Last night I had my night-before-Matt's-17th-birthday-date. These dates are probably one of my favorite traditions I have with my kids, and definitely one of my three favorite days of the year. Of course, the other two are January 19th, Amanda, and May 21st, Mikey... so, no uprisings among my offspring and no mutiny in the shire is necessary at this time.
Anyway, so I have these dates where I get the birthday kid all to myself. We go out to dinner wherever they choose. I turn over a placemat or take out a notepad and my put my journalism degree to use by interviewing them. If there are placemats (and yay when there are crayons on the table!) we trace our hands in the middle of all my chicken-scratched Qs&As. Then we go to a bookstore and they pick out a book, any book, just from me.
This time last year, I think my hair fell out on Matt's birthday. For his birthday this year, I got strep and bronchitis. Better than last year, but talk about a lame date. Not to mention, Matt likes to rib me, that I just keep taking the spotlight off him by getting sick. A few weeks ago he had a sore throat and I ended up on antibiotics. Poor guy. Yes, we joke like that. But he also brings me his own stash of Vicks Vapor Rub when he is worried that I am going to be stuffy all night. So it works for us. "That's what I like about you" Matt...and, of course, Mikey and Amanda.
My kids amaze me how they have handled this cancer thing. I can not even begin to imagine what they have gone through as they have gone through it with me. But I know it has affected them. I remember when it was just damn spots and not yet cancer, begging God that he would not let it be cancer because I was hoping He would spare them the grief of losing their mum. In His sovereignty, it was, but He has spared me, healed me. Spared them. My mum's heart is more thankful for that mercy than I can find words to express.
And yet they still have had to deal with having a very sick mum. This was not in my mum's manual nor my intended homeschool curriculum. It has not been the center of our lives. More like it has been like the elephant in the middle of room that you really can't ignore. So you just
feed it peanuts and get on with life as much as you can with an elephant following you around wherever you go. The cool thing about my kids is that they have somehow figured out how to ride the elephant, at least that's how I like to think about it. They amaze me.
Last night Matt and I were talking about the highs and lows, pros and cons, of this past year of our "elephant" in the shire. "It's definitely THE con, but in a way, it's also been a pro, because even though it sucked, we needed it," my sixteen-going-on-seventeen year old sage said. "I don't really remember what it was like before the cancer but I think it brought us closer together. And it helped me realize it's so much easier and better to just trust God rather than take things into your own hands. Because cancer isn't something you can take in your hands, and you just have to trust God."
Wow. Just wow.
Makes me think of the Simple Plan song, Save You, which Matt gave to me for my chemo cocktail mix that I made on my iPod. Simple Plan is his favorite band, and one of the band members had written the song about his brother's battle against cancer.
Take a breathI pull myself togetherJust another step till I reach the doorYou'll never know the way it tears me up inside to see youI wish that I could tell you somethingTo take it all awaySometimes I wish I could save youAnd there're so many things that I want you to knowI won't give up till it's overIf it takes you forever I want you to knowWhen I hear your voiceIts drowning in a whisperIt's just skin and bonesThere's nothing left to takeAnd no matter what I do I can't make you feel betterIf only I could find the answerTo help me understandSometimes I wish I could save youAnd there're so many things that I want you to knowI wont give up till it's overIf it takes you forever I want you to knowThat if you fall, stumble downI'll pick you up off the groundIf you lose faith in youI'll give you strength to pull throughTell me you won't give up cause I'll be waiting if you fallOh you know I'll be there for youIf only I could find the answerTo take it all awaySometimes i wish i could save youAnd there're so many things that I want you to knowI wont give up till it's overIf it takes you forever I want you to knowI wish I could save youI want you to knowI wish I could save you
In a way, Matt, you have and you do. It's beautiful irony to me that your whole life I have been wishing I could save you from all the scrapes in your life, and now here you are leveling the playing field. You have grown "in wisdom and stature and favor" into a godly man who reminds me of Jesus. I am the luckiest mum. Even though we don't believe in luck; we just think the word is cool. That, and riding on elephants.
Happy Birthday sweetheart of my heart.