July 25, 2009 What is worse than renting a storage unit, decluttering your house, moving all the clutter into a storage unit, and painting, caulking and patching your house to ready it for sale?
Moving all the clutter back into your house without ever having moved.
John and I stood today at the open door of that storage unit and stared glumly at the “clutter” in it, completely disheartened. We had a contract on a house we loved when Tanner was diagnosed with leukemia and got out of it because it was the right thing to do. It’s still the right thing to do, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
This was a house with a huge, park like backyard with mature shade trees that backed up to a lake on which you could fish or canoe. It was in a neighborhood with lots of kids and a playground just four houses down the lakefront from ours. It almost didn’t matter what the house looked like; the yard made up for any fault we could find with it. But, we loved the house, too. It was a little bigger than the one we have, but not too big, and had an unfinished basement like the one I grew up with, where you could ride a bike or a scooter or roller skate on a rainy or cold day. It was the house we were never going to move from (and that’s saying a lot for us; we’re serial movers). When I picture it in my mind, I picture the kids running, hand in hand through the yard and Tanner turning toward us to say, “Please, please can we buy this house?” the way she did the day we took them to see it.
It was just one more in a series of disappointments for her that we didn’t buy this house. We told her it had radon (which it did, but they fixed) so she would never know we didn’t buy it because of her. Not only would moving have been the straw that broke our backs during this stressful time, it would have meant a change in schools for Tanner, a fact that the social workers agreed would have been devastating. Nothing like being the new kid at school… entering halfway through the year… with no hair.
Since then, both of us have admitted to each other that we have driven by the house we were going to buy, looked it up on the Internet to see if it had sold to someone else and checked intermittently to see if another house had popped up for sale on the same lake. It’s just been hard to let go. Even though a new house seems completely unimportant when compared to your child getting leukemia, it still bothers us. For me, that house represents the life we could have had without leukemia and I long for it.
Today, I think both of us were able to let that house go. The thankless task of moving this clutter back to our house got easier as we got moving. We even pulled aside a considerable pile to give to goodwill; after all we have lived just fine without this stuff for months now. And, I’m grateful that we did the painting, patching and caulking that we did on our house… it needed it and we needed a deadline.
We’ve tabled the idea of moving until we get through at least the next 4-6 months of chemo and see how it goes. And, I know we’ll find another house with a beautiful yard.
Still, it won’t be the one we lost, that we dreamed about as a family. That one is gone. It is just one more casualty of childhood cancer.
Tanner, however, will not be lost. We will continue to fight the fight, even on the days when we have to do it for her… even on the days when she fights us, instead of the cancer. I refuse to let cancer take anything else from my family.
Childhood cancer takes so much from so many. Please pray for all the kids who face this disease… for Thomas, the teenager we met the other day; for Lily, our 8-year-old friend who is fighting to get her counts up so she can start school on day one this year, with all the other kids; for Kinsee, who bravely endures the grinding chemo schedule that her rare early T-cell leukemia demands; and for the countless other kids we have yet to meet who battle this insidious disease every day.
And, if you need any “clutter,” drop by our garage. I have a feeling that stuff might stay there for a while.
P.S. Have I mentioned in all these novellas that I write nightly, how important it is to have a good partner when you are going through something like this? How I don’t know how anyone could do this alone? How I don’t know how I could do this without John? I am so fortunate to have someone who recognizes the strain of spending every day immersed in this disease and who goes above and beyond every day to make it easier for me in any way possible. A weak marriage would never survive. It’s easy to turn on each other in the heat of the situation, and believe me, we’ve done it at times. But, all-in-all John and I make good partners; we always have. We divvy up the extra responsibility of this disease, and, if I’m being honest, John does more than his part. He is strong where I can’t be and, hopefully, I’m able to return the favor when he needs it. He has arranged, in cohorts with my two best girlfriends, a 3-day trip next weekend and is sending the three of us away while he and his Mom take care of the kids. Who has a husband like this?!!! I do, I do!!! Lucky me.