The day after Christmas in our house is reserved for a blissful amount of peaceful rest. A few loads of laundry, a simple meal, late sleeping, playing with some new “toys,” recovery, and reflection fill the hours. It is a wonderful, necessary day to pause and recharge.
I am awestruck by how fast days blend into weeks, and months, and even years. My girl is now a young lady. A young lady of 13 years old with the fall devoted to High School Applications, academic honors, hours of swimming, and some drama (class) thrown in for good measure. It was a crazy season, but a remarkable, beautiful time of transformation.
I don’t get time to write as much as I used to. But, truthfully, you don’t need to hear from me all that often to follow along. The writing remains my way to sort out life. I feel fortunate that so many of you come along for the ride.
So much of our journey #beatingcowdens is couched in perspective. We talk so much about the realities of everyone’s life. We talk about the things people endure that we can not fathom, and we talk about how hard it is to have some of the conversations necessary in the life of my 13-year-old. We talk. Often. And perhaps that is the first of many blessing I have.
My girl has become a young woman through a path that is different from most her age. Notice, I deliberately chose the word “different” as we are careful not to measure things in “better” or “worse.” The medical drama unfolded at a fast, furious pace, most concentrated in the years from 8 to 12. And we held fast through each one, but then, slowly, the dramas began to slow down.
At first we didn’t want to say anything. There is the fear of “jinxing” the situation. When medical drama is your “normal” you don’t really know how to live any other way. It sounds bizarre. You want so desperately to be rid of it, but the relief of losing it would be so intense, that to relax and then have it hit you again could be crushing. So you stay on your guard. All the time. But sometimes when you do that you can get a little… I don’t know, isolated, alone, rough?
There is a security connected to living in a state of medical drama. At least you know what to expect.
But, it’s not a place to hang out when you don’t need to.
Meghan’s last biopsy was in July. The follow-up is this week. My last surgery was in August. And, in a turn of events here, I have spent the last few months in vocal therapy sorting out ways to work around the tumor that desires to strip me of my ability to communicate. We’ve had some success, and last week even amidst a terrible head cold, my voice made it with me all the way to Friday.
And it was on that very Friday morning, as I drove Meghan to a 5:30 AM swim practice, with my head-splitting and my nose running, that I told her how lucky I felt. She may have checked me for fever, to see if I had totally lost it. But I explained – a year ago facing Christmas break without her having been knocked down at least once by something major was an impossible dream. This year, she had done more than ever before, and seems to be getting stronger. That morning I was grateful that I was able to get my butt out of bed, to take her to the place she loves, so she could work on the sport she loves.
This fall we have successfully removed 2 stomach medications that were previously necessary for survival. And, we are well on our way to eliminating a third. There is nutrition, exercise, and natural alternatives in their place. And it is working.
She came home a few weeks ago with a perfect attendance certificate for the month of October. I save everything. I think that may have been her first. These are the things that keep us in perspective.
We have a “doctor cycle” among us now. The knee needs to be checked again, MRI, and two knee doctors. There are clinical exams, GI follow-up and endocrinology. The afternoons these next 6 weeks will be swallowed up with trips to NYC. I’ll add in some appointments of my own, as I prepare for vocal cord surgery, tentatively set, but not yet confirmed. We’ll keep swimming, literally and figuratively. We’ll hold each other up, and we will do something a little different. We will, instead of fitting out lives into the doctors, we will fit the doctors into us.
Raising kids, one, two, three, four, or more- regardless of gender, or age combination each holds unique rewards and challenges. We have our moments, my girl and I, when we challenge each other to the best we can be. Sometimes its deep conversation. Sometimes it’s a little less pretty. But, we do it. We learn and we grow together.
I find myself often, missing relatives who are not here with us anymore. I miss conversations, deep and thoughtful. I miss shared laughs, and the pride they felt and showed. I understand, and comprehend their lives are changed, their eternal lives are more beautiful than I can imagine. But, I still miss them.
I sometimes shuffle around a bit in circles in my mind, feeling a little lonely, a little unsteady, and a little unsure of how to break the cycle.
And even at those loneliest points I take solace at the people in my life who are there. Their own lives keep us from day-to-day interface, but they are there, forming that net that will catch me, or us, if we were to fall. They weave a web through our lives that give us such confidence and gratitude, that I can only hope they feel the same way about us.
As we begin to get heavy into the preparations for Jeans for Rare Genes 3, it is a time to get focused. I am not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. A wise friend recently reminded me a calendar is not necessary to begin change.
Choose positive. That is my simple focus. I will not be perfect at it. But, I will work tirelessly. I will be positive, hopefully not to the point of irritating, but when given the opportunity to face a new situation, I will work to find the positive.
Cowden’s Syndrome will toss us curve balls for the rest of our days. I’ve never been much of a baseball player, but I plan to practice my swing. And just in case- I’ll keep a helmet on as well.
May the culmination of 2016 lead us to gratitude for all the positives it brought, and gratitude for the negatives as well. May it leave us with the reminders of the blessings in our lives. Only in appreciation of al of it can we ever move forward. And really, forward is the only direction I choose to travel.