I sometimes sit back and mentally journey back to the beginning and see how far we have come. I see my boys little faces full of sadness and hope, sometimes both at the same time. I see their tears, hear their fears and know their pain, but then I can see the changes begin, I see the joy on their faces and the laughter in their voices.Take all the misery for what it is but there is still more to this journey than those dreadful things.
As I move forward through time, past many of our twists and turns, down many detours and through many shattered dreams what do I see you may ask? I see life emerging with hope, strength and determination. Together, as a family, we have stood our ground, taken back this life, changed as it may be, and withstood the challenge. No this journey has not been easy and we have cried many more tears than I would like to admit, but we have done so together. We have suffered many nights waiting for the sun to rise, waiting for another surgery to pass, and another treatment to come and to go. We have watched together as my hair fell out, and my breast was taken away. We have ridden the storms out as they have come, each and every one and yes we have come away battered and bruised. But... we have emerged on our feet, hand and hand, strong in spirit... together.
We have gathered to celebrate and to mourn, we have walked together, with family and friends by our sides, in search for a cure. We have raised our glasses to honor yet another "Life Day" ( year of remission) and held our breathe as we waited for news of it's return. My point is this: We have done this not individually, but together, as a unit, a family. As a mother I have feared for my boys this is true, but I have also made it very clear to each one of them, life is always worth fighting for. So many nights I have lay in my bed, awake, praying for my children, for strength, determination and compassion, in their everyday lives. I have seen them press on, carry heavy loads upon their backs and still share hope and laughter with others.
Then just this last week I received an email from Joshua's school councilor. I opened it up and began reading until my tears began blurring my sight and could not see the words in front of me anymore. Once I cleared my eyes I saw in her note she had written a narrative on our family and submitted it to the Katy Elk Lodge. She had spoken of our strength and resolve, of our determination and how we had risen to the challenge. Her words as as follows:
"I wrote the narrative of how at a young age of 30+ you have battled with cancer and how you chose not to let this disease take the core of your family’s integrity. Also, how you still manage to step up to the plate and headstrong – eye to eye -- confront the malice this disease brings into your home and into your lives . How your perseverance and good attitude is the most admirable trait you have taught your children and how I see it in your son, Joshua. Also, how you have taught your family to stick together through the hard times and not give up even when you feel like you can’t keep up. This is what many of us witness when we see from the outside looking in, and we understand it’s not half of what you truly experience inside in your home. There is so much more you and your family have accomplished on a day-to-day basis that we couldn’t begin to imagine. We appreciate all you do to teach us and our families what it means to persist through life’s toughest adversity when the norm would be to give up."
On Sunday, May 26, 2009 our family was honored by the Elk Lodge as their '2009 Family of the Year' for meeting the challenge to provide outstanding family support under special circumstances. As we stood there hand and hand together in front of so many people we were moved and humbled even as we were being honored. As the speaker went on he began to speak of Joshua and my heart jumped with joy as I listened to how he has risen up from these ashes and made a difference in other children's lives. Our son, our child at the tender age of 12, after living in the shadow of this beast for 3 years now, has begun to mentor other children as their journeys are just beginning within his school walls. His courage and strength spoke to me as it moved me to tears.
You can see why I broke down in tears, why I am in tears now. This was not my goal in life, nor did I see myself living my life this way. But we are not given a choice in such matters and so it is not so much about the cards we are dealt but what we do with them that matters. In my life as the cards are been dealt what I strive for everyday is to help my family, to give my boys purpose. So even when the storm would come to carry us out into the ocean we can rise above the waves.
So in the end, when my time here on earth comes to an end it is time to close this book I pray what I leave behind is a legacy of hope and strength and yes determination to my boys. I pray they will grow into strong men, with good hearts and compassion enough to share with many. This is my greatest hope.