Fireworks and Fireflies

July 4, 2010

Do you remember the magic of fireflies when you were young? The wonder of a little bug that comes out at night and lights up the darkening sky? Tanner and Jake almost never get to see them. We put them to bed so early, it’s still light out.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought some bug catchers and some butterfly nets so we could catch fireflies. I bought six of them so that when we had Lily and Madelyn’s families over for a cookout, we could stay up late and they could all catch some. That would have been last weekend, and the kids were really excited about it. Ironically, as would happen only when you try to get three kids with leukemia together, one of them ended up in the hospital. Little four-year-old Madelynn had a fever and low counts and we ended up canceling until everyone could come. Tanner was extremely disappointed.

Tonight, after having a great time decorating our bikes and riding in the Fourth of July bike parade in downtown Franklin, we planned to go to Corinne’s house to catch fireflies and, hopefully, see a few fireworks in the backyard. We set out with glow necklaces, silly string, bug catchers and butterfly nets in tow. The kids waited and waited for the fireflies to show up, and finally, they did.

They all ran around catching them in their nets and putting them in their bugcatchers. Tanner ran to me, elated that she had caught five fireflies. Then, she tripped over a jump rope and fell face first on top of her bug catcher. The bug catcher broke apart and fireflies streamed out into the sky. Tanner screamed; we thought at first she had hit her port and hurt herself, but she was hurt in a different way. Her little heart had endured as much disappointment as she could take. She grasped at the fireflies and sobbed as she watched them get away. There was no consoling her. I picked her up and hugged her to me and took her inside for a moment to try to calm her down, to tell her that there were lots more chances to catch fireflies this summer, that we could put hers in Jake’s bug catcher and take them all home with us. Nothing worked. She wasn’t crying about one disappointment; it was ten, maybe twenty, disappointments wrenching from her body in loud high pitched sobs.

She was mourning all the lost opportunities, all the times she has been told to be brave, that we’ll get to do it another time, that we can redo theatre camp, that she’ll get to go back to school eventually, that there will be another birthday party, another class trip, another chance to sing in the church choir, another dance lesson, another beach trip with my family.

Sometimes it is too much disappointment for an almost seven-year-old to handle. So many opportunities that disappear into the night like lost fireflies.

At home, we watched fireworks from the windows. She wanted to go outside and catch more fireflies, but she and Jake were exhausted and it was late. I promised her, once again, that there would be other opportunities. That we would invite friends over one night and catch fireflies in the yard. Just like I have promised her so many other things that will return to her once this disease has left our lives for good. Two-and-a-half years is an eternity to a child, especially one that lives on the edge of constant disappointment. It’s just too long.

Despite the meltdown, the night turned out okay. We returned home to find poor Domino in his crate barking furiously at the “intruders” that were making such loud booming noises. When we opened the crate door, he barreled out growling and barking, skidding around the corner to the front door, looking for the bad guy that might hurt his family. Love that dog. We took him down in the basement, where it wasn’t as noisy, and everyone played for a few minutes. Then, we watched some fireworks out the windows and went to bed. Turns out Jake and Domino feel similarly about fireworks. Both of them only like to watch them from inside; outside they are just “too woud.”

Luckily, I can recreate firefly catching any night of the summer. And, just like she always does, she’ll get over it. I just wish she didn’t have to.


Clinic Day #36 — Ever So Slowly

July 1, 2010

We went into clinic this morning for counts. I was expecting, after three weeks of being on 50% oral chemo dosage, for her counts to be well up above 1,000… but… no. 900. 900? That’s it? That’s only gaining 100 neutraphils per week… pretty slow, but I guess at least it’s in the right direction.

There is a theory that after a long time on chemo, the body develops bone marrow fatigue. As if to say, “Why should I bother to make any new cells, you’re just going to kill them?” Seems realistic to me.

So, we’re not quite ready to dine out in a restaurant again, but we’re not hibernating either. We’ll take it.

Been busy swimming a lot, playing with Domino and having playdates. Tanner’s friend, Meredith, came over yesterday for a “slumbover”… that’s when you have a friend over in the afternoon and they stay for dinner, you put on your pajamas and watch movies and they go home at bedtime. They had a super time.

Tanner got her birthday present a little early today (her birthday is July 8th). She wanted a new bike and we gave it to her today so she could ride it in the 4th of July parade in Franklin on Sunday. She opened up the garage door to go out and ride her scooter and just screamed in delight when she saw it… I love that.

Please pray for our little friend, Madelynn and her family. Madelynn is four and lives in our neighborhood and has ALL. She has just started maintenance and is experiencing the roller coaster that is the first months of this stage as they try to find the right dosage to keep her counts stable. Maintenance is such a dance; we’re still doing it. But, those first few months are very unstable. We were actually supposed to have a cookout with Madelynn’s family and Lily’s family last weekend and, ironically, had to cancel because Madelynn was in the hospital with low counts and a fever. Thankfully, it turned out to be a pretty benign virus and she got to come home pretty quickly. But, her counts continue to stay very low. I ran into her Mom, Amy, walking in the neighborhood early the other morning. We talked briefly about how disappointing it is to start maintenance… it seems like it should be so great, but it’s actually pretty rocky. It’s just a tough pill to swallow when you’ve waited for those first awful six months to be over.


1 Day to Domino

June 22, 2010

Tomorrow is Domino Day… long awaited and much anticipated. Tanner was so excited, she couldn’t go to sleep tonight (the steroids didn’t help, either!) and I find myself in the same position. We’ve been on a 10-day countdown on the chalkboard in the kitchen, and today the kids and I washed down our dog crate to get ready for the big day. John and I will go to the prison tomorrow to meet the inmates that trained Domino and bring him home. The kids made thank you notes for them today. Jake put Star Wars stickers all over them and Tanner made cut out stars. We hope they will let the inmates have them so they can remember what a good thing they have done for a little girl with leukemia and her family.

The kids have been at Vacation Bible School for the past few days. They are having such a good time. I’ve helped with crafts those two days as well and really had fun. Tomorrow is water fun day at VBS, so they are going to have a double-great day, between that and the dog.

We had a great weekend, too. Tanner has been on steroids and feeling some of the effects of the Vincristine, but she accepts it so well now and we know to just move on and it will get better. She can’t really take the heat (and it’s HOT here!) so water activities or indoor activities are the best bet. Saturday, when I came back from running errands, John, Tanner, Jake and four neighborhood kids were in the backyard on our new playground sliding down the slide into the baby pool at the bottom. They were having too much fun! It’s the simple things, right?

Sunday, we gave John a day off for Father’s Day… no simple task, I promise you. I had to practically run my poor workaholic husband out of the house for some much needed R&R. While he was gone, the kids and I went to the grocery store to buy ingredients for seafood gumbo, his favorite food. He came back at dinner time to posters on the door, made by the kids, a balloon, cards and gumbo. Happy man.

I have to tell you about something that happened on Friday that strengthened my belief in Tanner’s vast resolve and determination. She had chemo, if you remember, on Thursday at clinic – Vincristine through her port. Then, Thursday night’s medication concoction – 6mp (chemo), methotrexate (chemo), neurontin (for neuropathy), mepron (antibiotic to prevent pneumonia), amoxicillin (antibiotic for strep throat), Claritin (for allergies), dexamethasone (steroids), pepsid and zofran (for nausea). Good grief! I expected her to be down for the count on Friday. She woke up a little groggy, but after running some errands in the morning, we headed to the YMCA pool for a swim. We got there and Tanner decided she wanted to take the swim test that would allow her to go down the slides and climb the rock wall.

“Today?” I said. “Why don’t we do it another day?”

“No, I want to do it now,” she said.

The lifeguard showed her what she had to do and my chemo-ridden child jumped in the pool and swam the length without stopping or touching the bottom and pulled herself out on the side. The lifeguard and Jake and I cheered her on from the side, following her as she swam down the pool. She looked, at the end, as if she might give up, but stuck it out. I couldn’t have been prouder. I looked at the lifeguard with disbelief and said, “She has cancer and had a boatload of chemo yesterday.” He bent down and told her “Way to go!”

We were putting on sunscreen later and I told her how proud of her I was. Of course, I teared up. Tanner’s response… “Thank goodness you didn’t do that in front of the lifeguard.” Cue eye rolling.

So, we’ve had fun despite the low counts and the steroids and chemo. It beats the alternative, right?

On a more sobering note, please pray for the family (including the twin) of a little girl named Ellie, whose poor cancer-ravaged lungs will not last much longer. Her mother, just days ago, was blogging how she was not ready to give up on a miracle and was still encouraging Ellie to fight. Today, I read where this same mother has not only had to accept the inevitable for her daughter, but has courageously swallowed her own grief to try to help her daughter accept her fate as well. Imagine trying to assure an 8-year-old that it is all right to die now. Cancer is heartless.


The Best Thing About Cancer

June 1, 2010

Tanner and Jake donating change to the Children's Hospital

We’ve been accompanied on our last two clinic visits by a small camera crew that is following Tanner for a fundraising video for the Children’s Hospital. This time, just Ms. Donna came with us, with her video camera, to chronicle Tanner getting her port accessed, receiving her chemo in the infusion room, and waiting in the pre-op area for her lumbar puncture. Last time, Tanner sat with Ms. Donna and her crew for about 10 or 15 minutes and answered questions about what it’s like to have leukemia. During these questions, Ms. Donna asked Tanner what was the worst thing about having cancer. Tanner answered, “Missing school and doing things with my friends.” Then, she asked a question I wasn’t sure a six-year-old could answer. She asked what was the best thing about having cancer. Tanner thought for a minute, puzzled by such a strange question, and replied, “There’s really nothing good about it.” I was really proud of her for not feeling pressured to come up with an “acceptable” answer and for just answering honestly.

But, the question stuck with me and I found myself wondering how I would answer it, if she had asked me. For a moment I felt just like Tanner… there’s nothing good about it. But, I thought a little more and suddenly it hit me… the best thing about having cancer is the unbelievable kindness of people. I literally never knew people could be so kind… really.

Take today for example. Tanner got an email from her “animal friends,” and squealed with delight. We even wrote an email back to the cat to tell him how to make his hurt ear feel better. Charlene has been sending photos and letters from cats, dogs, horses, goats, turkeys and even a bee for a solid year. She even made a book of the letters for Tanner to keep. Tanner still doesn’t know who they come from (shhhhh!) and it’s like magic to her.

Then, I got a call from a friend whose daughter is going to forgo birthday presents for donations to the Children’s Hospital. We’re trying to work out something cool where maybe the party attendees bring toys for the Childlife Center in the infusion room. Too cool.

Then, I got an email from one of Tanner’s Make-A-Wish volunteer coordinators. She is running a half-marathon for Team in Training to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and wanted to know if she could run in Tanner’s honor. She is the second of Tanner’s two Wish Coordinators to do this. As if they don’t do enough

Then, John came home from work and brought me a gift from my secret pal. This sweet woman has been sending me gifts for almost a year now, just every so often, to let me know that someone’s thinking about me. They are always such thoughtful things designed to make me feel pampered. Today, a bracelet with a little charm on it that says, “Mom” and a little heart for each of the kids. I love it, just like I’ve loved the flip flops, the key chain, the monogrammed bags, etc. The card said she has truly enjoyed being my secret pal… that’s the kind of person I’m talking about here. Wow.

This is just one day’s kindness. Other days, there are little gifts, cards of encouragement, supportive comments to the blog, babysitting, and countless other acts of generosity. There are also the quiet behind the scenes things like the great friends who make this blog possible by hosting it on their site and doing all the technical stuff I don’t understand. Then, there are indescribable things like the friend who has loaned Tanner his St. Christopher medal he wore in Vietnam so she will be protected like he was. How do you thank someone for that?

These things mean more to us than their face value. It’s not the gift or the gesture itself that is so important… it’s the support, the friendship, the hope, the love that they bring that make them so instrumental to surviving this ordeal.

So, if Ms. Donna were to ask me what is the best thing about my daughter having cancer, I would say it’s all of YOU.

Thank you for everything you have done, and continue to do, to make this journey bearable.


P.S. Happy Birthday to Tanner’s port, which was put in one year ago today. We sang to it tonight.

One Year

May 30, 2010

One year ago today, at about 5:30 pm, I stood in the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital ER and asked a young, nervous resident, “Are you trying to tell me my daughter has leukemia?”

When he nodded, solemnly in response, I distinctly remember taking a step back from Tanner’s gurney, so she couldn’t see my face as I fought to comprehend how a sudden backache in the middle of the night could turn out to be leukemia… couldn’t see me crumple in disbelief… couldn’t watch my eyes grow wide in horror as I bent over at the waist and pushed a scream back into my mouth before it could make a telltale sound.

I was alone with Tanner at the ER. John was home with Jake, and my friend Beth, who had come so quickly when I called, was on her way back to our house to trade places with John so he could come to the hospital.

I called John and told him to come quickly, but didn’t tell him why. No one should drive with that kind of news rattling around in his head. When he got there, I took him out into the hallway and told him what the doctor had said and we held each other and cried.

The next two days were a whirlwind of false hopes that it could be something else followed by a deafening silence when the bone marrow biopsy results were definitive. This was it… our daughter had cancer.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since that day. It’s trite to say, but it really only seems like yesterday. My memory is now organized by the things that happened before May 30, 2009, and the things that have happened since. They feel strangely like two different lives.

It’s not a day I want to celebrate… this diagnosaversary, as some call it… but it’s too big to let pass without mention and without reflection. It changed our lives, mostly for the worse, but admittedly some for the better. We now know the incredible strength of our daughter and the unending and unexpected kindnesses of those we know and of those we don’t.

Tanner is asleep on the sofa as I write this, having given in to the affects of the high-dose steroids she takes, her new hair curling softly around her peaceful face, her chest rising and falling slowly. I am struck with the fact that she is alive… not just a little, but a lot alive. She is thriving and growing and having fun, despite it all.

She had made it through one year, and she will make it through another and then just 67 more days after that, she will take her last dose of chemo. She will just stop, wherever she is in her monthly chemo cycle, on August 6, 2011. She will be eight years old. And, we will work hard to make all of this a distant memory and to use what we have learned from it to make our lives even better than it could have been BC (before cancer).

One down and one to go. Go get ‘em Baby.


Happy on the Outside

April 20, 2010

Tanner at the party

Somehow six days have slipped by again without a post. Let me catch you up: Tanner did get to go to her birthday party at Jump Zone – she had a blast and I wasn’t the only Mom handing out the hand sanitizer. The Dalmatian passed the child-worthy test with flying colors and now we’re trying to work out going to the prison to visit him. If all goes well, we’ll put dibs on him and wait until he finishes training in June! Tanner is feeling well, although she seems a little tired and has had some headaches. John and I got to go on a date on Sunday night for the first time in months. We went to see a movie at the Nashville Film Festival produced by our next-door neighbor. Went to church on Sunday (Jake entertained the church during the children’s sermon by showing another child the inside of his nose…) and then had lunch at the home of some good friends. It was a great day.

Tanner dancing after the party... love the shoes

We got a package from Give Kids the World Village today. That’s the resort for wish kids at Disney where we will be staying. It was so exciting to see all that we will be doing. We get three Disney passes, two Universal theme park passes and one Sea World pass. Not to mention how awesome the Village is itself – putt-putt, horseback riding, a train ride, present fairies, ice cream all day, La Ti Da spa, etc., etc., etc. All the characters from Disney, Universal and Nickelodeon come to the Village to visit with the kids. If Jake sees spider man in real life, he may pass out. If only iCarly would show up… Tanner would need nothing else. I’m hoping this trip will suspend reality for us for a while. We could all use a break from that.

So life is good… why is my child so mad? Tanner is struggling with something that is resulting in massive temper tantrums. Her therapist thinks it is anxiety from the newness of school. That sometimes even really good things can be overwhelming. I think Tanner also tends to push until she is more than exhausted, which doesn’t help. Suffice it to say, I’ve received the brunt of Tanner’s anger and it’s exhausting for all of us. Poor Jake doesn’t understand what he has done wrong to make his sister suddenly turn on him. It’s frustrating to finally be at this good place and see her struggle so mightily with something. It’s like the emotion is too much for her, even though the emotion is happiness. Please pray that I keep my patience and that Tanner finds some peace and is able to fully enjoy this time.

It’s tough to know how to slow Tanner down… how to know when she’s had enough, even if she doesn’t think so. She called today from school with a tummy ache. When I got there with medicine, she was lying down on a bean bag chair while the rest of the class sat at their desks. She looked pretty miserable and I just decided maybe she should come home. She didn’t want to, but I felt the rest might be the best idea. She didn’t stay down long when we got home. After picking up Jake, she wanted to go for a walk. I took the wagon so she didn’t get tired, but on the way home, it looked like we had done too much. Then, the meltdown came over something small and stupid (isn’t that how they always happen?). And, she ended up losing some pretty fun stuff because she couldn’t get hold of herself. It’s just a no-win for everyone and I wish I had a rule book to follow. You know, the rule book for kids who have cancer and who have just returned to school and seem happy, but keep having meltdowns. Anybody seen that one at the book store? Online? Guess I’ll have an extra call with Allison. Sigh.

Thursday is her monthly clinic day. Vincristine through her port and the start of another five-day pulse of steroids (that ought to help the meltdowns, eh?). I’m hoping that if the docs want to raise her chemo they’ll let us wait until after Disney. It would be a huge disappointment to have to postpone the trip due to low counts. I’ve tried not to be specific with the kids about when we’re going just in case.

Hoping for a tantrum-free tomorrow…


New Beginnings

April 4, 2010

So, Tanner did have a urinary tract infection. Mercifully, we didn’t have to go to the ER. The oxycodone held her over until morning and we were able to drop by the pediatrician instead. She is on a course of antibiotics and feels fine now. But first, we went to the Easter Egg hunt at our church. It was really fun and the kids had a great time.

Ready to hunt some eggs

Then, I ran away, as promised. I didn’t actually go to a movie, but I did shop (okay, for the kids, but it was still shopping). The important thing was that I was gone for hours and came back feeling much, much better. We grilled up some dinner and ate outside (it was such a beautiful day) then, dyed Easter eggs and wrote notes to leave for the Bunny. Tanner finally went to bed on time. The terror seems to have subsided and she got a good night’s sleep. And, I got to sleep in my own bed.

This morning, Tanner was up at 6:20 rearing to go to hunt those eggs. We woke Jake and they had a big egg hunt and ate chocolate for breakfast. It’s not Easter unless we’re all eating Peeps and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs before 7 am.

Then, drumroll please… we went to church… for the first time in 10 months. It was wonderful. The service was beautiful and Tanner was so cute singing along with the music. Jake made sure to let the entire congregation know (more than once) that he got a Batman and Mr. Freeze in his Easter basket. We went to breakfast at Cracker Barrel on the way home, so it was a really nice morning.

In their Easter Finery

We spent almost the entire rest of the day outside. We played with neighbor kids and did some yard work and just, generally, enjoyed the beautiful weather.

So, I feel renewed and ready to face a week of spring break. We’ll make the most of it. We have plans to swim, have play dates and maybe, just maybe, go to the zoo (although that may be too crowded to venture forth).

Happy Easter!


Compassion Fatigue

April 2, 2010

This is a risky post. It will not win me any motherhood awards, and it will likely make a few people cringe. But, I try to speak the truth here, when I can own up to it, and to paint a realistic picture of what this journey is like for us and for the countless other families who endure the pain of caring for a sick child, or even a sick adult.

I like to call it “compassion fatigue.” It’s my term for when I have been sucked dry of all empathy and I can no longer see Tanner’s suffering as anything other than an annoyance to me. I’m there right now. It’s 10 pm and for the second night in a row, Tanner is still awake and I am bunking in her room. She is terrified thinking about a TV show she saw five minutes of the other day before we realized it was scary and changed it. She has come out of her room no less than 20 times since we put her in bed at 7:30. We had a day full of activity and I know she must be exhausted. And, I know with my brain that she must truly be too scared to care about consequences because she has opted to endure several of them in order to continue coming out of her room and to avoid sleep.

She also, I believe, has a urinary tract infection for which we will have to go to the doctor in the morning to have a urine sample analyzed, if we’re lucky. If we’re not lucky, we will end up in the ER sometime tonight. I’ve had a urinary tract infection and I know how it hurts, so in my brain, I know she is uncomfortable, although we have given her a healthy dose of oxycodone.

I also know in my brain that she didn’t mean to skin both knees today and have to be carried 3 blocks home, and that she didn’t mean to tucker out on the hike we took this morning and have to be piggy-backed a good ¼ mile or more back to the car. I know in my brain that she didn’t know that popcorn would burn her mouth when she asked me to make it after asking for and receiving two cartons of macaroni and cheese and three glasses of milk. She didn’t know we would have to throw it away and I would have to interrupt my dinner for the 10th time and get her goldfish instead.

In my brain, I know all these things and I know I should be sympathetic. But, unfortunately, your brain doles out knowledge but your soul doles out sympathy and understanding, and my soul is all shut down today. I have compassion fatigue… nothing left to give. All I can hear right now is “I want…,” “I need…,” “Get me…” “When will you…” The part of me that cares about the child behind these requests stopped functioning sometime around 1 pm today when Tanner interrupted the 15 minutes I tried to claim to myself eating lunch on my bed with the TV on. She needed miralax because she felt constipated. A realistic request, but so ill-timed.

I know she is only six years old and that she doesn’t understand when she’s asked for too much, but she has. I’m just filling requests like a begrudging robot at this point.

My husband wonders why I stay up so late after everyone is gone to bed. It’s not that I don’t need the sleep. I fall asleep sitting up almost every day while I’m putting Jake down for a nap. I stay up after everyone goes to bed because I know, if I am lucky, that there is a good chance that for hours, no one will ask me for anything. That I can do exactly what I want to do, uninterrupted. And, it’s worth whatever sleep I lose doing it, because it preserves my sanity and allows me to wake up the next morning and fill requests all day without feeling resentful about it. I have a feeling a lot of Mom’s do this.

But, I think that having a child with cancer adds a layer to Momdom that complicates things. That makes your need for a compassion recharge that much greater. And, I’m fresh out.

It’s an ugly thing to talk about and definitely not one of my finer moments, but it’s where I am. Tomorrow, after the visit to the pediatricians, and possibly the Vandy ER, after the Easter Egg hunt at church, I will run away. I will go to the movies with a girlfriend, or even just by myself. And my wonderful husband will recognize my need for this recharge and send me off with the reassurance that I should stay gone as long as I like.

And, when and if I do come back (lol), I will do more than just go through the motions. I’ll add a kiss and a hug to the bandaid and Neosporin routine. And, I will actually mean it.


Recovering Slowly

March 4, 2010

We got to come home at about 4:30 Tuesday after her transfusion was finished. She felt pretty awful and was coughing almost constantly. We doped her up pretty good that night and she actually slept really well and seemed a lot better yesterday morning. Her fever stayed around until the late afternoon, but finally went away. Her chest was incredibly sore from coughing so much and she cried every time she coughed all day long. Oxycodone is a wonderful thing, but apparently can’t completely fix that kind of sore muscle.
Yesterday was John’s birthday, ending the annual 6-month period where he gets to make fun of me for being older than him. The kids made cards and Tanner got him a Starbucks gift card so they could go together – she for hot chocolate and him for coffee. Jake wrapped one of his race cars, “a gween one” for him and I gave him…. Granite in our new kitchen ☺ We had brownies and ice cream, but frankly, he got kind of gypped out of a birthday since nobody is all that celebratory right now.

Tanner’s still coughing quite a bit this morning. Thankfully, Jake has school today. He is losing it hanging around here without his playmate up to par. School will offer some much needed exercise. Thank you Ms. Julie for giving him some normalcy twice a week.

In between the nursing duties, I’m still packing. Moving day is just 9 days away. As stressful as moving is, at least it is something else to think about and something with an exciting and new aspect to it.

Counting on the IgG transfusion Tanner had to turn things around for us. Hope it delivers… for all of our sakes.


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.