They say life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but in the number of moments that take your breath away. What they fail to recognize is that both good and bad, positive and negative, can steal your breath; amazing beauty and devastating pain can equally claim your air, crush your lungs.
Some of you may have noticed that my book schedule has been steadily broadened, my releases pushed further and further apart. The simple response would be to say that life is getting in the way, but the truth is far more disturbing. While I easily admit my faults, while I crack open my shell and reveal personal facts on occasion, the reality is far more than I’ve been able to bare, more than I’m able to bear.
As a mother, you’re supposed to be a role model for your children. You strive for perfection because you want to offer them perfection. Ideally, they would have everything you didn’t growing up. In a perfect world, they would have no battle scars; in a perfect world, you can protect them from the harsh licks of life.
Regardless of your expertise, there are two things you can’t protect your children from: death and heartache.
My mother died when I was eight, the same age my daughter is now. The woman who stepped in and filled that maternal role in my life over ten years ago, my daughter’s grandmother, is losing her battle with cancer. She’s fought so hard over these past two years. She is the perfect role model for my children. She embodies strength. Her courage is medal worthy. Her positive persistence, her determined attitude to conquer everything thrown at her is eye opening, it’s sobering. She makes you realize how great you have it, yet she doesn’t complain about her lot. She simply accepts the new challenge for what it is: another chance to prove herself, to demonstrate what a powerful woman she is.
Admittedly, I don’t remember many details about my biological mother, but I remember everything about this woman. The similarities between the two though, run straight to my heart. I watched my own mother go from an independent, healthy woman to a harrowing skeleton. It’s been difficult seeing and conceding the parallels along the way with my daughter’s grandmother. It’s heartbreaking; it’s crushing to realize that there is nothing you can do. It’s humbling to realize that nothing you do will change fate.
All three of my children adore this woman. They have an undeniable, indescribable bond with her. In fact, they call her Mom 1, and I’m Mom 2, because she was born first. I can’t help but break down at the reality that the same heartache I experienced at my daughter’s exact age will likely be experienced by her. I can’t protect her from it.
It’s devastating to realize you can’t protect them. It’s heart wrenching, soul defeating to know you can’t stop the inevitable…
Holding tight to my own personal experiences, I’ve vowed to be a pillar of strength for my children. I cry in silence, in the darkness of night, so they never feel that they are burdening me or upsetting me by sharing their feelings, so I can be their fortress rather than a flimsy cover that lacks support and stability.
This is especially important with my oldest boy. Kaleb is autistic. I don’t like labels. To me, Kaleb is Kaleb; he is who he is, who he was meant to be. He’s so smart too. He sees so much. He is always the first to notice new scars and bruises on her. He was the first to announce that her hair and eyebrows were growing back after her brain radiation. He was so excited for her. He loved seeing her recover; he celebrated every milestone with her as if this was what you were naturally supposed to do, as if we all were supposed to do this. How do you explain to him that her hair isn’t coming back this time? How do you break his heart, muddle his brain with the idea that she is never coming back again potentially? With great difficulty is the answer, with a heavy heart is the reality.
And my youngest? He won’t even remember her. She will be but a faint shadow in his memories. He’ll only ever know what we tell him, what little photos convey. He probably won’t remember the way she hugged him, the way she cried when he was born because he came right at the moment that all this came. And that will be the association as my youngest ages: his life began when war was declared on hers.
Few recognize the strain the threat of loss puts on relationships. Few acknowledge the burden you accept to remain by someone’s side. Admittedly, many relationships in my life have been rocked and shaken. Openly, I’m failing in so many parts of my life right now. I’ve been rocked and shaken to the core by more than merely unavoidable fate.
I’ve been on an emotional, mental journey all my own throughout these last two years. I’ve had my ups and downs, my highs and lows. Some changes are harder to accept than others. Some fates are harder to accept than others. Some deaths, some illnesses, are harder to deal with than others.
We all experience weakness, but that doesn’t make us a weak person. We all experience pain, but that doesn’t mean we’re living in agony. We all experience loss, but that doesn’t mean we have nothing left.
Despite all I’ve gone through in life, despite my personal challenges and the fresh obstacles regularly presenting themselves, I’m incredibly blessed.
In the midst of all this, I can’t even begin to explain how much you, my readers, have meant to me. Because you bought my books, I was able to make all her dreams come true, before it was too late. Because you bought my books, I’ve been given invaluable time, priceless flexibility during such an unstable time.
I’ll be relying on you all now more than ever though. As of Wednesday, she will be doing two different chemos, with different injection sites, varying strengths, twice a week with the chance of radiation as well. Friday, I receive the results of my own tests. Regardless of what the doctor tells me, it will be nothing compared to the harrowing diagnosis I received with her this past Friday. And that’s just it, as bad as we think we have it sometimes, there is always someone who has it worse. As hard as my life has been, it’s nothing compared to the life I could have been forced to live.
Knowing all too well how precious time is, being all too aware of the support my children will need as they watch what I did at their age, I am stepping away from work for a bit. I’m not saying I won’t write, because honestly, reading and writing are my salvation; they’re my spot of sunshine in the midst of the storm. Rather, what I’m doing is stepping away from expectations. I’m taking a step back from writing commitments.
Release dates? I couldn’t give you a solid answer for any title. Even if I spewed something out, who’s to say it wouldn’t change. While you all offer me a lot of stability that I’m ever so grateful for, there are too many variables, too many possibilities still right now. In the myriad of emotions that are passing through me, the last one I want to invite is disappointment. So please, don’t ask me for a release date. I’m overjoyed that you are anxious for a release. It means I did something right in the midst of pure chaos. But, the truth is, things have been far too much for me to bare, far too much for me to bear. There is so much more of me in my books than you realize. There is so much more going on than we ever truly share, and I’m no exception.
I will continue to keep you all updated on my writing progress. I promise to provide release dates as soon as I can. I promise to return and be the proper author that I ought to be as soon as I can.
Thanks for everything.