Today is Day 13. Izzy remains mostly unchanged since my last entry. Her cells are coming in and there are small signs of progress but it is a slower process than we hoped. She’s awake now a few hours a day which is nice but she’s still too weak to get out of bed for anything, even to get on the scale. So we continue to wait. And to pray. It’s funny to me that we’re on Day 13 because she’s actually been in the hospital for twenty one days. Thirteen days inpatient isn’t too bad, but once you get around the three week mark it starts to wear on you. Everyday I see the number and I think, ‘How could we only be that far?’. I mean I get it, it’s thirteen days since the stem cells were placed. It just seems like a cruel lie.
I just got back from a long weekend home with Carter. At home I found a whole new whirlwind of emotions separate entirely from what I feel at the hospital. There was a comfort there and a peace. A sense of normalcy in doing dishes and making dinner. Until I saw it. I passed a picture of Izzy on the wall and my heart began to sink. Just a glimpse of her brilliant blue eyes and her soft blonde hair and I felt a pain so deep. It was such a stark contrast to her current state. The little girl in those pictures was innocent and free but the little girl I know has been forced to become a warrior. Thrown into a role no child should ever have to fill but so many do.
I’ve been taking Carter to the Lego Store on the weekends we spend together. It’s a special treat that he looks forward to and I don’t mind that it’s in the middle of the mall either. “Mommy, just needs to look at one more store and then we’ll get your Legos, I promise.” Okay, it’s a special treat I look forward to too. Saturday we went for our weekend outing and were both relishing in our purchases when I saw them. My heart sank once again. Three little girls skipped passed us on their way to the Build-A-Bear store for a birthday party, their hair bouncing on their shoulders. The frolicking by with laughter I could handle, but the bouncing hair sent me over the edge as I envisioned my own daughter lying in misery back in her hospital room. I saw their smiling faces and long hair and images of Izzy still throwing up blood flashed into my mind. I saw their matching bows and tights and I thought of Izzy’s skin beginning to peel off from head to toe from this last chemo. I am ashamed to say it, but I have never felt such anger at little girls as I did in that moment. I didn’t even know them or their stories and yet I assumed they led perfect lives. My eyes followed them as they disappeared into the crowd. Why did they get this delightful, innocent journey, while Izzy got a journey to Hell and back. I kept walking, the injustice heavy on my shoulders.
This is a picture of our backyard with the creek and woods behind our house. When we first moved in a few years back I fell in love with the solitude it offered. With it’s stillness. I had this illusion that if we moved here I could force simplicity into our lives. I was naive enough to believe I had that much control over the universe. Of course I quickly learned I did not. But for the first few years we spent countless hours watching the kids throw rocks into the creek and run along the bank chasing leaves. Izzy and I would take off our shoes in the summer and wade through, feeling the cold mud between our toes.
As I found myself staring out the back window this weekend, grasping for something in the stillness of the woods to dull the pain, I had a revelation. I got the simple life I wanted, it just cost more than I ever dreamed it would. Through this journey everything in my life has been hacked away so that the only things left of any real importance are the most basic, the most simple. Some of that has been hard, but the truth is some of it has been freeing as well. The day to day is complete chaos, but when it’s all said and done my mind is no longer cluttered with the ramblings of perfectionism or illusions of what life should be. It isn’t wrapped up in some unattainable ambition. Now my mind is free to focus on what truly matters, nothing less and nothing more. Before cancer I never had time to be still. But now, sitting in the hospital next to Izzy, I finally do. It took watching my four year old daughter fight like hell and wondering desperately if she’d win for me to finally stop overcomplicating life. I used to long for simplicity and I finally got it.