Dear Tessa: Three Years Remission

Dear Tessa,

We celebrated three years remission from leukemia yesterday and tomorrow you will visit your oncologist. Sandwiched between the two days is a trip to get labs drawn. These are regularly scheduled labs to check your TSH (thyroid) and CBC (complete blood count). The latter of the two bringing the most anxiety for obvious reasons. And right now your mama is nervous.

I see you every day and I know you are fine. But knowing what I know about leukemia and your history with it keeps the fear fresh in my mind until I can actually see your lab results on paper. I have fooled myself into thinking that taking you to get lab work done would get easier the further we got out from treatment, but the reality is that it is not easy. Ever. There is no simple, painless, straightforward way to go about drawing blood from a small child.

My heart has raced all morning and my nerves are shot. Experiences such as labs open the door to days passed. It is as though we are suddenly catapulted into unknown again, while at the mercy of things I still lack control over; and hoping with every ounce of me that we can ease our minds once more.

You will put on a brave face because that is what I will ask of you. Holding you tight as you cry, I will tell you how proud I am of you and how much I love you. When you are not looking, tears will run down my cheek but I will remind myself to wipe them away before you notice.

While the anxiety attempts its takeover, I think back to yesterday and how quickly three years have gone by.

How can I feed the fear when you have reached this incredible milestone? 

Today when I told you I was taking you to get blood drawn from your arm, I told you it was okay to be scared and that I would be there. You grabbed my face with your little hands and said, “It’s okay Mom. I can do this! Okay Mom? I can do this! I will be so brave.” 

From a once very sick little girl to a now strong and healthy big girl, you have really grown. You have a t-shirt that say “This Girl Won’t Stop.” There is a reason it is my favorite, and it isn’t because of the gold glitter font. Although that certainly helps.

Three years of growth, change and endless opportunities to live like a kid again. The reward of remission far exceeds the angst I may occasionally feel. Most importantly, you are happy.

Love you sweet girl,

Mom.

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Dear Tessa: Kindergarten Eve

Dear Tessa,

It is the night before kindergarten, and we helped you get ready. (Right here is where I nearly broke into poetry, but the only word I could come up with to rhyme with ready was spaghetti, and that pretty much ruined it for me).

Back to business…

We completed your minion project to bring back to your teacher tomorrow. Your pink hearts and unicorn book bag is packed and waiting by the front door, where we will adjust it on your tiny shoulders just before we leave the house. It is full of all of many things you need, and probably some things you don’t.

We played outside tonight, stealing the last of summer’s glory; soaking up every moment before it was time to come back in.  After dinner you climbed up the stairs, step by step, chatting with your dad the entire way to the bathtub. When he offered to rinse your hair, you told him you could do it yourself.

Kindergarten Eve

You handpicked your outfit and laid it out on your dresser; brushed your teeth and asked me to brush your hair. Normally bedtime is a little intense.  Tonight was no different.  Bedtime was accompanied by the usual dose of drama and restlessness; a routine your dad and I are numb to by now.  Once you and your sister settled down, we sat on your bed and read The Night Before Kindergartena book given to you at your birthday party; and we sprinkled Ready Confetti made with magic Jitter Glitter under your pillow as provided by your new teacher. I hugged you harder and longer than I have in a long time.  For the life of me, I could not let go.  Then I kissed your forehead, told you I loved you and wished you sweet dreams.

In true Tessa fashion, you are as cool as a cucumber.  Not nervous or scared; just poised and ready to go.

How did this happen so fast?  From baby to big girl in the blink of an eye…

baby to big girl

I asked your daddy how he was doing?  He took a deep breath and then another one, and said, “I’m okay.”  I replied the same back to him.

As long as you always believe in yourself and know how great you are, you will do big things in this world.  We just know it.  Promise me that you know it too?  Tomorrow is a big day, and you are going to do awesome.

Spread your wings and fly sweet girl.

Love, Mom…and daddy, too.