It's stifling hot right now. The temperature sores and my energy gets zapped by mid-afternooon and all I want is another cold drink and a nap. Instead, I'm running round getting packed up for a camp trip. It's the first of the year for the children and me and usually we have already been at least once. We're late starters. There seems to have been a packed calendar with activities for both the children and me. It tells of a normal healthy and busy family life. I like it.
There are still the days marked on the calendar that say BCCH - Jasmine appt. They are scattered throughout the months and we just spent a marathon day there on Monday. Jasmine had her neuropsychological evaluation. She spent 4 sessions with a psychologist and assistant with some breaks in between having her knowledge and abilities tested. In reality though, she's being assessed to see if there's damage from brain surgery and radiation treatment.
She loves the day. She enjoys the "games" she gets to play. She is quiet though and the doctor asks me if she's anxious. Of course she's anxious. Every time I set foot in the place I am transported to another realm of feelings. I can't describe them. It's hollow, it's empty, it's grief, it's relief, it's elation, it's horror, it's gratitude, it's survival, it's love, it's dark, it's light and it's all rolled in to one and there's no harnessing it or controlling it. I can be perfectly fine but then it hits you from left field on a Wednesday afternoon at 4pm...... I never see it coming. So is she anxious? No shit Sherlock! No doubt there's something in there that gets stirred up for her when she goes, even if it isn't a needle phobic MRI day. It's just the cancer journey.
"She has performed incredibly well!" I am told. And I break out in a huge smile. We chat some more and I hear about how academically able she is. Then I hear about the "areas of concern." That though her brain is incredibly able, she has some damage to the neurological pathways that control the execution of tasks - whatever that may mean. In short, she takes longer to do some things and sometimes memory plays a part. She may need support in school in the coming years. My emotions get stirred up again, and I'm awash with gratitude that she's alive, doing well, that her recovery is being tracked so she can get all the help she needs and that today she has no evidence of cancer in her body. Then I'm suddenly feeling heartbroken and angry that she needs support because of the damage cancer and treatment has done to her body and brain. Then suddenly I'm feeling glad because she had proton radiation therapy in place of radiation and "it really saves the brain." Then I'm fiercely pissed off that her brain needs saving and she had to have radiation in the first place. It's a jumble of feelings and I feel I don't know what - it's just that mixed up place that parenting a child with cancer is.
Last night that bright and beautiful girl ventured downstairs to tell me that she was feeling sick. She was clammy and though the fan was on it was stiflingly hot in her room. I asked if she wanted to sit with me for a while, but she said she was tired so could she go to her room and could I go with her. After I re-opened all the windows - she'd closed them as had heard a story that a tarantula had escaped from Science World and no way was that spider climbing in her window - I cooled her with a cloth and tried to soothe away the worries. Inside I was laughing my head off and loving her character and the fantastic and interesting person she is and will become. I prayed for God to hold her and help her. I watched her looking all clammy with her brow furrowed and her eyes glazed over as she was slipping in to sleep. From nowhere, I was suddenly transported to the night she was admitted to hospital. She looked the same. Last night I watched wanting her to close her eyes and find rest and sleep and I couldn't help but silently cry a river of tears. So different to watching that expression and wanting her to open her eyes, keep opening her eyes so I knew she was still with me and had not yet left this world. The ache and sorrow is as raw and fresh as it was that night. I don't know if it heals with time or is just what I will carry forever. How can I make sense of all this? Sometimes I think I must be going insane and that I must be the only person who feels like this - and surely as she's doing so well, I should be absolutely fine. Most of the time I am but those triggers come and I don't always see them ahead to prepare for them. And I wouldn't even begin to know how to prepare for them anyway. Does anyone?
So Jasmine's Journey is this shared journey for our family. Each of us traversing the inclines and rough terrain as best we can, loving the smooth sailing and free falling of the better days. Life is a little like that for all. I'm learning that the best I can do is just keep putting one foot in front of the other and take the terrain as it comes, living in that moment alone with whatever it brings for my girl and me.