Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 6

Monday, August 23, 2010

School started again today. It was Teddy's first day of second grade. He did amazing! All morning long I prayed that he wouldn't be consumed with anxiety and that he'd be able to have a solid, good day! When I woke him up he got really nervous. Sweet boy! He told me his stomach hurt and asked if we could cuddle for a bit. As we did, I wished I could keep him wrapped in his covers forever, insulated from the pain that awaited him!

After we cuddled he got dressed, ate his donut holes, and watched Sponge Bob (man, I really don't like that show...why do kids love it so???). Then it was time to go. As we got into the car, he asked where Nina was. I heard the tick-tick-tick of the time-bomb awaiting me. I answered that she was sick and wasn't going to school today. He asked if she'd go tomorrow and I replied that I didn't know, probably not. Then he stopped asking questions about Nina and started asking about who was in his class. I escaped again! I felt like a cat, whose 9 lives were quickly disappearing.

When we got to the school parking lot, he did something surprising...he grabbed my hand and held it all the way to his classroom. Now, I love holding Teddy's hand! It's one of my favorite things in the world. His hands are small, fit perfectly in mine, and his skin is soft, with a few callouses here and there, evidence of his increasing play skills. In kindergarten, he held my hand every morning and each afternoon. However, in first grade things changed. He didn't want to hold my hand anymore. I was so sad when this happened but I recognized its developmental appropriateness. Nonetheless, it was still sad :(

As we walked up to the school, Teddy and I spoke about the plans for the rest of the day and the week. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that detonated a small explosion in my chest. To my left, across the school yard, stood several dozen parents taking pictures of their children's first day of kindergarten. From the distance, I could see kids smiling, parents wiping away tears, moms waving, and dads winking. Instantly, a lump the size of Texas appeared in my throat. I squeezed Teddy's hand. He smiled up at me thinking I was encouraging him, when in fact I was encouraging myself to not loose it in front of him.

By the grace of God, I managed to walk him into the classroom, take a couple of pictures, and wave goodbye, all without shedding a tear. My friend Holly (who knew about Nina and whose son was in the same class as Teddy) squeezed my hand as she walked by. I avoided making eye contact with her, fearful that I'd crack. A dozen parents, people I'd developed simple friendships with over the last two years, surrounded me, asking how our summer had gone. They were all so happy; relieved to have their kids back in school. All I could think of was how we had been robbed of that relief.

Today, I had no relief. On the contrary, I felt a greater burden that morning than I had ever anticipated. I was heartbroken all over again. I was suppose to be one of those super duper proud moms taking pictures of my kindergartner. For the past two years, Nina had not ceased talking about how much she wanted to start kindergarten. It was the milestone she anticipated with the most enthusiasm. But now....there was no enthusiasm, no first day photos, no hugs and "I'm so proud of you!", no cubbies, no new backpack, no new friends, no new chapter of life. All there was, was sadness. While all of those families celebrated their child's first day of kindergarten, my child lay in bed fighting for her life, a heinous monster growing in her brain. The brain that was suppose to be learning numbers, letters, reading, and writing, was now writhing in pain!!

With each person that said hello, my own head began to pound! I needed to escape!! I began to walk faster through the crowd. I didn't care if people thought I was being rude. I needed to get the hell out of there!! I walked faster and faster, but I didn't make it. Before rounding the school building, it all poured out, like a volcanic eruption. I couldn't contain it!! I tried to muffle my sobs, afraid anyone would hear and then ask me what was wrong. Then, out of the blue, I heard someone call my name. Within a second, my neighbor and friend Sharon was at my side, asking if she could walk with me. Sharon had seen the growing sadness in my eyes. Her daughter, Cami, was also in Teddy's class. She and her husband were some of the first people in town we had shared our grief with. I was so thankful to have my friend with me now. We walked together for a long time. She let me cry, and cry some more. I hate crying!!!

Sometimes, walking and crying it out is the best medicine. That's what I did with Sharon that morning. By the time we had walked 3 blocks, I had gotten all the fresh grief out of my system. I thanked Sharon and continued with my tasks for the morning, including meeting with Principal Knight and confirming our radiation appointment. I had told myself that it was going to be an on-going roller coaster ride. I accepted this at a very logical and cognitive level but when it came right down to it, I hadn't accepted anything at all about this ride, other than I had to rely on Heaven's strength.

At 1pm, we took Nina to meet Dr. Weisenberger

Now in spite of the misfortune of having to go to the SB Cancer Center, I do have to commend the staff and professionals that work there! Working at a cancer center cannot be a walk in the park. On a daily basis, you are wittiness to a revolving door of people on death row. Some will receive last minute pardons from the Governor, while others will have to see their sentences through. Please Lord, let our honey-girl get a pardon!! She hasn't done anything wrong!!! Please Lord!!!

Dr. Weisenberger and his nurse, Cindy, were delightful. I was so relieved to see my husband's irreverent sense of humor poke its head out during the consult. Normally, I would have been mortified, but now I was thankful because his doing so was indicative of strength! Nina slept for the most part. She has always been good at playing possum when necessary. What a great coping strategy! Maybe I should try it??? Could you imagine me, playing the narcoleptic each time a doctor gave me a bad piece of information??? It might actually be funny :) We left the cancer center with heavy hearts because we didn't want our precious girl to have to endure the path ahead of her; but at the same time we were comforted by meeting such warm, happy, and gentle people!

The rest of day was like something out of a wonderful episode of the Ozzie and Harriet Show or Father Knows Best. Teddy had a delightful first day of school. Todd and the kids went swimming with the neighbors. Nina was in perfect spirits and swam like a champ! I was able to shower. We ate dinner as a family.  Life was good and, unlike many previous good, simple days, this time we remembered to thank God for it!!!


  1. I, too, feel that strange empty feeling when introduced to twins--especially twin boys...I know that twinge in your stomach and don't know when that ever goes away, but it sure does make me squeeze Angelo that much harder.

    Thank you for allowing us to travel this journey with you...I know it's not easy to relive your days through your writing, but hopefully it provides you with some solace knowing that you have so many praying for Nina, especially the family's individual trials we are privileged to be part of.

    My heart goes out to you both...always praying...much love.

  2. Thanks for sharing. With this journey come everyday moments that call for incredible toughness--those conversations with acquaintances at the start of a school year where you just hope they won't ask a question you can't escape from; the look on their face as you answer honestly and they wish they hadn't asked. We will pray especially for Teddy as we've often noted how, during some of the more challenging episodes we can be at the bedside and can take off work--yet we send the bigger kids off to school and expect them to function normally. He is a remarkable little boy and rest assured there are very caring and competent eyes watching out for him.

    Keep sharing. Keep feeling. Many are praying.

    Rolf and Trish

  3. Hi Rosie,
    It's Bethanni (Tate) Hoffman. I just want to let you know that you and your family have been in my prayers every day since I heard this news and I will continue to pray that your sweet daughter gets better. What a wonderful writer you are. I send my love with my mom who will be with you on Saturday.