A little over a week ago I found myself in the foothills of southern California in a little town called Ojai. It’s the kind of place that’s so tiny you can find your way around after five minutes. But it’s the kind of place that is so far removed from reality you get lost there after five seconds. For four days I sat around fireside with a group of women on a retreat and together dug to the darkest places of our souls. We wrote pieces of our stories and shared them over and over and over again. And then it ended and we all went home.
As my plane landed last Monday morning my own reality seemed too unbearable to come home to. I stood in front of my seat and let several others exit the plane before me for I was in no hurry. My eyes were tired and my body was heavy and I wondered if maybe I could stow away on the plane for a day or two. Maybe then I would be ready to go back to my reality but I knew the answer. Never would there come a day that I would be ready. So I just went.
I walked upstream through the terminal of hurried bodies. My mother was waiting for me in her car out front and once I saw her I walked faster toward the door. Reality would not wait. I gave my mom a hug, put my luggage in the trunk and got in the car against my will. My home awaited.
This is the place where I began to feel guilty. I knew the other moms were so excited to get home to see their little ones but I simply was not. Seeing would be acknowledging. Embracing would be accepting. The truth is I liked talking about the story as though it was someone else’s. But walking through my front door would force me to acknowledge that reality was my own.
Soon we were pulling down the street and before I knew it I was home. Carter was the first to greet me. He came out of his room, messy hair, sleepy eyes and tied his camouflage robe at the waist. He smiled big with squinty eyes still half sleeping and then buried his face into me, “Hi Mom.”
“Hi Baby,” I said, holding him close. We walked to the couch to sit down, arms around each other.
“Mommy,” I heard, as Izzy raced down the stairs. “Mommy, mommy, mommy.” She ran to me as fast as she could and soon I scooped her up into my arms. I wanted to cry because this tiny place of my heart thought maybe when I returned it would have all been a dream. Maybe she wouldn’t have lost her hair. Maybe she wouldn’t have a g-tube or need all the meds. Maybe, just maybe, she wouldn’t have a cancer they said could not be cured. But as she melted into my arms reality invaded that tiny place of my heart. My baby did have cancer.
I sat on the couch that morning with both of my children, grateful they were alive for me to come home to. I listened to stories of their weekend and held them tight trying my hardest to stay in the present moment.
I don’t write much these days and honestly it’s because I’m always waiting for the next big event or this next big thing to say. But the truth is Izzy’s story is more than just those big things. Those things are just big rocks along the road. But Izzy’s story isn’t just the big rocks – it’s the entire road. It’s long and winding, beautiful and broken. There are places of gravel along the way, cracks from the summer’s heat and sometimes, sometimes there are big rocks. But in between each one it’s just a road. Just a journey like your kid is on. It’s filled with bike rides and tea parties, soccer practices and sleepovers.
I don’t want to be so caught up in waiting for the big rocks that I forget to write about the regular stuff on her journey too. That’s really the stuff I want to chronicle. Those are the things I want to remember forever. Things like how she likes for me to hold her hand at night when she falls asleep sometimes and other times says, “I’m too tired for you, please leave.” That’s the good stuff friends. The everyday beautiful.
In the future I’ll be writing more about our days and the moments that have made them special. You can expect to see more from me but it might not be as dramatic as it has been in the past and I’m okay with that. This, is Izzy’s Story. It’s a chronicle of her everyday and the beautiful that is in it.
That morning that I flew in from California I got up from the couch snuggling to look in my suitcase for the treasures I had got them there. While I was digging Izzy came up behind me with an envelope, “I made this for you, Mommy, while you were away.” I stepped back from the suitcase and took the envelope gracefully into my hands.
“Where did you get this?,” I asked, pointing to the sticker on the front.
“I found it downstairs on the floor. In front of the dresser,” she said and my mind flashed back to the mess I made of the craft drawers right before I left. Inside the envelope was a little note that said, “I Love You.” But outside. Outside was the real treasure. On the envelope, surrounded by her hand crafted decorations was a scrapbooking sticker that read, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent from one another.” Genesis 31:49
And that’s just Izzy and her everyday kind of beautiful.
Blessings on you today and LIFE for Izzy!