This is the last family photo we have of us together. It was Labor Day weekend 2008, and our family convened to share the love and laughter that has always carried us through hard times.
Nick had developed an infection, had appendicitis, and spent most of September in the hospital. It’s like a time warp. The world continued around us, people came and went, but we were stuck in this cocoon of uncertainty. I had always assumed Nick would survive, but with the heavy doses of methotrexate he had received, the infection became life threatening.
As a parent of a child with any life threatening illness, it’s very difficult to make the right decision. We were exhausted, scared, and not familiar with this disease. We had multiple doctors giving their suggestions and sometimes it was like throwing a dart. Nick continued to decline, but we still rallied surrounded by hope and the need to believe that he would be alright.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. It’s one of my lowest months of the year, because my heart remembers how much Nick suffered. I didn’t journal much in that month and really I don’t want to remember the details.
It is 10 years since Nick battled cancer. Time doesn’t heal, and it doesn’t make it acceptable that I lost my oldest son. It doesn’t mean I’m over it or that I’m always OK.
10 years later, I’m living with Nick’s loss beside me. Sometimes the grief is a burden I have to carry, and it weighs heavily on me. Other times I can stand tall and walk alongside it and hold others up.
I share this because I want those who have lost their child to know that I am here with them. I will walk alongside them, so they know that some day they will be able to walk alongside their grief. Grief is chronic. It flairs up, it eases off, and then ruptures into painful boils, scabs over, and starts again.
I may never be whole, but I can live a fulfilling life. You might not believe it right now and that’s OK. I’ll be with you through this journey no matter what point you are at.
Taking action, raising awareness, demanding better treatments for our children battling cancer is the path of those who are on this journey with me. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but every day too many children are diagnosed.