Homemade Hideaway

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I sit back in my chair and watch as my children enjoy what is left of the fleeting days of summer. Izzy has built a fort in the bushes that line the driveway and daily, children from the neighborhood come in and out of her hideaway. There are blankets on the mulch, a few chairs and hung on the branches are the real treasures; hula hoops, nerf guns and of course a toy medical kit.

Each day she plays in the confines of these four towering bushes. She brings her dolls and their strollers, snacks and bottled water and I sit back to watch her take on the world from the safety of this Homemade Hideaway.

I think many things when I watch her play. Think how these bushes will forever be so precious to me. Think how she really has no idea she that she is any different from the other children that enter her fortress. That she has no idea she has anything more to fear in life than they do. And that, of course, makes me happy but also makes me sad.

The mother in me longs for a fortress that could actually protect my princess. And that is perhaps the saddest thing for me about watching her play in this vast hideaway she has built. I want it to protect her from more than things that are imaginary. I want it to protect her from the darkness trying to take over her body. The truth is, as her mother, I want to protect her myself but I can’t so I sit back in my chair with silent tears falling down my sun kissed cheeks. I sit back and watch her role-play this illusion of safety and pray that it is happening in the flesh.

Not much has changed since my last post and that is the reason for my silence. I suppose another reason for my silence is because I don’t want to acknowledge we are here, back on this journey. That Izzy has cancer and that Carter is anxious all the time now. That I’m taking unpaid days off work to be with them because I realize the summer is drawing to a close and I’m running out of time.

We finally had another round of chemotherapy two weeks ago and this past weekend she was in the hospital for dehydration from it. We are finding with this regimen that Izzy is not sick the week of the chemo but the following week instead. There was some delay between this cycle and the first, so chemotherapy has taken up much less of our time this summer than I originally thought it would. For the most part my children have had a good summer, TOGETHER, and for that I am so grateful.

Her next cycle will be given at home next week but the side effects won’t be in full force until the following week – the first week back to school. I have already told her she probably will not be able to go. She cried and said she hated cancer. Said she hated chemo. I told her that I hated them too.

This diagnosis of ‘Relapse’ has hit everyone in our home harder than the first diagnosis of ‘Neuroblastoma’ or the second of ‘Stage IV Recurrent.’ The anxiety level for each of us is at an all time high. We have been down this road before and yet never THIS road. Perhaps the one who continues to walk with the most grace is actually Izzy herself.

The other night as I lay snuggled next to her before bed I placed my hand gently upon her abdomen and began to pray over her as I always do. My prayers over her are vague these days as I do not want her to grow worried for her life. I pray for God’s presence to fill her body, for Him to cast out darkness and, of course, to protect her and keep her safe forever.

As my prayer was drawing to a close I prayed the thing that won’t surprise you at all. I prayed LIFE for Izzy, “Lord, fill Izzy with LIFE.” What surprised me, was actually her her reponse to my prayer that night.

“Mama?,” she asked, cuddling up to me in the darkness.
“Yes babe,” I said, wondering if my prayer had gone too long and she was going to ask if we could just go to sleep.
“I think we should ask God to fill you with LIFE too.”
“Sure,” I said, tears flowing down my cheeks in the darkness. “Mama does need life too.” So she put her arm around me and I asked the Lord to give me life too.

The first time I walked this road I had stamina, I had endurance and I could bounce back up after hard days. This time is different. It’s like I’ve flat lined. And while it grieves me that she sees that, it amazes me that she knows what to do for it.

The truth is I have camped out inside the confines of my own home, isolating myself from the world in attempts of creating my own homemade hideaway. I have withdrawn from nearly everyone, even the Lord. But He has not stopped pursuing me. He never does. That is part of the beauty of this journey that I cannot deny. And the real beauty is that He speaks to me through my daughter, Israelle, because He knows how to get my attention. And because she is one of a kind.

Blessings on you today and LIFE for Izzy!