As most things are with Joshua he very calmly, very quietly announced his conclusion : "Living with cancer is like being a ghost. " Now how do you think those words struck me? Well, let's just say I first had to pick myself up off of the floor and make sure I didn't have a concussion before responding.
As I recovered I felt the emotion in his words. At just 10 years old he had already seen some of the worst cancer could muster our way. For a bit I just sat there holding my heart in my hands going over his words in my mind. "You know mom we are still here but it feels as if no one else is. Like we are so far behind everyone else. Do you think they have just forgotten us? "
Talk about crushing! I understood his every emotion. We could feel, see, hear everything around us , but somehow it was like life had stopped. People went on, life went on. The outside world went on living, laughing, bonding, and yet we were just on the outside of it all. You just seem to stand there, with no motion, while the world turns and people go by. The seasons change and you still stand there in the very same spot as if you are a not part of the world surrounding you. It is no ones fault really but it doesn't make it any easier. Kids back away, people back away and not because they mean to hurt you but because they just don't know how to respond to you honestly.
I tried to explain how this would not last forever and the wheels would begin turning again soon. As my children have done throughout our entire journey, Joshua let it sink in, hugged me and smiled. It was about the same time I brought home a copy of 'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak from the library. As a little girl myself I loved this story. I hoped as Max had fed my imagination he too would bring a bit of adventure to my own boys lives.
As I began reading Max climbed through a jungle, sailed across the sea and tamed wild things all before returning home again to his room, and his mother where he was loved. Yes, you can see it now! This story is indeed one we shall always remember. Oh how the boys laughed, then giggled, thought and then they smiled. We read it over and over again, then I kissed my boys goodnight and made them promise to enjoy with the wild things knowing I would be there to wake them in the morning. Yes, there was a greater understanding of such a story in our home after that night.
When breast cancer touched my life, it touched all of our lives but the boys especially. People have asked me many times, "where does your hope spring from?" The truth is my children have been my greatest source of inspiration. As a mother I have wanted to shield them both from the pain and the worry of breast cancer. I thought about hiding myself away, rolling over and forgetting the world outside our door more times than I can count but you know what? My children have taught me better. They have taught me to laugh, to smile and to live and when all else seems lost they have given me hope.
From time to time I still bring home this book to read my boys. You would think I would have bought this book by now. I know, I know, maybe one day I will. But there is still something magical about bringing it home from the library. And though they may seem too old for a children's book such as this now I am convinced we are never too old to remind ourselves of where we have been been, where we are going and the journey that takes us there. After all, inside all of us, everyone of us is... hope, fear and adventure.