To say my life has been difficult the last month is an understatement. In early December I was humming a sweet tune while I traveled along the path of my dream life; then, I was yanked out of my reverie and forced to see a different reality, one filled with lies, betrayals, and pain. I can’t even begin to tell people all the stressful, painful experiences I’ve had to deal with, without betraying people I love, so I won’t. You’ll just have to trust me.
Two and a half years ago, I was confronted with life’s precariousness with Ian’s Cancer. His battle taught me not to put my dreams on hold and to fight courageously for every precious day. During that time I fought to stay optimistic. Some days were easier than others, but as Ian recovered successfully, I felt confident in my future. 2011 was filled with good news: My son was healthy. My daughters were living out their dreams. My husband and I planned our dream baseball trip. And I was finally going to become the writer I knew was inside of me with a travel blog.
Then, in December of 2011, I found myself chest-deep in muck. Muck that other people threw on me. Muck that I received for trusting people I loved and cared about. Pessimism filled my ears and heart–but only for a short time. Even in the midst of the pain and anger, I knew that I could never be a cynic. That kind of negativity hurts my soul. And frankly, being cynical is a coward’s mantra: “I don’t want to believe in the goodness of humanity because it will hurt more when they disappointment me.” That cowardice is equivalent to the people who are afraid to try because it’s better to fail for not trying, than failing after throwing their hearts into it. I’m not sure if I have earned the title courageous, but I’m more afraid of being a quitter. If I quit, I will definitely lose. I don’t like those odds.
But how could I move forward when the future I saw so clearly had drastically changed?
After the tears and initial shock were over, I had to look at which parts of my dreams and goals I had to let go of, and which parts I refused to give up on. Our baseball trip was no longer a possibility, but I could still fight for the dream of being a writer. That’s how “32 in 32” added the subtitle: “Keeping the Dream Alive.”
I also had to do something about the physical pain the stress and shock were doing to my body. I started using my treadmill and exercise videos in the mornings. I haven’t missed a day in almost three weeks. It did wonders for the constant stomach flips, and it helped me think clearly.
Now that I took control of the things I could control, I had to find a way to be and stay positive. As cliché as it sounds, I had to count my blessings. It kept me from falling into despair. With that said, my first official blog series for 32 in 32 will be “32 Blessings.” I encourage you to count yours.
Blessing #1: Ian Is Alive and Well
Two years ago, Ian just turned five. He was bald, thin, and fragile. Today, Ian just celebrated his seventh birthday. He is Cancer-free and his surgery and treatments are just a distant memory. What greater blessing is there?
He loves his first-grade teacher and is making friends in our neighborhood. I was a little worried about his brain development this past semester. He wasn’t reading, and no matter what I did with him, he just wasn’t connecting the letters and sounds. I was afraid that he might have some brain damage from the surgery and radiation. However, on December 16th, Ian asked if he could try reading a book to me. It was as if something finally clicked in his brain. He started reading and sounding out the words without any help from me! No one was more surprised than Ian. He giggled with excitement: “I’m reading! I’m actually reading!” Since then, Ian is rarely without a book in his hands.
Physically, it’s as if he never had Cancer. Ian started playing in-line hockey in September. He picked up skating very quickly and is now learning how to handle the stick and puck, scoring a few goals already. I’m starting to learn the ins and outs of being a hockey mom. The first lesson is to always bring a water bottle with a long straw! The second lesson: The fall looks worse than it actually is.
Ian also played coach-pitch baseball last summer. He studied jiu jitsu for seven months and learned how to swim. He likes practicing parkour around the house, neighborhood, and anywhere he can find walls to climb up, jump on, jump over, or kick off from. I think sometimes Ian’s Cancer was a way to prepare me for the physical craziness I was going to have to accept as his mother: I had to face the possibility of Ian not being able to run and jump and play, so I could accept any athleticism he chooses to pursue.
We are looking forward to this summer when he can finally join basketball and football camp.
It’s amazing that doctors once thought he may have learning disabilities and may not be able to run and jump and play like a normal little boy. One thing is for sure, whatever the future brings, we are thankful beyond words that Cancer is a distant memory for Ian.
No matter what difficulties I have in my life now, it can never compare to the blessing of having Ian in our lives, healthy and strong.