Strange thing about suffering, particularly long-term suffering. Eventually, you have good days.
At the beginning of our journey every moment was a struggle. Soon, good moments arrived and were strung together into good hours. For the first several months we survived hour by hour. One good hour would be followed by several bad, only to be interrupted again by another period of “good.”
Now we can actually live day to day rather than hour to hour.
I recently related it this way to a family whose ten year old son was just diagnosed with cancer: “The day will come when you’ll go to bed and realize you haven’t cried. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
We’ve defined good days as those days when Harrison feels well-enough and strong-enough to be “normal.” When the joint pain, fatigue, and nausea–all effects of the treatment that is keeping him alive–dominate his days, everyone is affected. When Harrison suffers physically (or emotionally), everyone suffers. But when he feels well, we all feel well.
Despite his struggles with medicine, Harrison is determined to be normal. He wears himself out just living his life, and is teaching so many people (me included) how to live through suffering rather than be defined by it.
Yesterday he went to his sister’s softball game and ran himself ragged with the other little brothers. He then raced to his own baseball practice, which ended up being cancelled because of lightening. The lightening caused a delay in his brother’s baseball game, so Harrison was able to make it there as well.
After the game he took off his hat which was soaking wet with sweat. He laughed and said, “It looks like somebody poured water on my head.” Now that’s the Harrison we know and love: go a thousand miles an hour and completely crash! As someone fighting a life-threatening illness and enduring treatment that is nearly as fatal as the cancer, he will not stop being a ten year old kid.
As I sat and watched him do his best to keep up with his friends, my emotions vacillated between elation and sadness. My heart broke knowing what he is enduring. I hated that he can’t run like before. But how delighted I was the at wanted to run and play. No chemo, no Gleevec, no anti-seizure meds, no needles, no nurses, no transfusions, no spinal taps, no bone marrow aspirations.
Just a boy with his friends. Normal.
It’s been a good day.