Monday, April 14, 2014
To the average mother, 19 months old isn't anything special. There's no cake or goody bag, no balloons, no song, and not even a Facebook post. 19 months. It's a little more than a year and a half.
Alison turned 19 months old last week. For me, that number has a chilling connotation. I tried not to dwell on the significance of the number, but I'm still haunted by that age. Because Ari was just 19 months old the day he was diagnosed with cancer. I have been acutely aware that the date was nearing. I looked for signs and symptoms all over my baby girl. Swollen glands? No. Sore legs? No. Lack of energy? No. Asthma like symptoms? No. Does she too have cancer? I don't think so.
But I will admit that when I brought Alison to the on-call pediatrician two weeks ago for her first sick visit ever, I did not believe the diagnosis. "It's just a virus." It can't be a virus, I thought. That week, she was 18 1/2 months old. She was lethargic and febrile, had no appetite, no smiles, and no clapping or singing or jumping. It must be vicious cancerous cells taking over her little body. I asked the doctor bluntly. "Do you think she has cancer?" The doctor looked up and questioned, "What would make you think that?" and before I could even explain, I burst into tears.
19 months old. She's just a baby. She likes to play in dirt and splash in puddles and cover herself in tomato sauce. She sings and runs and dances all day long. She is happy and silly and she is healthy.
She does not have cancer. She had the flu. (Bad timing, right?)
Tonight begins the holiday of Passover. Not to be too dramatic, but I feel like a slave in Egypt. Pharoah is the cancer and though the medicine is working, we've been wandering in this desert of chemo and leukemic cells and fear for way too long. But even though I can see freedom in my future, even though we already witnessed a miracle, I don't think I'll ever feel free. Will Pharoah's army target Ari or Alison or my family again? I don't know. I sure hope and pray not.
But I will push this fear aside, and I will celebrate the miracles of life and laughter and happiness and freedom tonight and this week and throughout the coming years. And you know I'll be drinking all 4 glasses of wine.
Next year (or maybe this Fall after we've wandered long enough) in Jerusalem.
Chag sameach people.