September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Two words that should never go together: “Childhood” and “Cancer”. To honor all those who have fought or who are fighting this battle, I’m sharing a throwback from last October… when one little boy’s story changed my whole world.
Circa October 18th, 2013
I crawled in her little toddler bed with her, sang her songs, and lay beside her until she fell peacefully asleep.
If you know me, you know I don’t do this.
It’s a rare occasion when my kiddo gets to share a bed with me. Let alone during such a critical, routine time such as bedtime. It’s been this way since she was 5 weeks old and we moved her to her crib. (I confess… I let her sleep on my chest a lot when she was a newborn… C-sections are worth it, right?)
But last night was special.
Because yesterday was the 1-year Anniversary of the departure of my superhero, Ty Louis Campbell. You can read his mom’s Anniversary blog here.
He had been on my mind all day. The thought of losing a child to cancer (or to any cause, really) is sometimes just too much for me to bear and I find myself in a puddling heap of tears on my pillow. But while Ty’s story, like so many others, brings me to tears, it also brings me pure and unrelenting joy. Because, if but for a moment, it sets me free from all the mommy wars, parenting expectations, APA regulations, mothering codebooks, right way/wrong way, best way/worst way… all the petty things that all too often keep me up at night. It sets me free.
Because anyone who is against cosleeping has never crawled into bed one last time next to their dying child.
Because anyone who doesn’t believe in giving a child everything they want has never watched their own children endure the pain of surgeries and chemo and paralysis and death.
Because anyone who worries more about college entrance exams and lucrative career paths has never been told their child will not live past the age of six.
Ty sets me free because he reminds me that while I can always hope for tomorrow, it is not guaranteed. While I can always dream for my child and try my best to parent within the “big picture”, in reality all I will ever have with her is today. This moment. This smile.
No, I won’t sleep with her every night. My choice, not hers. No, she won’t get everything she asks for. The world does not revolve around her. No, I will not back down on my convictions for raising her to be a caring, generous, thoughtful, person rather than a star athlete, straight A student, or homecoming queen. I believe God cares more about her holiness than her happiness.
But on occasion… from time to time… for no reason at all
I will wrap my arms around her at night and not let go until morning.
I will say yes to orange juice and mud puddles and suckers and chocolate chips.
I will buy her every single thing on her Christmas list, right down to her favorite wrapping paper design.
I will give all of myself to see her succeed and build confidence and beam with pride in her accomplishments.
Because while I have never lost a child, I have also not seen tomorrow. And while I pray every moment for God’s protection and health and care over our family, I also know that some of the most surreal joys and paradoxical purposes come out of our deepest sorrows. And I do not know if tomorrow God will ask me to trust Him in that way.
So last night we jumped in mud puddles. We chased blowing leaves. We blew bubbles. We stayed up late. And I held her until she fell asleep.
Because yesterday was all I had… until today.
If you’d like to know more, do more, give more… Visit the PRET*TY story (picture link to the left). 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this jewelry goes to the Ty Louis Campbell foundation and supports cutting edge research for safer, more effective pediatric cancer treatments.
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