Monday, July 30, 2012

We Didn't Plan for Cancer

      I remember quite vividly the first time Scott and I laid eyes on our house.
      Was it love at first sight?
      Was it the house of our dreams?
      Not really.
      In fact, it was half the size of our former home. It needed landscaping. And grass.
      The baseboards, trim and doors needed paint. The closets needed rods.
      The basement was a blank slate. The deck a certified health hazard.
      But, it was a house in which our dreams could come true.
      Pausing for a moment in the kitchen during a walk-thru, we saw what this house could be.
      What we could be.
       A mom and dad sitting on the front porch watching our children grow.
       And we did that first summer as three darling children tore through the jungle that was our front lawn squealing with delight. A water fight ensued. Smiles. On their faces. In our hearts.
       We watched that second summer too. And listened.
       To the sound of a basketball pounding on the pavement, the front door swinging open and shut as a little girl’s friends filtered in and out of the house.
       We looked and listened in the fall and the winter.

A candid from our fall photo shoot.

      But it’s summer again.
      And the dreams seem to have dimmed a little.
      Like most people, we didn't make room in our dreams for cancer.
      And when it barged into our lives we didn't plan on it taking our little girl.
      At least not so soon.

      Six days.
      I can account for every single detail in those six days.
     Our 9-year-old looking at us and saying, "So I have cancer?"
      The treatment protocol.
      Six to nine months in and out of the hospital.
      The side effects. Hair loss. Nausea. Mouth sores.
      The options: dye your hair a crazy color, cut it short, or just let it fall out.
      Addie's choice: just let it fall out.
      My God, her time in the hospital wasn't long enough for her hair to even fall out.
      The question from my mother: Are you sure you don't want us to stay tonight?
      My response: No, mom, there will be plenty of nights to stay.
      Snuggling up next to Addie in the hospital bed. Holding her hand.
      Pleading with God to please save my baby girl. Singing her the same lullaby I must’ve sang a thousand times before. Realizing this time she wasn’t going to wake up.


      It’s sad really.
      As I finish up an evening walk, I look at the house from the road.
      Flowers bloom, toys line the driveway, little boys chase a kitten or two.
      The outside observer – one not familiar with our story of child loss – may pause for a second as they cruise past our house and think, “Now there’s a happy home.”
      And to them I say, it was.
      Perhaps it will be again.