Where do I start? The whole of 2016 was spent catching up. Catching up on life, living, working, finances....we had a lot to play catch up with. It's was a crazy busy year. Some amazing new opportunities arose for me- I have been able to speak to several groups now across the country about our experiences as a family, as a mom to a special needs child, and as a cancer survivor. It's part of an amazing bigger picture that I had no idea was coming. I never thought I could get up in front of a crowd of more than two thousand people...but I was given some supernatural courage that day, and I think once you've shaved your head, you can do just about anything:) We had some wonderful holidays where no one was in the hospital (finally!), and made some amazing family memories.
Addie spent the last year growing, and finding out that she has a passion for swimming, horses, and all things chicken. It's so amazing to have children, and watch them discover what they love. More importantly, we as parents discover that they are these entirely separate people. uniquely created, with shades of us as parents, but wholly their own individual selves. What a gift to be able to watch them grow. She had a wonderful second grade year, despite a little run in with a fructose allergy (who knew you could be allergic to fruit??). Anyway, all is well now that we figured that out!
In a similar fashion, Meghan has spent the last year catching up as well. She finished her last year of preschool, and graduated last week. She walked across that stage with her diploma like she had won the lottery. She is becoming more and more articulate, and revealing her gifts one by one. She wants to be a ballerina when she grows up, so this mom found an adapted dance class and let her loose. My little girl, the one we had no idea if she would walk, is going to be in a dance recital next weekend. Pink tutu and all. My heart just cannot stand it. She is also learning to play the piano. As much as I love to watch her dance, I am in AWE when I listen to her play the piano. She will sit there for 20-30 minutes, several times a day, and play. It is obvious that the music is just inside her. It is a gift.
And, because so many people are asking, drumroll please.....WE HAVE OUR SERVICE DOG CLASS DATES!!! October 2nd, Meghan will get to meet her dog. We have to travel to the training facility for two weeks to be trained as handlers, and so the dog can get used to Meg and how he/she can help her, and so that Meg can learn how to give commands, and use the dog for support. We are beyond excited! I am so grateful that she will have this incredible opportunity.
As for me, well, remember when I said I've been avoiding the writing? Well I'm sure I've said this before, but when I avoid the writing, I can avoid the processing that comes with it, and when I avoid the processing, I avoid the pain. And besides, who wants to read about all the feelings....or at least that's what I let myself believe. Because honestly, the survivorship issues are hard. Everything is different, even if it doesn't look like it is, and most people are so glad you are "back to normal" they don't really want to hear about all the ugly. But it's there. It's difficult not to lament over how things might have been different if I hadn't gotten sick. It's difficult not to think about how different our life would be if Meghan had been born without so many challenges. And the absolute last thing I would ever want anyone to think is that I'm not grateful to be alive (because I am) or that I resent my daughter (because nothing is further from the truth), but yes, this life is difficult at times.
I spent a good portion of the last year wrestling with cancer treatment. Off and on medications that are supposed to block the growth of any remaining cancer cells, and prevent a recurrence. Wrestling with the decision not to have reconstruction. Wrestling with body image issues, and hiding my pain with busyness, because when I'm busy I just don't have time to feel. Each oncology follow up appointment is like ripping off a band aid. Living with the constant shadow that cancer casts over your life is at times, unbearable.
But, I made the choice to fight. Sometimes, that means allowing yourself to actually feel the pain, get it out in the open, and shine some light on it. To expose the scars, and the places that are still deep wounds. Healing cannot come if I refuse to let the light of the Truth, the breath of the Spirit, and a flood of Living Water wash over all of them. Sometimes fighting means lifting heavy things with friends (thanks to cancer, I can now squat more than I weigh- Crossfit has been better than any PT program for my range of motion issues after all that surgery, and it comes with an amazing community of supportive people). I am grateful for all of the people in my life who continue to extend friendship, and grace as I figure out this next phase of life. Most especially for my husband, who's unconditional love is truly a gift.
You can't appreciate the joy without walking through the trials...I wonder if I would have missed how incredible it is when I hear music notes flying through the air as I do the dishes, how incredible it is to see an almost 8 year old fight with her sister because now, she has an opinion. Or how sweet the time is, just after dawn, when the air is ripe with His new mercies in the morning.