On Friday Tessa was admitted to the hospital to begin her next round of chemotherapy. We were initially placed in the Bone Marrow Transplant unit because each room was full and we have since moved back out onto the main hall.
Today I find myself more emotionally sensitive to my surroundings. It could have started with waking to the snow falling freely outside our hospital picture window or the intense and painful cries of another child down the hall. Maybe it is watching a bag of poison constantly run through my girl’s body for hours on end. My emotional battery was fully charged when A Thousand Years came on the Pandora Baby Lullaby station during Tessa’s nap time. After reading about a little boy who lost his battle with ALL on Saturday, I could not stop thinking about his family or the hardships that can come with diseases like leukemia. All of these and a combination of other happenings captured my attention today. I kept finding myself wondering how we got here. How did this happen? And in a moment of pity…why her; why us? Why anyone?
And I lost it.
I suppose I am entitled to times like these. I am entitled to empathy for our neighbors on our floor. Maybe I need to let songs tug on my heart strings when they fit so appropriately. How do I not put myself in the shoes of others who are saying good-bye to their child who fought a similar fight? How do I avoid thinking about what could happen? I suppose I am also entitled to a little bit of pity for Tessa and myself as well.
One of my jobs as her mother is to keep her safe by protecting her, and I am learning just how big of a task this is. I am also finding that no matter how perfectly I mothered her, there are some things I will not be able to protect her from. I think this is one of those defining moments in parenting where I have to let go of what I am unable to shield her from, and discover ways to triumph through the rough waters–while at the mercy of things that I cannot control. Everything can change in an instant; and I have to stand steadfast in the wake of any changes, good or bad. I have a feeling this will be a lesson that I learn more than once over the next several years. Excuse me while I get rid of the small chip on my shoulder.
Sometimes all it takes is her laughter or dancing to make me feel better. Sometimes it is the blessing of watching her sleep away an afternoon while I drink coffee and watch the cars and construction below. More recently I reflect on our time at home. Tessa would squat down by Kendal (who was happily playing with her toys) and say, “Hunny, no-no…oh, hunny!” Casin would trade playing in his room for reading a book to his sisters. In a moment my heart is mended, and I can continue to count my blessings. Because in the midst of heartache lays hope, and hope feels much better than heartache.
Tonight Tessa’s nurse will hang up her last bag of chemo for this round. She is tolerating it well. She acts as though we never left the hospital to begin with. The same as last time, we will wait for her blood counts to drop as her bone marrow remakes new cells. Then we will wait for her blood counts to climb again. We are hoping and praying for protection from viruses and infections throughout this process. Maybe, just maybe, we could all be home for Christmas.