My mind swirls at the thought of politics and the general mayhem that goes along with it. I believe that we, as Americans, should vote for who we feel are the best leaders and solutions for the issues at hand, but I cannot keep up with the false promises, double negatives, and legalese that goes on in the political arena. My mind does not function that way (not to mention that I currently have no extra “brain space” left). The only thing I remember from my high school government class is the term “filibuster”, which is a form of obstruction in legislature. The rest of my knowledge of government is relegated to what I’ve learned from “School House Rock”. Don’t get me wrong, I care about my country and the issues we face as a nation. I vote. I just have other things on my mind right now.
Everybody has a cause – something that is near and dear to their hearts. Something they would fight for to the finish. A passion. I didn’t know what mine was until I had Ben and saw what he went through during this whole cancer gig. Prior to Ben, I had drifted through life not knowing why I was here on this earth. I used to believe that I was destined for something incredible given the challenges I’ve faced, so it’s been exhausting to muddle through so many failed relationships. So many emotional hurts. So many jobs that never left any sort of satisfaction or sense of accomplishment. Social work. HR. Retail. Hotel management. Non-profits. Nothing fit.
I still am not sure why I’ve had the life I’ve had but I know that my passion is my children and other children who go through life with extreme challenges. I identify with that. I know what that’s like. I didn’t go through cancer as a child, but I did have a different set of challenges that rivaled my sense ofÂ worth and self-esteem. It’s followed me my whole life. And at times, it’s been debilitating. And what makes me angry is the simple fact that a lot of what happened to me could have been avoided. It wasn’t something that ‘struck’ me, like an illness, it was the actions – or the inaction – of others. I was treated as if I was expendable, similar to that of a red-shirted crew member from the Starship Enterprise. I mean, everyone knows that a Star Trek crew member wearing a red shirt was sure to be annihilated by an otherworldly monster once beamed down from the ship, right?
I’m not blaming “the system” or looking for reparations for my pain and suffering, I’m just sayin’. I wonder what I’d be like without all the insecurities? Without being in constant fear of rejection? Without being hypercritical of myself based on what others lead me to believe? Low self-esteem sucks. And logically, I know it’s all poppycock. But emotionally, I’m stunted.
Two nights ago, I was helping Ben get out of the shower. He’s so frail right now. He’s always been a little guy but with all his body is going through right now, it’s just adding to how tiny he looks. He still wears toddler clothes. Helping him out of the shower is no form of physical exertion because he’s so small.
He was giving me his silly grin that he offers whenever he’s in a good mood. I dried him off and started putting lotion on him. My hands wandered over each scar he’s received over the past five years. The most recent scars, of course, still an angry reddish-purple. The incision on his back snaking along the rib that had to be removed still feels like a ridge. My hand hovered over this spot as I tried to take it all away. I don’t know what I was aiming for, I just wanted it to be over. Technically, Ben is cancer-free right now. But he still has so far to go with more chemo, radiation, and antibody therapy. And all of the restrictions that were supposed to fall away this year, well, they were just rudely extended. My little boy. Riddled with scars and ouchies. Constant reminders to me – to him – to everyone – that a beast has been trying to kill him for years.
Overwhelmed with emotion and sadness I scooped Ben up and cradled him on my lap. He immediately responded and cuddled up against me. I rocked him. I imagine that most eight-year-old boys would not tolerate this action from their mother, but my Ben, he’s different. He’s wonderfully sensitive and loving. His heart has such an incredible capacity for love. And it was that same heart that guarded a newly growing tumor – a heart that almost hid the opposing mass from the scans. The cancer must know. It must know that his heart is so incredibly special – so full of love – that this is where the cancer tried to attack first when it decided to come back.
Ben snuggled up against me as I rocked. He was in a blissful state and enjoying the love while I was in an emotional pit of despair. Trying to hide the tears of anger. Of sadness. Of worry. Crying silently on his shoulder as he voiced his pleasure of being rocked. I pulled it together enough to take a look at his sweet face before placing my ear on his chest to listen to his heart. For whatever reason I had to hear his heart beating. After all, it was the very first thing I heard that confirmed there was a life growing inside of me. And hearing it now would reassure me that he was still alive. His rhythmic thumping soothed me and assured me that life was still in this child and would be for a while. And I held him tight as I continued to rock and sing him his favorite song, which brought so much pleasure to us both.
“Black bird, fly. Black bird, fly. Into the light of the dark, black night.”
That’s where we’re going, Bean. There is light in our dark, black night. And it’s my awesome destiny to help you through it. As long as I can lean down occasionally and listen to your beating heart. As long as I can stay beside you. We’ll fight it together. All I can do to protect that beautiful heart from stopping, well, that is my mission. My passion. My purpose.