Saturday, June 12, 2010

There's a Secret Sorority out there... and I never thought I would be a part of it

I remember the days when all you wanted to do was fit in with a certain group. When you saw 5 or 10 girls standing in a circle talking and laughing and then hugging good-bye you would watch as they all walked away from each other knowing that they all had something in common that you obviously didn't have. You wondered what that something was... and then you hoped that one day you would have it.

This happened in grammar school, middle school, high school and college. Sometimes it even happened at work. There were always those groups of girls and women who seemed to have a sorority going... and whether you knew it then or not, they probably felt the same way about you and your friends.

I had my own sorority of friends growing up. We were friends through grammar school, high school & college... through our first, second... and even third jobs... through marriage and kids... and we're still friends. We can still stand in a group of 5 or 10 of us and talk and laugh and hug good-bye... and I'm happy to have my sorority of friends, I love them.

22 months ago I joined another sorority. A sorority that you don't hear about often, even though the membership number is rising every day. A sorority that you don't even want to think about existing. You don't get to choose to join this sorority, you are chosen to join it. Your dues are unimaginable and exhausting but once you are in it... you are thankful for your sorority sisters.

We don't have a fun name like Alpha Sigma, or Kappa Delta and we don't stay up partying all night and our tests are most definitely a matter of life or death. Our rush weeks are different than any other sorority and our dues are much higher than others. Our main sorority's signature color is gold but we each belong to houses that have signature colors as well. My house's color is gray.

We are a sorority of Cancer Moms. We have been chosen to have children with cancer. We stay up at night and cry, we hug our kids through their pain, we worry silently (and all of the time), we know that our lives... and our families' lives and the friendships we had before... will never be the same.

When we see each other we don't have a secret handshake but we have a hug. If we can't give each other a hug because we are holding our children (or chasing after our children as the case may be so many times!) we give each other a smile. There is so much behind each hug and smile from one CM Sorority Sister to another. There's support, strength, love, prayers and an understanding that only another cancer mom can have.

We pace while our kids are in the operating room, we research a diagnosis so much that our eyes hurt but we keep reading in the hopes of actually understanding all that is about to happen, we we keep the first patch of hair that they lose, we hold them when they are in pain, we play with them when they are feeling good, we laugh with them when we want to cry, we live with Purell and hand sanitizer in every room of our homes and in every purse & diaper bag we own, we realize that 8 hours of sleep is an amazing gift and relish the few nights that we actually do get that much sleep, we put an insane amount of miles on our cars driving back and forth to the best hospital that we can find, we know that 100.4 degrees is a magic number on the thermometer and anything over that requires a visit to the hospital... no matter what time of the day or night, we have hospital bills that have balances higher than a doctor's student loans, we understand the meaning of loving our own beds... especially after a hospital stay on those lovely pull out chairs, we can go for a few days without a shower because we've been holding our kiddies in the hospital, we take lots of pictures and we know that despite the cards we have been dealt we are lucky because we have been given the gift of truly knowing that each day is so precious and should never be taken for granted.

Our sorority is one that no one wants to join and once you are in it, you would give anything in the world not to be a part of it, but I have found that if you do have to join it... you are in the company of truly amazing women.

Monday, June 7, 2010

An old e-mail... who knew it would be all too fitting for my life today

When I was pregnant with Mikey I joined an online message board group for moms that were pregnant and due the same month as I was, a December 2005 Pregnancy Board. We shared stories, fears, points of view and advice. After the babies were born we stayed on the message board but some of us branched off into groups. We shared the highs and lows of new mommy-hood and stories, fears and advice. We became friends.

I got a message from a friend that I made in that group a few days ago. Once I saw what she had written to me I didn't want to read it. I knew what it had said and I remembered sending it out. I remembered getting it in an e-mail from a friend, forwarding it to the group and printing it out and putting it on my refrigerator. We were living in Florida at the time. Ironically, I had sent it out on Valentine's Day, 2006.

When Mikey got sick you know that I didn't go back to that house for more than a few hours before he and I were flown up to NYC. I hadn't packed our stuff, I hadn't sealed the boxes, hadn't taken pictures off of the wall & I hadn't removed everything from the refrigerator doors. I don't know if this poem is in a box or if it was thrown out. And to be honest, I had forgotten about it... until last week when I got a message from my friend.

Like I said, it took me a while to read this poem... it meant so much to me back when I first read it and sent it out... and it means even more to me now...

I want to share it with you... and then I'm spending the day with my kiddies...

To My Child

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying.
Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is.
Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park to play.
Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.
Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles..
Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by.
Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned.
Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won't stand over you trying to fix them.
Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys..
Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you.
Just! for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry.
Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars.
Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favorite TV shows.
Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.
I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children's graves instead of their bedrooms, and mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly, and screaming inside that they can't handle it anymore.
And when I kiss you good night I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask him for nothing, except one more day..............

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Birthday wishes...

I know it's been a long time since I posted here. I've been posting on Mikey's Caring Bridge site but that's been all about Mikey... I need a place to be about me. And what better day to start that than my birthday?

Did you ever notice how birthday wishes change so much as the years go by? When you're really little you wish for a pony. Then you realize you can't have a pony so you wish for that one special toy you want. As you get a little older you wish for that great pair of jeans you saw in the store and all of the other kids are wearing. Then you graduate from that and start wishing for electronics... when I was younger it was a CD player or a VCR... now it's an iTouch or gaming system. All of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, your wishes become... a full night of sleep, a day off from work and maybe even ::gasp::, a morning to sleep in.

The way we celebrate changes too. We start by celebrating with just our families then we have family and a few friends when we are really little then we graduate to classmate parties and then we have friends parties, then comes the 'co-ed' parties and then we have crazy nights out and then all of a sudden you find yourself saying 'I really don't want to have to cook on my own birthday' so you go out to dinner with a few friends. Yet, even after that really nice dinner celebration with friends you find yourself saying, cake with family is the best part.

Tonight we have dinner and cake with my mom's side of the family which will be great too. :) Nothing like all of us sitting around the dining room with an orange cake (requested by Mike... and how do I say no to that?) singing Happy Birthday 4 times because Mike wants to keep blowing out the candles! :) On Sunday we are going out to dinner with my dad's side of the family and that will be another fun celebration. I don't think we can sing 4 times in a restaurant but I'm sure Mike will try to get us to do just that! lol

The celebration I am most looking forward to though is this afternoon. K has a 1/2 day of school and Matt is coming to the house in between jobs and we are going to have lunch. Just the 5 of us. I am so happy to have that. It doesn't happen often.

I find myself with a lot of wishes this year. They vary in expense and seriousness. Some cost nothing, some cost a little, some a lot and some are priceless. Some wishes are practical, some are fun, some are outlandish and some are the deepest of wishes, the kind that you so desperately want to come true.

This year I wish for a full, uninterrupted, at least 8 hours of sleep; a Disney Dooney bag; new glasses; a new wardrobe... that doesn't consist mostly of sweats & t-shirts; one night a week of dinner out with my hubby and/or friends; a vacation for me at a resort on a white, sandy beach with great food and drinks; paid tuition to culinary school... and the time to go! And how can I forget? I wish for a new car!! Nothing crazy or fancy, but a car that I can comfortably fit my 3 kids (2 of which are in car seats!), double stroller & someone in the front seat all at the same time... in other words, something bigger than my Corolla! And I wish for a home of my own with enough bedrooms for my kids to all have their own rooms and a play room for them to all hang out in together. While I'm at it... I wish for a winning lottery ticket... not a $5 prize but I don't need a $25 million prize either... about $5 million should more than do it... I could buy a house, pay off bills & student loans, give gifts to family members, not have to worry about college for the kids and still have enough to take care of Mike's medical bills for a couple of years. And why stop there?? I wish vegetables were bad for you and chocolate could be a health food! I wish the weather was 70 and sunny most of the year... and that hay fever and allergies didn't exist!!

And I would give up all of those wishes and any hope of any of them coming true... for my biggest and deepest wish of all. The wish that I will be saying to myself as I blow out the candles on my cake tonight... I wish for my children and family to be healthy and happy. For Katie & Mikey and Timmy to grow old and for them to be happy and healthy for their whole lives. Of course that would mean that the doctors have about 14 hours left of my birthday to get answers and to find a cure for cancer... but I can dream and wish and hope, can't I?