News of loved one’s cancer diagnosis hits me hard. It always has. But in the last nine years, it REALLY hits! I want to rush in and fix everything for anyone affected by this disease, but having been through this, I realize each person has to script his or her own journey. So, all I can do is offer help and then wait.
Recently, I knew I’d be in the same town as my newly diagnosed friend, so I called her and offered, “I’ll be in town this weekend. Is there anything, anything at all I can do for you while I’m there?”
Her response triggered tears and memories, “No, we have time this weekend. My work has been busy, so while he’s in the hospital, we’re just going to BE. Just sit together and value that time.”
Wow. If there is any advice I can offer a cancer caregiver it’s exactly that. Don’t pass up those moments to just BE. Cherish those moments together. Hospital time presents difficulties, frustrations and frights. But it’s time.
My boy spent the most time in the hospital between the ages of four and five. Yes, we went through way too many Dora the Explorer programs and Veggie Tales movies, and if I never hear the Lion King songs again, I’ll be happy. But we also created stories – stories that still bring him comfort even though he is bigger than I am now. We played countless games of dominoes, Old Maid, Go Fish and I Spy. We sang songs, we read books, and we told corny jokes. We drove Hot Wheels all over the bed and hospital tray. We rigged roadways from the tray to the floor and held Hot Wheel crash car derbies. We built Lego houses with garages and tunnels, and colored in countless coloring books. We cuddled and giggled and sometimes just stared at the ceiling, only talking when something occurred to us.
Time. I would never wish cancer on anyone, but those memories I created with my boy? I’ll treasure those moments forever.