This morning was hard. I'm not sure why, exactly. I'm never really sure why anymore. While there may be many inconsequential reasons on the surface, the bottom line is I just big fat miss my daughter. I miss her smile and her laugh and her boundless energy, and I am lost without her. I try my best to seem like I have it all together, to not have full-blown panic attacks in public as errant memories hit, but sometimes, it's not as easy as I want you to believe it is. And no, I am not fool enough to believe that I am actually fooling anyone, except maybe my ex, who sees the occasional picture on Facebook of me smiling on a hike or out with friends and thinks that I have found happiness while he wallows in misery without our daughter. But while I am able to find scraps of happiness in the small things (like hikes and dinners with my amazing friends), on most days, I am trying to find the fucking will to live. Today was such a day, for seemingly no reason.
I just got in from Florida two days ago, on Friday night. So naturally, I spent Saturday mostly asleep, thanks to jet-lag. I did manage to go for my walk in the late afternoon, because my mother refused to let me diet while we were on vacation and I came back five pounds heavier. Oh, HELL NO! I am now happy to report that a sauna belt and a ton of water later, I am back to where I was before, thank Christ! Today, I had a birthday party scheduled for Elias, one of Sarah's friends from the hospital, a fellow oncology patient, and the most amazing little boy you will every meet in your life. He is HILARIOUS, with a wit and a charm that denotes a boy twice his age. His little sister, Savannah, was Sarah's best friend. He is amazing, and I love him, so of course, OF COURSE, I would not let anything stop me from going to celebrate his birthday. Birthdays are even more significant for oncology kids than "normal" ones. Nothing could stop me from being there, except maybe a little bout of depression.
I'm not even sure what it was. Maybe it's because it was a birthday party, and I will never get to throw another birthday party for Sarah ever again. Maybe it's the sudden overwhelming feeling I seem to get in large crowds lately. Maybe I just big fat miss my daughter and so nothing is right in the world without her when I get like this. Whatever it was, I was having a really hard time getting out of bed, or getting anything to eat, let alone getting ready for the party. I forced myself to work on some orders I have for Sarah Bear Designs, and that helped a little, once I got into my zone, but there was still that feeling. I was dragging my feet. And left to my own devices, I probably would have skipped the party, and I'm sure everyone would have understood.
But my onc mommies are amazing creatures, and just when I have decided that I can't go, I get a text from Amanda, Julian's mom. Julian was the love of Sarah's life. I know they were only five. But if there was ever proof of soulmates on this Earth, these two were it.
I decided to push through, and I got into the shower and got ready to go. Once I got there, I was so glad I did. Being a cancer mom is a full time job. Scratch that. It's like three full time jobs. You can't plan anything, everything revolves around your child and their illness. This is something we all understand and forgive, but the unfortunate downside is that it keeps us from getting together as much as we would like to. So, immediately, I was glad that I came because I got to be around some of the most amazing women I have ever known. Andrea, Elias' mom, hugged me immediately, told me she was so glad to see me and asked if it was hard for me to be there. I didn't really answer, but she knew. She assured me that she wouldn't be offended if I needed to excuse myself early. That alone, the understanding and unconditional love without need of excuse or explanation, gave me the strength I needed to stay. That, and the fact that Amanda D., Anaya's mom, is crazy hilarious and I had forgotten how much I missed these women until I had them in front of me.
I no longer need to go to the hospital. Sarah is gone, so there are no more playdates, I am no longer a cancer mom. No more cancer, no more mom. But as Andrea says, you are a cancer mom for life. There is a reassurance in knowing that our children and their illnesses may have initially brought us together (as well as Amanda, Anaya's mom, and her propensity for hugging strange crying women in hospital hallways! lol This is how she met both Andrea and me!) but it is love that holds us here. I have an overwhelming abundance of love and support, but I could not get through this without the support of these women, my fellow Cancer Moms, or my "mommies" as I call them. I need these women in my life.
And, I need the kids, too. Elias enjoyed his birthday immensely, but wasn't feeling well by the end. He perked up some with the twenty I gave him because I hadn't time to buy him a present! :) Savannah informed both of her parents that she was spending the night at my house, without informing me, until it was made clear that she would not be retrieved in the middle of the night this time, like the last time she tried to sleep over with Sarah. Anaya sidled up next to me on the couch, and asked me why I didn't bring Sarah. I told her that I couldn't, because Sarah was in Heaven, and she said simply, "Oh." Then, after a pause, she said, "You know I miss her a lot, right?" I had to smile, and then I said, "Yes, I know, baby." Then, in true, sassy, Anaya fashion (she and Sarah were friends for a reason), she says, "How do you know?" To which I replied, "Your momma told me." "Oh." she said again, before she scampered off to find Savannah. Julian tells me every time he sees me how much he misses Sarah. These kids have suffered more in their short little lives than most adults, and still they are happy and hopeful and wise beyond their years. They are the reason why I can't go back to teaching full time. My heart just isn't in it anymore. My heart is at that hospital, with my baby, with the friends who loved her so well.
As heart-breaking as the events of the last four years have been, I wouldn't change them. My mother always said something good always comes from something bad, and as usual, she was right. From my shitty marriage, I got the most gorgeous and amazing daughter a woman could ever hope for. From her birth, I got the contentment of a wish fulfilled. From her illness, I got strength and courage, which I learned from said daughter, and I got a sorority of women who have shown me the meaning of true friendship. And I will forever be grateful.
|The Onc Moms in attendance at the party. From the left, Andrea (Elias' mom); Cynthia (Ricky's mom), Amanda F. (Julian's mom); Me (Sarah's mom); Amanda D. (Anaya's mom) and Rosemary (Aaliyah's mom)|
|Andrea, Amanda, me and Amanda! Love these women!|
|Amanda sandwich! lol|
|Onc mommies and babies|
|Proof in the debate that the Samsung Galaxy does not, in fact, take better pictures than the iPhone! lol|
|Photobombed by the babies!|