So. Here we are again, Erev Yom Kippur. But this time, I’m sitting on the couch watching Adi navigate through Houston using Google Street View (to find the garbage truck, natch) on the computer in our home. Definitely better than last year or the year before.
I suppose I'll start by asking forgiveness from all of you for anything I might have done to hurt you in the last year. I'm pretty sure I did something. Possibly something fairly benign, like not call you back or answer your email, possibly something worse. I apologize. I'm sorry. I might have meant to do it at the time, but I regretted it afterwards. I'm human. Sorry.
Next up, gratitude. I am so grateful for the health of all my children and my parents and my husband and myself and all the other people I know who are healthy. I am grateful for every day. I am grateful that today I had the luxury of being annoyed at my computer for not connecting to Wi-Fi until I restarted it. I am grateful that today I could mutter under my breath as [insert child] did [insert thing]. These are not things I take for granted, even if I sometimes forget for a moment that our time is fleeting. I almost always remember with the very next breath. Even now, as I raise my voice to the child who is shoving the sofa across the floor, I am grateful. Also, truth be told, a little irritated, because LEAVE THE SOFA ALONE. But grateful.
Sorrowful. For the friends we have lost. Some we lost to the terrible disease that is childhood cancer. Others we lost to horribly mundane car accidents. You are all in my heart. So much of the time. I think of you so often. I smile when I remember something funny you said or did. I laugh when I remember your smiles. I cry when I think of all that lost potential. I weep for your mothers and fathers, your sisters and brothers, your friends. I hurt when I think about how unfair it is that you are gone.
Fear. So much of my time is spent fighting fear. Yesterday, I took Adi in for routine bloodwork and a visit to the neuro-oncologist. As you do. And in the time between the CBC and Chem Panel being taken and when we got back the results, I saw a million terrible scenarios in my head. I don't try to do this. In fact, I actively try NOT to do this. But, as my fellow cancer peeps know, cancer changes everything. Childhood cancer leaves scars everywhere. I can't tell you how many times I wake up in terror thinking that I forgot to give my kid his pills, or inspect his body for strange bruises, or freeze when he coughs. I can't tell you how my whole body reacts when I walk into our hospital, even for "routine" visits. I can't tell you how scary it can be sometimes to check Facebook, because I'm afraid of what I'll discover.
Amazement. I have seen miracles. I have seen children -- yes, children, more than one -- come back from the brink of death. Children whose parents had released them, had whispered to them, "You don't have to stay here for me. It's okay." I have seen those children suddenly -- and it is sudden, never subtle -- suddenly awaken, with some renewed strength that medicine cannot explain. I have seen these children suddenly grow stronger, take tentative steps forward, and then suddenly race towards health. I have seen miracles. I don't know who decides -- or how -- why this child gets one and that one doesn't, but I have seen them, and I am amazed.
Grateful, again. For the friends who have helped us. For the people who have, with tiny kindnesses and grand gestures, made this journey easier. For the strangers who have prayed for my son and my family. For the people who have made me laugh on the darkest days. For the people who have not allowed me to wallow in my own grief -- and for those who have simply stood close by, ready to catch me if I fell.
Sad, still. For everything that we lost, as a family. For an innocence that is gone. For a peace that we may never find. For a balance that is forever askew. For my children, all my children, who are changed.