Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Happy Birthday Trevor!

Dear Trevor,

I know you’ve been waiting for today to come, anxiously anticipating being SIX years old. Seeing you cross this threshold from preschooler to school-age boy is exciting for me too. You’ve grown so much this past year; I can barely believe the difference between five and six. Last year you were so shy and anxious sometimes. When we went to your best friend’s birthday party, you clung to my leg and were so afraid to join the fun.

Someday you might ask about why you’re older than lots of the other kids in your grade, so let me tell you something. In Spring 2010, I went to the elementary school and registered you for kindergarten. Then I walked out the door and felt nauseous. Even though I had never considered another option, I suddenly felt absolutely certain that we needed a new plan. It took a few days of twisting your dad’s arm, but we were fortunate to get a spot for you in the perfect place. It was a private early childhood program with 2 teachers and 14 students. One precious teacher and three classmates from your preschool were going to be there with you.

So I’ve been spending the last year watching you blossom. Your self-confidence is so changed from a year ago. You recently went to the birthday party of a baseball teammate you hardly knew and immediately ran off to play and never looked back. Academically, you’ve shown us you’re a math whiz and your reading has taken off, and your creative talents as an artist and story-teller continue to amaze us. You, my love, are SO ready for kindergarten this fall. Trust me when I say that this bridge year was a precious gift that will continue to reward us for years to come.
You are a precious child of God, my dear. Lately, you’ve been so inquisitive about God and Jesus. I know you’re growing in your heart and mind towards the day when you commit yourself to Christ. Even thinking about it brings tears of joy to my eyes. And we’re so lucky to be surrounded by loving adults to help guide your journey of faith. Today we talked about the day you were born. You asked, “Why did you pick June 8th for my birthday?” I said, “I didn’t pick it, it just was your time to be born.” You said “I think God decided.” I know He presses thoughts on your heart and I’m so happy that you share them with me.

I was shocked when you were born with a head of red hair, a little in denial. But your hair is so perfect. When lice were spreading around your preschool someone said to me “At least you have a boy so you can just shave his head.” I was aghast. I’d shave my own head before yours. When you were two and we were in line for a ride at Disney World, I was holding you on my shoulder and you said, “Mommy, people are petting my hair again.” Complete strangers couldn’t resist the urge to touch your strawberry blonde locks.

You’ve always been so easy to please. For Christmas when you were three, you asked for bottled water and goldfish crackers. Today, you asked if I had gotten you a birthday present yet. I said “Perhaps…” Your reply? “Well, if you haven’t, maybe you can set your alarm and go to the store early so you have something to give me when I wake up in the morning.” But I’m pretty sure if I woke you with a hug and a smooch, you’d be content to forgive the omission of gifts.

When you were in your first year of preschool, Ms. Maxine said to me, “We just love Trevor. Thank you for sharing him with us.” You are my sprite, my imp. There is a spring in your step and a twinkle in your eye that makes people happy when they’re around you. Some of the things you say are so sugary sweet that people think you must be saying them to butter me up. But I know, truly, that you have abundant love in your heart that just overflows sometimes. You’re so genuinely empathetic. I see it in the way you love and care for your sister, comforting her when she’s sad, embracing her when she’s happy.

You and me…what can I say?

     “Trevor…?” I say.
     “You’re going to tell me you love me, right?” you say.
     “Well, it’s true, I do,” I say.
     “I love you more,” you say.
     “No, I love you more,” I say.
     “Impossible,” we both say.

Me and Trev, we fit together like peas and carrots. Some parents lament their children sleeping in their bed. Somehow, you sleep in your own bed 95% of the time, but I still get that precious 5% of nights when you’ll silently appear at my bedside under the cover of darkness and climb in to cuddle for the remainder of the night. It’s been our little secret, but you’ll ask me to wake you “when the coast is clear and Daddy’s asleep”, so you can sneak in and be my cuddle bug. I usually don’t, but once in a while I snatch you out of your bed and carry you to mine at 2 am.

Every day of my life, I think that I couldn’t possibly love you any more than I already do. But then you’ll give me a smile, a laugh, squeeze my hand, hug me, kiss me, speak from your heart and it happens again…my heart gets a little more full and have more love for you and life itself than I did yesterday. Thank you for being my Trevor Jacques Etienne, my Trevario, my TJ.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Round 20

Sometimes, I mistakenly think of a round of chemo as a round of a boxing match, where it's me vs. the chemo in the ring, fighting each other. But truly, the chemo is in my corner, battling the cancer on my behalf. And so today I give thanks. 

Thank You, God, for this blessed day to be alive and spend time with the people I love. Thank You for the gift of chemotherapy. I give thanks for the brilliant scientists and doctors who have worked tirelessly to develop these drugs that sustain my life.  I pray for the souls of the brave pioneers who came before me and participated in clinical trials to prove the safety and effectiveness of the medicines I receive today.  I give thanks for the medicines which help limit the side effects of my chemotherapy and allow me to feel strong and healthy while I am undergoing treatment. 

 Bless the hands of the nurses, doctors, assistants, and volunteers that guide me, comfort me, and care for me at the hospital. Thank You for the blessing of health insurance that enables me to afford these treatments.  I know my healthcare costs could easily save lives of many afflicted people across the globe. I struggle to find myself worthy of such expensive treatment when there are so many with problems bigger than mine. Help me to remember Your grace and blessings in my life and find a path to make my time here worthwhile. 

Thank You for the physical and mental support of my family, friends, and strangers who touch my journey. I have never once felt alone on this road and I am thankful for their comfort.  May I be fortunate enough to be a blessing to others as they have been to me. 


Monday, February 14, 2011

Be Still, My Heart...

Trevor:"Is this OK?"
Me: "Is what OK?"
Trevor: "Laying here next to you."
Me: "Of course that's OK, why wouldn't it be OK?"
Trevor: "I didn't finish my supper so Daddy said I don't get any treats tonight."
Me: "And?..."
Trevor: "Well, laying here with you is kind of a treat, isn't it?"

Happy Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sean (sitting on the edge of the bed): "I guess I should wear some sunscreen today."
Me: "What do you think your doctor would say?"
Juliette (walking past): "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

Guess we should stop saying inappropriate things while she is within hearing distance, because clearly she's listening in.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slow down...

Dear Hayden,

Eight years ago today, I finally understood the meaning of love at first sight. The day started off ordinary enough, routine check-up at the doctor then off to work was the plan. Lots of chatter with the doctor, "Are you pre-registered at the hospital yet?" "Soon you'll have to start coming in every week", then "Ummm...5 looks like you'll be having a baby today." And suddenly there you were, my little man, ready to take on the world.

We spent six delicious months together at home. Friday afternoons were movie days for us. Your first show was "Bend it Like Bekham." Maybe you didn't like it because you slept through the whole movie. In the afternoons we would nap together in the big comfy chair in our sunshine-y spot with the dogs at our side. Neither of us had a care in the world. One day you fell asleep nursing and I transferred you quietly to your crib. I put my hand on your chest and felt your breathing and my heart was so filled with love I thought it might burst. There are hours of video of you doing pretty much nothing but it all seemed like such a miracle to me.

Then there was work and day care and then no more day care. Your daddy would come home from work and strap you into the Baby Bjorn and you would walk the dogs together. When you saw something exciting you'd kick your legs and flail your arms with delight. Then suddenly you walked and you talked and you slept with a bat and ball and glove.

We apologized for ending your magical days as an only child but we gave you the lifetime gift of brotherhood. And you embraced the change, running to pop the pacifier back in Trevor's mouth as soon as it fell. You started preschool and didn't look back as your world got bigger than just our little household. Eager to please, friends with everyone you met, "Hi, I'm Hayden, what's your name?"

Then there was a new baby on the way, and we moved Trevor into your room. The first night he climbed into your bed and I found you snuggled together in the morning. And things were just as we always hoped they would be. When Juliette arrived, you showed us true tenderness with your gentle spirit.

Now our days are so and basketball and swimming and school and friends. And here you are today, eight years old, "halfway old enough to drive" as you like to tell me (and I cringe at the thought). You humor me and sit on my lap and let me squeeze you and tell you I want to turn time backwards and put you back in my tummy so I can relive every precious moment that went by too fast. I rub your back to wake you in the morning and feel the shoulders that are no longer a little boy, but edging towards a young man. But thankfully, a young man who isn't too big to hold me hand or let me wrap my arms around you when we're walking together at the mall.

Happy birthday Hey-hey-Hay-de-O. I love you.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Three-Year-Old,

It amazes me that we have arrived to this moment. On your first birthday, I felt very sick. We found out soon afterwards that I had a cancer growing inside my body. I had surgery a few weeks after your birthday and my doctors said that with aggressive treatment, I could expect another 18-24 months. I immediately thought of you, my tiny girl, barely one, not walking or talking.

I couldn't face the thought that I wouldn't live to your third birthday. I kept thinking that people don't have permanent memories from before age three. All I could think was that you would never remember me. Of course, I worried for your brothers as well, but at least they would know our life together, and not feel they had grown up completely motherless.

I was afraid for myself too, scared I would feel sick and miserable for every day for the rest of my life. Scared of the unknowns of chemotherapy and dying. People think I was strong then, but I wasn't. I just didn't want life to be so unfair to you. A little girl needs a mother. I tried unsuccessfully to convince your father he should start thinking about remarrying as soon as I died, but as you might guess, that was a futile effort.

So I set on a course of making it to this day, your third birthday, and by some miracle we have arrived here together. But the real miracle has been the in-between. The one-million, fifty one thousand and two hundred minutes of joy you and our family have given me in the last two years. I was so wrong in thinking that I should pursue aggressive treatment because YOU needed to know ME. The truth is, I needed a chance to know you. And here is what I know: three years ago, a light came into this world. The world has made three trips around the sun since that day and that light burns brighter and warms the lives of us all.

You wake up and pad into my room dragging your blanket behind. I sewed that blanket before you were born, and hope it doesn't wear out with all that dragging around. Sometimes I can coax you into cuddling for a bit, but you're more likely to snuggle in Trevor's bed than mine. You two share a special bond. He adores you and you would follow him to the ends of the earth.

You know what you are about. "Read to me mommy," you say as you take my hand. We've all learned that you won't take "no" for an answer. "Play Memory with me," is the most frequent request these days. I hate to play Memory, I'm so bad at it. And you're so frighteningly good at it. But I do truly enjoy watching the delight you find in playing.

Since you were born, I think about 90% of our clothing expenditures have been for you. It is my addiction and you always seem delighted to try on the latest outfit or pair of shoes. Lately it's all about the posing. Hands on the hips, a little thrust to the side, your sassy best. Your spirit has a contagious delight.

You love your little friends, Libby, Spenser, Brianna, Liora. It will be another 9 months till you start preschool but I know you're so ready. Ballet, gymnastics,'re so excited to try anything new. And you're such the picture perfect angel in your leotard (which you insist in wearing to bed sometimes) tights, ballet shoes and tutu.

Oh, and as much as I don't want you to think that your self-worth is determined by how you look, your head of fairy-tale blonds curls brings me a ridiculously unnatural amount of joy. I look back at the pictures of my practically bald one year old and think, it was so worth the wait for this hair. You're unbelievably patient through all the combing and placement of bows, but there is a certain perfection to your unembellished head of hair, with that perfect ringlet curl falling over your right eye.

Now about that temper, my darling girl. I must say, you are a bit volatile and none of us are quick to cross you. Passionate, spirited, determined...and just a little bit of a hothead. Nobody will ever accuse you of being bland and submissive, my love.

So we have arrived together at this day that was never promised, but always hoped for. I'm thankful for the opportunity to watch you become this amazing little person, so full of life. Thank you my Petunia.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Word on the street is that some of you are Valentine's Day haters / boycotters. To each his own, but I personally cherish an extra day of love and sweetness each year. Maybe it's because I had my first date with a special boy on Valentine's Day 1999. Maybe it's the opportunity to send out sappy sweet cards like these...

Full size images (yes, bigger is better), can be found here and here.