There are few moments in life that clarity and a sense of peace and utter calm comes over you. A moment in which you can almost feel your guardian angel gently embracing you. These moments, no matter how small, how seemingly meaningless, are not to be ignored, regardless of your current lot in life. My most recent experience with this came on the car ride home from seeing my acupuncturist last week. Already feeling a million times better and relaxed, I turned on the radio and the song “Carry On” by Fun had just started playing….
Allow me to briefly rewind. This song brings back fond memories for me, as I (for whatever reason, I’m not exactly sure) sang this to Elena when she was a newborn and infant when calming her down. She would gaze at me with the most intense look I have ever seen in a baby. Watched intrinsically as I belted out the notes, becoming more and more animated as the song progressed. I’ve always liked the song, though it never really made sense as to why I would have chosen that one to sing to my newborn. And while I knew the lyrics, I never paid much attention to them.
Fast forward to my drive home, listening to the same song on the radio. “Well I woke up to the sound of silence and the cars were cutting like knives in a fist fight…” The morning after diagnosis there was a heavy silence in my house of the harsh words hanging in the air we had heard the day before. Noise outside was amplified and yet sounded a million miles away at the same time. Why are people still going about their day like nothing just happened? Why hasn’t the entire world stopped to realize this epic tragedy that has just occurred to my family, to my beautiful innocent baby??? The sound of silence is either extremely comforting or the scariest and loneliest noise you will ever hear. In that moment, it was nightmarish.
“You swore and said ‘We are not, we are not shining stars.’ This I know, I never said we are…” Shining stars? Definitely not, and we’ve been all to aware of that fact for sometime. And yet a cancer diagnosis had seemed an impossibility for one of our children. I’ve always believed that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle and I would frequently think about the list of tragedies that, for me, would send me over the edge. Most of these included harm coming to any of my children, in many different forms. Healthy kids…this I can handle. I was convinced that my silent list was heard and it kept me safe from particular incidents. Cancer never even crossed my mind to add to that. It was such a foreign notion, I think even naively I thought childhood cancer to be some Lifetime television movie story line. It just doesn’t happen to normal, everyday, good people, shining stars or not. *sigh* How I wish that was true.
“Though I’ve never been through hell like that, I’ve closed enough windows to know you can never look back.” From day one of diagnosis, I have been all to aware of the fact that there is no going back to the life we thought we would have. Yes, I know we will find our “new normal” and all, but Elena’s journey, for better or worse, is not one a parent ever imagines for their child. And it is not one that will be a story she tells, but a lifetime experience that she will always live. There will not, and cannot be any looking back for any of us. Every time I go there, the tears start coming and they don’t stop for some time. Looking back, at what we could have had, the life Elena could have led is too heartbreaking. So instead, we will look forward. We look towards the future, the end of treatment, her first clear scans, and then the second, and fifth. I look forward to watching Elena grow, continue to kick cancer’s ass and to see the amazingly strong individual I know she will be. These are things I hold onto tightly. When walking through hell, looking back only gives you nightmares.
And finally for my anthem. The moment when I felt as if the universe was sending me just the message I needed to hear at the time. “If you’re lost and alone, or you’re sinking like a stone, carry on. May your path be the sound of your feet upon the ground. Carry on.” The last month and a half has not been good for me. I have dwelled on the bad, unable to focus on anything positive and been as overwhelmed as any individual can handle. Hearing those words gave me such clarity. It gave me the strength to push up to the surface, stopping the progression of the plunge I’d been taking. It gave me the ability to actually hear my feet stomping on the ground, moving forward as best as I can. Perhaps it is slower progress than I want, but it is progress. And for that, I am thankful.
“My head is on fire, but my legs are fine. ‘Cause after all, they are mine. Lay your clothes down on the floor, close the door, hold the phone. Show me how no one’s ever gonna stop us now!”