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Empty House

The kids were at camp….Peyton was asleep in bed….I should tell you that as a good, concerned, slightly obsessive parent I was up all night worrying about whether or not they brushed their teeth before bed or if they they warm enough in the blankets I dug out of the trunk of the car (that I was thankful to find because I had forgotten to grab their blankets in the rush out of the house and they were therefore going to be THOSE kids, the ones whose parents didn't care enough to pack them basic necessities). Not so much.

Frankly, I was amazed that I didn't wake up in a heap on the floor next to the door because I'm pretty sure I lost all consciousness as soon as I switched off the light. Apparently I held on long enough to crawl to the bed and pass out there. I had the most fantastic night of sleep….it was completely solid, uninterrupted, quasi-coma type of sleep….bliss. The kids could have been calling all night with pleas to free them from the barren horrors of camp…and I would have slept through every moment….because that's the kind of mom I am….they just don't make Hallmark cards like that.

I'm thinking about my kids out there roughing it in the wilds of the jungle….in their little air conditioned cabins with running water and brand new sheets, with showers and toilets and bug spray…wow, how could I have sent them to this horrible place?? Why would I spend time worrying…it's possible that it's nicer than what they have at home! They have a pool!

Peyton and I took off this morning and went to the [url=http://www.childrenscancercenter.org]Children's Cancer Center[/url] for Lil Tales playgroup. She must have asked me at least 11 times if Cody was going to be there, if Dana was going to be there, if Miss Kay was going to be there….I could take this kid to the North Pole and as long as the Bertoch family was standing there to greet her with a bag of chips and hugs, she'd be happy. I got to spend a few hours laughing with friends and sharing stories that I'm sure our husbands are glad they don't have to sit through. There was both funny conversation and talk of the future, plans about what we're going to do "after"…for some reason, maybe we're scared we'll jinx ourselves, we don't spend a lot of time talking about what we hope things will be like after we're done with all the hospital stays, the clinic trips, the medicines and pokes. When Peyton was diagnosed it was if we literally put everything we had planned for our future on hold…home repairs, a new job I was planning to take, activities for the kids, everything just went into a deep freeze while we figured out how to best cope with this huge obstacle. As the first year is almost under our belt, and we prepare for maintenance I know that I am starting to think about how life goes back to normal. If it ever does. What is normal for us now?

Mary Ann, the executive director at the Children's Cancer Center, made a point that after the dust settles and the treatment is over, all the things that have been set aside in the wake of the cancer have to be dealt with and all of a sudden there is less support for the families who are used to being actively involved. We talked about the aftermath, the moments after we stop treatment and we realize "wow, our kid really had cancer", when you're not so fully IN the moment that you can stop and take a look back at what you've all been through and take it all in. I wonder what this blog will read like to me years down the road…when I've forgotten what it's like to look at Peyton's little bald head at night with a fist of fear in my heart of what life would be like without her.

I plan to never forget. I don't want to forget this feeling because this is what will drive me to keep active and involved and want to find that cure, want to make life easier and better for families like ours. I don't think I can plan to go back to a normal life because what was normal before was to live without the knowledge of what cancer could do a family when it takes over the body of your child. For some, the personal cancer battle ends much too soon, a life lost….and for some, the battle ends when the cancer is gone. I think for us, the fight will go on forever…a battle against cancer for all kids…not just Peyton, not just the kids we know….each child that is affected and each family who doesn't yet know what they're up against.

I don't know if I thought I would ever thought I would get to this point when I wanted to start thinking about the future. Making plans again. Good grief, it was hard enough for me to try to sit down and plan for our Dream Wish trip for the last of July…I don't make plans that far in advance!…I only write things in pencil…everything I do comes with the disclaimer "all plans are subject to change…".

Some parents have careers to go back to after they give up the roll of caregiver…some never left…I had a job I had to leave, but now I have to think about what I want to do AFTER. What do I want to be now that I've grown up? Do I want fries with that? I'm just praying that the answer will come, that the right door will open and I will be shown where I'm supposed to be in all of this.

Ok…this is what happens to my brain when I don't have kids to keep me occupied!

Peyton-Palooza is still barreling towards the big day. Yard sale stuff is starting to seriously pile up. The truck is full of stuff that Angela brought me during our stay in St. Pete….and I mean FULL…the car is full of computer equipment Kara brought me this morning to the Children's Cancer Center…a bunch of teenagers just dropped of a truck full of stuff to our garage. It's sort of fun, because I love to go garage sale-ing and its like the yard sales are coming to me! We have stuff coming for the auction portion, I have a box of temporary tattoos, we have Storm Troopers on standby, we have promises of baked goodies and yummies, plans are coming together and it's going to be a wonderful day.

f.r.o.G…fully relying on God

2 Comments on “Empty House”

  1. #1 Julie
    on Jun 20th, 2007 at 1:45 pm


    Dear Anissa,

    Thanks for allowing us to see inside your brain. Everyday is a roller coaster ride when you are caring for a precious little child with cancer. Just like when we add a new child to the family we say things will get back to a "new normal" since there really isn't such a thing as normal (at least I haven't found it if there is).

    Thanks for sharing those precious pictures of you and Peyton with us- they are priceless.

    It sounds like you have gotten a little bit of much deserved down time. I hope and pray it's relaxing and that the Lord leads and directs you so you know what your next step is.

    Psalm 32:8 is one of my favorite verses and it says:

    I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

    The Lord cares about each step we take and he will guide and direct us in the way we should go. We can take comfort in that.

    Take care.

    In Him,


  2. #2 dug
    on Jun 21st, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Mmmmm chips. We all agree with Peyton about how great the Bertoch family is to be around. For me though, simply the bag of chips would keep me happy.

    Here is my song:

    I love chips, i love chips, doo too doo, i love chips. chips of all kinds, i love chips…

    there are days the only thing i eat is chips
    chips, chips, chips YUM