Sunday afternoon we made it home, for lack of a better word. Perhaps I should just we made it back to our house. It isn’t quite the same anymore, with medical supplies piling up, nurses stopping by, and Kendrick and I being the ones wearing a stethoscope and giving her a shot. We get the IV fluids running every night and her tube feeds changed out every four hours while she sleeps. We have become the hospital staff, not just the parents and it grieves me on so many levels.
I have always wanted our home to feel a certain way. Peaceful, calming, safe. But I can’t ignore that there’s an IV pole in the middle of the living room. It’s here and it’s interrupted the warmth that was once in the room, literally and metaphorically. Obviously, it’s a cold metal pole too large to hide with a throw pillow but I don’t have room in my house for it either. There’s no place in my house I could put it where it just wouldn’t completely disrupt everything. Where I wouldn’t have to rearrange to make it work. But it’s here and I can’t change it. Just like the cancer.
While cleaning some stuff out of our room today I found an old picture of me when I was a little girl about Izzy’s age. I was swinging on an old wooden swing in the backyard of my parents house, my hair blowing in the wind. It reminded me so much of Izzy. Not just because I looked like her, but because she loves to swing. I began to wonder what it would have been like if Izzy and I could have been friends when I was a little girl. What if the picture panned out and she was swinging next to me. You would see two little girls so very much alike. Same big eyes, button noses and tiny frames giggling as they pumped themselves higher and higher in the air. What you wouldn’t be able to see is the stuff that made them so different. On the inside you would see life in me. But in her you would see cancer cells growing and multiplying rapidly throughout her tiny body. You would would see darkness trying to overpower light, gloom trying to smother rays of sunshine. You would see death trying to have it’s way. Two little girls looking so much alike but so very, very different.
And one of those girls will grow up never knowing what it’s like to have a tube in her nose. Never having scars all over her belly from surgery after surgery, line after line. Never having to stay locked inside once her white blood cells were too low. Never having childhood cancer. Two words that should never be in the same sentence. But the other little girl will grow up and she will know a different pain. She will know the pain that comes from watching her own little girl suffer. The pain that comes from listening to her moan in the night. She will know the pain that comes from watching and listening and simply waiting.