Dear Tessa: Fight like a girl

Dear Tessa,

I remember sitting in this very spot writing you your first letter on this page.  That was a tough one to write.  Luckily they got more easy with time.  Of course you helped with that, too.  I would be lying if I told you that I felt the same way about you now that I did back then. Because I love you a million times infinity plus one more today.  And well that, my dear, is a lot.

My biggest fears about your future used to be about how you would grow outside of your Down syndrome diagnosis in this world.  I no longer worry about that.  I haven’t for a long time.  Actually that old fear makes me laugh a little at the fact that I ever worried about you making your mark here, because you already have.  But sometimes the world throws stones that can shatter even the strongest of glass.

I really never wanted to have to write you this letter.  One month ago you were diagnosed with leukemia–acute megakaryoblastic leukemia to be exact.  But here I am fighting the knots in my stomach that happen every time I pair that word with your name.  We knew this day was coming.  And in a way, I feel like you knew too.  When you were eventually admitted to the hospital you were cool as a cucumber.  Normally this sort of activity would send you spiraling into a panic, but not that day.  You sat calm on your daddy’s lap and let everyone do their job.  Your dad and I agreed that we felt as though you knew you were in a place where you could finally feel better.  While we were terrified, you weren’t scared at all…not even a little.

You have adjusted so well to the major changes in your life.  You have a central line placed in your chest that hangs freely from your body.  For three straight weeks you lived in a hospital; sometimes confined to your room only.  You got sick from your chemo.  You lost your hair.  You should have complained, you should have cried all night every night.  But you hardly complained and you slept like an angel.  You had every right to be mad at the world, but instead you embraced the world around you.  And when I was falling apart, it was you who made it better.  It is supposed to be the other way around, you know!

Your baby sister and big brother miss you when you are in the hospital, but we make sure that you see each other.  They are being tough, too.  Now that you are home for a few days, the three of you have been inseparable.

I just want you to know that right now this fight is far from over, but you have shown leukemia just who it is up against.  You are the bravest babe I know.  I also wish you knew that you can rely on us to be brave for you when you are unable to be brave for yourself. You are the strongest person I know.  Your dad and I…well we will always be strong for you, too.  But damn are you stubborn.  I guess that means there is a lot of fight in you.

As long as you keep calling the shots, you are going to rock this!  Some day we will look back rejoicing that these days will be behind us.  We will celebrate cancer-free anniversaries right up there with birthdays.  

I am so proud of you beautiful girl.  You keep proving that you don’t have to be big to be strong.

Just keep swimming 🙂

Love, Mom

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