Friday, February 13, 2015


Tonight I was sitting around the house, killing time on Facebook while sitting next to my daughter who was snoozing on her lounge pillow on our sofa and someone posted a link to this blog that was published by a father who lost his daughter to cancer today.  I clicked over because I felt curious for some reason, and I started to skim the history of his journey with his daughter's cancer battle.  It was simultaneously real and heart wrenching.  As I read, I realized that this parent lives in my area.  He teaches at a school near where I live.  His daughter was being treated in the hospital my daughter was born in.  I have no idea why, but that realization hit me in the gut like a punch.  It's easy to read these stories when they're happening somewhere else, when there's a way to assign a sense of "otherness" to it.  Seeing names of places I know, places I've been, knowing how truly close to home this hits left the weight of an elephant sitting on my chest.  I suddenly felt myself working to fight tears as my heart felt like it was breaking for this family I have never met, and their children I do not know.

As I skimmed through their two years of blogs that chronicled the journey of fighting brain cancer in a child who was diagnosed at just two years old, I kept glancing over to my daughter and wondering how I would handle the situation.  I read the author's loving and tender words about his wife, who shouldered the brunt of the responsibility for caring for their daughter and managing her treatment and I find myself wondering if I could take on a situation like that without cracking.  Hell, I'm dealing with a newborn and there have been points where I've been on the verge of breaking over something as trivial as an infant crying, so how on earth would I handle a two year old fighting the side effects of chemotherapy?  The vomiting and weakness, the pain.  I don't know that I'm the sort of person who could do jump into the fray and take up a sword aside my sick child and shoulder the fight with her.  I know that you never know what you can do until you're in a situation, but it makes you wonder.  It makes you realize that even when you feel super human, you're not nearly as super human as someone else who has been tested in hotter fires than you.

It also made me feel like such a jerk for being worn down by the struggles I've faced with my daughter.  In the big scheme of things, these are so trivial.  I sit here, blogging about how unconditional love can be hard when your child is screaming for no reason, but how hard must it be when you have a child fighting a battle like cancer and you're cleaning up vomit for the tenth time in a day, or changing soiled bed linens every few hours?  It has to be so much harder, and yet there are people who manage it with a grace and dignity that I feel like I haven't been able to muster, and that makes me feel pathetic.  For each thing I might complain about in this parental journey I'm on, I imagine these parents would kill to have their daughter around doing the exact things I complain about.

It puts so many things in perspective, and while I know I'll still falter and I'll still have my moments of weakness, and they will probably be plentiful, I also know that I don't have it so bad.  Right now, I'm looking at my daughter as she sleeps.  She's peaceful, she's beautiful, and right now she's a perfectly healthy little baby.  I am so very lucky.  Imagining her going through something as difficult as a serious illness, or worse, losing her to one is among the worst things I can think of.  The idea is crushing, and it brings tears to my eyes.  So, when I start to get too much in my own head, I need to remember how easy I have it, and how lucky I am.


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