Today I join Kate Motaung and the writers at Five Minute Friday and the prompt is: Joy.
The first few moments after the doctor said the word “Leukemia” I was frozen, until I bolted for the bathroom and lost my stomach into the sink and stared at myself in the mirror, took a deep breath, squared my shoulders and went back to my family.
- Shock. I thought he had the flu.
- Terror. Don’t people die from Leukemia?
- Numbness. What does this mean?
The first few hours after diagnosis were a whirlwind of getting Andrew up to a bigger hospital, finding a place for the girls and preparing for the fight of my son’s life.
- Panic. I don’t know how to deal with this!
- Disbelief. This is something that happens to “those people”. You know, the people on the prayer chain!
- Alarm. What was going to happen to our family?
The first few days in the hospital, my eyes leaked almost constantly.
- Fear. Was I going to lose my son?
- Sympathy. There was not one.easy.proceedure. They all hurt.
- Anxiety. Could we do this?
The first few weeks in the hospital were filled with tests and transfusions, medications and vomit, and a weird combination of silence and bustle.
- Agony. EVERYTHING was hurting my boy.
- Loneliness. The world was doing its thing, and we were in a small room fighting for life.
- Worry. How do we keep our girls moving forward with a “normal life” and still be here for our son? How do we keep our jobs and live in the world of chemotherapy? How were we going to PAY for all this?
The first few months involved so many miles of driving the four-hour trip to the hospital, my husband and I trading back and forth between home and hospital stays, an acquaintance with medication and procedures and our new life.
- Resignation. It was all real. It was happening, and we had no choice but to deal with it.
- Angst. It was all real. This was going to continue for a while and it was going to keep hurting and it was going to keep interrupting our family and changing our lives and, we STILL did not know if our boy was going to make it.
- Fatigue. It was all real. It was everlasting and time flew by. There was not a day that was easy nor a night uninterrupted. Sleep was a distant memory and food did not settle nicely into the stomach – not my boy’s, not mine.
The first few years we had a routine that was comforting (there was always a sense of belonging when we returned to the safety of the cancer ward and the treatment room.) Andrew knew the nurses and doctors by name and they ALWAYS took good care of us.
- Reality. This was it. This is what we had and it was our job to deal with it.
- Uncertainty. The feelings of fear and anxiety NEVER left. Their constant presence was a load that I fought with in order to be a woman of faith. I KNOW God holds our future, but could I deal with what the future held?
- What ifs. Those what if thoughts hounded me constantly.
Yes. Our world was flooded with things we never asked for, were sure we couldn’t handle and the pain that stabbed ME every time my son was stabbed with a needle was overwhelming. But gradually, as routine took over un-known and in the midst all those bad words above, began to sneak HUGE moments of joy. Little reassurances that God was with us.
- Joy. My son’s unbelieveable faith.
- Joy. The comforts of stranger and the supportive response of our community.
- Joy. Connection to family. Hours in the hospital forced me to spend unscripted time with my son. We told stories, sang songs, prayed, read books, played dominos (oh.my.word – there were a few weeks there where I hated dominoes we played so often) and built legos and drove cars around the bedspread. We cuddled and watched movies and held hands. Andrew and I had countless hours in the car together with music and laughing, or me watching his dark-circled eyes fall asleep and knowing we’d get home before the nausea hit. When my husband and I traded, and I was home with my girls, I valued the time so much that I put chores aside and cuddled with the girls more, reading stories and laying on their beds and taking walks in the woods. I didn’t sleep, because laundry happened throughout the night, but my girls were such a priority.
- Joy. I learned to let go of perfection (well, except with the medication and doctor appointments, I might have turned a little OCD in that department) and just be. Spend time with those I love.
And those were my moments of joy. I found joy in the wilted flower my girls picked. I found joy in the quiet cuddles before bed. I found joy in the cards telling me people were praying and joy in the KNOWLEDGE that God walked with me and He wouldn’t forsake me, even if I didn’t’ like what happened during this life.
My joy came from knowing that this life wasn’t the most important. Pain happens. But joy comes from knowing that one day we won’t have pain. Fear is there, but the joy of knowing the END result is heaven can override that fear.
I mourned and struggled, but God turned my mourning into dancing and filled my feet with joy. Tweet this!
Steve Green’s old, but happy song can come true, listen here!
Read more from the series 31 Days of Unexpected Blessings from Caregiving.