Living through this nightmare of "kid with cancer" is never easy. Nothing about it is remotely easy. No one except other parents of "kids with cancer" understands the things that go through our minds. Not the thoughts or the fears.
It pulls you into a sort of shell. Sort of like a turtle does when something is around it's not familiar with - the turtle just pulls into his shell for the comfort and protection. Inside the "walls of home" things seem at their safest. Tucking the family away inside brick and mortar is akin to pulling into that shell.
I believe it is because that allows one to insure the family is in the safest place possible - regardless of what is happening. Because the ultimate priority is to protect and care for the family.
A situation as this puts one at odds because you can't hide in the shell. The enemy is within the child. Hidden from Stephanie and I. It's only predator being concoctions created by other people designed to kill the enemy, but with uncertain success and uncertain side effects. But it is the only weapon.
It makes one powerless, because protecting the family is not done on a first-hand, direct basis.
The family is what matters to us. Stephanie, David, Derry and Scott. Of course that's the family within the proverbial shell here where I type.
The family certainly expands beyond the immediate shell, somewhat of an extension of the shell.
I write about "family" sitting here late tonight because endless thoughts bound through my head. Sparked by many things. Many actions from the extended shell.
The instant action and shelter Stephanie and the boys received after being forced back across the pond. Christine. Mo. Lorna. Nana. Other options available with Graham.
Having my parents come down each year just after the traditional family Christmas Day Mania which happens in the house I was born in each year, but I've missed most years since I moved. (Not to mention all the packages that have shown up since Scott got sick).
Christine and Eric's visit in the "good" times which is now in a corner of our minds labeled "Before Cancer".
Having my sister appear at the hospital the day after Scott was diagnosed, having just flown down after leaving my dad's hospital room as, ironically, he was in surgery the very same day Scott's was put under for the bone marrow aspiration that confirmed our fears.
Christine returning on very short notice when Scott suffered the stroke. All the way across an ocean just to play taxi driver and whatever else we needed.
Graham coming over and all at once having to catch up with Stephanie and the boys, meet a son-in-law for the first time and get a whopping dose of the cancer life all at once. Also getting to swim in a sea and an outdoor pool in late November, and that Great-American experience of shopping the day after Thanksgiving (for the record he REALLY liked Sports Authority, and we hope he got everything he bought back okay).
And lastly, today something that just floored Stephanie and I. I thought someone had lost their marbles paying so much to mail a card (it was sent Express Mail). Luckily they haven't. What was in that card I'll only say was everything we'd always done at Christmas, but it all ended up here. A little piece of white note paper in the card was the most valuable thing in that envelope to us.
My point is, all the things I mention above - while seperate instances - are just one thing. All those things are simply "family".
The perspective of things change drastically when a child is diagnosed with cancer. You really learn what really matters.
What really matters?
Nothing is more important.
Yes, our family is battling a bitch of a beast that infiltrated the shell. There's nothing easy about it.
But we are thankful our shell spreads far and wide.