I’m sorry I haven’t been consistent lately. My plan was to write every day this month about Childhood Cancer: the families we met, the little friends we lost, the experiences we had – but it was just too difficult. I started writing about our dear friend, Eden. She passed away last December from Neuroblastoma at the tender age of eight. I broke down while writing about her. I just couldn’t continue. Had we not recently received the news that Ben had relapsed, I might have been able to continue along that thread but I just couldn’t. So, I’m going to revert back to focusing on obscure holidays. And today is Pardon Day. So let’s get on with it.
Pardon Day came about on September 8, 1974, when President Gerald R. Ford pardoned former President Richard M. Nixon of any wrongdoing regarding the Watergate Scandal. Just a couple of hours ago, I heard Ben saying “I am not a crook.” I have no idea where he would have picked up this phrase or why he would make such a statement, but it was pretty funny. And timely. He played into my blogging beautifully.
Forgiveness is a difficult thing – to ask for or to do. I’d rather eat dirt than experience any conflict, so I tend to run away from anyone that I’ve done any serious damage to. I know, not nice. I eventually ask for forgiveness but prefer to wait for many years to bring it up. On the flip side, I do keep a “personal book of harms”. Yes, just like Dustin Hoffman in “Rainman”. All the hurts I’ve experienced are written in volume upon volume of diaries and journals. Some people have an entire book dedicated to the atrocities I believe they’ve committed against me. I am sincerely trying to forgive and forget what others have “done” to me. And I am diligently trying to learn how to forgive myself.
Being sorry seems to be a chronic state for me. I’m sorry for things I didn’t do. I’m sorry if someone is having a bad time at a party. I’m sorry if someone has a coupon for an item at the grocery store that is out of stock. Imagine my level of sorry when one of my friends loses their job. Or their home. Or their child. I have such inner turmoil for others.
And then I do the ridiculous, like blame myself for things that are most likely not my fault. For instance, my son, Ben, has cancer. I, myself, am a cancer survivor. I had surgery and radiation therapy in 1993. I was told that children would probably not be a possibility seeing how I’d have to be radioactive every six months for follow-up purposes. All of that ended in 1998 when I was declared to be “all clear”. My relationship with my first husband spanned from 1995-2000. We produced no children, so I figured I was barren. And I was fine with that. So BIG surprise when I found out that I was pregnant with Ben. Giving birth to a beautiful, healthy son was a life-changing event for me.Â And then when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 2 1/2, of course I fell apart for the obvious reasons, but I also blamed myself. It was because I had gone through treatment. Thanks to the radiation therapy I had “fried eggs”. Despite doctors telling me that there was no way to link the two diseases I was convinced that it was my fault. On top of everything else I was going through I added one more layer of unnecessary guilt to my onion of a life.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to spend some time up in the mountains while Matt stayed at home with the kids. I’m not completely selfish but I do so much better when I can sort through things without the normal distractions of everyday life… and it was quite cathartic. Taking in the beauty of the surrounding mountains was comforting. The sensation of love was overflowing. I know there’s so much I need to just let go of. Forgive. Forget. Quit feeling guilty about all the things I can’t control. Yes, my son has cancer. And while I can logically understand that it’s not MY fault, emotionally I have such a hard time accepting this simple fact.
If I could just get a Presidential Pardon, I’d be all set.
More tomorrow 🙂
My daughter was born with a cleft lip and palate and I have the same struggle with guilt. It DID come from my genes.
I think every cancer parent can relate–we ALL (at least I do) think we’ve caused it or could have prevented it or whatever. Sigh. I’m glad you were able to hit the high country and decompress for a little while 🙂
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