Six years ago this month, my eldest/oldest/elder/older daughter…
Okay sidenote – the #1 grammar correction I receive on a regular basis is my use of “eldest/elder daughter” or “oldest/older daughter.” When I use “eldest/er,” someone suggests I should use “oldest/er”. When I use “oldest/er,” someone suggests I used “eldest/er.” I consulted the internet grammar gods and a few English teachers….the general consensus is I can use either to describe the daughter in our family that was born 2 years before the other daughter. There is also a ton of debate regarding this topic on the grammar boards of the internet gods. Let’s be honest – I’m doing good just posting these days. Please give me grace on my grammar mistakes – grammar is only one of my many shortcomings! I guess I could go back to using nicknames for my kids or their ages. I’m going to go with older and will be sticking with it because I’m exhausted trying to figure out which one will make the least amount of people cringe. Grace…I need lots of grace!
Okay, back to the point of this post.
Six years ago this month, my older daughter broke her leg. Actually, she fractured her femur and it was a HUGE fracture. She ended up in traction in the hospital for over three weeks. At the time, she was a few months shy of her second birthday. I am still not sure how we made it so many weeks with an almost 2 year old, who was stuck on her back.
The entire duration of her stay she was on the pediatric oncology floor since she was there for a longer stay and wasn’t contagious. As we walked the halls we got to see other patients….little patients battling really big battles.
I thought of those patients and their families daily. I knew soon we’d leave and head back to our normal routine at home. In a few months it would be as if we were never there. Her stay in the hospital was long enough that I saw some kids leave and come back for chemo treatments. Little heads should be bald because of a bad haircut not because of a battle with cancer. Cancer sucks. I remember seeing one door with a “Transplant” sign taped to it. Thinking about the family on the other side of that door shattered my heart.
I couldn’t help but push my girl around the floor and wonder why we had it so good. There I was with a little girl singing If You’re Happy and You Know It while waving at nurses…other moms were praying their child would receive a much needed transplant or hoping that that round of chemo would work.
Six years later – I can’t keep her feet on the ground.During those three weeks, I left the hospital for a total of 30 minutes. Thankfully, many friends and family stopped by and changed up the pace of our days. I vividly remember the day my friend Anna stopped by my daughter’s room. Anna and I talked about the other patients on the floor – specifically the children battling cancer. Anna and I grieved for the parents and children on the floor. We could not imagine what life was like for the patients and their parents.
A couple weeks later Anna, who has three boys, received the news that her youngest son had a brain tumor.
A brain tumor.
The life neither of us could imagine was all the sudden Anna’s reality.
Over the next year of treatments and surgeries, Anna journaled. She filled 6 full 3-ring binders with journal entries, notes, and letters. I’ve watched over the years as Anna has taken a deeply personal and heartbreaking experience and turned it into something to help other families. She recently published Canopy: A 366 Days For parents of critically ill children using the content of those binders. It is the book no one wants to write, but if you are a parent in that situation, I imagine you’d be grateful to be reminded you are not alone…to hear a voice that understands and has walked the road that stretches out in front of you.
Gabe, Anna’s youngest son, is now 5 years post-treatment, NED (No Evidence of Disease). Today, I am celebrating the life of a little boy I love and a woman I admire and respect.
Anna is not on social media. I can’t link to her blog or her Instagram account – they don’t exist. Neither does her Facebook fan page or Twitter account. She is a woman full of grace and dignity, who lives quietly serving those around her. She didn’t write this book for accolades. She didn’t write it to gain a following. She doesn’t have aspirations to make the NYT Bestseller list. She quietly published a book to help parents, who like her, find themselves in a life centered in a medical world that could be defined by fear, worry and despair. She wrote it to offer hope.
My desire is that none of you know someone who could use Canopy. However, I also know the reality of critical childhood illnesses and that, unfortunately, many of you are already thinking of another parent who could use this book.
If you would like more information on Canopy, it is currently available on Amazon.