Between a Rock and a Joyous Place

February 20, 2010

It is an exceptionally difficult thing to make a decision that makes one of your children happy and hurts the other immeasurably. I started the day with regret and ended it with little bit more peace, but still not knowing whether we made the right decision or not.

Today was Jake’s birthday party, the party his sister could not attend. Tanner seemed okay with this decision a few days ago, but yesterday began having a hard time with it. As she watched me blow up balloons and helped me stuff goody bags, she struggled with how to express her anger while still supporting her little brother. She would have an outburst, then apologize and say she wanted Jake to have a good time. It is wrong to expect a six-year-old to handle the culmination of 9 months of deprivation with grace.

This morning, her teacher came to the house for a lesson and Tanner broke down during the session and sobbed on my shoulder. She was sad and frustrated and didn’t know how to show it appropriately. Then, she was embarrassed about the way she had acted in front of her teacher. Tough morning.

On the other hand, there was a sweet little boy who turned three and deserved a birthday party filled with the unfettered joy that occasion merits. It was a good party. Just a few good friends, some presents and cake. He loved it, but I think even he missed Tanner.

I would like to say John and I were as joyful as we wanted to be for his party. But, it was hard knowing Tanner was at home feeling so abandoned. Her E. and Papa came to stay with her (thank you, you have no idea how much that meant) at the house, but I know my highly social girl would have loved to be directing a game for Jake’s friends.

I feel bad knowing I might have put more into Jake’s party if I didn’t feel so conflicted. I don’t think he noticed, but I did. He had a good time and loved having his friends, eating cake and opening his presents.

The day actually ended better than we could have hoped. John’s brother Michael, his wife, Amanda and their son Mack came to the party and stayed afterward for some fun. E. and Papa brought Tanner over to the new house and we let the kids ride the new ATV and their scooters in the cul-de-sac. We called for pizza and had an impromptu picnic on the front lawn while the kids played. Tanner loved seeing Mack (they are the same age) and it helped a lot to be able to play outside with him even if they couldn’t touch each other. We all went home exhausted and laid on the sofa for the rest of the day.

Cancer infects so many parts of our lives that it never ceases to amaze me the situations I find us in… hard spots with no clear right decision. We did our best to make the right decision, but it costs, as always, in some way.


2 thoughts on “Between a Rock and a Joyous Place

  1. you did the right thing by jake and tanner, both. it’s a hard road, the one your family is on with you. as an adult who sometimes has trouble understanding my own frustrations and angers, it seems that this must be a learned skill; hard enough for a 40-something like me to learn, unknowingly hard for a six-year old. i pray for you always, but today i hope you and tanner and jake and john have peace. you’ll need it for tomorrow, whatever tomorrow brings. love you, sista!

  2. You do what you do, and you can’t win them all. And often choosing to win one means unchoosing the other. And that stinks. It looks like Jake had a great party, and Tanner enjoyed the after-party. It’s a fine line…and it sounds like you negotiated it the best you could. Still, it stinks. I hear that.

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