I have no idea if you’ll ever read this but I have a few things on my heart about you that I wanted to share in hopes that you will. By the time you can read, I pray that cancer is in our rear view memory and a distant memory. I pray that I’m still here to help you read it and tell you my story. Our story. I have every confidence I will be here to do so but the Lord numbers our days and not me. And if cancer has taught me anything, it has taught me that very little of this life is in my control. If anything. So, hopefully, we are reading this together in a few years and there are a few things from this season that I wanted to share with you.
Today is October 2nd, 2012. For some time, the date of October 1st has been on my heart. It marks your 16th month birthday though we didn’t exactly celebrate that or even mention that yesterday. But, it’s been on my mind because, as of today and going forward, I have been ‘sick’ more of your life than I’ve been ‘well’. The first 8 months of your life flew by. And, in the same fashion, so did the next 8. You first crawled the night of my first doctor’s appointment. February 1st. You were 8 months old to the day. I don’t remember being the least bit worried about that first doctor’s appointment or the subsequent one scheduled once we saw the lump on the ultrasound. Unlike almost every appointment since then, your dad didn’t even go with me. He had encouraged me to get the lump checked out for months but I was fully convinced it was nursing related. However, by the following week, our world was turned upside down. And your little world was disrupted as well. No more of Mama’s milk and, along with your dad and me, all of our schedules, priorities, and calendars got entirely rearranged. We have had a ‘new normal’ since February 1st. I’m a little sad for you. I’m sad that, along with your dad and I, everybody’s preferences and needs have, at times, had to take a backseat to cancer. There have been many nights and naps where someone besides us has put you to bed. Many days where I laid in bed and could hear you cry from your room but had to call for someone else to come get you. Many days when carrying you or changing your diaper or getting you in or out of the car during brutal summer days completely exhausted me. And, now, you wake up every weekday morning to a Mama-less home until I get back from radiation. There are lots of losses for all of us. And, I’m sad that, as of this week, your little world has been tossled by cancer more than it’s been “normal” (whatever that is!). It’s kind of odd to me that you don’t know anything else but a bald Mama and lots of babysitters and a revolving door of friends and family.
At the same time, those are some of the greatest gifts of cancer. You’ve had countless playdates and already a couple sleepovers. You have more fans and friends that any 16 month old little guy could hope for. You have big sisters like Hope, Nancy and Claire that have carried you and babied you and adored you for days on end. You can sleep anywhere and everywhere. You are a flexible little guy. Sadly, that isn’t something you learned from me so that’s either great Clouse genes or all the opportunities cancer has given you to learn flexibility and adaptability. I am confident this will serve you well. You’ve had the incredible privilege of watching the body of Christ take care of our family. You’ve seen countless meals delivered, countless letters and notes of encouragement, many of Mama’s dear friends who bring groceries or flowers or treats or hugs, and you’ve seen your church family love the fool out of you and your Mama and Daddy. You have been prayed for by folks who love you dearly and folks you’ve never met. Your life is bathed in love and prayer.
In many ways, I hope this cancer journey ends soon and smoothly but, in others ways, I pray you continue to get the incredible gifts that cancer has given our family. I pray that you know and never forget the power of community, compassion, love, prayers, service, and care that has blessed us these last 8 months. I pray that the relationships that you’ve formed as a result of so many babysitters during these months will continue for years to come. I hope you never forget your sweet relationships with Aunt B, Po, Aunt Jenn, Gigi, Fafa, Auntie Cheryl, and Louise who have cared for you for many hours on many occasions. I pray for your special friendships with Juan, Angel, Eric, Felipe, Nancy, Claire, Hope, Travis, Emmy Kate, Charlie, Hudson, Hayes, Hunter, Jackson, Tucker, Lily Ruth, Levi, Greer, Jax, and Lily Grace to still be special friendships in years to come. These kids have shared their Mamas with you, played with you and delighted in you. And there are so many others who have spent the day or the night with you just to help Mama get to the doctor or chemotherapy or rest or have the night out with your dad. Your little friends and Mama’s big friends have loved me so well by loving you.
I thank you, little man, for the bright spot you are in the midst of this season. You were an unexpected gift. And the sweetest of all surprises. God knew we needed you. He knew there would be a short window in our marriage where children would even be possible before cancer and, in His grace and providence, He showed that He’s the author of life, more powerful than birth control, and gave us the gift of you. You are a constant reminder of God’s goodness and sovereignty.
I pray that, early in your life and for the rest of your days, you will know how high and how wide and how deep is the love of Christ because it has been so consistently modeled for you by our friends and family over these last 8 months. I pray that the way you’ve learned to adjust to life’s circumstances will teach you to surrender your will to the Lord’s. I pray that you will trust Christ’s plans and purposes for your life because you’ve seen His goodness in ours. I pray that your dad and I will continue to give thanks to God for the great things He has done in a way that creates in you a thirst for a relationship with Him yourself. I pray that you will have a tender heart and love for people because you’ve been the benefactor of others’ tenderness and love. I pray that the gifts you’ve received this season will far outweigh the burden of a Mama with cancer.
For sure, cancer has been a burden. On us and on those who have extended their hands to care for us. But, it’s also been an incredible blessing. And, I pray that the gifts of this season bless you for years to come.
I love you, little man. Thanks for all you are. And I’m excited to see who you will become. You are a treasured gift to us. Forever and always.