Monthly Archives: August 2015

Sinking Deeper

It’s our last morning here on the Island. The time always goes by too fast. Another summer gone. We have been coming here, to this very same cottage, for 13 years now. This place has been a constant in our lives since Megan was a baby.  

And here we are, on our last day, again. So we make our way down to the beach for one last walk. 

I don’t know if I’m ever more consistently grateful than I am when I come here. Long ago we traded the kitschy tourist part of the Island for the easy, relaxing, unhurried and unplanned part of the PEI. We spend our days bicycling the trails that run seemingly non stop beside the ocean, walking the beaches looking for sea glass, making hodgepodge with Island New potatoes and treating ourselves to our favourite flavour of COWS ice cream.

I whisper thank you here so often. This place where we were always allowed to come. 

As the kids walk steps ahead of me I stop. And the ocean, whose tide is still high, sends its waves over my bare feet. I look down and take in the moment. I am, at the same time ready in my ‘mind’ to leave the Island, but I am still never quite ready to go in my ‘heart’.

I close my eyes and whisper, out loud, as I always do, these words that have become second nature to me. “Thank you”. And as I whisper them I feel my feet sinking deep into the sand. I’m standing on that soft sand that is at the edge of the ocean as the tide begins to turn from high to low. And I realize at that very moment, with that very metaphor, that is what this summer has been all about for me. Sinking deeper into myself.  

I love that feeling. A place and a season with fewer screens and sometimes fewer people. A place where I’m not defined by the outside world quite as much, but instead by the quiet moments both with myself and my family, that are sometimes never shared with the world at all. A place where I allow myself to completely unplug, both literally and figuratively, for an entire week. A place where we come … ‘always’ the four of us … but at the same time ‘only’ the four of us.

I’m so thankful for this place, for this season, and for this feeling of sinking more into myself. Of not allowing the outside world to be quite the priority I allow it to be during the other seasons or the other places. It grounds me and allows me the time, and almost the permission, to ask myself the bigger questions. The harder questions. The questions I never take the time for because I am too busy or too focused on other things. And in turn a time where I am more apt to listen to myself answer those questions.

This is so important to me. In a world where there is nothing but white noise – a place and a season where I can clearly hear myself. My own voice. My own heart. Without outside influence. Without en masse opinion or approval.

I look again at my feet in the sand. Completely buried now as the tide has ebbed and flowed again and again. Literally sinking deeper. Into the sand. Into myself. It’s the best feeling in the world. 

I breathe in. I breathe out. 

Soon summer will be over. 

Soon I will have to lift my feet out of this comforting sand, and get back to a larger reality.



But, thankfully I whisper, not … quite … yet.

No More Waiting.

I don’t understand why it hasn’t happened yet. It was supposed to happen soon after the Vincristine. I’m confused.

So I ask.

And then ask again.

A different nurse of course. I don’t want to give away my crazy quite yet. There will be plenty of time for them to see “that” in all its glory.

They say it’s coming. Certainly after the Dono and the Doxo. But I can’t help but think, maybe … not. Maybe. Just maybe. Maybe he will be the one kid, ever in the world, that it doesn’t happen to.

Oops. There’s that crazy showing itself again.

Everyone I talk to says how traumatic it can be. For them to run their fingers innocently through their hair and have a clump come out. Not just strands. But clumps. How devastating it is for them to wake up and have them see big chunks on their pillow case.

I don’t want there to be more trauma. At all. Can we be done with the trauma? Please?

But I know this isn’t our reality anymore. I know that our lives will forever be learning to deal with traumatic events. Or worrying about traumatic events. Little do I really know at the time what experts we will become in managing all of this trauma, and later in life how deftly we will navigate worrying about its reoccurrence or side effects.

But I do, at the time, know that I can’t stop this from happening. This loss of hair which seems to be the very definition of what is to come. So I guess what I want more than anything is to “minimize” the trauma. For him. For him not to wake up one morning and look down at his pillow and literally find pieces of himself left behind there.

I’m the Mom. I’m supposed to protect him from trauma. And it seems thus far there has been little I can do to fulfill this role I am supposed to play. I would soon learn this next decision of mine would be one of many I would take that, for me, embodied walking the talk. They wouldn’t all be the right decisions, and they wouldn’t be the easy decisions, but whenever and wherever possible, they would no longer be made “for” me, or “for” him. They would be made “by” me. By him. By us.

So there I was. On the children’s oncology floor. Doing my best to do my best. For him. And selfishly for me too I guess.

And so the day came when I couldn’t wait anymore. I couldn’t wait for chunks to just to fall out. I couldn’t wait for any more trauma. I couldn’t hold my breath anymore wondering how he would deal with one more thing. How “we” would deal. I couldn’t wait any longer. I couldn’t let things be out of our control any more. And I guess I couldn’t wait for our new reality any longer. Because nothing shouts reality more than the bald little head. So I asked the nurses if they had an electric razor. They did. I asked them if they had time. They did.

So off we went that afternoon. After rounds. Hand in hand. To a little room I hadn’t been in before.

To get a haircut.

There were plenty of boys in the world with buzz cuts. Boys without cancer. It was the age that kids get lice and buzz cuts were very common. This buzz cut just happened to be a particularly close one.

This is the part of the story where I would love to say we went in smiling and came out laughing. That it was easy as pie. But no. The experience itself was awful. I tried to treat it like a haircut. I stood holding his hand while he sat on the doctors table, a nurse on either side. He had never experienced a razor before and was not impressed. Razors are loud. Particularly loud in that small room we were in. And he had already been asked to do so many things that were unfamiliar to him, in a place he had never been. The nurses, although they had done it for other boys and girls before, were clearly not hairdressers. He cried. My heart broke. There were times I was surprised there was anything left still to break. But break it did.

When it was done it was uneven and a little patchy. Actually quite patchy. The poor kid. It was honestly the worst buzz cut ever. There were still tufts of longer hair all over his head. I thanked my stars he was so young and never saw a mirror. And while I knew he would still have hairloss it would be so minimal now compared to his longer thick gorgeous head of hair he had earlier that morning. And that was what I had wanted.

As we came out of that little room I thought a lot about the moms of the girls on the floor. I thought a lot about the girls themselves. I thought about the teenagers. How differently it must affect them all. He was a preschooler. He hated the sound and feel of the razor. But once we got back to our room he was more than fine; smiling and laughing with Megan, asking to go to the playroom. One haircut. Check.

And I was like a soldier coming off a difficult but successful mission.

One opportunity have a little control over the amount of trauma. Check.

But wait … one nearly bald kid. That’s ok. It’s ok. It’s going to be ok. It will. No more waiting.

One reality check. Check.

Now let’s get this show on the road.