I sat on a playground bench tonight and did the thing you’re never supposed to do these days at playgrounds. I did that thing mothers are scorned for doing when they are supposed to be engaging with their children. Occasionally I would catch glimpses of other mothers looking at me. I was that mom we have all read about on the internet. That mom who went to the playground with her kids but couldn’t look away from her cellphone long enough to actually be there with them.
They played together, never looking for my attention, which is good because my face was glued to the screen looking through old photos, old videos, anything to take my mind away from where we were. There were so many things I was avoiding.
I have been to this playground many times before and tonight I was sitting across from a slide I stood by three years ago when I got one of those phone calls that is in my book of life changing phone calls. It wasn’t a phone call about Izzy though, it was about Carter. He needed spinal cord surgery and they had called to say they thought it should be done as soon as possible. The following week.
And I remember standing on that playground watching the other kids play and watching Carter struggle to climb the ladders and the stairs. I had been trying for so long to get someone to listen to me, to hear me say that something was wrong with his little body. But no one had until now.
That is the heart of the mother. We see something wrong with our children and we do anything and everything to make it right for them. We advocate, we fight, we sound like broken records and crazy people until someone finally listens and says, “well, would you look at that, he’s had a tethered spinal cord for five years no wonder he’s having these problems.”
Tonight as I sat in avoidance on my little bench I remembered the day I got that call. They performed surgery the following week and three weeks later Izzy was re-diagnosed with neuroblastoma for the second time.
I finally put my phone away and forced myself to watch my kids. But you see it wasn’t really my kids I was avoiding all along. It was the other ones. Their happy little innocent laughs sounded just like my kids. Their cute little games of chase looked just like the ones my kids were playing. From the outside all of the children looked like innocent little kids playing on a playground on Mother’s Day. Any bystander would never have known that one of those children had just been given a non-curable diagnosis just days before. Any bystander but me, who hid behind my sunglasses and shook my leg uncontrollably.
When we got home tonight I stood in the driveway and talked to a neighbor about the medical plan for the week. Izzy rode up on her scooter, full of life, “Did you tell her?,” she asked, not realizing my entire world already knew. “I did, baby,” I said through tears.
“Do you cry everytime you tell someone?,” she asked, more curious than concerned. Her question caused me to pause. “I do, baby, because I’m your mother. Mother’s are supposed to be able to make things better for their kids, to fix things and it makes us sad when we can’t. It makes me sad I can’t fix this for you.” I was proud of my answer but mostly I was proud that I got it out without more crying.
“Can you fix my scooter?” she asked, looking down at this piece she was wiggling. I laughed. “That, is something I can fix.”
She rode away leaving my neighbor and I standing with tears streaming down our cheeks but smiling.
That, is the heart of a mother. We want with everything we have to make things better for our children. We want desperately to take their pain away. To put bandaids on their cuts and scrapes, to rock them back to sleep when they have had a bad dream and to fix their scooters. It is how we were created. And when we can’t it feels like a part of us is dying. Because it is. The part of us, the part of me, that was created to nurture and protect my young suddenly isn’t enough anymore. Something greater than me has entered the picture and is trying to take over. As a mother it feels suffocating.
Tuesday morning we will head to Cincinnati get a biopsy of the tumor. The Radiologist who will be performing the biopsy did an ultrasound of it on Friday.The tiny spot is wedged between her left kidney and spleen. It will take a week or so to get the pathology reports back but they will help us to determine a treatment plan.
Right now I am still mostly in shock. My heart beats like a pendulum between great sadness and a vast sea of nothingness. There are brief moments of the day where I have great faith but those are do quickly fleeting. Most of the time I feel too paralyzed to hope or to believe for much.
To those of you that do have the faith I would ask you to stand in the gap for me during this season. I believe the Lord is faithful to revive my Mother’s heart so I can fight without ceasing once again.
Blessings on you today and LIFE for IZZY!