Medically speaking, things are not going so well for me. My health has declined in the last three years since my husband’s death and I feel like I’m running on 10% battery all the time. I’m seeing a specialist to try and figure out why certain things aren’t doing what they’re supposed to and how I can get my system running properly again. In the meantime, it’s just a lot of doctors appointments, blood tests, and exhaustion.
Tonight as I tucked my kids in, I gave them a quick heads up about tomorrow’s morning schedule.
“We have to get up earlier than usual tomorrow. I have to take you to daycare early because I have to go get some blood taken before work.”
I wasn’t expecting a full conversation, I mostly wanted my daughter to emotionally prepare for her beauty sleep being cut a little short. What followed was a forty five minute discussion that left me in tears.
“Why do you have to have blood taken out of you?”
“So that the doctor can look at the blood under a microscope and help figure out why I’m not feeling well.”
“Are you sick?”
“Yes. I’ve been sick for a long time. There are things in my body and in my blood that aren’t working properly and the doctor wants to fix it.”
“Is that why you’re so tired and want to sleep all the time?”
Cue the lump in my throat. I’m stupid if I think my kids don’t notice that I hardly have the energy to play with them.
“Yes. That’s why I’m so tired.”
“Mom…do you have cancer?”
I wasn’t prepared for that one at all. Cancer is something we’ve talked about in the past, but never as something that personally affects our lives. No, I told them. I do not have cancer. They pushed the topic some more, asking about what it’s like to have cancer and if you die right away. Big thoughts for little people.
I told them about an uncle who died before I was even born. About a grandma who thankfully got the curable kind. About many people that can, and do, get it.
“Mom…do kids get cancer?”
I thought about small, round, bald heads. About tiny coffins. About the words stamped on a hospital wall that we all think should never go together: pediatric oncology. I looked through tears at the concerned faces of a little boy and girl.
Thank you, God. Thank you for our health. Thank you that even though our lives have been touched by other tragedies, we have never had to face down the C monster. Thank you that whatever is wrong with me can be treated. Thank you that my babies can run and jump and break bones and split lips and eat dirt and be kids. Thank you that everything inside of them is working properly. Thank you for every single day.
That is a prayer I don’t pray nearly often enough. I ask God to ease the pain a little so I can get some sleep tonight. I ask God to give me the wakefulness to drive home from work. I ask God to work miracles on my daughter’s bladder so she doesn’t have to wear Pull-Ups anymore. I ask God for all the things I’m lacking, but I haven’t thanked Him much for the things I take completely for granted.
“Yes. Kids can get cancer. Anyone can get any kind of sickness at any time. Sometimes they get better, and sometimes they don’t. But I don’t think you should worry. I don’t think you can live your life worrying that you might get sick. I think you should live your life thanking God for all the ways that you are well.”