Thursday, March 27, 2014

finding the courage to live it...




"IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE YOU LEARNED IT- IT'S A GIFT. IF YOU CARE ABOUT SOMETHING, YOU HAVE TO PROTECT IT. IF YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND A WAY OF LIFE YOU LOVE, YOU HAVE TO FIND THE COURAGE TO LIVE IT.” 


(Owen's words in the book are always capitalized to portray his unique sounding voice and the unusual way he projects it.)


He has been so grumpy- my oldest.  Still my baby- forever my baby.  But bigger, stronger- having to fold himself over to reach down and hug me.  So often not wanting to anymore.  But I still try- grabbing whatever piece of him I can- an arm, his hand, the side of his face.  A light squeeze, a hand stroke across his hair, the feel of his whiskers on my cheek as I try to sneak up behind him, beside him.  

He is almost 14.  Its normal that he pushes back.  Ducks. Dodges.  Raises his crabby voice and tells me to leave him alone.  Enough already.  Stop.

But my urgency for him to remember is strong.

The feel of my touch. The softness of my voice.  My heart that beats through my chest,  thrumming with love through every vein in my body.  For him.  

My time is now.  Today.  This moment. 

Owen Meany's words pour straight into my heart.  

"IF YOU CARE ABOUT SOMETHING, YOU HAVE TO PROTECT IT."

He is (they are) my "something."

"IF YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND A WAY OF LIFE YOU LOVE, YOU HAVE TO FIND THE COURAGE TO LIVE IT.” 

And they are this too- my way of life that I love.  Finding courage, each day, is what I feel I have been doing.

But so are they… 

My own child isn't just pushing against me, he is railing against the hard.  The grades that have dropped a bit. The pressure to stand out amongst the best in hockey.  The sore muscles, the early mornings, the right foods.  The new team he will skate with this weekend, with kids he mostly doesn't know, but are tauted as being talented.  The hotel we will stay at this weekend, with the pool in which he won't use to swim- the discipline it takes to decide that at 13.  

His way of "life that he loves," is hockey - has always been- and will always be as long as he wants to pursue the dream.

But he has found it won't be easy.  He rails at me, at his Dad.  His soft place to fall, within the walls of our home.  "Can you not see how hard this is for me? How bad I want it?  How hard I work?"  And as he reaches the emotional crescendo… the Grand Daddy of them all… 

"CAN'T YOU SEE HOW HARD IT IS TO HAVE A MOM WHO HAS CANCER?  WHO IS ALWAYS SICK?  YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS LIKE!"

And I am broken.  He is broken.  We… are broken.


(Thank you LaVerne) 


Its long hours of talking and soothing and calming with Superman.  And then the boy emerges and hugs me good night without uttering a word.

He sleeps late and misses the bus the next morning.  Rick has an early meeting.

"I can drive," I say.  "I'm driving again, so I can take you."  He nods approval.

We're quiet on the drive over.  I'm treading lightly.  Unsure.  Whispering to God.

I pull up in front of the school and he is out the door before I barely have the van in park.  But he hesitates as he goes to shut the door.  "Thanks Mom."

I nod and shyly smile back.

As I go to shift into drive, I notice he is still hesitating…

Quietly, searching my eyes, he whispers,

"Mom… mom, I love you."
























73 comments:

  1. I'm sitting at my work desk with tears falling on my desk. I can only imagine how hard this was to write. My best to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you Gina- one of those that HAD to be written- it just pours out sometimes. Thank you for your kind words :)

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  2. Oh. My. Hard stuff. Important stuff. So glad you could accept his words with grace. So glad he got up the strength to tell you what he really meant: "I love you, Mom."

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    1. I have had to learn how to be really quiet. To just sit with silence sometimes, and breathe, knowing it will be okay at some point. His "I love you," said everything all at once to me. Thinking of you!

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  3. I am crying too! I have two boys. I feel all your words. Bless you Vicky!

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    1. You know- I know all of you with boys- will so know this! Blessings to you Kris!

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  4. So hard, this dance of dreams, and youth, and crappy cancer while fighting just to feel alive, and protecting those most precious to us, and hormones (his and yours both), and all the rough times and words said. But grateful too, that he knows you and Superman will always be his safe spot, and glad he was courageous enough to stop and say "I love you, Mom." Hugs and prayers for you all.

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    1. Yes- you've put it into just the right words- such a whirlwind of so much for all of us. I am sure you know this as well with your own two boys heading into these years :) Hugs and prayers to you and yours!

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  5. Vicky, going through your health issues is hard for both of you and that is so understandable. However, even if that was taken out of the equation, they still have to go through the teen years and that's hard, so, in that respect, this is SO NORMAL for his age. "Normal" Roll that around in your mind. There now, how does that sound to you? Yes, even normal can hurt when they seem to be pulling away and trying to find themselves. Good luck.

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    1. Thank you for that perspective! So true- normal is spot on. And you know I will embrace normal no matter what :)

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    2. I love the wisdom you share here Ms. A.

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  6. Your courage shines through each word. I am grateful for how you keep it real with us, your readers. You are teaching us what really matters - thank you. So glad you could drive and have this important moment with him. Bless you and your family.

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    1. Thank you for such a gracious receiving of the inner-workings of my life. You all make me feel as though I can safely share and that is a beautiful gift I don't take for granted. Blessings to you!

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  7. Also tears in my eyes!!!! I absolutely know how your feelings are!!!

    Love you!
    Mimi

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    1. Oh Mimi- I know you know this too! Hugs and love to you sweet one!

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  8. Bless you, dear friend, for sharing this with us. It really touched my heart. It is so hard for teens at this stage of life with all their body changes and emotions ranging all over the place. But, in the midst of the storms that come with teens there are moments of complete peace and calm, which you experienced with that "Mom, I love you". These are the moments we must embrace and hold on tight to. Sending hugs and prayers for all of you.

    Love, Eileen

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    1. Eileen- you've also said it just perfectly- amen! I am so grateful I got that moment with him- in his time and in his way and it was just the right thing to hold onto- yes! Sending love and prayers to you all as well!

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  9. Sob, sob. I think it is more difficult for family than for the person going through cancer or another disease. My only child, a daughter, was in college when I fought my battle. I remember those times. A few years later a close friend of hers passed away, and my daughter immediately bought a license plate for her car with the pink ribbon symbol to honor her friend. She didn't do that for me, and I was extremely hurt. Maybe it was because I survived and her friend didn't. It still hurts. Keep the faith for God is a God of miracles. You son will grow up to be a strong, caring man because of the time and effort you have invested in him.

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    1. Its so hard to look back and know why your daughter bought the ribbon license plate in honor of her friend? But yes, maybe, because of YOUR fight and all she went through but maybe didn't know how to talk about, or express in some way… maybe its a conversation you will have some day? Thank you Francis for your words of compassion and understanding :)

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  10. This is so beautiful...your strength is amazing. Your son clearly is in the in-between manhood and boy stage...but clearly he loves you dearly. Clearly...

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    1. Thank you Julie- so much- for your kind and gracious words- and taking the time to leave them here for us :)

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  11. The words we long to hear... sweetly spoken. Goodness, the lump in my throat is tight. I have a 23 year old son and there were a few years that the "I love you's" were desperately wanted and needed by me and not easily given away by him. Today, I talk to him daily and it is a balm to my soul. I can imagine, his "I love you, mom" was as well. Ironically, I was just talking with my prayer circle about the importance of holding our tongues~ specifically with our boys. The urge to talk until things are all better is so strong and yet, so unwanted by them. His heart has a lot in it right now. I am praying for you both. Beautiful words.

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    1. Thank you Jenny- I appreciate what you shared about your prayer circle and the wisdom of holding our tongues at times with those boys- amen. Sometimes the only way we truly grow to understand those things is by doing it not quite the right way and not getting anywhere. Thankful for your insight and prayers :)

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  12. Even when he is railing at you he is screaming I love you at the same time....always.

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    1. So wise- yes- when I read your words my head is bobbing up and down- you are so right. Thank you for sharing that!

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  13. OMG!!! I am bawling my eyes out. What a dear, sweet story. That age is so tough on every kid and parent. You are such a sweet Mom. He is so lucky. Still praying for you,Vicky.

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    1. Thank you for those prayers Katie- they clearly see us through. And yes- I think anyone raising a teenager can relate to what this is like- I don't feel alone in any of this :)

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  14. i can feel it in your words - his pain and yours, the grace and mercy. praying for you all!
    hugs dear friend - hugs!
    xo

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    1. Mercy and grace- yes Tiffany- thankful for your inclusion of both those words- so fitting. Pray that moving is going well, sweet one! Thinking of you!

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  15. No words, Vicky.
    None.
    (But please...always feel the love.)

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    1. None necessary, friend. Just seeing your sweet self show up here is comfort all by itself. Sending the love right back to you :)

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  16. Such a courageous post sweet friend, and filled with the love the pain and the heartache you all feel. Sweet son is about the same age and I too can see the challenges he is facing. The important part is that their love even if clumsy at times is there strong and powerful. Hugging you tight and keeping you all in my prayers always.

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    1. Anyes- so beautifully articulated " their love even if clumsy at times is there strong and powerful." Amen to that. Hugging you tight right back and sending you love.

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  17. Such a heart-wrenching time for all of you. And yet love abounds.

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    1. Indeed Susan- love abounds- so grateful for those words to grab onto. Blessings and love to you!

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  18. Oh, i am crying, How I wish I would have been able to tell my mom those words. Affection was not the best in our family when mom was fighting her cancer. I thank God even tho I didnt verbally tell her I loved her I was able to give her that back rub she so wanted when she was hurting badly. Being a child and seeing our parents hurting is really hard on us, and I was older then 14 when she was sick. Not living under the same roof as I was already living on my own. Hugs to both of you. Treasure those moments with him.

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    1. Thank you for sharing that with me Verna- so sorry that it stirs up such a hard time for you with your mom. But I just have to think, even when it wasn't said- somehow we knew- right? And somehow- just the fact that you were there and rubbed her back- she knew too- I just know she had to have known you cared.

      Its just how we were raised-not telling- and now I am grateful to have moved past not saying or expressing it and definitely feeling it more because its such a pervasive part of my life these days. Hugs and love to you Verna- love you dear one!

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  19. Beautifully written (as always) but my heart aches. I get his pain, his behavior, his strive and battle. And yet… he is like his mom… the good coming out when it needs to with the best words ever… I love you. It probably took a lot for him to say it… never doubt his incredible heart. You, Superman and God have molded it, it's there to stay, even in the strive.

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    1. Thank you Maddy- I take your words to heart and appreciate them so. Love to you!

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  20. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your blog...and how it puts into perspective the little things I complain about. You teach so many so much........and like all the other gals that commented, the lump in my throat is huge.....

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    1. Robin- thank you for your kind and gracious words. You all are giving me tears and a lump right back for saying such touching things to me...

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  21. oh vicky….the tears are falling tonight…..and love for your family grows yet again….xo

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    1. Beth- that is beyond sweet of you to say- thankful for you- love to you

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  22. Of course he loves you........life is so hard sometimes, even for adults. Imagine what it is like to be a kid.

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    1. I can't even imagine being a kid these days- its such a foreign world to me and I can only imagine what it is like for them!

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  23. Normally when I see you have written a post, I stop what I am doing and read your beautiful words. Today, I waited until I was all snuggled in for the evening. Now, instead of having to hold back the tears often required when reading your words at work...I can let the tears free flow down my cheek...
    You are a beautiful woman...

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    1. Kim- your sweet words touch me so- thank you friend. Right back at you!! Love to you~

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  24. Oh Vicky,
    The tears are cascading down my face. Thank you for being so authentic and sharing the ups and downs. Hearing about your Nolan touched my heart so. I have been praying for Nolan imagining that he has kept so much inside. You can see it on his face in pictures. He is part young man, part boy. Lots going on in his heart.

    Ahhhh...the tension of opposites, especially in raising boys. So often as their Moms we need to have them know us and remember us. We have a need to connect and know them. Their need is to individuate, pull away, yet they loves us so and may not know what to do with all of that emotion.

    And on top of that, your Nolan is probably so scared, afraid of losing you. This is a hard road he is on. It is so hard to have you sick and life is no longer "normal". There is a "new normal" to deal with, another change, like new folks to play hockey with. No doubt he hates that you have cancer and may feel powerless to help you. He's right, none of us do get how this has impacted him.

    Nolan reminds me so much of my son Eric. He even looks like him when he was younger. Eric had such a big heart, underneath a sometimes tough exterior. On one hand he was mad at me ("why has my dog gained so much weight while I was gone?") and then alternately brought me roses telling me he loved me (when I insisted he come over for Christmas because we needed him). We push/pulled for years. I've learned that being quiet may draw him near. And then, after a prayer, moments present themselves where it is time for some straight talk from my heart. "I know this hurts you, that your Dad has cancer." "I know you aren't calling very often because you are scared of the news. I need you to know that I love you, no matter how often you call."

    Nolan is so blessed to have you as his mom, Vicky. I'll be praying that there are even more openings for you to share with him. Even more "I love you. Mom" moments. And I'll be praying for your heart too, my dear friend.

    Love you to the moon and back!
    Linda



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    1. The moments that either of the boys actually express anything about my cancer are few and far between. We talk about it as a whole, and don't shy away from it, but also don't try to make it the center of attention. But so much happens sometimes and we forget as we are dealing with it that we haven't maybe checked in to see what is going on with the boys… Thank you friend, for your insight and for sharing your own experiences. So blessed to call you friend!! Love you Linda!

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  25. I have never commented on your blog before, but a regular reader. My heart and prayers go out to you tonight. I am a cancer survivor, but more than that I a mother. Mothering a teenager is never ever easy, (I've had 3, who are now grown). But, mothering a teenager while suffering with cancer is walking a tightrope. I know because I have walked it. I found 14 and 15 to be the hardest ages. He loves you, deeply, and he is afraid, yes, because you have cancer, but also because looking back 14 is an age of so much confusion about every part of their life. I am praying for you and hold you in my heart, even though we have never met.

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    1. Hi Ellen- so touched you took the time to write today. So grateful for your wisdom and for sharing with me what you have walked through and survived! That encourages me so much- thank you! Blessings and love to you!

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  26. Thanks for sharing your heart. Oh, the being quiet is so necessary and yet so hard sometimes. Blessings and prayers!

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    1. Such truth to that- necessary but hard- yes! Love and blessings to you!

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  27. OH MANNN, SIGHing and tears pour down my cheeks :(
    Squeeze Hugs to you and you BIG-"little" that he was able to get his feelings of his chest and that you he told you he loved you the next day just filled the bucket for all the times you want to hold on to them to be little and they push back.

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    1. Exactly Michelle- so true- the bucket has been filled :) I always know how well you will get these moments and you truly do! Hugs sweet one!

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  28. Ohhh, Vicky. This is exquisite. Probably my all-time favorite. Wish we were going for coffee this morning.

    All my love. You nailed this one, my friend. XOXOXOXOXOXOX Straight from your heart and His.

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    1. Julie- you have no idea how thrilled I would be with face to face coffee with you- that just made my whole day :) So thankful for your encouraging and love-filled words! Love to you~

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  29. Praying for you all. God bless.

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    1. God's blessings to you and yours Jennifer- thank you :)

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  30. his words did it for me, now my vision if blurry because of the tears. in my ignorance, I've not thought to add in your family when I pray for you. mea culpa, fixing it right now.

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    1. Oh Norma- so honored you would do that. The boys don't always show or tell anything that indicates how they are affected by my illness- so when they do- it hits home.

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  31. Vicky, what a blessing you are in my life.
    "Mom… mom, I love you."....says it all.

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    1. It really did Kass- with that boy, in that moment- it said everything. And you friend- are such a blessing to me!!

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  32. crying...oh vicky how beautiful---this story of your beautiful life. I have only 1 son as you know, but there is something special between a mom and her boy/boys...you're amazing, you and superman...you're loving your boy/boys and helping them walk this journey...love you all so much ox

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    1. Robin- we love you too, dearly. I know you know this bond well- how you have lived it too. Thank you for your encouragement, support and love always :)

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  33. So heart-wrenching and yet beautiful at the same time! One can't imagine all that Nolan is going through...the pressure he feels in his desire to be the best he can be at hockey, and those raging hormones of a boy at this age that certainly make it difficult to keep emotions in check. And on top of all of that, his mom has cancer, and I'm sure it kills him to see you when you are sick and in bed. My heart and my prayers go out to you all, including that sweet little Colton who bravely agreed with me last week in class when I proposed that one of the best things about a snow day was family time. :) They are your heart, Vicky, and you are theirs.

    Love and hugs to you all!

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    1. Steph- my heart just melds with what I know is a portion of your own heart. You have such first hand knowledge and experience in all of this and I take great inspiration from your encouraging words. Thankful for you friend- so thankful! Love and hugs to you as well!

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  34. I have been following your blog since I "met" you through Gitz and I am really late in saying this but thank you for taking such care of us during Sarah's last days. And now you allow us the opportunity to pray you through breast cancer. This post brought to mind Little Pink Houses of Hope...a national organization started by a dear friend after she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. The website can tell you more but I wanted you to know about this opportunity. LPHOH offers a week's vacation at the beach for breast cancer fighters and their families at no cost. The only cost is travel to the location which are on both coasts as well as FL and Lake Tahoe. The website is www.littlepink.org. Please check it out...I would love for you and your family to take advantage of this opportunity. If you find it is not for you could you please share with someone else who may need a week away as a family doing normal things without CA being in the center of their lives, meeting others who are in the fight as well. As I said, still praying you and yours through...thank you for sharing your courage and faith..."We all have a story to tell and experiences that shape what we see. But there is healing in the truth God brings and enough light to see just ahead...for God is already in the place where you are going." Susan Disher

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    1. Susan- what an honor it is to meet you- thank you for showing up here and introducing yourself! I have heard of Little Pink Houses of Hope! Amazing what they do and something we've definitely at least talked about. Love that last quote- so beautifully encompasses what I feel and experience! Thankful for you Susan- the prayers, the encouragement- it all helps- so much!

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  35. This one......this was so hard to read and process so I just let myself cry instead. Can't imagine what it is to live it every day - for you....for your family. I know what it feels like to be pushed back. I know what it feels like to want that sweet face to still look adoringly at you and not answer in a crabby tone, to miss the days when you were a heroine and could fix everything and they wanted you to. What I don't know is how it feels to watch all that slip through your hands and have to look at it through the filter of cancer at the same time. Oh God, Vicky. My heart aches for you in the midst of all that's normally hard and all that is hardly normal.

    You see him - through him, in him, past him. And he, in his "Mom...I love you, mom" sees you, too. How hard to be him. How hard to be you. How good that you will both fight on together and we, out here, will pray for more weeks, months, years, a treatment, a cure, a looking back to these days. Never wishing one of them away but always counting, with gratitude, that they have passed and the road grows longer behind you as they march toward manhood and a world of next things. I love you, Vicky.

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    1. Your words are so exquisite friend- "the difference between normally hard and hardly normal," amen to that- it truly sums it all up well. And fortunately, some semblance of normal is what prevails most days. We've managed a groove of sorts that works, or we'd be so mired and bogged down we'd hardly exist at all.

      Thankful for your wisdom, your ability to see, and share, and be so compassionate. Love you friend- more than words can possibly say.

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