Wednesday, March 3, 2010

From the mouth of babes...

A couple of days ago, I was outside the home of a friend talking with a group of women about the weighty matters of the last few weeks and the decisions that may need to be made in the months to come, when all of a sudden a big, hairy, licky Wheaton Terrier puppy came bounding up the sidewalk. This unexpected exuberance of hair sent my boys into a state of frozen shock (which was not a bad thing given they were throwing the decorative rock onto the lawn and sidewalk) and my friend reacted heroically by corralling the puppy so the boys could come over to pet the unknown ball that was causing such anxiety. It was no small task, and she wrapped her arms around the puppy and tried to calm the dog near her feet, which were only clothed in a thin pair of socks. Despite her efforts to bring tranquility to the situation and some mutual understanding, my boys never got near the puppy and the puppy left only one sock unstained by the excitement of his bladder! We all (well, most of us) laughed about the outcome and the anxiety left almost as quickly as it had appeared.

Speaking of anxiety, many of you have been wondering how my boys are handling our situation and I wanted to share some of the heartbreaks and triumphs of trying to parent through the uncontrollable. Both of my boys have developed a stress reaction to news of the cancer. Shortly after finding out, and our lives being thrown into chaos, Isaac started to pull at his lips (to the point of bleeding), and Eli started to complain about his stomach hurting him. In my heartache, I knew that they were trying to deal with the news the only way their little minds and bodies could at the time.

Since the initial shock, some of their words and actions have at times helped to calm their scared mom and other times it has brought me to my knees in tears and recognition that I cannot take away their pain.

For instance, there hasn’t been a day go by that I have not heard Eli praying for my “bad cells to leave” or “for the doctors to take them away”. Those prayers, coupled by an increase of love and affection from my otherwise independent four year old have brought me a great deal of comfort. It is easy for my mind to dismiss and hope that they are being unaffected by this situation, but there are reminders, like the stomach aches and lip pulling, that remind me that cancer is a family trial and burden, as well as a blessing.

A few weeks ago, when I still had a full head of hair, we were coming out of a crowded, noisy gym where we had just watched my nephew play a basketball game. My mind was completely focused on holding Eli’s hand so as to not lose him in the crowd, but his little mind was on other things. Right in the middle of the rush, he tugged on my hand and looked at me with concern and said, “Mom, are you really going to lose your hair?” I quickly stated in a matter-of-fact way, “Yep buddy and it’s going to be OK!” We continued to walk and again he tugged at my hand. This time I knelt down by him knowing that his little mind was going a million miles an hour and with a deep look of concern he said, “Mom, are you going to die?” I choked back my own emotion and hugged him saying, “Pal, it would take a lot more than this little cancer to take your mom out.” He seemed content with that answer and we walked the rest of the way in silence, as I tried to catch the tears coming from my eyes before he saw them.

These types of exchanges have been far and few between compared to the little statements or gestures that have really helped along the way. Justin and I decided that we would help with the hair loss idea by incrementally moving towards it. We tried to make the three different haircuts fun and a family activity and it really did seemed to work, until the haircut right before the shaving and both boys were a little restless and cousins were inside, so off they went to play. I was concerned about their reaction when I walked into the house, but when they saw me they just kept playing until Justin’s mom called them closer to check it out. Eli’s eyes got huge and he walked completely around me with shock that my longer hair was gone and then as he appeared around the other side, he had a huge grin of approval and without another word he continued to play. My Isaac ran up to me and simply said, “Cool hair mom!” and kissed me on top of the head. That healed me!

My ‘mom heart’ has been concerned about them spending time away from me but the following have been comments about some of you that have put my heart at ease:

• Just yesterday, Eli out of the blue said, “Mom, when we have another baby I want to call it AUNT BRENNIE!”

• “Mom, can we go play with Aunt Jeany? I can do whatever I want there!” (That wasn’t quite as comforting :))

“Is Denise my aunt and Nick and Jake my cousins?”

“Papa likes me. He my best friend. Nana my best friend too!”

Thank you so much for easing the anxiety of the ‘big and hairy dog of life’. I know that many of you have thrown your hearts and ‘socks’ on the line for our family and we are eternally grateful.

Love to you all,



  1. I truly am amazed how you can find a lesson in everything......I, on the other hand, am oblivious!(as exemplified the other day)

  2. Love the dog story. I'm surprised it wasn't you corraling the beast. ;) Your boys are so sweet, intuitive & just special. Aren't you blessed, seriously? They're just like you though full of life and compassion. Love ya Beck.

  3. I would be honored for a baby named after me:)HAHA!! Aunt Brenny is always good for TREATS, PLAYDOUGH and TONZ OF LOVE... Your boys are the sweetest little things ever, but I wouldn't expect anything different coming from you and Justin. You two are the best parents and the best examples of kindness that I know. Thanks for always being so great! You are in our prayers and our hearts. Love you all a ton!!

    Bren & Family