Remembering The Valley

We are coming to the end soon.
...the end of the treatment we set in place a year and half ago.

Natalie has scans scheduled for the 10th of February and we hope to receive the all clear. We don't really know what will happen if that's not the case...

I remember when we set this plan up. I remember every second. Every fear. Every crack in my heart. I remember asking no less than 40 questions and Mike doing the same. I remember feeling things I couldn't explain with words.

I remember when our 6 month plan turned to almost 2 years. I remember when Natalie almost died of sickness only 3 months into treatment.

I remember the tough choice we made to put Natalie on anxiety medication because she was so stressed she would freak out if someone so much as uncrossed their legs while watching TV.

I remember there was a moment when I looked at Mike and realized I was angry with him. I was angry that he couldn't fix this. I was angry that we were so powerless. I was angry so... that I didn't have to be sad... and as soon as I realized how irrational that was, and I let it go, I cried for hours. That deep ugly cry that no movie scene can ever seem to do justice.

I still cry like that sometimes.

I cried like that the first time we lost a cancer friend.

And the second time... and third... and too many more times after that.

These strangers became family living together in housing for over a year. I don't know what survivors guilt is suppose to feel like but, I imagine its something like this. Like watching amazing, innocent little kids get sicker and sicker while watching yours get better. Knowing you would give your life for theirs in a heartbeat, but also being so grateful for every single second you have with your own precious child. Thinking..."that could have been my baby..."

I remember when Natalie got vocal paralysis over night While she was still healing from surgery. We didn't know she had completely lost her voice. She was fine the night before...  Late morning I check on her thinking she is still asleep; chemo makes her tired.  I go in and find her soaked from tears, lip quivering, eyes scared, and her in obvious pain. She must have been like that for hours. But she made no noise, so I let her rest. She wouldn't even come to me. I had let her down and she didn't want my comfort. I have never in my life felt more pain than in that moment, and thinking about it now makes me physically sick. She was afraid and confused, trying to scream out for me but nothing would come. Like watching a movie with the sound on mute.

And now I'm shaking.

I remember in the first week I saw a girl a little older than Natalie playing with her siblings in the play area. She looked so happy and joyful playing there almost as if everything were normal. Then she paused her playing, took out a green bag and threw up for several minutes, then went right back to playing. No one flinched. Her parents didn't jump out of their seats. She didn't cry. I remember realizing that day that we had a new normal. sometimes I think about that little girl, probably 8 or 9 years old, when I hear a child complain about something like putting their shoes on...
...maybe I'm a little jaded.

I remember all these things and more because I have nightmares about them. I sometimes have dreams that Natalie is throwing up and I wake up and in my sleepy state I don't know if its a dream or if I only woke up because I heard Natalie, on the baby monitor, actually throwing up. Mike has mumbled many things in his sleep like... "are you checking on Natalie?" or "did she get sick?" when I roll over in the bed. I can't remember the last time either of us really slept.

Every sniffle is a cause for hourly temperature monitoring, a warm bath and a call to the Dr.

I wonder if it will always be like this. Does the stress and anxiety ever go away?

As a Christian, people often tell me not to worry about the future. God has a plan for goodness. Have faith.... and I do. I have faith that Gods plan will turn out to be bigger and greater than anything I could have imagined. I know all things work for the good of us who believe in Him. I know I should laugh without fear of the future and all that other Proverbs stuff.
But here is the thing....

Knowing the future is in Gods hands, and knowing Heaven is real and believing with my whole heart that He loves my family and that he wants good things for us.... it doesn't mean the path to that wonderful future isn't going to hurt. Because it does. It hurts.

It hurts so much...

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