Nearly every week Ginger and I are contacted by a new childhood cancer family. Sometimes a friend introduces us, other times they land on this blog or Harrison’s Facebook page, and sometimes they’ve seen something on twitter. But every time I think the same thing, “Another family facing weeks and months of fear, hurt, and sorrow.”
Each time I am taken back to that first week of Harrison’s struggle. The sleepless nights in the hospital. Pacing the floor. Walking from the room to the snack closet and back again. Climbing into Harrison’s bed. Climbing out to lie on the floor. Looking up from the cold floor into the ceiling and thinking,
This. Can’t. Be. Happening.
Every cancer parent I’ve talked to has that one line repeat over and over, involuntarily, in their heads. Not to my daughter, my son, my grandchild. Not to my oldest/youngest/only child.
Parents fly back and forth through the stages of grief, usually many times a night.
And the nights are the worst. You are left with just your thoughts.
Hospital noises are a constant reminder that nothing will be the same. Every time the IV pump runs dry and the alarm sounds you think, “Is he dying?”
Nurses come and go, like silent ninjas. They must believe if they are quiet they won’t wake you.
There’s no rest for the weary, no sleep for the dazed and confused, no “happy place” to drift off to. No magic sandman to bring you a dream. Just thoughts of what tomorrow holds for your child. And the pain such thoughts bring.
But, eventually, you sleep. But never at night. Sleep only comes during the day for those thrust into childhood cancer. Why? I don’t know. That’s just the way it is.
Gradually, you nap at night. One day, you sleep through the night. You awaken refreshed. Like the first time that little son or daughter as a baby slept through the night without waking you.
And you give thanks to God for the rest. And pray for more.