It’s my cancer, not hers.
I wish she could understand that, but I know deep down that this story is not just mine but that it belongs to my children, too. That this is theirs just as much as it is mine.
We ran head-first into an unexpected trial of a “cancer parent” tonight. I’m not much of a cryer and wasn’t expecting to cry tonight but I write this as tears flow steadily down my cheeks.
Brit just had a complete breakdown because she’s going back to school tomorrow after Thanksgiving break and she’s going to miss me. Well, that’s where it started.
If you know me well, you know that I have severe separation anxiety from the kids. Absolutely and without a doubt in my mind a side effect of my trying to reconcile having to leave them – in the form of death – just a few short years ago. I’m still plagued by nightmares of them calling for me but I can’t get to them. And my anxiety grips me each and every time they’re away from me. Regardless of the circumstance. I joke “yes please take them! They’re driving me crazy!” (Which, to be fair, they are) But the jokes are simply a cover for the fact that I’m miserable and worry-stricken every single moment we are apart. They don’t know I struggle with this EVERY DAY and I’m not planning on making it an issue for them ever! But while Evan can, for the most part, go off and enjoy his independence and then come back and let me know he missed me and tell me all about his adventures, Brit is just not quite like that and it kills me to see her broken down at the thought of us being apart tomorrow. This is may just be your classic “nature vs. nurture” psychology sort of issue (is this her natural personality to be anxious and worried or did she develop that because most of her life has been marred with the threat of losing her mom? Or hey, let’s be honest, did she just learn these habits from me?). All possibilities seem plausible when you dwell in them long enough.
Today, I had to go to the doctor for a flu shot and when he looked in my right ear and asked me why it looked the way it did, Brit chimed in that it’s “because Mommy has cancer”. She was matter-of-fact and unemotional, it didn’t seem to phase her, it was just a fact. But I cringed so hard because as much as you try to protect your kids from these realities, they still know and understand. And it’s really hard to watch how MY cancer has affected them. It wasn’t supposed to. It was supposed to be mine! But here we are. Just since I’ve sat down to write this, she has come out 3 separate times just to make sure I was ok and that I am still here.
And, update, now I sit on the edge of her bed writing this as she drifts off because she wanted to be able to see me. She had to know I was there.
This wasn’t supposed to be her burden, but as they grow I am beginning to see how all of this is shaping their story too.
And I feel so guilty.
Snapchat was the only thing that calmed her down a few minutes ago. I’m thanking God for His provision, for health, for my still being here with my children, and for His steady hand holding me in the moments where I can’t actually take any more.
2 thoughts on “It’s MY cancer, not hers.”
Beautifully honest – my kids were little when my husband was ill; they learned to be fiercely independent. Though my youngest who is now 10 (3 when her dad died) is also concerned about me leaving and being gone from her. I work hard up reassure and never be late picking up. Big hugs and prayers as you navigate these days. I believe God is shaping my kids and yours to have a heart for others and to be amazing humans because of what has happened in their little lives.
First of all, I am so sorry for your loss! These things that grip us and change us and mold us do the same to our children too and it’s so hard to watch. But you’re right at the same time, we’ve explored the discussions on heaven and death and salvation earlier than I would have but maybe that’s not a bad thing. I love the thought of praying that the current trial will become a way to help others in the future! 💕 hugs to you!