These are the Days
It was September 2011, how many times had I walked around this parking deck, excitedly anticipating the game? Much like the families are now, hanging out, tailgating before the football game. This parking deck has always been a place of fun, friendship, and sports. It never occurred to me that for some it was be a place of fear, desperation, sadness. Yet there I was in an alternate reality, heading into the hospital that shares parking with the university. I am coming back from visiting our 3-month-old son at home, a place we have not slept in weeks.
Our daughter was in critical condition and has been here for weeks. We now reside in the waiting room, sleeping on borrowed cots. We ate, slept, showered, cried, and prayed in the hospital. To walk outside was like being on another planet. It was alien to see people going about their daily lives. Working, driving, jogging, laughing, bizarre to consider that we once did these things.
Our days are spent watching a monitor that tells us if our baby girl is breathing or if the pressure in her head is too high. The numbers on the monitor are everything. The panic one feels when the alarms sound is enough to send you over the edge. How will we survive the daily reports of bad news and heartbreak? How are we supposed to be strong for our daughter, when we have been given no hope at all? Thankfully our faith was strong and the warmth of God’s love with us.
During that darkest season of our family’s life, it was difficult to appreciate or accept the things of this world. Food, fashion, books, sports, politics, news were all meaningless. I drove home daily to spend time with our son in utter silence. I could not longer bear pointless news commentary. Why weren’t they reporting on how many children are diagnosed ever year with some form of cancer (250,000+) and how many would lose their life (91,250)? Why isn’t it news that only 4% of all federal cancer research funding goes to pediatrics? Why weren’t they covering stories for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? The truth is, it was September and my daughter was near death because she had cancer and I had just been made aware of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and what yellow ribbons stood for.
Visiting home was the worst part of my day. Memories of my sweet, healthy, beautiful baby girl lingered around every corner of our home. I kept her door closed because I couldn’t bear seeing her room without her in it. Dark thoughts of her never returning to it broke my heart. While it was nice to visit my son, I was always reminded of how much time I was missing with him. The guilt of not being there for him and bonding with him made me so sad.
One day while driving back to the hospital, I noticed how beautiful the trees were becoming. The leaves were beginning to change as the summer heat lingered. I decided to try and fill the empty silence and listen to a cd. Van Morrison was in the player and I will never forget listening to the song, “These Are the Days.” It was as if I was being cradled in God’s loving light, a scared child being held by her father’s strong, caring arms. That song was speaking directly to my soul, that no matter what happened, it was going to be. Just be. Love, loss, beauty, wretchedness, it was life. We were alive! We got to live! We were given eyes to see so much beauty and hearts to feel so much love. If it weren’t for weakness, sickness, and death to confound the sweetness of God’s gifts, we would never see. Never appreciate.
At that moment, in my utter pain and devastation, I felt God’s love purely. It was a knowledge that Life and the beauty of it would go on in some way.
It’s September 2017, the leaves are beginning to change, but the summer heat lingers on. Our beautiful daughter and son are at school. They are happy and thriving. I never could have imagined a day like this six years ago. Thank God for love and answered prayers. Thank you, Van Morrison, for channeling God’s love into hopeful, soothing song. Thanks to the many family, friends, strangers who help us during this journey. The grace and love we have received will never be forgotten.
To the families out there who have been touched by cancer– you are not alone. There are so many others who have walked in your shoes. There are websites and Facebook groups that can provide many resources. There are foundations like Press On that are working to help find new treatments and even cures. No matter how bleak things may seem, there is ALWAYS hope! Just keep following the light.
P.S. Our goals for ACTION are so audacious they literally cannot be achieved without your help. For the entire month of September, every dollar donated to Press On ~ up to $250,000! ~ will be MATCHED for Target Pediatric AML (“TpAML”), a MOONSHOT project aimed at identifying genomic targets for pediatric Acute Myeloid Leukemia patients so that researchers can create specific, targeted treatments. These targeted ~ and consequently less toxic ~ treatments FOR KIDS are what Press On is all about! Please, if you are comfortable doing so, take just a few minutes of your time to DONATE NOW and SHARE today’s blog post on your Facebook page, or share via personal email with friends whom you believe have the passion to help us make a difference.
Thank you for supporting the Press On Fund!