Monday, January 25, 2010


Kids are funny. No, there's a better adjective: perceptive. Kids are perceptive. Last evening while I was folding laundry (a task that has plummeted to the very bottom of my top 100 things I love to do list), my youngest asked me if I was cured of cancer. Just like that: an out-of-the-blue, knock-your-socks-off question.

"So, you're done now, right? You're cured of cancer, aren't you?" Caroline is ten years old. Her questioning eyes shown brightly in the dim evening light, and her auburn hair framed her soft cheeks in a way that reminded me of her innocence. Through her innocence, I'm able to see her childlike grin. I can almost hear her laughing at the little things that adults no longer find humorous, like silly cloud pictures, or a leaf that sticks to the hood of your jacket and you don't know that it's there. Her unassuming remarks allow me to step back - and to live in her simple little world - for a brief moment. Caroline's innocence is one of the things that keeps me going; it keeps me pressing on through the dark days, and it keeps me focused on God's purpose for my life.

Cured. There's that word again, that word that literally takes my breath away. I instantly stopped folding the towels. I took a deep breath, as if somehow the rush of air would give me more wisdom or, I don't know, maybe it would just give me a much coveted nanosecond of precious time. Time that I needed to put the right words together for soothing Caroline's questioning eyes.

"You know, there is no real cure for breast cancer," I began calmly." But I did as much as I could do by taking the medicines to keep it from coming back," I answered, not wanting to recreate thoughts of chemo, surgery, radiation, as well as the resulting hair loss, nausea and monumental fatigue that I'd experienced almost four years ago. I determined to keep those images from her mind. She was six years old at the time of my diagnosis, and she might not even remember many of those details now. At least, I'd hoped she didn't remember much of that time - not now. What good would it do for her to rehash and replay those gloomy events, the ones that I am often reminded of, sometimes on a daily basis?

The hair loss. She remembered the hair loss. Even before she mentioned it, I could see it in her eyes. We talked about the hair loss, and I told her how lucky I was to have her there with me to make me laugh during that difficult time.

"It will be four years in February since I was diagnosed. Four years! That's a pretty long time, don't you think? " I smiled and tried to sound upbeat; however, my comment hung lifelessly in the air between us.

She looked at me, thought for a moment, and followed my remark slowly with, "Wow ... it still must be scary for you."

She gets it. My ten year old gets it. And in her eyes, I see innocence slipping away. Forever.

I encouraged her by telling her that God has been so good to us all, and that He loves us and will not take us home to be with Him until He's absolutely ready to do so. He knows exactly what He is doing in our lives, and we need to put our trust solidly in Him, for He promises never to leave us. Not ever.

She continued to help me finish folding the laundry, and I told her that I was proud of her for helping me and encouraging me when I was going through cancer four years ago. Maybe, just maybe, when she thinks of that rough time in my life, she'll remember how brave she was. More importantly, I hope she remembers how faithful God is, each and every day of our lives.

Innocence is so short-lived. Kids can be so perceptive.

1 comment:

WhiteStone said...

Perceptive child. My daughter is in her mid-30s and I'm betting her concerns for her "Mom" are exactly the same as those of your 10-yr-old. Cancer affects the entire family. Part of the trauma for our family was that my debulking surgery occurred on my daughter's birthday...a year ago. This year's birthday marks "our" first cancerversary.

May God grant us all long reprieve from this disease.