Celebrating Another Milestone
Eight years ago I was told I had 12-18 months to live. As I said, that was 8 years ago. My daughter was 7 when I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Since then, I've been able to be here for so many incredible milestones for my daughter.
A daughter always needs her mother
A month after diagnosis she turned 8. We made her party so elaborate with our friends and family in Atlanta. Someone was even there to film it. She did what she has always done when they began singing "Happy Birthday" to her. She ran into my arms and buried her little face because she was so shy during that period of her life. My stomach began tying in knots and I was scared I was going to lose it then and there. Who will she run to next year? Then flashes of so many things began while I was holding her.
She had ear surgery when she was four to repair her eardrum. I thought back to the time we brought her home from the hospital. She had so many surgeries and I was there for all of them. This one was by far the surgery. She was in so much pain. My mother, whom I thought she would want to be by her side and rest with her, had to call me in there. She only wanted me. My mom always spoiled her rotten. In a time of such pain, I guess no one can replace mama. She is mine and will always be my baby.
Just like I will always go to my mother for pain, it's what we do. There is no way I could fathom her losing that comfort. I need my mom today and I'm in my 40's. I hate this disease.
Admiring my daughter's self-assuredness
I'll admit, when John had girlfriends in the past, I wasn't keen on any of them doing anything with her. I always thought it should be doing everything with her. Buying her first real bra. it should have been me. Unfortunately, while in Atlanta seeing my oncologist, his girlfriend took her shopping. She never wanted a real one and admitted she still didn't. She always wanted a sports bra and I just kept letting her wear one. Finally, at 14 she got a normal one because the girlfriend wanted her to dress more feminine I think. I did lash out so much when I shouldn't. It should be a normal part of co-parenting. That is mom's job, and I'm still here. I want her to be herself.
She's a volleyball player and she so dresses like one. I used to have to make her brush her hair in the mornings, but I am proud of her self-esteem. She follows the beat of her own drum and doesn't care about fitting in. She knows what she wants to do and likes, I love that so much about her. Her heart belongs to volleyball and it makes me so very proud to watch her play. She was the defensive player of the year this year and last year MVP. My heart sores with pride. No heals or dresses, but sweatpants and t-shirts. I wish I had been more like her when I was younger.
Cherish every milestone
The natural thing to do was to talk it over with my own mom. She was understanding but let me know I should let it go and just take comfort in knowing that no one can replace mama bear, especially now that she is older. I have been a stable force in her life, always dependable and always being honest with her. I then began thinking, "When she's 40, who will she talk to?" A parent's guilt, it's something that can't be explained. We all want the best for our children, we want a better life than we had. I think we had good lives, but feeling guilty over your child can make you a little crazy.
And finally, after her driving test, she was pulling away with a huge smile on her face and waving at me, my heart soared. I was able to teach her to drive and sat with her during her driving test. It may seem like something small for some people, ordinary. But when you learn your life will be cut short, you value these milestones so much.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?