You may be asking how I can speak so matter- of- factly? How can I be so open with my life and suffering? Why have I made my life with breast cancer an open book for all to see and read? Well the truth is I have watched the last three years of my life carry on with or without my approval. Oh yes I have seen the monsters under my bed and believe me they are just waiting to pounce! On most days I am able to hold the bed down but there are others when one or two escape. Believe me I have lived through being dragged from my bed and out unto the uneven path outside more times than I would like to count. Go ahead and imagine it: Hair ( what is, was or wasn't) sticking straight up in the air, mouth gaping open screaming and yes quite literally my feet kicking and my arms flailing while the monster has pulled, dragged and beaten me out the door! Not a pretty sight let me assure you but still, rain, shine, monsters under the bed or not a new day will begin without fail.
Again let me answer your question my friend, life changes with us, around us, for us and against us day and night. But (yes I know another 'BUT') at the day's end the truth is we are all part of this unbroken circle called LIFE.
"The problem isn't finding out where you are gonna go-its figuring out what you are gonna do once you get there that is!" (- Jamie from A Walk to Remember). This quote is one of my favorites as it really speaks to me. When I think about all we have been through as a family since 2006... breast cancer the loss of a breast, chemo, adjustments left and right,becoming a survivor and remission... well life has not been exactly picturesque. Still it has been, no it is our life and as a mother I have tried desperately to teach my children about living life, embracing hope and the journey both below and ahead of us.
Nothing in this life is predicable. So many things can be unbearably painful if not completely catastrophic if you allow them to overtake you. Breast cancer is one of those things. She sure came into our lives with a sudden jolt! Life changed in a scary and terrifying way for both my boys. Joshua was just nine years old and Micah a mere six years old when the face of breast cancer came attempting to claim me. As time has passed and as this cancer took hold of my body I began teaching my children to live life out loud, outside of the box, in spite of the beast breathing down our necks. In the years since my husband Johnny, the boys and myself, have made beautiful memories, rejoiced in the victories and held onto our hopes close as we have run through breast cancer's dark eerie cave of horrors. So yes I can attest with just a bit of experience once you have begun the journey there is no going back. But... you can make every day a first, making memories as you move forward creating a life of HOPE.
Since my own journey began back in 2006 I have watched my boys grow from children into little men. As a mother and a young breast cancer survivor I have looked at them with double vision. I have seen what life should have been, could have been if this beast had skipped over us. But like all the other changes in our lives I also have seen what life has been since this beast attacked us. My eyes have opened to true beauty surrounding my life. I have experienced unending love like never before and felt grace break what chains I foresaw as a death's blow. But mostly , I have found living to be beautiful. Yes cancer can be powerful and earth shattering but it can also fill us with might and determination, awakening our inner depths of strength.
But what about those monsters? What about our children? What of their eyes? What happens when their little hands begin to slip out of our hands? What of their fear and uncertainty? How do they see this beast and how do they face their own monsters creeping out from under the bed at night? I know I have heard the whispers calling my name, have they heard them too? I have been face to face with Little Miss Reaper packing an attitude. Her sickle and dark pink robes have stalked me, crawled out from under my bed and peaked out from the closet more times than I'd like to count. So I wonder when the lights go out how do such small children learn to ignore the shadows which come to steal their hope away?
Seriously how do we capture and keep their innocence during such times as these? Can our love and resolve be enough for them too? Nothing on earth can move us more as mothers as when our children are hurt or when they face their fears. I know because I have watched both my boys sport pink shirts proudly, hold my hand when all their buddies where watching and walk closely next to their bald mother while all eyes where on them. In the time since breast cancer charged into our lives I have seen such strength and courage in our boys tender souls. Through their daily focus and inspiration I have learned to laugh and giggle right along side them. My boys have taught me to be brave despite the fire breathing dragon an inch away from my nose!
So many times my heart has broken as I have watched the boys struggle since my illness began. But you know what? As life has pushed forward they have to, each one learning to fly and to soar above the turbulence despite the difficulties. Through their eyes I have seen such determination even when they could have given into the pain, the fear and the uncertainty. Again, I say life changes and so we must change with it. We cannot change the course we are given, but we can learn to navigate through it with hope and tenacity. Truly just as I am learning this lesson myself I say to all we must learn to live with purpose realizing our lives our given to us by Divine design.
This is the gift my children have give me... to live every moment determined to rise above the turbulence even if it may be my last. So I say: Be ready to take a deep breath, shake off your fears and go. Why you ask? Well, because when all is said and done and life has completed it's course around the sun you will have lived life with no apologies. Again just as Jamie in A Walk to Remember says, " Maybe God has a bigger plan for me than I had for myself. "
No matter where the journey ends my friend there is a plan greater than ourselves. I may only speak for myself here but I know I have indeed received my own brilliant miracle in both of my children. Because of their love, determination and hope I will leap off the last step with the knowledge I have truly lived a life to be remembered ...monsters and all under the bed.