Today felt really normal didn’t it?
You carried around your elephant and made it eat the couch. We read books. We baked bread. Before lunch we played outside. You waved hello to birds and chased butterflies, singing out confidently “I got it, I got it”, even though you never did. You lay quietly for a nap. I tucked you in with Bear and you asked for a song. I know better than to sing and I turned on the mobile above your crib. You squirmed a little dance under the blanket and it made me smile. And when I smile–you smile.
We cooked dinner together for Daddy. We shared a brownie and milk for dessert. You helped me fold clothes before bed and you talked, and sang, and played in your room alone, long after we said goodnight. For you, today was safe, and fun, and frustrating. You kicked a ball for the first time. For you, today was a new adventure–just like everyday. For you, today was normal.
But a week ago today, we were in Houston. A week ago today, you were playing with cousins you met for the very first time. A week ago today, I sat in the best cancer center in the world, talking incessantly because the quiet of my thoughts terrifies me. A week ago today, my doctor, a world-renowned specialist of ocular melanomas, said she saw no signs of reoccurrence. A week ago today, was my first day “without” cancer. And still I cried.
I cried because when the elevator door opened on the leukemia floor I saw a elderly couple holding hands while they stood behind their grown daughter’s wheelchair. I cried because a girl I coached, a girl I loved, lived for less than 11 months after they found her cancer. I cried because a new friend is fighting cancer alongside her husband and he has a cough. I cried because cancer doesn’t give a shit and while that mofo’s back is turned I’m going to run like hell. I cried because I’m slipping through cancer’s fingers and I very well may escape. I cried because some people don’t even get the chance to run.
I dried my eyes and fixed my make-up before I came to pick you up. Because you’re young and you don’t understand happy tears and sometimes I don’t either.
Something like cancer, something so big, can make you feel so small. And then you run to me.
I pick you up and hold you close. I am still small. But to you and in this moment, I am your whole world and it’s big enough.
As I lay in bed tonight, I know you won’t remember today, but I will. I may not remember every second. Every minor detail. But I’ll remember what today felt like. Today was fun. Today, I felt safe. Today was frustrating. And today was a new adventure.
Today felt really normal, but it wasn’t. Because a week ago today–everything changed.
Liza Dora is an author, illustrator, teacher, mother, wife, blogger, and the owner of the eponymous Liza Dora Books. Her writing has been in publications around the world and her books have been featured in both media and print. She’s sold books in over ten different countries and her titles have been both Amazon Hot New Releases and Amazon Bestsellers in their respective categories.