It’s the day before Thanksgiving and as I sit comfortably at my kitchen table watching the snow come down on the woods behind our house I cannot help but think back to where we were a year ago today. It seems like an eternity has passed since then, like I have lived a thousand days walking through the darkest forest dragging heavy stones behind my feet. But we made it. We made it through the dark forest to a place that I cannot fully I say I call Hope, but a place I most definitely am learning to call Peace. A place I most appropriately am learning to call Thankfulness. Daily I am learning that while I do not know what the future holds in store for us, what I have today is a beautiful thing. I will not allow it to be ruined by fear. I will not allow it to be stolen by pain. I will fight to walk in it presently. Yes, it is a daily fight, but one well worth it.
At night before bed Izzy often asks for a bedtime story. She is young enough to long for fantasy but is getting old enough to reconcile fact from fiction. “Goldilocks isn’t real, Mama, is it? Tell me a story that is real.” (It’s also possible that because of other influences in her life she will grow up to be more of a realist than anything else but I wouldn’t know anything about that). For some time there has been a story brewing in my heart and finally this past week I told it to her. This is how it goes:
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a princess with long blonde hair and big blue eyes. The first night I told her this story Izzy said, “This story is about me, isn’t it?” rolling her eyes. I laughed and told her just to listen. The princess lived in a beautiful castle with her parents, the King and Queen and her brother, a brave night. And everything in her life was perfect. Sadly, after I said that last sentence her face got very serious and she decided this story was definitely not about her at all. “Just listen,” I told her.
One day a great darkness fell on the kingdom. Soon the King and Queen received word that there was a fierce dragon after the princess. A dragon, they were told, that could not be stopped. They had no choice but to take her to a village very far away and lock her in a tower where she would be safe. Her mother was able to stay with her in the tower but the King and the brave knight had to go back to their kingdom. The princess had to stay in the tower for a very long time. Every day people from the village would come with spells and potions that were known to keep dragons away, but no one knew what would work for sure. The Queen told the princess that if the dragon left and stayed away that they would know that it would not just be because of the potions and the spells but because of the work of their God. At this point (the first time I told the story) Izzy began asking a lot of questions and was very concerned for the princess. It sounded terrible having to stay in a tower and not being able to be home with your family and friends. And what if she didn’t like the spells and potions?
Finally, one wonderful day, a prince rode up to the tower on a white horse with news that the princess was no longer in danger for he had killed the dragon! Izzy sat up in bed and smiled from ear to ear! “Was he a tall prince? Did he have dark hair?,” she asked? “Yes. He was very tall and strong and sure He had dark hair.” He carried the princess and her mother away on His horse back to their kingdom where the sun was shining brightly, for the darkness had been lifted. The princess was back home safe and sound in her castle with all her family and friends.
“Now Izzy, do you know what the prince’s name was?” I asked her while she was still celebrating the joyous rescue. She shook her head. “His name was Jesus. Do you know the name of the princess?” She looked at me with a blank stare and thought for a while. “Her name,” I told her “her name was Izzy.”
“What!?” she exclaimed, first probably thinking that had never happened to her. And then suddenly you could see the light bulb click. Her mouth dropped wide open and her face sparkled with sheer joy because she understood. “And the dragon…” she began to stumble over her words because she was so excited. “The dragon was cancer!!” She loved it. She was so excited to hear a real live story that she was a part of. And I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself too. Except for one thing. I don’t think I said she lived happily ever after.
I don’t know for sure but I don’t remember saying it. I end every single story like that and for some reason I don’t think I ended the most important one that way. And I want the story to end with her LIVING happily ever after. That’s kind of the most important part to me. I don’t want the prince to come back and take the princess away to a heavenly kingdom where she will be safe from the dragon forever. But as I said in the beginning, I am learning to live daily in a place of peace and a place of thanksgiving. I will not let fear of the future steal the good that has already been accomplished. The truth is, SHE HAS BEEN RESCUED. The truth is, THE DARKNESS HAS BEEN LIFTED.
Next week we have a couple post treatments scans, a bone marrow biopsy and a kidney function test. It will be an intense week as I wait for the results to slowly trickle in. Of course, the two most important ones are at complete opposite ends of the week: Bone Marrow (looking for neuroblastoma cells in the marrow) Monday morning at 7am and MIBG (looking for neuroblastoma cells throughout the body) Friday afternoon at 1:30. But that is then. This is Thanksgiving and I am thankful for how far we have come. I am thankful that we are not in a hospital this year and I am thankful that Izzy finally got to swim with dolphins. And for all this I give God glory.
Blessings on you this weekend and as always, LIFE for IZZY!