Saturday night I was laying in bed trying to figure out why I couldn’t sleep, what was keeping me awake and it sure wasn’t because I wasn’t tired. All week it’s been a weird feeling, like I’m waiting on something…a thing I should know but can’t quite put my finger on. Wrestling with my pillow Sat night, it was a did-i-leave-the-stove-on-is-the-door-locked-what-the-heck-is-wrong! kind of feeling.
Then it hit me.
It’s July 13th.
We mark so many monumental days throughout the year. Our anniversary, birthdays, holidays. THIS monumental day sucks. This is the day, two years ago that we found out Peyton had cancer. It’s Peyton’s port’s second birthday. Bring on the candles, right?
I went to bed on the 12th the mom of 3 healthy kids, I didn’t go to bed on the 13th because I was sitting next to a hospital bed counting the hours until we’d wheel Peyton down for surgery.
On the 12th we went to the pediatrician, confident in his ability to take care of whatever simple ailment was causing her fever. On the 13th I had a team of doctors with specialties I could barely pronounce saying words I didn’t understand about something I couldn’t comprehend.
It never even occurred to me that my daughter could get cancer on the 12th. It was my every thought on the 13th.
The 13th marked a day that transformed our lives.
I was talking to a friend today and explaining that I can’t remember anything about the days leading up to her diagnosis. It’s as if everything leading up to that moment just fades away unless it is in direct relationship to her cancer. Did I not recognize a sign, a symptom? How did I not see that she was really sick? How could we not KNOW she was in mortal danger, her body already losing a battle against this disease?
Yet every moment of the 13th is crystal clear, each breath and thought etched on my brain. I remember all the prayers and tears on the drive to the hospital, I kept turning around to look at her, convinced we would get there and it would be a mistake. I remember the feel of Pete’s hand holding mine, clammy, desperate, just like mine. Trying to reassure each other that it was all wrong, there was no way this could be. I remember those phone calls, telling people to pray…just pray and pray and pray.
It’s impossible to forget the absolute knowledge in Dr. B’s voice when he told me it WAS Leukemia, there was NO mistake, and they WERE sure. How I laid over her little body, wanting to protect her from all of this, pretending that if she didn’t hear it that it was a lie, and I cried and sobbed until the nurse told me to stop because I was scaring her. I also remember how every fiber of my being wanted to sucker punch that nurse. This is my baby, my child, she is part of my body and heart and soul. I GET to cry! I GET to rage against this disease. I GET to mourn for the life we had before this day.
That room, that smell, all that noise. Watching all the needles and tubes, the bags of unknown substances hanging from poles that led into my baby’s body. That look in her eyes that said she was scared and hurting and knowing she saw the answering fear in mine. The way she clung to me, her fingers tangled in my hair, the way she fell asleep clutching my fingers.
That night of the 13th was the longest of my life.
We have come so very far since then. But every day I wake up, I’m still that mom in the hospital, full of uncertainty and fear. I am constant in prayer. That is not just a phrase I use, not just a quaint thing to say. I AM CONSTANT in prayer. For my child, for my children, for my family, for the many families and children we know, for the doctors and nurses that treat them, for each hand that reaches out to support and encourage. I AM CONSTANT in prayer.
God got me through the 13th. Through the 14th. Through the 15th and each and every day that followed. I know that He guides the days to come. That’s why I’m able to get up and get out of bed….notice I didn’t say anything about showered or dressed…and move.