I always expected to dry your tears after a bad break-up or some sort of other teenage disappointment. I planned on getting you a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (cookie dough) while I ate apples and we watched chick flicks together. That was the broken heart I was prepared to mend.
I was not prepared for this.
I was not prepared to dry your tears because of cancer. I was not prepared for cancer to threaten your singing voice, the very thing you cherish most of all. It’s funny how so many things we value, things we hold tightly, become the things we have to turn over to God.
The gift of music was given to you for a reason, maybe this experience will let you see how much it means to you? I don’t know. I have no answers as to why you have to go through this, I just know I wasn’t prepared.
Sophia’s audition for Mary Poppins. She earned the part of Winifred Banks. We’re believing she’ll be whole by show time and able to sing it (but we’re casting an understudy so she doesn’t have any added pressure to get better.)
We all spend so much time wanting to be a part of groups or clubs or cliques or friendships circles, but this was never a club I wanted to join. The “moms of kids who have cancer” club. I know several other moms in this club, each with their own story to tell. Some have the happiest of endings. Others, the most devastating. I feel a kinship with them now, though I admit I never wanted to. I wanted to be able to empathize with them—I didn’t want to be one of them. I hope they don’t take offense to that. I would imagine they didn’t want to be in this club either.
But here we are.
All of us, bound together by the fact that our worst fear came true. All of us still standing in spite of that.
Maybe when your worst fear comes true and you survive it, it bolsters you somehow? Maybe it makes you realize that you’re stronger than you thought or that you really do have a God whose grace and mercy carries you through?
It’s only been a week since Sophia’s diagnosis. That week feels like a year. In the midst of it, we also had auditions for Mary Poppins. On our best days, audition weekends are grueling. This weekend nearly killed us. We took our moments—pockets of time to ourselves where we regrouped. We did our very best, but it was our team who carried us through. Without them, nothing would’ve gotten done.
Sometimes when I’m out running errands or something, people like cashiers at the grocery store or the person working the Panera drive-thru will make small talk, you know the kind—“How’s your day going?” I’ve never felt so fake as when I respond “Good, you?” In my head, I’m really saying “My daughter has cancer.” It’s like it’s always there, a gentle hum playing in the back of my mind, like a window open on my computer and I can’t figure out where the noise is coming from.
My daughter has cancer.
The amazing thing in all of this has been Sophia. While she’s obviously feeling all of the emotions, she’s also found a way to laugh, to joke, to binge-watch New Girl, to sing. She’s not a wear-her-heart-on-her-sleeve kind of girl—the only one of my kids who does that is Sam, and his heart is usually angry about something (#helpmerhonda)—but I find myself clinging to her a little bit. I find myself just wanting to be around her. I knew without her saying a word the one time I’ve seen her break down over this whole thing that she was breaking down and I was in the kitchen while she was upstairs on the bathroom floor. The holy spirit nudged me to go find her. I pray he keeps doing that so I can be whatever it is she needs in this journey.
One thing I do know is that the love of our family and friends and even strangers on the internet has been overwhelming. People say that, and unless you’re in it, you cannot possibly comprehend how it feels to have people offer their wisdom and expertise to you, or their time or their prayers. Heartfelt messages have come our way via text, email, Facebook and pretty much every other way you can imagine. Our driveway was chalked. We’ve been loved on and hugged. When our arms are too heavy, there is always, always someone there to help lift them.
Periodically over the last several years, since we started the Studio, Adam will turn to me out of nowhere and say “I love our life.” I understand the depth of what that means. Starting the business was a huge risk, and it was our big dream. And we’re doing it. And it’s been amazing. And we know countless amazing people because of it. Last night I thought, “he wouldn’t be saying that now.”
And yet, I do still love our life.
I do still love what we do and the people we do it with. I do still love where we live and how we live, even though it’s all really, really hard right now—even though I forget soccer practice or the fact that Sam needs a band book. Even though in some ways I’m barely keeping it together… I stilllove this life. It’s still a gift. And this—all of this—when we are on the other side of it, will be a huge testimony to the love and care of a God who has never left me even for a second.
Friends, I’m no preacher, and I can’t give an altar call, but I can tell you that in your life, you’re going to hit these kinds of snags. And you will not be prepared. And you’ll watch everything you thought you knew go up in flames… And if you don’t have a foundation to cling to, if you don’t have the comfort and deep knowledge that there is a God who loves you, who wants the very best for you, I don’t know how you’ll ever get through it. I can’t even imagine.
Anyway. We’re still here. Still hanging on. And when my arms grow weary, I know His hand will be there to pull me up.