Dad is maybe not doing well. I know I wrote “It Is Well” a couple of weeks ago but even then I was trying to talk myself into it. I am writing this today not so much to inform but to share where I am.
What does it mean to “fight” cancer? I wish there was something I could do directly to the tumor and to the root cause of the tumor. I mean, if I could just have her leg amputated below the knee I would. But that doesn’t work. That won’t fix it. That won’t make it go away.
So she has to have chemo.
And chemo makes her feel bad.
I don’t want to write another weepy post where I cry to the whole world about my daughter. Let’s talk about having fun in the pediatric oncology ward. Because that’s my fight. That’s where I can make a real difference. I can help my daughter feel better. So we try to have fun. In the hospital.
Sometimes by holding straws under our noses.
And that’s what my job in the hospital is. I bring the fun. A new favorite joke is this:
Two goldfish are in a tank and one says to the other, “Do you know how to drive this thing?”
Hilarious. When I told her that joke she rolled her eyes and laughed but she laughed. Prior to that she was feeling tired and maybe a little cranky. She didn’t want to read or be read to. She didn’t want to play video games. She didn’t want to eat. She just wanted to sit there quietly.
Now I’m all for children sitting quietly under normal conditions. But not now. Now we have to fight.
We have to fight to keep her spirits up and I am ready to fight.
But the battle is not focused entirely on my daughter. All of us are struggling.
Julie didn’t sleep last night. She cried. All night.
I can cheer my youngest up with a blue wig and some lame jokes but what do I do for Julie?
What do I do for my oldest boy who has become somewhat brooding and had a small meltdown yesterday?
What about me?
Someone at church asked penetrating questions about each family member ultimately landing on me. “How is dad doing?”
I guess I hadn’t thought about it.
I am in pain and physically exhausted and have a short fuse. My daughter has cancer. My wife isn’t sleeping. My boy is angry. The sink is full of dirty dishes.
But I can’t allow myself to focus on the bad stuff. My daughter’s cancer is localized. We caught it early. I held Julie close, told her I loved her and rubbed her neck, back and feet with lavender and she is resting now as I type. I treasure every moment with her, crying or otherwise. My son is becoming a man…and struggling with that emergence. It is a privilege to help guide him through it. Dirty dishes are a fact of life.
We practice taking deep breaths. We slow down. We laugh. We cry. We wash dishes.
We tell jokes during chemotherapy.
This is how we are learning to fight.
How is dad doing? I am hurting but I know I am loved. We have been blown away by the support we have received from our church, our community and my co-workers.
I am not an island.
I am actually surprisingly weak.
But we are able to fight this together. And it helps to have a few laughs along the way. Naps help too.