“If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”
We were at the hospital today for my younger son’s chemotherapy. He was laying in that hard dreary hospital bed while chemo is being infused through his port. The cell phone rings and my husband steps out from the room to answer a work call. Before dozing off, my son asked me a question that surprised me because he’s never asked me this before.
“Mom, would you have had me if you knew I was going to have cancer?”
I knew the answer to that question. But I stayed silent for a second or two. I didn’t know if I should say anything. Should I tell him the truth or lie?
I spoke with my therapist about this the last time. I asked her if she’s seen the movie, “The Arrival.” I wrote a blog post about this not too long ago unknowingly it would become a recurring theme in my life, a question I would be asked a year later. There aren’t too many people I know have seen this movie (or liked it) so I didn’t expect her to know about it. I told her the premise of the movie: the main character is a linguist and was assigned to communicate with the aliens who were currently invading earth. During the communication, the aliens had shown her the future. And the future was having a daughter who will have cancer and dies from the disease. She changed nothing about her life despite knowing about her daughter which made her husband furious upon finding out that she kept this information from him.
My answer to my son was, “NO…..I would not have had you.” BUT… I told him, I probably would have made sure he was born at another time and place. I probably would have still named him Jude. Then I changed my mind and said maybe not. Perhaps I would have named him Michael, Peter, or James—anyone from Jesus’ disciple whose name didn’t have to do with the most difficult circumstances (such as Jude). He replied by saying he still liked his name. I said, “okay, I’ll keep your name.”
I’m not sure why I’m even writing about my private conversation with my son. Perhaps I felt bad about telling him how I really felt. As I had told my therapist, I feel guilty for bringing him into this world, and the life that he was given: spending most of his childhood life with hospital visits, taking medicines he couldn’t even pronounce as a five year old child, medical terms he shouldn’t have to know at an early age, fighting for his life several times, and dealing with life or death situations.
If I knew what I know now…….how could I bring him out in a life that’s full of difficult challenges? A life that hasn’t been fair to him? A childhood that wasn’t all about fun and games but instead a life of hospitals and doctors……
How could I be that selfish?
Each night, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about him. I’m worried sick about everything—how his life is going to turn out, his future, how he is going to handle everything from love to career. And sometimes the dreadful “what if”—what if he can’t become eligible for CAR T, an immunotherapy that’s just been approved by the FDA two years ago?
What if he dies?
What if…..what if….
Oh what the fuck!!!
I’m sick of thinking. I’m sick of being worried. I’ve spent the last nine years with PTSD, with fears of loved ones dying, with my life turning into shit (it actually already has), with my sons getting hurt and not finding the love they deserve. Of course these are all natural fears that anybody can feel but on top of everything, I fear that my son will die.
I get all kinds of advices from people—what to do, what to eat, what to feel, what to… god I wish they would just stop. Because I realized that life is all about gray areas. It’s never really just black and white. If we had a handbook on life, on how it should be lived, then none of us will struggle. We will have all the answers to difficult situations. None of us will have to guess. I remember reading about breastfeeding when I was pregnant. They say your baby will be healthier if you gave them your own milk, blah blah blah. Well I breastfed my older son for one month and my younger son for eleven months! And guess who gets the fucking cancer? Not once or twice but three fucking times! I no longer want to listen to anyone about what I should or should not be doing. I’m beginning to believe that life is predestined. Regardless of what you do, you are going to get all the shit you’re bound to get anyway!
We did everything we were supposed to do. We were over protective—we even took our son out of school during flu season, we constantly washed our hands, ate organic foods, stopped or cut down on eating red meat etc. etc. etc. Yet here we are….in the same hell hole as we were. So tell me did any of that make a difference? Probably not.
Here’s also one of the ‘advices’ I just absolutely cannot stand:
God will not give you more than you can’t handle.
Well, how does God know I can handle all this shit I’ve been given? He should know I can no longer handle anything at this point. Hence the daily doses of Xanax! I am begging him to release me from all the pain and to let my son live like a normal teenage boy.
Oh but there’s more:
God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.
I may be at war with cancer but I’m not a soldier. I’m not strong. I am among the weakest. If being weak disqualifies me to fight god’s battles, then so be it. In fact, I prefer it that way. And neither would I volunteer my kids for these “battles.”
I sure hope I’m wrong because I don’t agree with predestined life. I see no point of our existence if that’s the case. I don’t want to think my son was born only to suffer. There’s gotta be more than that. There’s got to be a God who doesn’t determine the outcome of our lives as soon as we are born.
God, if you’re listening, I am still waiting for that rainbow you promised.