I was late getting up this morning. It may have something to do with my chat with my oldest son, Ben, last night. I heard him get up at 1 am and went down to see what was wrong.
“Nothing, Mom’, he explained. “I just couldn’t sleep”.
“Me neither, Ben. Mind if I join you?” I inquired as I sat down on the couch and brought my blankets around me and put on my winter tuque.
“Of course not. Why are you up?”
“I get up often because I drink so much water after a treatment, Ben. Then, I’m awake and for awhile. I usually just walk the news, but spending time with my boy is so much better.” I continued.
And so, we chatted about life, love, and learning. We don’t get a chance to catch up very often as Ben is so far away at school and I hate the phone. I learned a lot about Ben last night. I learned he needs his Mom – and this made me feel so very meaningful. He is a very tall man and seems to be so confident, capable, and strong. Yet, there are vulnerabilities that he keeps hidden – even from me. How he deals with everything that is going on is beyond me. He is apart from the family during a time when family ought to be so close together. He is responsible for others as a Residence Assistant at school and is often having to take care of those younger students who are away from home for their first time. He, himself, is trying to figure out his future. What an exciting and challenging time it is.
I explained to him how I felt at that age too. I remember feeling confused and worried. I remember wondering if I would be a success or failure, that my friends all seemed to be so together and knowing their path. I did NOT know what I wanted to do until I graduated…and even then I wasn’t sure I wanted to teach. It is so normal to be confused at the tender age of 20. I remember feeling lost and sometimes quite desperate to find my way. Would I marry? Would I have children? Would I even find someone I could call my own? It is such a tough age and place to be – but I never had to worry about my Mom’s cancer.
The day before, Ben, Katya, and David had all joined Kevin and I during my 5th round of chemo. I wondered how they would react. I know there were a few moments that caught them off guard. It is so different to witness what happens during a treatment than it is to imagine one – especially if one has no prior knowledge. Each child reacted differently. I watched to see if anyone struggled. I really didn’t know what to do if they did – but I watched and waited to see if a hug would help. I didn’t want to lie and say everything was fine because, in reality, who knows? I am optimistic. I want them to be optimistic, but to deny their fears is not the route I want to take. I knew there were times when they didn’t have words and were close to tear. I have always encouraged my children to not hide their feelings from me – nor try to protect me from worry. I can choose to worry or not. “Let me make my own decision to worry about you.” I always insist. Yet – like I try to protect them, they do the same for me. It is human nature, I guess. But – I want to be a Mom – their Mom and sometimes I feel a bit robbed of that job when they don’t talk to me.
In any case, the family stayed together for the entire day. I was surprised they didn’t leave. It was a very long day for all of us, but we were together. I was a bit uncomfortable that Christmas Eve Day seemed to be all about me and my cancer treatments. But we talked about other things. We recalled how different this Christmas would be. Who would have ever imagined that only one year before we were swimming together in Cuba and then dining at a dear friend’s home — with his family too? What a different scene altogether. Another reason to truly “seize” moment when you have the chance. I seized the moments with my family for sure on that day too! I don’t really remember coming home from chemo, funnily enough. I am told “chemo-brain” is a real thing and I am hoping it is really temporary.
Last night, however, was not about me. It was about Ben.
I want a moment to share too – all about Katya.
And I want a moment to share when it is all about David.
That time with my family is one of the best gifts that I could ever receive – that and a bill of good health. I must confess I was not sure if I would see this Christmas as a cancer diagnosis really plays with your sense of mortality. I am overwhelmed at how “well” I really feel in the midst of my treatment. I am so very blessed. In just over an hour, I will go to get an immune booster shot as low immunity seems to be the one side-effect that remains a bit of a threat. I thank God for that opportunity to get the needle. Who knew? I am not looking forward to the side-effects, but the alternative is definitely worse.
Katya is working and David is playing with a friend. For my two youngest, life returns to a bit more “normal”. But, Ben will come with Kevin and I again today for my boost. Are we ready? I guess so… it seems to be a bit of the blind leading the blind – and trusting on blind faith. What will we encounter? Will it hurt? Will it be long? Guess we will find out. And that’s okay. I get to spend time – no matter the circumstances – with my family. And being together is a much more important thing to focus on. We will face this next hurdle together.