Regardless, I felt the following important to share... as it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September) and I want to continue educating people on ALL facets of childhood cancer.
A mother's perspective...
It has been 1,260 days since our journey with childhood cancer began. In that time an estimated 54,180 children have been diagnosed. Roughly that many families have had their worlds turned upside down. These families have joined a brotherhood they NEVER imagined they would be a part of.
Last night we watched some family videos. The kind that depicted our children when they were small, had a scant vocabulary, and were wildly curious about life and their boundaries. They were precious videos packed with wonderful memories and priceless imagery.
However, for me, cancer has tainted these videos retroactively. Did you know it could do that? Well, it can. As I watched these clips I just kept thinking about how we didn't know what was coming. Did I soak up those moments enough? Did I place enough value on that time with my children? Did I wring out every ounce of joy I could from those seasons?
I can feel the tears coming as I type this.
I look at some videos of Sawyer at 4... 5... 6...7 and how his life changed when we brought Dempsey home. He was almost 4 1/2 when Dempsey came. Sawyer had a normal childhood. Rather uneventful, other than adding a sibling, two cats, and accumulating 3 addresses. He went to birthday parties with no regard for sugar or germs. He played at parks with no hesitation. He never spent a day in the hospital... let alone a month. He went to preschool and Friday School (homeschool) without a care in the world. The worst thing was when he split his eyebrow open on a door jam and needed to have it glued at Urgent Care.
I watched videos of Dempsey at almost 3 years old. Vocabulary growing, wheels you could see turning in his head as he processed an answer to your question. My dear boy with those toddler teeth that I adore and miss so very much. His sweet little voice that would say words with exclamation because he KNEW the answer or wanted so desperately for you to see what he saw. So many clips of him in MOTION. Running, triking, Jeeping, etc. He has always loved to go fast. Those laughable moments when he can see himself in Daddy's camera (view finder) and he'd rather make faces than continue with his activity.
I watched and just kept thinking... we had no clue what was coming. We had no clue that the rug would be YANKED out from beneath our feet. We had no clue the kind of advocating that would be necessary to keep him healthy. We had no clue the things we would say "no" to that others would take for granted. We had no clue that it would take leaving CA to give us control of the journey and, ultimately, the rights every parent should have over their child.
A rush of sadness washed over me. My laughter and enjoyment of these sweet times captured on film turned to grief, and sadness, and anger. I resent cancer. I resent what it has stolen from me. I resent that it has tainted precious moments in the past that were perfect, real, and untarnished. I resent that grief still comes as I look back over Dempsey's childhood. He deserved more! He deserved what Sawyer was afforded.
I try to grieve when the waves come. I know it is wise to do it in its time so that suppressed grief doesn't explode out in an unexpected or awful way. I try to fight back the tarnishing of my memories and our sweet life pre cancer like people try to water a lava flow to stop it from advancing. I feel robbed. Cancer robbed my joy and it continues to try an keep joy at bay. Sometimes, when I'm in this state, praying is hard. I spend too much time trying to preserve things.
I am grateful for those videos. It is my heart's deep desire that I will be able to watch them one day without grief being attached... or at least without grief stealing the joy those moments held.
Cancer retroactively impacts a mother's memories.
Visual aide... from the movie Inside Out: