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Three years


Today marks three years to the day that Peyton was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Our most craptastic anniversary.

Over the past 36 months, I’ve kept a Bible verse in the header of this site.

It was three years ago TODAY that verse came into my life.

I was curled up in one of those awesomely comfortable hospital chairs *snort*, just looking at Peyton.  All curled up in her large hospital bed, looking small and vulnerable in a way I’d never seen before. I remember tracking all the lines and IV’s that tethered her to the bed…whispering which was antibiotic, which one was fluids, which one was platelets…learning the words, memorizing the order, my mind holding tight to one of the few things I could understand.

Peter had gone home to be with the older two kids, Peyton was firmly in a drug-induced sleep, the room quiet and dark….and I let go.

I had cried off and on all day.

In the house, crumpled on the floor of our bedroom after telling Peter what the pediatrician had said.

In the oncologists office, watching them probe a needle deep into Peyton’s bone and hearing her pained cries.

On a bench outside of the clinic, absorbing the words that confirmed what everyone knew to be true.

Explaining to my family and friends that she had cancer..no, there was no mistake…it was true…I don’t know…I don’t know….I don’t know anything…but she has cancer.

The first night alone in that hospital room, in the kind of quiet that allows you to hear the beeps of every machine, the muted shuffles of footsteps just outside the door, voices murmuring foreign words…I cried.

I cried the tears of a mother begging God to not take her child. In all my years, I have never cried in such a way. I hope never to again.

There have been so many crying bouts, tears for Peyton, tears for myself, tears for my family, tears for the other children and families battling cancer and especially the ones that lost the fight.

But nothing compares to that first night in the hospital.

And God answered me.

Not in the way I wanted. I can be real honest in the fact that I begged and pleaded and demanded that He fix it. Take it away. Make it GONE.  There was nothing humble or respectful about the conversation I had with God that night. It was angry and full of my resentment for what he was doing to me baby girl.

He answered anyway.

When the nurse came in later to check on us, I asked for a Bible.

It was the sorriest Bible I’d ever seen.

It was a beaten up, wrecked book with tear-stained pages…torn in places…ripped in others…it was a well-used Bible. It was a Bible that belonged on a pediatric oncology floor.

I didn’t have anything in particular I was looking for, I wasn’t even sure why I’d asked. I had no intentions of really getting into any reading at that point.  I think I just wanted to hold it, to clutch it like a drowning man would swear to never let go of that last plank of floating wood.

And the Bible fell apart.

It freaking fell apart.

A whole chunk of it just FELL.OUT.ONTO.THE.FLOOR.

I remember thinking “Wonderful, the Bible fell apart, that’s got to be a GREAT sign.”

And I bent over to retrieve the scattered pages and my eyes caught one verse on one page.

Romans 12:12.

Rejoice in hope,

Be patient in tribulation,

Be constant in prayer.

I can’t say that it comforted me, that it filled me with the knowledge that everything would be OK and confidence that we could do this.

But that verse spoke to me and clarified that although there was nothing I could do for my daughter’s body, I could do these things….and God would handle the rest.

The years that followed have seen many conversations with God that reverted back to demands and anger….confusion at HOW this could possibly be what He wants spilling out more time than I can count.

But, always, that voice that lets me know that there’s power infinitely beyond mine that’s calling the shots and understanding what seems incredibly wrong to my narrow thinking.

Even though we’re on this side of that day…remission, good-health, survivorship…the 13th still holds incredible power over my heart.

It reminds me how fragile our lives are.

How large the lie that we control anything.

How quickly it can all change.

But my verse? It’s power is strong as well.

How big faith can be.

How powerful God is.

Although I will never tell you that my faith keeps the fear at bay or my anger under control, it’s what has kept me from giving up and allowed me to get out of bed every morning (well, most mornings).

It’s been what allows us to keep laughing, keep living thought it.

It always will be.

66 Comments on “Three years”

  1. #1 brittany
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I have read this post about 6 times in my reader, and I never seem to have the right thing to say. I want to say that it brought me to tears, but it didn’t. It made me joyous. Joyous for Peyton and for you. Joyous that you can write this post. Joyous that you emerged from that night in the hospital strong and fierce.

    Just joyous. For all of you.

    And wishing more and more people can write a post, just like this, three years later.

    brittanys last blog post..Rhymes with bahsectomy.

  2. #2 To Think Is To Create
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    This was perfection. I relate b/c of our own journey with autism, but I also relate as a mom who sometimes just needs verses to pick me up off the floor again. Especially when I’ve been down there a while.


    To Think Is To Creates last blog post..The Best Me

  3. #3 Jessica
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Three years. What a trooper. What a mom you are anissa!

    Jessicas last blog post..Gobs of Giveaways!

  4. #4 rachel-asouthernfairytale
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I KEEP reading and reading and reading.
    and I love you love you love you.

    Amazing inspirational you.

    rachel-asouthernfairytales last blog post..Crispy Baked Salsa Chicken

  5. #5 Dawn
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Wow Anissa, 3 years eh? Has it really been that long? In all the time I’ve been following Peyton’s journey I’ve got used to the strong, emotional, inspirational posts that you write. You’ve had me in tears many mornings before I head off to work (can’t do that anymore – too busy now!) or late at night before bed. Neither’s perfect!! But it’s been an honour to follow you through this journey and to pray for your whole family along the way. And I’ve gotta say there’s been some classic funny moments as well.

    You’re a brilliant writer and I’m so pleased you now reach a wider audience. Look at how many friends you’ve picked up along the way – they all think your a shining star just like me. Actually, first and foremost I think your just a fantastic Mum. And I’m sure Nathaniel, Rachel and Peyton all do too – well on a good day anyway!!!

    Sending love across the pond!

  6. #6 alayna
    on Jul 15th, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Well said, my friend, well said. Also crying here. That was my theme verse too, but I don’t have a cool story about the Bible falling apart in the hospital and landing on that verse. How cool is that? I’m glad you got it. Praise God for 3 years, and praying for the next 3 to be as fantastic as the last 3 were craptastic!

    alaynas last blog post..Not Speaking the Same Language

  7. #7 Amy @ Bitchin' Wives Club
    on Jul 15th, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I am still wiping away tears and am completely blown away by this post. I know you through twitter, as a follower, and have never meandered over to read your blog. Until today. And what a day it has been. You are incredible and I am so touched by this post. I’ll keep you in prayers and will also pray that my one copy of the bible remains as pristine and shiny new as the day it was given to me.

    Amy @ Bitchin’ Wives Clubs last blog post..Random Tuesday BlogHer Fashion Bits

  8. #8 Stephanie McElroy
    on Jul 15th, 2009 at 8:49 am

    We don’t know eachother. I received your post from Windy Tucker. Unfortunately, the gown your daughter is wearing in the pic. is all too familiar. I’ve seen my youngest daughter in matching ones from All Children’s Hospital, St.Pete. Thanks to God, it appears that those days are now behind us. I was touched and inspired by your tattered Bible story. Romans 12:12 will definitely help me keep the faith in my daily tasks. I want you to know that your family is in my prayers too. Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. #9 Stimey
    on Jul 16th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    This is an amazing post. I cannot even imagine how terrible that day must have been for you. I am so glad that you have all come out this other side. May you never have to feel that way again.

    Stimeys last blog post..Why Gerbils?

  10. #10 Darryle
    on Jul 16th, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I don’t think I breathed the whole time I was reading this.
    It puts into words what I imagine is in the heart of a parent—every time I hear of a child with cancer. Almost makes me want to become more religious. Beautiful post.

  11. #11 Lucretia
    on Jul 16th, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    What a beautiful and touching post.


    Lucretias last blog post..My New Gig

  12. #12 Tracy S
    on Aug 7th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Oh Anissa, I have so been there done that. I was just turned on to your website and this post took me back 13 years. It was as if this had been written by me, every thought, and emotion and talk with God. DIfferent cancer, but same experience. There are days I sometimes can’t believe it happened to us, like we left Earth and went to some weird parallel universe for awhile. I send hope for you that one day it will 13 yrs down the line for you and this nightmare will be long behind you.

    Tracy S

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  16. #16 When blogging hurts | Darryle Pollack | I never signed up for this...
    on Nov 18th, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    […] This past summer,  the American Cancer Society formed a Blogger council—made up of women with experience or interest in cancer—to help spread the word of the campaign for more birthdays. On the first conference call, we found out a little about the other bloggers.  One of them, Anissa Mayhew,  began her very popular blog when her youngest child was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006— over the phone, her words about Peyton’s battle and her birthday put the whole universe into perspective.  When I checked her blog later, I discovered her words were even better on the page. […]