Month: December 2010
There is no way to describe all of the feelings that come with having one child who has cancer. You have other children to care for and love, but suddenly one of them needs you way worse than any of the others. This brings so many feelings of worry, guilt, inadequacy, and being torn in ten different directions. You try to be so many things to so many people because you made commitments. When you finally have some time to be together as a family, the first thing you want to do is have five minutes alone with your husband for the largest and most comfortable embrace that tells you the two of you are still a team – one unit. The embrace that says, “ no matter where you are, I am with you, loving you”. Next, you want to spend time hearing about what your other children have been doing while you’ve been at the hospital tending to the critical one. You want to enjoy their laughter, the smell of their hair as the cuddle up next to you, the twinkle in their eyes as they get animated telling you something that is important to them. You fight the feelings of guilt that you inflict upon yourself for not being able to spread yourself into all of these places at once to be with each child for every important moment in their life. You then look at the child that you over and over again have watched at the brink of death, and you want to make new memories with them, hold the moments still in time to always have etched on your heart because you know how short their time could be. It is a neverending battle… an internal struggle.
Oftentimes, us, the parents of the sick child, are forgotten. I don’t mean totally forgotten. There are organizations and loved ones that will do things for you. But there are the seconds, the minutes, that turn into days, months, years where your whole life is focused on helping your entire family to make it through this horrible disease. We as the parents are so busy trying to be strong, trying to keep it together, that we begin to forget our health, our spirituality, our individuality. When you finally have those moments of peace, moments of quiet with nothing to do… you are often at a loss. I have witnessed this over and over again in some of the families that have lost a child. Once the everyday adrenaline of taking care of your child, administering meds, flushing central lines, going to clinic, being inpatient at the hospital… once these things have become your routine of life and then with the death of the child comes the death of what has become “normal” to you. No longer do you remember what things you used to enjoy and you begin to feel guilty for finding enjoyment in anything because your child can no longer enjoy those things with you.
It is a lot like this with parents whose child lives and gets better as well. You no longer take a trip to the grocery store even, being gone only 20 minutes, without worrying that something will happen in your absence and the child will get sick or need an ambulance because that is what you have lived over and over again. You have to find new things you enjoy or remember what it is like to live in “regular society” again. For you are no longer surrounded by your cancer families whom have become as much a part of your family as your flesh and blood.
But amidst all of the confusion, the feelings of guilt, awkwardness, loneliness… comes one answer. The constant that is always with you is God. During your darkest, loneliest moments sitting at your child’s bedside while the world went on without you – sat God. He was there giving you the strength to stay up another sleepless night in the ICU with your child on a ventilator. He was there tohelp you tell your child it was going to be okay when you knew all they really wanted to know was if they were going to live or not and you didn’t have the answer because God only knew. He was there when you fell on your knees on the filthy floor of the bathroom and begged for life for your child and some semblance of a life for yourself and your other children. He was there as you cried in agony missing your spouse who was caring for the other children. HE WAS THERE. And HE IS STILL HERE. Through the times of loneliness, the times of worry that any day the other show will drop and your child will be back in the hospital again. He is there as you walk into that cold empty house you used to call home, but hasn’t been truly lived in for a few years. He is there as you walk into that empty bedroom that a child once lived in and will hold you through all of the tears. He is there as you discover YOU again and let go of the burden you have been carrying around that He has tried to take from you over and over again. HE WILL BE THERE. He will be there when you stumble and fall from your mistakes and frustration of trying to find what your purpose in life is now. He will be there when you cry in the dark, mourning “what used to be.” He will be there as you discover new interests, new purpose, and new friends to share your story with.
He was there…. When your child got sick.
He was there…. As he was healed…. Whether in his earthly form or the ultimate healing of finally earning angel wings.
He is here…. Breathing new life into you and pouring strength into your bones to the deep core of your heart to move you out of bed in the morning and face another day.
He is here…. Holding you – His child. Here to remind you that earth is temporary and you CAN do what He wants you to do.
He will be there…. When you fall. He will be there nudging you along, picking you up over and over again as you make mistakes, yell at him, blame him, beg him, sin against Him.
He will be there…. To carry you home. He will be there with His arms open wide, forgiving you for the many times you turned Him away. He will be there to greet you with all of the angels that have gone before you.
All you have to do is let go – and let Him take care of you. Let Him have the burden of your life.