That’s all it takes, just a wristband to set it in motion.
I have no idea what will do it or when it will happen and sometimes it’s uncontrollable and other times I can fight it off. The anxiety, the fear, the remembering, the anger, the sadness, the resentment, the reality that our son has cancer and that we lived in a pain filled nightmare for nearly three years. It’s a freight train headed right for me and I can’t get off the track, so I just let it hit me.
My therapist told me to write my triggers down and then put them in my phone somehow so I can keep track of them. It’s fucked up how many there are and what they are. I didn’t know that this morning I would have an anxiety attack over a wristband but I did. He put it on after he found it in his room. When I saw it I didn’t think much of it as he wears different ones often and he has two special ones that he wears everyday anyway. He wears his magic band from Disney World everyday along with his Mickey Mouse emoji slap bracelet from Disney World everyday. So when he added another one, I didn’t think much of it until I read what it said. He sat down at his desk at school and began to read his book and had his hand on the book so I saw his wrist and read the band. It says “Believe In Magic” and it hit me all of a sudden that he got that from two awesome magicians that came to visit him while we were at Lurie Children’s Hospital for that 15 days stay when he was finally diagnosed with brain cancer and his pain was being managed. It hit me in the chest like a cannon ball. I swallowed hard and closed my eyes and the tears were already coming. I leaned over and kissed his head and hugged him and told him I loved him and to have a great day as the breath began to leave my lungs and it was harder to get it back in. I searched my pocked for my Relax inhaler that is a huffable inhaler soaked in a relax essential oil blend that I have come to rely on during tense times. I had it in my hand and was taking deep breaths. I wiped the tears and gave him one more kiss and walked out of the classroom. I was trying to get out of the school as fast as I could to get some fresh air. That always helps. I made it outside and breathed in the cold autumn air and felt the relief hit my skin as I didn’t feel closed in anymore. I sauntered to my car and got in and did my normal morning call to my Mom and drove home. Once home I sat down and evaluated my thoughts. Why, why did that bother me so much? It’s just a wristband. And I let the memories come to my mind like movie clips and I watched them all play out and I cried.
I sat in this house that I have become so trapped in and cried. I feel suffocated by the pain this house has endured. The pain I watched my son in every single day for month after month after month. I watched him almost die more than once. I watched faint in such severe pain that it debilitated him physically and me mentally. I watched him vomit over and over again week after week as that poison pumped through his veins from chemo stopped the tumors that riddle his brain and spine from growing anymore and killing him outright. I showered with him and washed his hair as clumps of it clung between my fingers as I ran them through his hair with shampoo and watched it run down the drain as I rinsed it off. His body covered in his hair as I tried to dry his head and the hair fell all over him. I cried as he said “it’s ok Mommy, it doesn’t hurt to lose your hair”. I saw him go from a chubby steroid induced toddler to skin and bones little boy as the weekly chemo took it’s toll on his body along with the heavy narcotics to keep his daily and nightly pain at tolerable. And he tolerated it all with such grace and strength. Never complaining or lashing out when he would have had every right to. He took it like a fucking champion. A true warrior rose from the depths with in him and fought to save his life. And he did live. He’s alive. He’s two years stable and I am a damn mess. It makes no sense to me other than like a very good friend said to me it’s like the adrenaline has worn off and now I can feel it all. And I do, I feel every little thing and it hurts. It hurts a lot and there is no comfort in extra curricular activities anymore. No booze or pills to dull my senses and I find it difficult to have fun sometimes and I need to remind myself to do it. Enjoy life, it’s ok, you can do it now!! Beautiful distractions are necessary on a daily basis that’s for sure.
My brain is constantly on G waiting for O with him. I never know when it’s going to be a bad day again. I cannot shut it off, turn it down, change the channel, or distract myself enough some days. I had to quit my job to take care of him and since then things have changed with me and with the family business and I am basically retired at 39 and not by choice. Cancer made that choice for me. And you can’t very work for the family wine business when you are in recovery, at least I can’t anyway. My sobriety means too much to me to put myself in harms way. So I sit here at home where these four walls get really close sometimes and I try to move forward and strive for some type of normal but I have no fucking idea what normal is? I don’t. I don’t think I ever will. There is no normal life for the life of a cancer Mom. Those memories are tattooed on my brain just like the tattoos on my skin though they aren’t as beautiful as the ink that adorns my arms in memoriam of the journey we were put on. I cannot erase them. I cannot cover them up and I certainly have no idea when they will rise up to haunt me like they did today.
I felt every little bit of it. I remembered the magicians coming it to entertain Adler. He loved it. They taught him two magic tricks and gave him a wand and the props to go with the tricks and his magic words were “chicken noodle soup” and the way he said it was so cute. He was only 4 then and his little lisp and that tiny voice he had made the tricks even that much cuter. They gave him the wristband when they left and told him to never forget to believe in magic and he put the wristband on and wore it all day that day. I could smell the hospital smell in my mind. I remember the room, the view out the window and the walk down the hall that happened a day later to tell us he had brain cancer. It all crashed into me as I sat here in this house and I have no choice but to let it because once it starts, it cannot stop. And I almost feel like I should feel it and then release it. Let it go into the atmosphere and perhaps that’s just another tiny part of the past that I can release and let go. Maybe that’s one tiny step forward into the fear of the unknown world that I live in every single day. I don’t understand my emotions sometimes as they are chaotic and scattered but I know that I grieve daily and I get angry daily and I get happy daily and I feel love daily and I am thankful and grateful and down right exhausted from all of it but it’s another day. Another day in the life of me and today well, today, I felt it hard and heavy and alone and that’s ok because I can. I can feel it, I am allowed to and it is a righteous and courageous thing to feel like I do. A blessing and a curse but that’s who I am. It’s who I have become because of all of this. A battered broken woman but I get up and do it again every single day because I have to. I will not let it take me down. I can’t. It may be impossible to forget and hurt to remember but I am resilient and I have a fucking elastic heart and a support system in place at a moments notice and I made it through that trigger. I did it. And now it’s on list even if it’s silly and super unexpected, but I’m good with unexpected, I’m used to it by now though it never gets easier, it just fades into the magnitude of what was to what is. Reality sucks but at least I get to live it with my little curly haired boy who loves as hard as I do and who is alive and kicking that soccer ball every Saturday and wearing those wristbands.