Just Another Day

I’m supposed to write today.  I was supposed to write yesterday and the day before, but I’m not finding the words and my mind keeps drifting off to other things.  Like the bread I have rising in the kitchen.  Another 30 minutes and I can stick it in the oven.

But, how can I write about that on this day in May?

The beautiful month of May, normally treasured for my birthday, my oldest son’s birthday and my little guy’s adoption day anniversary, now marred by the memory of a phone call on a rainy May 1st, three years ago.

The phone call that lead me down a path I never wanted to wander, taking me right up to this very moment, to this very page on a blog I never could have imagined.

What am I supposed to say about that day?  I’ve written about it before, wrote about getting that call.  Where I was, what I did then, but now…I’ve got nothing.  The passage of time hasn’t unveiled any clever insight. There isn’t any great reflection spilling forth making sense of the whole mess.  Making it acceptable or okay, because it’s not and never will be, not for me or anyone whose life is invaded by cancer.

If I could choose, I’d push it behind me and never look back, but the memories come.

I don’t know what kind of person I’d have to be to escape thoughts of a very typical day, overflowing with plans of raising children, ideas of growing old with my husband or simply savoring a cup of coffee and seeing it all shattered by a moment on the wrong end of a telephone call.  All that..good stuff… scattering away to the fringe of normal life, leaving only room for the everyday, all consuming one cancer has just dumped on me.

How does one not think about that?

If it’s possible to forget, I wish someone would tell me how.

Still, three years later, May 1st is just another day and my little guy had to go the dentist.  He had a cavity and though he’s only five, this is not his first.

My little boy, it’s always something.  His early days were constant sinus and ear infections requiring surgery at three to remove his tonsils and adenoids.  At one, he nearly broke his nose falling, carrying a small scar across the bridge of his nose to this day.  Two weeks ago, he had his front tooth knocked out in an unfortunate school incident and over the years he’s had four cavities, despite having the same dental hygiene habits as his brother, but that boy, my older son shines on…skipping through life with a smile and a wave, unfazed, untouched by the troubles heaped on his brother, never slowing for anyone or anything.

It’s my young one that falters and pushes on and this day, amidst my memories, I watch him soldier through another filling while clutching his stuffed polar bear.  Halfway through, when finally overwhelmed by the noise and the voices and the trappings of dentistry in his mouth, his eyes filled and his little hand raised as if to say, enough, and my heart broke.  I would have given anything to take his place, sit in that chair for him, have the dentist drill my tooth instead.  I could handle it.  I know how it feels to sit and endure until someone says I’m done.

If only I could do that for him.  Take away the dentist, wipe out the years of painful ear infections, wish away his continuing struggles to matter in the eyes of his big brother.  Take away the pain of disappointments yet to come on the playground, in his backyard, in his life, but I can’t, just as I couldn’t do it for myself that day three years ago.

My little one needs to find something within himself.  I could only sit near touching his leg, letting him know he wasn’t alone and when I thought he couldn’t take another minute in that chair, he amazed me with his perseverence.

He did it.  All done.  Off he went to claim his prize from the dentist’s reward bucket.

Maybe, that’s how I should see May 1st from now on, not for what it took from me, or dumped on me.  Maybe there is no lesson here.  It was just a day I got crappy news and like my little guy, I needed to stick in the chair until the hard part was over.

There might be prizes to be had.

18 thoughts on “Just Another Day

  1. I'm new here, Stacey, but I can identify with so much of this post. I'm waiting for my first 'phone call anniversary' – it's coming up in June (weirdly I don't remember the precise date – I could figure it out but am not sure if I want to…the mastectomy anniversary – mastectoversary?!? – sticks in my mind quite well enough). I am so sorry that you found yourself in this dentist's chair, and hope that the reward bucket is overflowing with goodies for you to plunder over many, many years to come. And as the mother of two sons, I felt such a pang at your little guy's \”continuing struggles to matter in the eyes of his big brother\”. Interestingly, my boys – two years apart, now 9 and 11 – have become much closer as they got older…the transformation began around the ages of 7 & 9. I hope your little fellow's mouth is feeling OK. The photo is adorable. Good on him for being so brave!


  2. This resonates with my own experiences so much – I mean that day, and how it shifts the feeling of an entire month. So hearing about your little man's bravery was a welcomed perspective shift – so thank you. 🙂 Coincidently, I've been avoiding the dentist. Maybe it's time to face that head on!


  3. In many ways three years is such a short time..it is the same with grief. So much more I want to write, but I am pressed for time here – running out the door, but I just want you to know that I hear you Stacey x


  4. Wrestling with cancer over time is so different for each person. What I see in your writing is how deeply and beautifully immersed you are in observing and participating in the lives of your children. Perhaps that is part of your answer. Your love for them is bigger than all of it:)Thanks for a lovely post,Jody


  5. Stacey,Your young one is a real trooper. At his tender age he's learning and teaching about perseverance. We all grapple with the reminder dates. As we grapple, life goes on, as it should. This post is a wonderful reminder of that. It turns out, you did a pretty fabulous job writing about \”that day\” after all. Thanks, Stacey.


  6. Stacey, you have such a gift for drawings parallels and perspective from your children, and your love for them, that apply so beautifully to the experience of having cancer. Another poignant post.These cancerversaries are deeply imprinted on us. Utter shock will do that. And three years isn't very long in Cancer Land. I'm closing in on four years and am just barely feeling like I can start to silence cancer's constant background noise in my head, heart and body now & then. But we're still here, now. And that matters, as does honest self-reflection, which you have once again articulated. xo


  7. Hi Liz, thank you for coming by and reading. You are so new to this, not even a year yet. I think it's hard to process at that point, you're still so very much in the thick of things. I know I had a hard time enjoying my boys. You'd think it would be the other way around, but that's what cancer does. Anyway, I hope you're doing well and if you've found me, I hope you've found the other bc bloggers here. I can't say enough about this community. Support like no other. Check out #bcsm on twitter Monday nights at 9est. You can find a lot of us there and feel free to ask anything or just vent! Oh, and thanks for letting me know your sons' relationship has improved. Maybe I have hope there.


  8. Hi Catherine, I hate to nag, but…go to the dentist! Get it over with. Thank you for writing. It's true, isn't it? The memory does shift the feeling…I like your description. I guess we need to figure out to how to get over that. Maybe more time. Hugs to you.


  9. Thank you, Marie, for letting me know you were here. In some ways, diagnosis day is like grief. I don't know, it all sucks. I guess it's what we do with it. Sending many hugs to Ireland. xoxo


  10. Hi Jody, thank you so much for your comment. I can't help feel there's some meaning in all of it, the everyday stuff. I'm just trying to make sense of it. Don't know if I do a very good job, but your thoughts on this certainly make me feel better. xoxo


  11. Thank you, Nancy, for your kind words. I like the way you put it all into perspective. Life goes on, as it should. Which is what we want after all. Love to you.


  12. Hi Kathi, I like so much about your comment, aside from the nice words about the post. 🙂 You're right about the news being shocking. I think sometimes we forget that in our quest to get stuff done, move ahead, but it is shocking. It really throws us for a loop. You've given me something to think about with that. I hope you can continue to silence cancer's noise. I hope we all can. Thank you for writing. Love to you.


  13. What a poignant post, Stacey. I'm not sure what's in the reward bucket for everyone who goes through this, but I know my prize was being able to blog along with other women who actually \”get\” what I'm talking about. As Kathi says, these cancerversaries don't really fade away into oblivion. You've captured in your apt words the feelings many of us have as these times of year approach. I like how you analogized it to your son. xx


  14. Stacey,You're living the prize, watching your sons grow up. It's the tenuous prize we've all been given–life–and as the saying goes, \”Tomorrow is promised to no one.\” While our cancers have chipped away at our personal prize, your neighbor, or the person in the car next to you at the stoplight, for one reason or another, may not be here, tomorrow. Their prize may be snatched from their hands by a drunk driver or an embolism. We never know. Our job is to savor our prize, warts and all. And as Kathi said, it's early, yet. You're still filled with cancer's background noise. It will get better.XOXOXO,Brenda


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