She doesn't belong to us. (Day 210, Year 2)

Lily is at a childhood cancer camp this week with other young adults (it's weird to call my baby girl a young adult!) participating in a program called a Hero's Journey. The program is based upon the writing of Joseph Campbell who talked about the classic story pattern featuring a hero, who goes on an adventure, is victorious and comes home transformed. 

Tonight, the camp sent us some insight on the activities that Lily and her fellow campers were participating in this week. Mike and I read it separately. And when I read it, I began to cry. Mike apparently also cried when he read it. He asked why I thought this whole thing made us emotional. 

Of course, I have an answer. 

We always refer to Lily as a hero. But I am not sure she sees herself that way. Lily isn't a hero because she had cancer or because survived cancer. Lily is a hero because with every battle she has faced, she has come back to us transformed. I don't think she realizes any of that. It is time for our baby girl, our young adult, to see how she is the hero of her own story and how every challenge and adventure has transformed her. 

We cry because it is time for us to acknowledge that Lily doesn't belong to us. It is time for her story to be her story. 

I am sure you are wondering what some of the activities are--they are mask and key ceremonies and physical challenges and bonding and sharing and writing and rewriting their own stories. They are activities that push each of them to see themselves as who they truly are and also to see their fellow campers for who they are. It is a week of trust building and community. And it has nothing to do with us.

This is just such an incredible gift for us as her parents. When your child is born you make plans in your mind for them--for who they will be. As they grow and change and show themselves, your plans might change, but still you make them. There is a point when you need to stop and let them live whatever life it is that lies ahead. 

For us, we always have worried that life wouldn't lie ahead for our baby girl. It is hard to admit that; but it has always been and remains my deepest worry that is based on the knowledge of what cancer can do to child. I will always worry; but then when I read about the incredible journey Lily is on this week, I realize that she's made it this far and she doesn't belong to us. 

Lily belongs to Lily. And I so blessed to know we are the ones who get to guide her and love her.