In my 6.5 years as an oncology nurse working with children and young adults with cancer I learned SO much. About chemo and treatment plans, side effects and medications to treat them (which are often worse than the disease itself)…BUT, I think the most important “thing” I learned was that life can change SO quickly. And life is so precious. A child would come in one day with nagging symptoms, a headache that wouldn’t go away for example, and the next day start the fight for their life. Parents that dreamed of their daughter’s first dance recital, first day of 1st grade, graduations, wedding, suddenly faced with the crushing reality that these days may not come.
I also met the MOST inspiring people. Patients and parents who chose to live in the moment, to dance in the rain. I cannot imagine the heartbreak they felt, the grief. I cried many a car ride home from work and prayed like crazy for these families. I still think of many of them often. And I don’t know how they do it.
I would get home from work and rock my child to bed a little longer, read that extra book, sing an extra song or two. I am thankful to be able to give my kids a bath without having to work around central lines and surgery wounds. I lay in my cozy bed at night thinking of all the parents trying to sleep on tiny pullout chairs with alarms sounding and nurses in and out…night after night after night. Every time my kids get the stomach bug I thank God that their vomiting and diarrhea is short-lived and just caused by a virus. Each antibiotic round that I have to battle with my toddlers I remember the babies and kids taking 10 plus syringes full of horrendous tasting medicines, every morning and night… And then vomiting and having to repeat doses.
This life is hard. Unpredictable. And definitely not fair.
And I don’t know why. I don’t have all the answers.
But what I do believe is that someday I will. And that the end is just the beginning.
Life is a journey.
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When it comes to fostering, the same phrase is often spoken to families in those trenches: “I don’t know how you do it.” And quite honestly, I know I can’t do it. Not alone at least. But I trust the One who can and who does have all the answers. Some day in this journey, most likely, I will have to experience the grief of loving a child and letting them go. And I plan to love them with all I’ve got anyways. To go all in. Because that is what all children deserve. Unconditional love. Attachment.
And I can hardly type this but it is true: I am not promised tomorrow with my own children. My own children are really not my own. They are His. And some day they will go back to Him. But in the meantime I am going to love them with all I’ve got, live in the moment, dance in the rain, and read extra bedtime stories.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33