happen naturally. Faith, is a choice. I’ve learned that you don’t claim faith or hope once in life and you’re covered. True faith, true hope, you choose over and over and over. Fear, doubt, guilt those are the natural emotions. And they will crush you over and over if you let them. They are the devil! Faith, hope, it’s a choice you have to make in the darkest moments in order to get out of the darkest moments. It’s hard work! And hard isn’t exactly something you want to take on, but I try. I try over and over. Some days I feel like I’m doing ok at it all and other days I feel like I’m failing miserably. I wear a simple bracelet every day that my mother in law gave me that simply reads Hope to remind myself that I’m here, I’m alive, God has a plan for me, and that even though everything hurts like hell, there is hope in the reason that I am here. There just has to be something more to all of this.

Our schedule as of late, I’ve tried to outrun, overplan & overdo to beat the emotions that happen when things slow down. But I’m also forcing myself in these alone times to slow down and work through them. I know I have too. I appreciate the continued prayers as I continue to try to navigate it all. Pray that I can continue to see that there is hope, there is a reason for all of this and everything this body of mine has endured since 10/20 will be for something.