May 12, 2017 will mark 10 years of marriage for Ginger and I.
Never could we have imagined how much we would love our kids. All of them are treasures beyond our wildest dreams and have brought us joy upon joy upon joy.
There is no doubt of that.
Likewise, never would we have thought that our firstborn would be struck with a brain tumor. When we wed on that spring day in May, we not see that one coming.
And it’s the intersection of those two unthinkables that makes these past 77 weeks so profound.
As well as this day, when Brouwer rang the bell to celebrate the end of chemotherapy.
This day, which closes a very dark chapter in our lives.
498 days of chemotherapy, began at the ripe age of 2.
The misdiagnosis and time lost. The moments and days after the correct diagnosis where we were led to believe that nothing could be done, that his fate was sealed. The months when MRI after MRI showed the wretched tumor advancing and overtaking more and more of his precious head. Worries about chemotherapy, concerns with his eyes, fears about blood counts. Week after week at the hospital for infusions and clinic visits. Watching drugs drip into his small frame. Knowing that he knew nothing and just implicitly trusted his mommy and daddy to make the monumental decisions on his life. Choices about fertility. Trying to balance work and give the time and affection to Banner that he deserved. Trying to convince many that we were just fine. Dark, dark days.
The road ahead may still be winding, we just don’t know.
But I am certain of some things.
Tonight I tucked a 4-year old boy into his bed.
That boy can run. That boy can jump.
Sure, there’s a scar on the back of his head and another on his chest. Yeah, his left side is slightly weaker than his right and his left hand trembles, subtlety, from time to time. He struggles with stairs and might not be quite as physically capable as other the 4-year olds.
But, as I said, tonight I tucked a 4-year old boy into his bed.
And I’m certain his brother is quite happy I did. Many nights, when they should be falling to sleep, we smile as we hear Brouwer and Banner talk and laugh well past the time young boys should be awake.
I’m certain his sister, who quiets best when he consoles her, will benefit richly from the love of her biggest brother.
I know that tomorrow is a new and wonderful day for us. No more will Brouwer need to swallow 25 pills on a weekend. In the coming months his appetite will return and his sensitivity from the vincristine will subside. Brouwer will again eat bananas, chocolate, cheese and other foods off limits for the past year plus.
Too though, I know that the odds are still against us. These tumors are stubborn and there’s a 70% chance his will grow again.
But of all these things, of one thing I am most sure is that this May will feel different than that from 2007. Love, then young and naïve, after being tested by this life, has roots than run far deeper. The horse-backed white wedding-dressed girl from 10 years past has blossomed into a mom who works tirelessly to care for her kiddos. And me, then concerned primarily with career and calling, has had his attention brought back to that girl and our kids, thanks in part to the 4-year old one, here with us even this night, now fast asleep in his bed.
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