Now That the Dust Has Settled

As you may have noticed the gaps between my entries are getting wider. It’s not that there isn’t anything to say, it’s just that sometimes I feel like my heart is a broken record. In the beginning there were so many emotions I was feeling, they were all so new and fresh. But now that the dust has settled it’s like it trapped down a part of me.  It’s harder now to  reach out from beneath it and articulate.

So, we did get finally get discharged last Thursday after eighteen days. We’ve been home for a week and are headed back again today for the fourth round of chemo. During the final stretch of the eighteen days Izzy had a CT-scan to look at her tummy since she was having such trouble keeping things down. The scan didn’t reveal a ton of information about why she was still throwing up but it did show that her primary tumor had shrunk considerably. The doctor was thrilled with the news, as were others in the room when he delivered the news. I felt little emotion at all. There was a part of my mind telling me I should be happy. Telling me that this was great news, that it meant things were working. But it did nothing for my heart. It didn’t take away what’s ahead for us. I didn’t mean we don’t have to live in a hospital, that she doesn’t have to endure hell and that Carter and I don’t have to be separated. It’s just hope that it will all be worth it in the end.

Izzy had an amazing week at home. She had an unbelievable amount of energy and played just as much this past seven days as any other four year old I’m sure. It’s almost like her body was making up for lost time. And she had a lot of requests too. She wanted to plant flowers. Check. Go to the Children’s Museum. Check. Go to the Zoo. Check. Go to the make-up store. Check. Bake cookies. Check. On top of all that she was outside constantly running, playing, swinging, riding her bike. If it weren’t for her little bald head you would never have known she was different from any of the other kids on our street

Our time at home was picture perfect at it’s best and a gut wrenching Lifetime movie at it’s worst. The most difficult time was oddly the first hour we were back. We had made it back just minutes before Carter needed to be picked put from school. I had talked to him briefly the night before and told him I would get to pick him up and I could hear the excitement in his voice for the first time in weeks. Carter isn’t really into the phone. He never wants to talk to me, or anyone else for that matter

We do get to FaceTime every night thanks to the generous donations of IPads from a loving community, but otherwise I would have no contact with him. I was so excited as I drove alone to his school to pick him up. There had been a delay at the hospital that morning  because Izzy needed platelets and they were out of her type. For hours I had sat in her room imagining this moment. I had wondered if he was sitting in school imagining it too.

I pulled into the parking lot with eagerness and drove around the corner to the pickup line. As each car moved forward picking up his or her child I could hardly stand it any longer. Finally I saw him. He walked out of the building, backpack hoisted over one shoulder by a little tail strap like he does, beaming from ear to ear as he saw the Jeep. He walked proudly towards it waving at every kid he saw along the way. But as soon as he reached out to open the door something instantly changed. He opened the door all by himself, climbed up into the Jeep and got himself all buckled in. In the past I always had to help him get buckled in and he always wanted me to but I guess these were the types of things you learned to do on your own when you didn’t have a mom around. I looked at him and told him how glad I was to see him and he smiled warmly but he said nothing, just opened his lunch box and got out his crackers. Then I pulled out a fresh bottle of water I had brought and handed it back to him but he told me he had his own in his thermos from lunch. I thought he would have milk in his lunch box, but he told me he doesn’t do it that way anymore. Daddy packs water.

I could feel the tears beginning to well up underneath my sunglasses. I continued to talk on the way home but he said almost nothing. I knew what this was. I had seen it with my kids before when they were around family they hadn’t seen in a while. He was warming up. It was taking him time to warm up to me. I had been away for too long. I wanted desperately to tell him I would never leave again. To tell him that it was all over and things would go back to the way they were before, but of course I knew it wasn’t true. I had no idea how long I would be gone the next time. Or the next one.

As soon as we pulled in the driveway he jumped out of the car and ran inside leaving me behind.  It was about an hour until he warmed up. About an hour until we hugged and snuggled and all felt right in the world

I suppose that’s just a stage of parenting that happens naturally, but it’s one I wasn’t even close to being prepared for. You want to know that your kids can survive without you. That they can exist independent of you and still thrive. It’s kind of the whole point. You raise them the whole time with that purpose in mind. Praise God I was the only one crying behind my sunglasses this morning when he jumped out of the car and ran into the school. When I told him I didn’t know when I’d be back. But it still stings to see the one who used to need you so much grow up, a little faster than he should have too.

And the reality is it probably hurts a little more because of the uncertainty I’m walking in everyday with my other child. It just seems so unfair to feel like I’m losing one of them while I’m fighting for the other.  I know that’s not the truth, but that’s how it feels.

Well, here we are. On our way back to Cincinnati yet again. I’m praying for a shorter stay this time, less than a week would be nice. Afterwards we’ll do another scan and the first week in October we’re scheduled to have the tumor removed. And I’m hopeful I will feel joy in that. That’s my prayer this week anyways. That I can feel joy again when I should. If the cancer is reacting to the treatment I want to be able to celebrate that. I want to break through the dust and celebrate the victories. The ones happening day by day and the many more ahead.

12 thoughts on “Now That the Dust Has Settled

  1. When my brother’s job took him away from his family for long periods, my sister kept a chalkboard of “questions to ask dad” for when he returned. It helped to keep him in the forefront of their minds even though he was far away doing other things. She also kept a list of milestones and accomplishments, so he didn’t have to miss anything. Totally different circumstances, but maybe something like that could be a small bridge. Still praying for our Heavenly Father to cradle Izzy in His healing hands, and now I have something specific to ask for you until your next post. God’s peace.

  2. Oh Molly, so true that NO child should have to be away from his Mom for long stretches of time because of cancer…honoring your grief for that tonight. I’m also struck by the fact that your little guy, far from distancing, in taking on all those day to day (big and small) adjustments that come his way, is coming alongside the rest of his family as you soldier together in this fight for Izzy. So I honor Carter tonight too…for his amazing pluck and courage! Praying for you all.

  3. I can relate to your struggle to celebrate good news. My daughter Amanda recently finished all the treatment for her stage IV brain cancer. The after treatment scans were done, and we received good reports, the primary tumor was 100% gone, the mets to the spine are gone or look dormant, the mets in the brain are dormant, no cells in the spinal fluid.
    I find myself wanting to string together many MRI’s that are “good” before I think I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. It’s hard to not feel the dark presence of cancer once it’s invaded your life, your family.
    I will be praying for you and Izzy during this next hospitalization for strength, hope, for treatment to go smoothly, even moments of joy when you both can smile together or snuggle.
    Rosemary

  4. Molly, I have been following your story for a while now. My name is Cori and I work with Shari. I told Shari this and I wanted to share with you as well. Every time I read your posts it hits a special place in my heart. My best friend has twin girls who just turned ten. When they were four, her daughter Gracie was complaining of constant leg pain which turned out to be ALL leukemia. It was the scariest moment of all our lives. She was in and out of the hospital, lost all her hair to chemo, had to have a port-a-cath, and traveled a very long and tough road. My friend was often away from Gracie’s twin and her two year old daughter. I spent a lot of time with Gracie in the pediatric cancer ward so they could have some normalcy with their other two kids. Basically, it was hell. But here’s the thing, every time I read about all the awful stuff you are going through with Izzy, I think about the night we had a party and flushed all of the leftover cancer meds down the toilet! And I think about how she’s ten now and doing fantastic and I hope with all my heart that you get to do that some day in the future too! I want you to be able to flush all her meds down the toilet and look back at this as a scary memory. Her other two daughters are doing great too. No permanent damage, no resentment, just a memory. You will get there. But for now, just keep trucking and remember that lots of us are rooting for you!

  5. Molly…I have been following your blog posts…reading…crying…praying…never knowing what to say, or do for that matter. But now I know. I will be interceding joy on your behalf. God bless you, keep you and hold you close…

  6. Your words explain in perfect detail. I remember experiencing some of that with Toby, gosh it hurts. I can only imagine how much more difficult your situation is. I think of the book you told me about that you read at the cabin & how you were just beginning to learn how to celebrate God’s goodness, maybe that would be a good book to look at again. Praying you are able to celebrate again & more good news to come! Love you bunches sweet friend!

  7. I have been praying for Izzy and your family but would like to do more. Does she like dogs and cats? Thought we might be able to send some fun pictures of furry friends with special messages. Could print so they would be able to put on the wall or could send via email, FB, etc.

    Might this be something she would like?

    Vicky Hamilton Hamilton@go-concepts.com

    Via Vicky’s Cell

  8. I have been checking daily for your next post. I am so thankful that Izzy had such a wonderful few days at home and you were able to check off things she wanted to do. That had to be a very emotional and long hour or so before your little guy warmed up! I like the idea of the chart or calendar marking down events while you are away. That would be a very good bonding time when you come home and Carter can go over that with you. Maybe writing one special thought or thing that happened each day. His little diary that has a list of things he can’t wait to tell mommy about. I’m praying for you and your family…..God’s love is there surrounding each and every one of you!!

  9. U feel the joy. It is just buried by all the other emotions u have piled on u at this moment in time. We r like onions. Layered. And under those layers u have joy. Our emotions can b difficult to feel when we r over loaded. Don’t beat urself up if u don’t think ur feeling the “right” emotion. Maybe it is safer for ur heart right now to feel the numbness. Maybe it is Gods way to protect u and keep u strong so that u move forward and r capable of keeping ur strength for ur family.
    Prayers coming ur way and hopes that u feel them.

    • security is really tight up here and unfortunately no one can come up to a patients room unless they’ve been placed on a list by the guardian. I can’t even go in his room, I can only talk to him in the playroom. 🙂 thanks so much!

  10. Dear Molly and Kendrick, I’ve been following your blog and find you so courageous for sharing your journey. Your family and Izzy are so often in my thoughts and our family’s prayers. I’m reading about the prophet Jeremia and this prayer was at the end of my reading yesterday. I felt led to translate it into English for you: my prayer is that is touches you.

    In the depths, too deep even for comfort to reach,
    allow Your faithfulness to touch me.
    During the nights when faith weakens,
    let not Your grace retreat from me.
    On this journey that nobody walks with me,
    when while praying thoughts simply vanish,
    when the darkness blows its cold breath,
    You CHOOSE to find me in my distress.

    May you be touched by His faithfulness and His grace.
    With much love,
    Dora

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