Today has been incredible: with the online release of Elena’s story in the paper, I’ve been receiving such an overwhelming amount of support from so many and I’m beyond grateful for that. On top of which, Elena is the happiest and most energetic I have seen from her in months. I cannot begin to describe the joy I have seeing her this way…it’s…everything. This break from chemo was so needed and I’m loving every minute of it.
My Facebook messenger was non stop today as I received messages from people wanting to help our family, free dinner at a local restaurant so Mario and I can enjoy a date night and several mothers that have been through this nightmare of having a child diagnosed with cancer. One in particular, Maddie, stood out when I expressed some of my emotions as we approach the end of treatment said, “Just allow yourself every and any feeling that comes up…fear, anxiety, stress and exhaustion, those are all valid. It’s ok to let yourself go there because strength and love are the center of who you are.” It’s been a whirlwind of emotions from the very start of this journey- imagine the world’s largest roller coaster. Got it? Ok, now pump that sucker up on steroids and multiply it by a thousand. Yeah, that’s the beast I’ve been riding since July. Though, for the most part, I’ve been relatively fair to myself in allowing these emotions without dwelling. For the exception of two: fear and anger.
For as long as I can remember I have been a worrier. About everything. Stupid things. Things that are out of my control and do nothing but upset me, cause premature gray hairs and keep me awake at night. The fear that has set in since Elena’s diagnosis has been suffocating… I’m afraid that Elena will face side effects. I’m afraid she will relapse: Dear God I’m terrified of that. Hearing it the first time was devastating; having to hear it again would be…too much. I’m afraid that Annalise is being overshadowed and I’m not doing enough for her. These are just the ones at the top of my list, as I could dedicate an entire blog specifically to all of the things that scare the ever living daylight out of me these days.
I can’t say I’ve ever been an angry person, not like I am now anyway. Everyone gets angry, sure, but you move past it, addressing the issue and carrying on. It helps when you have someone to confront, as I do not. The anger I have now is overwhelming and has filled me with rage and hatred that I have nothing to focus on. I am unable to confront cancer the way I would a friend or family member that angered me. I have nothing and no one to yell and scream at…no release for this rage.
These two emotions have surfaced another: guilt. I have beaten myself up over the fears and questions that are left unanswered. I berate and belittle myself as a mother, thinking that it’s somehow my fault that I could not protect my children from this. I look at Annalise and my heart breaks that she has ever had to cry for her sister in the manner that she has. Am I doing right by her through all of this?
Yes, I am. Strength. I am stronger than I ever thought possible, me just sitting here and writing this as opposed to bouncing around in a padded room proves that. A year ago if someone had told me that this would happen I would have emphatically said “No! No, I would die!” But I haven’t. I’m still here, waking up each day, going through our daily routines and finding the balance of parenting now that Elena has cancer (some things have to change, but others just can’t). I don’t feel strong and I have said this before. But I think that’s what strength is- something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, even begrudgingly, slow as shit and angry as fuck about it but doing it anyway.
Love. My world revolves around it. Those that love me and those that I love. And my girls take front and center in that aspect. They ground me and give me the focus I need to live in the moment. To be able to catch Elena puking in a bag one minute, to laughing about Annalise congratulating me on getting all of it in the bag the next. “Wow Mama, that was a GOOD one, and you got it ALL!” Pretty damn funny coming from a six year old. I never thought I could love someone as much as I do Annalise and Elena. They are my center. The center of my life and my world. They give me the strength I need and love that is my foundation.
Strength and love. Anger, guilt and fear too, to name a few. But Maddie is right- it’s ok to feel those and let those emotions do what they will. But if you build your foundation on the positive it will get you through everything, even if it is just one day at a time.