Noah had an amazing birthday thanks to many different people. It first started a few days before his birthday, our friends at Habitat for Hope got him an amazing birthday cake with Jake on top...oh so yummy and huge! He was in love!
Then on his birthday he got to go swimming at Nana and Grandaddy's hotel...who wouldn't love that!?!? Got to see some racecars as well and then came back to "The house for 5 people" and opened a million birthday cards from friends all over!
With the excitement of Noah's 5th birthday also brought closer the reality that they had to return home to VA. As the day grew closer nerves were on the rise...while we didn't want to think about the next 6 weeks or so apart, we knew it was coming. I was holding it together pretty well until Noah started to fall apart. As we went to take our family photos, Noah began to cry...not little tears...big, can't breath tears. He was so sad...telling us how it wasn't fair that he had to leave and that TN was the funnest place in the world. After promising him ice cream when we got home (nice bribery right)...he calmed down and then asked "which home". My heart sank for him, what a crazy life he lives right now...but I'm thankful that for the most part he goes along with it, without much of a complaint. Now that he's back at home, he's enjoying seeing his friends again and his piggy bank (not sure why he missed that so much but I hear he kissed it 50 times when he got home). I hope that the routine of home and Mrs. Kelly will help him feel a little better.
Ellie and I have tried to settle into our new life together, although we still have Nana around...so we aren't completely on our own yet. We have started round four, which is the last of these current meds. When we started this way back in March I had no idea chemo consisted of so many different meds, honestly I just thought it was all one big medicine named "chemo" that everyone got. Not so true. Ellie's treatment consists of 4 rounds (28 days each) of the same medication combination (4 different chemo meds). Once we finish round 4 she will start 2 more rounds (28 days each) with different chemo meds. The exciting part about the next two rounds is that she only gets medicine for a week, and then doesn't get any more meds for another 3 weeks. We are most excited about that 3 weeks without meds, because that means we might be able to come home in between those two rounds, as long as the doctors at home are on board! That might mean for the first time all 5 of us could be together under our own roof! How exciting...yet scary! Its kinda like taking your first child home for the first time...what do you do with them? We'd be so far away from the doctors that see Ellie almost every other day, that know exactly which pupil dilates which way, that know she's not going to talk to you but she will take stickers from you, that know the correct tickle spots and know that Ellie will always hold the thermometer cord for them.
These past couple days "on my own" have really caused a lot of self reflection. I remember walking into this hospital a month ago, scared to death and completely overwhelmed. So afraid I wasn't going to "do it right". Really I was afraid someone would think I was doing something wrong. I have struggled for a long time with the fear of what others think of me. It's a dumb fear, and as much as I tell myself it doesn't matter...I can't seem to get over it. So as I laid in the hospital last night...this train on thought came rolling through...and once again I realized something else I've learned...I'm learning a whole lot...hope I hang onto this knowledge.
One of my first days at St. Jude as we sat waiting for an appointment I watched a lady begging her son to take his medicine. She gave him a million chances, threatened to take things away, argued with him, bribed him...I'm not sure if he ever took it or not...but I remember thinking..."I will never do that...my daughter will do what I ask her or else"...(not sure what the or else was). Now I laugh thinking back to that day. I do everything short of a Broadway musical to get Ellie to eat...although my singing may be good enough for a show. I threaten to take her monkey away and she hands him to me...she has even said she needed to go to time out to avoid eating....reverse psychology doesn't exactly work on her. Its amazing how quick I was to judge that woman weeks ago when I had never walked in her shoes. Here I am terrified what others will think of me and I'm busy being the person I am worried about (does that make sense?)
I also dislike having attention drawn towards myself...probably again because then I worry what others will be thinking. No better way to teach you to get over these things then having a bald headed child. As we walked into Chic fila the other day and I watched the heads turn, I had to giggle to myself...and a song popped into my head. "He's not finished with me yet"
Every time I think I have learned what God is teaching me in this journey we are on...he decides its time for a new lesson. This week's lesson is all about strength. Daily God has been giving me new challenges to show me just how strong I am. From little things like Ellie's dinner not showing up from room service and having to call to check on it (yes...I stress that because I don't want the room service people to think I'm a pain) to sending my husband and children back home and leaving me here. With Richard not here I am forced to ask questions when I don't know the answers (which again I normally don't do because I don't want them to think I'm dumb), instead of relying on him. As I argue with myself when struggling to pick up the phone to make that phone call or ask that question, I keep saying to myself "only He matters". He's teaching me that the only opinion that really matters is His. That I need to live my days thinking "Would God be proud of me for this" instead of "what will this total stranger think of me if I don't know my way to the eye clinic". He is continually teaching me my children are watching me, especially Noah...and that sometimes I'm going to have to hold it together because Noah needs to see that I'm okay, even though I want to fall apart. I think strength is something God is very proud of. It takes strength and restraint to not judge someone or think ill thoughts of them. It takes strength to not verbally express that judgment to someone else. It takes strength to just be strong (duh) to hold your world together when you'd just like to let it fall apart. It takes strength when you are surrounded by sick children to not let your brain go wandering down the paths it shouldn't and remind yourself that God's got this, He has a plan for all of us and he won't let us walk it alone.
While I miss Richard and the kids terribly, I'm interested in what is next on God's lesson plan for me (even though it's officially summer break...yeah to all my teacher friends!). I can't say I'm thrilled about the return to iPad phone calls, but I'm excited that we are nearing the end of this first part of treatment. This hasn't been the easiest road over, but we are continually surrounded by the help we need and give the strength that only He can provide.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven" Luke 6:37
Prayers, Praise and Pink