Leukemia showed up uninvited to our family in 2015. Now that it’s gone, I’d like to say “hello” to my writing voice again and share some thoughts.
There’s no polite way to begin this letter, so I’ll just say you were one sneaky little bastard, riding in to momma’s body in November of 2014, cleverly disguised as pneumonia. When she didn’t respond to strong antibiotics and progressively grew weaker, I think we all feared you *might* be lurking…and her diagnosis on Jan. 2, 2015 confirmed our fears.
You were so strong in those first weeks, wreaking havoc in momma’s body to the point where we really didn’t know if she would stay with us or not. But you underestimated momma and chemo. Oh, chemo. Chemotherapy made me realize it absolutely is possible to love and hate a thing in equal measure at the exact same time. And I have to smile when I think of how chemo whipped your little tale right out of momma’s body. And you never got to come back, not even to this day.
But the very thought that you might show up again triggers an entire series of procedures that go on f.o.r.e.v.e.r. Because it’s never just one-and-done with you, Leukemia. You are so utterly destructive that even when you leave, the fear of your come back tour means my beautiful mother will be subjected to painful, invasive tests to make sure none of your demon seeds remain. And don’t get me started on the stem cell transplant. You just can’t be trusted, see? So momma gave up her own immune system in exchange for a donor’s- and God bless that donor. But the stem cell transplant almost killed her. You get the blame for that, too.
And let’s talk about momma’s caregivers, mostly my dad. The beautiful irony is that your presence lays a dramatic backdrop for honoring one’s wedding vows. And daddy is one of the most honorable men I know. My geriatric grandmother cared for momma during the day, all the while wondering if the circle of life would be distorted by a mother watching her child die. My sister took a leave of absence from her job to be available for hospital stays and doctor visits. She and I were often paralyzed with fear, thanks to you, and we are not fearful women by nature.
As for me? Well, I became someone I couldn’t recognize, if I’m being honest. I lost all motivation to write, and writing is one thing that helps me process emotions and start to heal. But I have this amazingly supportive husband, as well as four beautiful children. And I am blessed to have clients who invite me into their birth space. Observing and supporting birth helped to encourage me that there are realms of pure goodness where you, Leukemia, have no quarter.
But momma’s story, although not complete, is one of hope. And for that we are immensely humbled and thankful. But certainly no thanks to you. Leukemia, you have been banished from my momma, and honestly? It feels really good to wake up and know momma is healthy and growing stronger.
So long sucker.