This is the same guy… yes, you’re seeing correctly, the six foot two inch giant of a man whose heart is larger than his shoe size, standing at the counter to check in at the all too familiar front desk of the 4th floor oncology clinic at Primary Children’s Hospital … the one who comes into my room or finds me where ever I am if it’s been too long since he’s seen me, to look in my eyes and make sure I’m doing okay. “Mamma… where are you? (He looks at my eyes) are you okay? Are you sure? Do you need a hug? Okay, well just know that I’m always here for you!”
I haven’t kept track of how many times I’ve opened my eyes on scan day right about the same time reality hits and my body feels the wave of shock and nausea wash through me. How many times I’ve thrown the covers off but the weight of the elephant stays, placing my feet on the floor and consciously putting one foot in front of the other on the hardwood until habit and routine take over. I haven’t kept track of how many times I’ve listened to the shower run longer than it does on most days, but not reminding Riley that it’s time to go…. because I’m wanting my son to have one more shower without the possible horrifying news that is waiting. I haven’t kept track of how many times he has requested to drive instead of me, or kept track of the ever-changing conversations that take place on the way to the dreaded scans. There used to be a favorite play list we listened to….which I hate… sorry Riley. There used to be lack of oxygen to breathe and tension so thick you could barely move in your seat. It used to be that food was not an option, conversation was strained and scary, and nerves were bulging from your skin. We used to have an unspoken wish that someone would cut us off just so we would have an excuse to cuss and fly the bird, or an unspoken dare for a cop to pull us over for speeding and driving recklessly just so we could tell him “my son has cancer” and dare him to issue a ticket. I’ve lost count of the number of stairs that lead you up four flights to the oncology clinic… we’ve opted for the new elevator since the remodel. I’ve lost track of the number of dear friends we’ve met in that clinic… the ones who have the same look in their eyes and seem to understand all you are feeling without saying a word.
I cannot tell you how many times we have sat for, sometimes hours, in a treatment room waiting, for what seems like an eternity, for the doctor to walk in and deliver the sentence we’ve been dreading since the previous scan, three months prior…. And I cannot put into words the amount of relief, gratitude or joy that comes as a result of hearing, “the scans look great… the tumor may even be slightly smaller”. In my body it feels like my shoulders, being the top of the scaffolding that holds the rest of my body up to house my broken heart and my heavy soul, can finally relax… dropping away from my ears as I exhale and for the first time in days feel it’s okay to relax and let go.
I think the process of all I’ve described (from my point of view) and more, that occurs each time my dear son gets scans, completely wipes me out. As I have become more aware and mindful and have practiced staying present in my body, I have come to realize that the day following scans is a day for recovery. I could not figure out why I was so exhausted and emotional yesterday. I’ve never learned to look at myself from a place of observance or for that matter, been patient or offered any compassion to myself…generally I have lived in my head… as most people do, but the more familiar I become with me… that stoic, strong, courageous, tender and loving woman who lives inside of this body, the more I realize that she needs a day to breathe and offer compassion to herself following scan day, regardless of the outcome. I’m going to blame scans for the abundance of wrinkles around my eyes and the rounded formation of my shoulders. There is simply no other explanation why a 32 year old woman looks the way I do.
On Tuesday, as I was walking the hospital, tracing my steps from the EKG room, to the lab, to the car, and back to Radiology, looking for my misplaced water bottle, a peaceful feeling came over me. I noticed the emotion and asked myself why I was feeling peace… my mind offered an interesting observance….”You are here with your sweet son, look how he has changed since the first scan, four and a half years ago. He is so kind, loving, compassionate, patient, peaceful, courageous and strong in a soft and gentle way. He is respectful, generous and hard working, and he loves you. You get to spend this time with him. You no longer walk on eggshells around him, you are safe to talk about anything with him in a completely honest and transparent way. Most parents don’t get the sacred time you’ve had with their sons. Today is a gift. Enjoy each moment.”
It is reassuring to be with my dear son. He is an incredible man. He is a natural leader and without even realizing, he inspires and lifts thousands of people. He has a heart of gold and would give all he has for any one of his family members or friends. He has felt and witnessed more in his 22 years than most people do in a hundred. He is a wise soul, he is a teacher, he observes people and knows what they need, he is my son, and he teaches me how to be a better person.
In the days leading up to his scan I felt more love from Heavenly Father and Jesus than I ever have. I felt them mourning with me and offering compassion in my sadness and pain. I also felt something shift inside of me that is difficult to put into words. Due to the prognosis of Riley’s cancer I have had to turn my will over to God’s and surrender. However, I’ve had a different feeling in the past few months. Something changed… again… I cannot explain, but at about the time Levi, Riley’s younger brother, was having a “come to Jesus” with God and telling him he needed to bless his brother with a miracle if he wanted Levi to go on a mission…. Without my knowledge mind you…. I had been having my own impressions that something was shifting… that miracles are possible and happen everyday, and that I should be praying for one. This is a bold and scary thing for a parent to do… but the feeling became so strong that three days before the scans, I sent out a request on social media, asking anyone and everyone to fast and pray for a miracle for my boy. To be completely honest and bold…. The doctors told us back in October that cancer would begin to grow again by July …. Well, it’s August, and there is still no sign of cancer. I’ve talked to many doctors and I’ve done lots of research, and trust me…. THIS IS A MIRACLE.
We live in a world where satan would have us leave him out of the story. We live in a world where people don’t want to believe that anything exists beyond what they can see. We live in a world where people are so distracted and out of touch with themselves that when they have an impression or “feel something in their body”, or have a thought in their mind, that isn’t congruent with what their eyes see, they dismiss it as being crazy or foolish. Well, because I’ve been in that place, I recognize what is going on. There is far, far more going on around us than we can see. The more we learn to be present, in our bodies, staying grounded and aligned with our higher power and keeping a clear mind, free of substances that block our exchange of light, it becomes easier to FEEL that God lives, and that he is trying with all his might to guide and direct us to the paths that will bring us joy. There are times when our will does not align with His and from my experience, when we get to the backside of those times, we can see the reasoning in His ways. However, there are also times when He is eager to bless us with modern day miracles, and is just waiting for us to ask in faith.
I want to thank each of you who pray for my family, specifically Riley. I have witnessed God’s hand in our lives more than most and I have seen His miracles. I will testify to you, that you have just witnessed a miracle too.