I got a call today from my son’s teacher. She sounded like she had been crying and I thought: “what has he done?”
She said: “you should be proud of your little boy.”
Today was the annual Alex’s Lemonade Stand at his elementary school. Earlier in the week, he asked me to ask his teacher if it would be okay if he shared his lemonade stand knowledge. ALSF is such a part of our lives—I work there, we host stands and our lemonade family is like a large network of cousins for our children.
Today, he shared his knowledge. And I don’t think it was anything anyone expected. His teacher said he told Lily’s story and her latest surgery. He shared that we were told Lily would not ever walk—but she did. He told stories of his friends—one friend he never met—Declan. Declan died before Nick was born. But for some reason, Nick has always carried Declan’s story with him. He shared Ciarlo—a boy he met just once or twice at an ALSF event. Ciarlo lost his brother to a brain tumor. He told his classmates that just because someone tells you have a disability does not mean you cannot do things. He shared our family’s lemonade stands and the quest to fund science that leads to cures.
I’ve often worried that we’ve shared too much with our kids—too much of the sorrow and the horror of childhood cancer. But, despite all my words, I never figured out a way to talk about childhood cancer without sharing all of it. Otherwise, I’d just be spinning a tale that did not represent the truth of what is needed. Kids with cancer need cures and safer treatments—and the urgency of this need is intertwined in the reality that without research children will die.
And I truly believe I would be doing my kids a disservice if they did not fully understand their sister’s story. There are not mysteries in our house.
Still, I worried. What if I was scaring them? After all, I am scared all the time.
But, I think that the truth always goes down easier, in the end, than the lie.
Nicholas is 8 years old and today, he took his truth—the biggest curse in our family’s life
-and he showed all the beautiful blessings mixed in with the curses. The blessings of knowing beautiful families who have endured the worst, but continue to show their love and light to the world. The blessing of knowing children who are here for a short time and have impacted this world. The blessing of having a mission in life. The blessing of having a beautiful big sister to love and to witness her constant rise after falling.
The salt and pepper of blessings and curses cannot be separated. That’s always the rub: you cannot have one without the other. And I can thank my 8 year old little boy for teaching me that.