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.


  1. No, we certainly didn't plan for cancer. I miss her smiling face every day. Memories will never be enough for me.

  2. Addie is proud of you!! She is proud you are moving forward, maybe little steps, but you are moving on. She knows that getting up every day is hard, knowing she isn't there to talk to or give a big hug, but she is there. Take the time to close your eyes, and you can feel that hug around your neck the whisper "I Love You". She is still there, just not physically. Best of Luck as you start the new school year. Remember, Addie is there with you always.

  3. Oh I am so sorry for your loss. She looks like she was such a sweet, precious child.

  4. I came across your blog & it truly brings a big lump in my throat. especially the words about the "happy home" & how it once was & prehaps again. I see this in my daughter & son in law, everyday.
    I'm so sorry for your loss.
    I lost my only grandson, Ollie, in March. He drowned in a washing machine. Death is so harsh sometimes. When we share each others grief, it makes it seem lighter. My daughters story is here:
    She really wants to raise awareness about this danger. She (or I) NEVER thought a sweet, curious, helpful, child's death could be caused by one. If she can help one mother or grandmother save a child by doing their laundry different, then hopefully no one else has to leave the hospital without their most precious thing.
    We are mourning the loss of our grandchild AND trying to help our children get through each day.It's pretty tough. I'm sure you know.
    I have just started a blog for grandparents who lost a grandchild.
    I am just feeling this need to connect with other grandmas & grandpas.
    Sending love & hugs to you.

  5. Sheri,

    I am so sorry for your loss. The sorrow and suffering a grandparent endures is awful. It seems grandmas and grandpas suffer two losses. First, they lose a grandchild and must mourn that loss, but they soon realize they have lost, for a time, their own child as well. As a parent you want to take away the hurt, and to not be able to do that, must be heartbreaking. Bless you for starting a blog for grandparents. I'll be sure to pass it along to my mom and dad.

    Thinking of you and your family...

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. She must be so proud of you for keeping on and keeping her memory alive. Wishing you and yours a meaningful, blessed Thanksgiving. I really enjoy your writing.