Another Day This Month (Day 138, Year 2)

Last night, during our evening stroll, my husband asked me if there were any other dates this month he should be aware of that might be emotional triggers. 

We are opposite like this. The dates give me a certain control over the memories of hard things; for him, he copes by not living with the dates top of mind, but with the memories organized differently. 

The thing is this entire month--heck the entire summer-is another day of remembering all those things that happened 15 years ago. On May 18, 2007, Lily was one day post-op. The day before was her surgery to have her tumor removed. We still had no idea if it was completely removed or not; mostly because neither one of us had the courage to ask. She was in bed, with an external drain coming out of her head. I called it her snorkel. It drained excess cerebral spinal fluid and the efficiency of the drain was reliant on the height of the tube. 

To pick up my daughter--the one who I was used to holding whenever I wanted without assistance just a couple days earlier--required ringing for the PICU nurse; who often was delayed because one of her other patients an intense and urgent need. The nurse would get me situated, she'd fiddle around with the drain and the tube and I'd pick up my daughter.

She had vertigo, we believe. The sudden shifts made her world spin. Lily would scream. 

But, I'd hold her and beg her to be strong. 

I was really begging for God to make me strong. Because 15 years ago, friends, I was not strong. I was angry and scared and useless and in shock. I was not strong enough to ask questions that I needed to know the answers to. I was not strong enough to speak to any of the wonderful oncology parents who saw me and knew I was one of them. I was not strong to mother my daughter in the way I did before. 

I am glad God knew what I was begging for; because I was not strong enough to ask Him either. 

I know some of you will find fault in my reliving this part of my story. You might find it sad (and it is). You might find it negative (and it is). But, it is my truth. And every day this month there are other truths that flutter up--truths about myself and that time and now and forever. Our stories stay with us--even when they are sad and negative and traumatic. 

But those stories don't make us sad or negative or traumatized. Our stories make us real and complicated and beautiful. We all have them; and we should sit with them sometimes. 

Something else happened on this day, 15 years ago. 

Lily smiled at me when I read her a bedtime story. We didn't know if she could smile--the neurosurgeon warned us that nerve damage might affect her smile. 

But, it did not, because 15 years ago, I read Lily a bedtime story from her Disney Princess anthology. We pressed the button on the front--it played "Once Upon a Dream," and she smiled. 

Our stories are complicated, friends. We cannot have the one where the baby smiled; without the one where the mother cried.