Emma and I are having an identity crisis.
For so long I was "Emma's Mom" and "Chemo Mom". For so long Emma was sick and immune compromised and pumped full of medicines. Now both of us are staring at each other asking the same question, "who am I?"
I am great in a crisis. If you are ever in a state of emergency I am your gal. I have a clear head, I get the job done, I focus on the task at hand. I go into a primal survival mode. It is when it is over that I need to be watched. I fall apart. It hits me all at once, the horror, the loss, the pain. It is when it is all over that I cry the ugly tears. The tears that leave you with puffy eyes and a drenched pillow. I have suffered this last year slowly, like some torture that ends in a painful death. I was holding it all in for so long I became numb then it would all hit me at once and I would find myself in a full blown panic attack. Stomach ulcers, migraines, heart conditions...all products of my survival mode. Then it all ended, we go off meds, Emma will be okay. Instead of relief the grieving begins.
So I go back to before cancer, before surgeries, before doctor appointments. Who was I then? I remember baking, I remember being very focused on wholesome eating and organic as much as possible, I remember sewing, and trips to the river. I remember that doctors were only visited once a year and dentist twice a year. I remember teaching Sign Language and classes on essential oils. I remember making all my own lotions and soaps from scratch. I remember having time to cloth diaper our babies, line dry our clothes, and make freezer meals.
I miss her. Happy Anya. The woman who made plans for the future and imagined all three amazing girls growing up happy and healthy. I miss being happy.
How do I find her again? I will never be the same, these couple years left huge scars. Moving forward I will not be so pleasantly naïve. I will not be so carefree.
Emma asks everyday if we will go to the doctor. She asks about specific nurses she bonded with and friends we made at the hospital. Every time we go to Target she cries that she does not want new medicine if I push the cart too close to the pharmacy. At Stanford we had to do an in and out blood draw to check her immunity and run some hormone tests. I explained that she was not getting medicine and it was just a blood draw. She flipped out. It took three of us nearly an hour to get her blood work done. Nurses who walked by the room must have thought we were doing something horrific to her. She cried, I cried. I think I even saw a nurse tear up. In the mornings when I change her shirt she asks about her mediport, does she still need it? Don't touch it Mommy. Why doesn't Gracie have a port? Is it still a part of her story? Emma will never be the same.
I miss her. Healthy Emma. The Emma that didn't ask about trips to the doctor or medicine. The Emma that didn't have surgery scars or ports. The Emma that had long never cut deep brown curls instead of this post chemo frizz. The Emma that could play freely without a mask or asking for hand sanitizer. The Emma that believed and trusted me when I told her no medicine today.
How do I find her again? How do I stop myself from cringing every time she touches a door knob or cart handle? How do I explain she will not need to go to the hospital all the time anymore? How do I help her adjust the level of attention in the household. For so long the home revolved around her, now the power pours smoothly out across the surface of five individuals and not just her.
So here we stand, mother and daughter. Our battle won and a new war in front of us. This time we know that this war can be fought. This time we know we will survive. Our scars make us beautiful but they changed who we are. Now we wait for God to tell us what is next. I have to believe that these scars were put here for a reason and our pain was not in vain.
So I ask dear God, who am I?