For me, this October is going to be all about optimism. Last October, I think I was possibly the happiest I have ever been in my life. I had realized how much I loved being a mom. Brandon and I had decided that we were just about ready to begin trying for baby number two. Maddie had turned out to be as fabulous a child as we could imagine. I have always loved October, and last year I remember being so excited about the beginning of cool weather and the idea of getting to bundle her up in warm winter clothes as I had when she was born. And then our whole world was turned upside down with her leukemia diagnosis on October 30.
Now almost a year later, I still cannot look back at those times without feeling like vomiting. I don’t want to relive our diagnosis story because in many ways it still feels like yesterday, and I still feel like it is a fresh wound. I think it may be that way until we know how this will all turn out.
While it seems unreal to think that we have been going through this for a year, I can look back and see things I have learned from the experience. Most importantly, I feel like this is what I was meant to do. I certainly wish that my child had not gotten cancer. But I feel that I was at a place in my life where I was totally in love with this child and could not have been more ready to take on this huge job of trying to get her through all this. In fact, it was almost as if I had cleared my plate of other things so that I could devote myself to this. Just a few weeks prior to her diagnosis, I told my boss at Prudential that I was going to take some time away from real estate so that I did not have to put Maddie into daycare or pre-school. It is definitely difficult living separate from Brandon, but I feel like our experience with military life up to this point helped us to see that it was something we could handle. It is definitely harder on Brandon because he does not get to see Maddie everyday, and he drives do far just to get to be her for about 36 hours before turning around to leave. But that is another reason to be optimistic…..we are rapidly approaching a time when we may feel ready to make the move up to Quantico to be with him.
So this October is going to be about fresh starts for us. I am going to try to ignore the pain that was the end of our last October and realize how far we have come. Maddie is nowhere near done with chemo; in fact, the end of October is just our halfway point. We have even longer until we can begin to think she might have survived this horrible disease. But it does mean that the she is finished with the worst of the chemo, as long as she does not relapse. We plan to enjoy this fall and winter! I might even put her in a Halloween costume since we missed that last year.
And at the end of October comes November which has also always been one of my favorite months. The whole build-up to the holiday season along with the changing temps just makes me happy. This year, Thanksgiving will have a whole new meaning. Last year, we were thankful that she had made it through induction, the first (very tough) round of chemo. But we were in the hospital for Brandon’s birthday on the 15th, for Thanksgiving, and for Maddie’s first birthday on the 30th. We were also in the hospital for Christmas. At the time, it didn’t seem so bad because in those first months, I was almost afraid to go home from the hospital. It seemed so difficult to manage all the meds and the chemo side effects by ourselves at home. This year we hope to be home for all of the holidays and we will appreciate every minute of our time together.
So almost a year into this, I am finally choosing optimism. I choose to believe that my baby is going to come through all this. I choose to believe that we were chosen to go through this because we are strong enough to handle it. I have learned to love and to value those I love in a way that I do not think I could have learned without going through this. I value life, and the incredible gift of motherhood in a way I could not have known before. What a gift I have been given!