Eye on the prize
"I want to see it, Mommy, the bell, I want to look at it." So after ten plus hours of chemo, I rolled Taylor over to the bell and she just stared at it - the bell kids at Riley Hospital get to ring when they complete their chemotherapy. After a minute or so she said, "Ok, let's go." And we rolled away. My 3-year-old beauty was lounged back in her stroller, quiet, and seemed to be a million miles away. I buckled her into her car seat, and handed her the travel bucket in case she was sick. "Mommy.... that bell was so high....will my daddy lift me up to ring it?" she asked. "Of course he will, of course," I managed to say. She drifted off to sleep, and I cried the whole way home. Is that what she was thinking about? Worrying about? I love her.
A few weeks earlier I noticed a teen oncology patient really watching us, Taylor and me. It was hard to read his face behind his mask, but his eyes almost looked like tears were threatening to spill. I smiled, and we headed back to the infusion room. Later that same day I stepped outside of Taylor's curtain after she recovered from a melt down. I took a deep breath, and before I could turn to walk back in I heard, "She won't remember this..." and looked up to see the teen. "I was little when I started, and I only remember what people told me." It was so comforting, so kind, so heartbreaking all at the same time.
I feel out of sorts...this past year I have lived moment to moment, treatment to treatment, scant to scan. I think back to the bump, the pokes, the surgery, the diagnosis, more surgeries, leaving our son Max, chemotherapy, kids living, kids dying, radiation...oh my gosh the hell of radiation, missing birthday parties, missing weddings, bad scans, good scans, isolation, and more chemotherapy. I can see myself dropping to my knees when she was diagnosed. I can see myself crying in the hospital bathroom until it was Chris' turn to go cry.
And in between all the heartache there was God's good grace, shining through, lifting us up, and carrying us through this nightmare. There have been friends and loved ones throwing us a life preserver when we were absolutely drowning. I can't wait to really rest, and let go of all this heartache. But most of all, I can't wait to watch our sweet girl ring that bell.
Is this really almost over? I felt a wave of guilt when a doctor sang out that we had just a few treatments left. A woman across from me looked at me and smiled, but I could see the hurt in her eyes. She wants her baby to be done too. All these kids are united by their disease, their bravery and their will to live. No child deserves it more than another. They are all equally entitled.
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