Chandler put that song on one of the CD's that he made for Faith. The song still plays with some regularity on the radio and it always takes me back. I know it wasn't that long ago chronologically speaking, but still, it was a lifetime ago. The story of my life this time last year was a story of uncertainty. Faith was still undergoing chemo. Her body was taking longer to recover after each round as it was tired from trying to heal from that monumental surgery. She was on homebound schooling and was bald as the day she was born. The girls were excited about Christmas coming and all of our family being together. I just remember not knowing how I felt.
The story of my life today is very different. Faith is better. She is SO much better. Her hair is growing back in a super cute way. She is sore less frequently and she is healthy! She has left the hollow cheeks and sunken eyes behind and replaced them with shiny, baby blues and a smile that lights up the room. She laughs a lot and it is contagious. She is in school and is doing so well that she made the principals list, participates in student council, and has earned a spot in the school spelling bee!
My story, our story, isn't over. It never will be. Faith still has more surgeries ahead of her and she still has a lot to do recovery-wise. I still live with fear that one day her laugh will be replaced with a cough that doesn't stop. The cough that indicates that IT's back and IT's spread to her lungs. I was driving home from an errand Saturday morning in Chandler's car. The Taylor Swift song, "Never Grow Up" came on and I started thinking about how sweet I used to think that song was. Now, it sets a mild panic in my heart urging Faith to grow up quickly so that she can experience all of the milestones, the rights of passage, she could've missed. She still could miss. Her first kiss, driving, earning her own paycheck, college, marriage, babies. "Change the station" I said to myself, but, no. I'm a chick and I was feeling blue and allowing the self service pity party until my friend Kevin pulled up next to me. He made a couple of wise cracks about me driving Chandler's car (a minivan) and that bad mood literally blew right out the window. Thank God for Kevin. He has no idea what he did, but he reminded me to put my fear in my pocket. I respect that it's there, that it always will be, but that I don't want that to be the story of my life.
My story includes a roller coaster of a year that has left me a different person. I'm going to work hard to cultivate the good changes and not dwell on the not so good ones, like the lingering worry. I like my calmer side that rarely yells. I like appreciating the good in the people I encounter and not judging so much. I know that everyone has a story and something they have to deal with and to be kind (you never know, that crazy driver who just cut you off may be frantically trying to get a feverish kid to the hospital). Before I got married, I never imagined that the story of my life would include children. Chandler changed that. Now, I think about what a boring story it would have been without them. This year has helped me become the mom I wanted to be. I'm going to keep working on that for sure.
I began to share this story as a way of notifying our family, friends, and neighbors of Faith's status. It started out as her story and ultimately turned into my story of how I was dealing with it all. I realized that writing this blog helped me not only share my story, but it helped me to sort out my feelings which were sometimes a big jumbled mess in my heart. I am grateful for the words of encouragement so many people shared with me as a result of this blog. I am grateful that I have a way to look back and recall all that has transpired in such a short time. I still have a few half-written blogs I may finish one day, but for now, I will close with this...
Words cannot discribe my gratitude for the endless help from our families, our friends and neighbors, and from perfect strangers. There were times when that lifted us up so that we could make it through the next step. We, as humans, as people, need to help each other. I will continue to be giving of my love, my time, and my belongings to help another in need. I know how much it helps.
I know the real story isn't the cancer, but how we all found a way to let IT bring out the best in us and in our community AND how, in the end, CANCER SUCKED IT (like a big lollipop)!!!