Most of you know by now that on July 19th we learned of Izzy’s third relapse. The days since then have blurred together, one day seeming to begin before the day prior even ends. I have drifted through these past few weeks on the wings of distraction and emotional distance before finally crashing to a place of acknowledgement. I can’t remember the exact moment of impact, the exact time I inhaled acceptance and exhaled disappointment. It just happened.
Back in January I decided to make ‘resilience’ my word for the year. That word would take up residence in the forefront of my mind. It would be the lense to which all events of the year were seen through. One night I remember laying in bed with Carter and praying the Lord would help him to develop ‘resilience.’ Not having much context for the word he asked me to explain. I told him ‘resilience’ was like standing at the shore. It was like standing with your toes barely in the water and then beginning to step out, one foot at a time further and further. I painted a picture with my words for him of a wave crashing towards you, knocking you down. I told him resilience was how well you could stand back up after the fall. Then I told him to pretend the waves kept crashing, each time knocking you down. I described how hard it would get to stand back up after each crashing wave. Told him what I wanted for my life was to always get back up. To always keep walking forward even when the waves wouldn’t let up.
I want so much for our journey to bring hope but even more than that I want that hope to be found authentically. The truth is, if I were to use that same illustration today, I would say I am currently face down in the sand with waves crashing over my entire body. I’m not even trying to stand anymore, let alone walk forward.
Each one of us will experience pain and suffering in this life, of that there is no question. There will be a season for each of us when we feel as though the world is falling apart- I get it. I have accepted that we live in a fallen, unfair world. We will all experience something that makes us feel like our heart has been ripped out. The image that keeps coming to my mind is the ritual sacrifice scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. You know the one, where they rip the guy’s heart out? But as I’ve been thinking about that scene I keep thinking: that is not what this feels like. See in a crazy kind of hell, they would put the heart back in. They would rip the heart out, yes. But then they would put it back in just long enough to let the man feel hope and relief. Ripping the heart out once would be painful but to do it again and again and again would just be cruel. THAT image, that is pediatric cancer with multiple relapses. That is learning to live with doctors telling you your daughter won’t.
The first time Izzy got sick was absolutely devastating. My entire world turned upside down and inside out in an instant. With each relapse, the upper case ‘C’ in cancer has grown smaller and smaller. Each time the word carries less and less weight because each time it is just more and more of the only thing she has ever known.
This past Monday she started oral chemotherapy at home in addition to an IV drug she will receive once a month at the hospital. She woke up at 5am today crying because of the pain in her legs the IV drug is causing. Next Wednesday we will travel to Cincinnati for twenty rounds of radiation. She will miss over a month of school and grow more and more tired with each round. She hopes to keep playing soccer on the weekends, to keep being able to ride a bike through all of treatment but I watch her struggle to go up and down the stairs and I wonder. I hope and I fear and I wonder.
It’s good for me to write. Good to put words to the emotion that I feel. I haven’t written an update yet because when I looked at the words I tried to put together they weren’t the ones I thought people wanted to read. Today I woke up and decided I didn’t care. If you want to follow our journey, I welcome you to. But I will not promise to make it pretty because it’s not. I will not try to wrap it up with a pretty little bow because I can’t.
I wholeheartedly believe that God is walking on this journey with us and I believe he will redeem it. But I will not pretend to know what that looks like and I will not throw around the name of Jesus in a certain way to give people warm fuzzies. God deserves more than that and so does Izzy.
I am so grateful for every day that I have gotten to be her mother and I will continue to ask for more time on this journey with her. I would be honored for you to do the same
Blessings on you today and LIFE for Izzy.