I've just kissed my husband and children goodbye for almost 3 weeks as I write this. I held them close in the airport lounge and tried to breathe them all in - to take them with me. Perhaps I will feel the separation anxiety more keenly than them this time. Another path filled with emotion lies before me.
I am sitting in Vancouver International Airport waiting for a flight that gets me on the distant shores of home tomorrow sometime. I haven't stepped foot on English soil for over 6 years. Part of me wants to jump for joy at the thought of embracing loved ones, seeing the old country, visiting an old favourite haunt or two. And it's a big part that wants to jump for joy.
Yet I feel broken hearted. I'm leaving precious cargo in Canada, and whilst I am gone, Jasmine will have a really big day. She has another appointment filled day coming at Children's Hospital. She will have audiology tests, bloodwork, endocrinology tests, consultation with oncologists and neurosurgeon. And right in the middle of that day is the next MRI. That photograph like no other, where Rick and I hold our breath, pray and hope for a clear scan. The only photo that really matters what the outcome is.
Jasmine's team said that we all breathe a little easier with the more time that passes. I don't know that I do breathe a little easier. I think perhaps I feel more anxious about this one than any other so far. When I read about ependymoma two words haunt me - "frequently reoccurs"
They are the stuff of nightmares and all that emotion and pain is wrapped up in a day that involves a scan of a beautiful girl's brain. There is nothing to suggest that Jasmine isn't doing well - only my own mind, memories of the journey so far, the weight of the cancer cart. I think it is a mother's job to care and worry about her children.
And my mum worries and thinks about my sister and I as we embark on her journey with her. There was a wrenching in my heart and I feel torn in two between mother and daughter at this time. I'm trusting all is well with Jasmine, and that Rick can do that hospital day and brave it out for her, for him, for us. I will think of her while I hold my mum's hand. She embarks on her own perilous journey today with intense chemo treatment. At Jasmine's last clear MRI report, my mum was receiving the news that she had an acute form of leukaemia. Just 4 short months later, she is being admitted to hospital and has the hardest thing she has ever done before her over these next few weeks. She is brave and courageous and I'm not sure I could do this as well as she. So I will go and walk a few steps with her and hold her hand and pray her along the way. I'll stand shoulder to shoulder with a sister and we'll do what we can together.
I have cried a river and I have felt fear lurking so much it overtakes me and more tears are shed. But there's a time for those tears and a time to collect myself and continue. Even if God has you on the right road, if you stay still you'll never get to your intended destination. So I know it's time to move forward again, lean in, pray and trust God's goodness and grace. Just keep going in spite of the tears and fears and just believe.
I have a slogan on my facebook page that reads "some people never get to meet their hero, I gave birth to mine." I can now add that my hero gave birth to me. So I'm the generation sandwiched between my two heroes. But as I look at my brave son, my husband holding the fort, my sister caring for our family, my aunty loving and looking after two sisters in need, the teacher helping a child, the friend caring for my children, the stranger collecting litter from the street, the policeman keeping the peace, the schoolgirl sharing her snack, the teenager teaching his kid brother to play guitar - maybe, just maybe there is a bit of a hero in all of us.