I don't even know what happened? We have dear friends that just found out their daughters cancer is back. She's not even three. I just had dinner with her mom who had just gotten back a clean report for Alice. It was just a headache the following week that lead to this. They thought they were in the clear. They already endured two years of treatment for her. It just breaks my heart. And sadly when it's your friends living it, there is so little you can do when it comes to little ones with cancer. An isolating situation becomes even more isolating for the family. I do not know what living that nightmare is like. As I've gotten farther from losing Jacob, I've come to appreciate more and more the blessing that he never suffered and we never had to watch him suffer. That was indeed a blessing and I know so many parents that have endured so much more than we did when Jacob died. I truly can't make sense of children with cancer. There just are no words. Please please pray for Alice and her family. Tell everyone you know to pray. Add her to every church prayer list you know of. It always seems so small to me in thought, to just pray, but I know that it works because otherwise I wouldn't have survived burying a child. It's the only explanation I have. People prayed us through it. I felt it and know God's immeasurable grace and love is what gave us the strength to keep living after he was gone.
As we've been trying to adjust to our unexpected homeschooling endeavor, I have found it very hard to find time to actually write, much less sit anywhere long enough to write, but I've had oodles of time to ponder things. One thing in particular kept nagging at me. It was something that was said at the dinner I recently had with Alice's mom and some of our other girl friends. I've known these girls since the coffin maker and I began dating. One of my friends said to Alice's mom and I, "I don't know how you all do it. You are so strong." It stumped me. Literally, I didn't have a response. This statement always stumps me. What is the correct response? "Yes, I am strong"...no, that doesn't seem right. "Thank you?" no, that doesn't seem right either and on the other hand I can't deny it. I mean yes, I did find strength in time and that I guess explains why I am still here.
I'm almost certain the comment "You're so strong." it's one of those comments that all parents hear after surviving a child's death. I'd also venture to guess it's a common comment most parents get that stand by their children as they endure painful and lengthy cancer treatments. But think about it....I mean really think about it. Strength is an option in so many other aspects of life. You want to be strong, you go to the gym. You tell your kids when they lift a chair or some small object, "Wow! You are so strong!" Those are things that we ourselves control. We choose to workout and get strong to do "strong things". We choose to train for a marathon so we can be strong enough to run that marathon (I'm not speaking from experience of course...the last time I tried to run I thought my uterus might actually fall out). Strength, in normal life, is usually an option and something we choose and work towards so that when we are faced with said challenge we are strong and ready. But when it's something you are forced into, like surviving your child's death, strength is not mysteriously imparted upon you. You are forced to endure a nightmare without preparation, without adequate strength, without warning. What I felt was the complete opposite of strength. And to this day, strength is not the word that I would use personally. I think I understand the sentiment, but it still stumps me none the less. It is indeed one of the most, if not the most, devastating "event" I think a parent can endure, burying a child, but in no way was I "strong" enough to endure it when it happened. I survived it. I continued on in weakness. In a humbled personal understanding of the preciousness of time and of life. Most days are still a challenge for me, mainly because I have four kids under the age of six and a half and it's loud and there is usually someone always asking for something, crying, upset, hurt, requesting yet another snack, or looking for a missing shoe or pacifier. The heaviest of days were in the year following Jacob's death and they were by far the hardest of my life and my weakest days. Truly, sometimes my only goal was to make it to the next minute, and the one after that and so on. And like another loss mom I know said recently, no mother ever wants to hear that it was "God's plan" that her child die. It is unnatural and devastating to put it mildly to be separated from your child by death. I still am not sure that God's "plan" justifies Jacob dying or makes it any less painful...I just cringe inside every time someone says that. This does not mean that I don't believe in God or have faith. To the contrary. I don't know how I would be surviving still without my faith in God's ultimate plan that one day we will be reunited when He returns or I die whichever comes first. But, I truly believe it was the prayers of so many of you that I know and ones I've never met that heard what happened and prayed for us that gave us/me the strength to get through each painful minute. I truly could feel those prayers and in a way we can't understand or see, I know those prayers worked. I still feel the residual effects of those prayers and believe they continue to get me through life after Jacob's death and all the naturally hard days that come with motherhood in general.
There are days that bring me to my knees regardless of having lost a child. And I don't put down any mother that has a day like that who has never lost a child. I think all moms have truly humbling, weak days where it seems the next day may never come and the tantrum may never end and you may have just used up all your patience just surviving whatever your little one has chosen to dish out at any given moment and in any given location (grocery store anyone??!). But, having lost our Jacob and now knowing sweet Alice will again begin to endure another long road of treatment, isolated from all of us, I am reminded in my humbling mom moments, that I am blessed to have the humbling, bring me to my knees moments. These kids God gives us do not come with any guarantee, or warranty. This is a broken and fragile world and I thank Jacob and our Godson Silas who also passed away about a year ago, and now for Alice as she begins this arduous road, for reminding me to stop and be thankful for the chance I have to be frustrated at my kids who are playing outside by cleaning our dirty car with their hands and clothes, because, you know what, they can be outside. Alice can't. Amidst the crazy tantrum Elena had earlier this week where I truly wondered if indeed she was possessed and waited with slight concern that I may actually see a demon depart from her (this started because we asked her to stand up before Dan picked her up and that was NOT what she wanted to hear), amidst the tantrum, I was reminded and immensely grateful for the simple fact that she was able to have her tantrum at home, on her bedroom floor, in her pajamas, without any IV's inside her. She was not stuck in a sterile hospital room and neither were we. She would calm down and crawl into her bed with her sister and get to go to sleep (maybe an hour later after the crying stopped) but we would also leave (eventually) and go to our own beds. These hard days are blessings if we can remember to be grateful for the mundane hardness of just being a family. It's one of the biggest gifts and even I take it for granted still sometimes.
Sometimes it takes our own experiences to put things into perspective, and sometimes we see things more clearly through witnessing others endure their own experiences. I know losing Jacob gave me perspective on life in a very meaningful way. I am reminded now, by Alice, that time is so precious and to be cherished.
So to sum up, pray for Alice and her parents and family. If you are already praying thank you so much! As for our personal life, in the last few weeks I have found struggles in homeschooling but true blessings too. I feel tremendously blessed to have been given this time with Adam and I cherish it regardless of my increased lack of time to write and do "me" things. To see him learn and to help him learn are things I would not have experienced had he stayed in school. I didn't think I could do it, but you know, God did and He's helping us each day and Adam is really happy too and despite my disbelief he's actually learning! We joined a homeschooling group and he is learning, among many things, Latin declensions?? I don't even know what a declension is! I don't know what the future holds and quite frankly I don't want to, but for now, I'm very grateful for my time with my family and Alice has all my prayers and Jacob's from above too. Go hug your kiddos!
From these past few weeks...
From these past few weeks...
|Just fun times in the kitchen:)|
|Allie got a big girl bike from a neighbor and is very excited!|
|My sweet Ella, almost seven and a half months:)|