January 30, 2010

A few days ago, I met a mom who lives in my neighborhood and has two children. She told me her older child is in a "transitional kindergarten" program, which made me wonder if perhaps he has some type of learning difference or other issue that she is worried about.

But I never found out about her five-year-old. Because, instead, we talked about her cancer.

Yes, cancer. This beautiful woman with these two little kids has breast cancer. She probably is no older than I am.

After learning about her illness, I asked her, "How are you doing?"

And she told me about how she made the discovery, about the surgery, about the chemo.

And then I said, "Your husband must have been so scared."

And she told me about how he had been her strength.

He has been her ears when the doctors droned on and on about treatments and drugs, and her head was too fuzzy to even hear what they were saying.

He has been her researcher. He has poured over articles on the Internet and asked her doctors questions about things she had never even heard of.

He has been with her, step for step, since she got her diagnosis.

I felt so sorry for her, as I imagined how incredibly difficult it must be to mother two young children while battling this horrible illness.

And, yet, at the same time, I thought how wonderful it must be to have this kind of man in your life.

So, I hope she didn't think I was crazy when I said to her, "You are blessed."

I thought about this woman many times the rest of the day.

And I wondered, "Oh God, what would happened to my two kids if something bad were to happen to me? It just can't happen. I can't get sick. I have to be well. Nothing can happen to me."

It is a stress that far outweighs the stress of caring for a disabled child, which is no small thing to say.

And then, as so frequently happens, a wonderful friend brightened my day.

She did it in the most unexpected way.

And I don't even think she knows it.

I was talking to her on the phone and telling her about this strong, beautiful mom with the cancer, the two little kids and the wonderful husband. I told her about how she spoke of him and how she recounted all the things he has done for her throughout her illness.

And my friend said to me:

"Leah, what that story makes me think of is what you are for [your son]. Because you are that person for him. You are doing the things for him that need to be done, that have to be done, the things he cannot do for himself."

And the tears came.

It was perhaps the greatest compliment anyone has ever given me.

You see, I always, always feel like I short-change my son. If only I had found his current speech therapists sooner.... If only I had embraced the disability sooner... If only I had not taken so long to get my head out of the sand.... If only I could find the energy to work harder with him ... If only I had more patience, etc., etc., etc.

I constantly wish I was doing more to help him.

So, dear friend, and you know who you are, you have no idea how much your words mean to me. You have no idea how much peace they bring, how much comfort. How is it that you frequently find words that have the effect of an embrace?

Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a person who brings me strength.


  1. Mother guilt is the worst guilt in the world.

    I do not have any children who are delayed, yet I am guilty for everything. Did they go to bed too late? Did they brush their teeth long enough? Is it my fault he had a smidge of a cavity? It could go on and on.

    As mothers, we do the best we can do - and that is all we can do. You are doing a wonderful job - so many people who have challanged children just sit back and do nothing. It is easier not to acknowlegdge the problems being faced. I applaud you for all you do.

    As always, I look forward to your updates.
    You are in my prayers.

  2. What a wonderful friend you have there to remind you of something so important. But she's right :)

    Those types of people tend to pop up in our lives when needed, when we may not have even known they were there. I know mine did when my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and it was very unexpected who was there with the encouragement.

  3. Oh, Leah, I can totally relate to "if only I..." and "feeling like I short-change." YOU are so inspirational. I was even telling a friend tonight on the phone, before I read this, about how much I admire you moving to TX for Daniel! Your friend is right...you are that person for Daniel. My mom told me the other day, "I know if you could, Evan would tell you thank you for all you have done for him, for taking him to therapy every day and everything else you have done. So since he can't, I'm telling you for him." The best compliment I have ever gotten. Love and hugs!