I belong to a few different cancer mom groups on Facebook. They are a safe place for us cancer moms to express our feelings as to what we are going through on any given day, during any kind of treatment, and beyond. The other day I was scrolling though Facebook and saw a post on one of these groups asking for other to share positive stories of AML survivors of 2 or more years, using chemo only. I immediately got excited to share hope with this other cancer momma, found a photo of Kenedi (26 months remission) and began to type, and as I typed, I was stopped by the tears.
“I should be able to post TWO kids in this picture!” I thought as I typed.
“This is all so unfair.”
“Why Kendal and not Kenedi?”
I continued typing and hit send and sat back for a moment. As the tears came, I became mad at myself for being so upset when I should be so grateful that Kenedi is still here and still doing so well. But I realized I was. I was grateful for every single second with Kenedi. But that doesn’t mean I have to stop grieving the loss of Kendal. I can be grateful while grieving.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – mainly for the food – but also because it doesn’t necessarily involve gift giving. It’s more about being with family, eating great food, thinking about your blessings, fall weather, watching football, and did I mention the food? This year we know the holidays are going to be difficult while we learn our new normal without Kendal. And each day proves more difficult than the last as we move further and further away from her dying, but just because we are still devastated about losing her, doesn’t mean I am not grateful as well.
I am grateful for the time we had with Kendal. No, it wasn’t long enough, but I am still grateful for it. I’m grateful for being able to take her to meet her favorite princesses, to have cuddled with her when she asked, to have given her kisses and patted her belly before bed, for her sweet-stubborn soul, for her grump face, for her being my chunky-monkey baby. I am grateful to have been able to be with her in the end.
I am grateful for Kenedi. For her weirdness that brings joy to us everyday. I am grateful that although she reminds me of Kendal, she is her own little person. I am grateful for her health, for her love for Kendal and Teagan, for her small-but-mighty-ness, for her seventy-year-old-lady-raspy-smokers voice, for her toughness, and for her cuddles. I am grateful for her curiosity for life (why? why? why?).
I am grateful for Teagan. For her maturity and help with her sister(s). I am grateful for her sweet soul and that she comforts me when I’m sad about Kendal. I am grateful for understanding and ability to adapt in very difficult situations. For her singing and dancing “shows” she loves to put on every night for us, complete with different princess costumes, for her hugs, for her love of her sisters and baby brother, and for her stubborn personality. I am grateful for her making me a mom.
I am grateful for Aaron. For him being the rock that he is for our family, for his work ethic, for his love for our girls, for his (annoying) attention to details (that usually don’t matter to me), and for his ability to calm me down when necessary.
I am grateful for friends and family that have been there for us over the last 2 years, for the doctors and nurses that cared for our sweet Kendal and continue to care for Kenedi, and for the love and support of our community of strangers, some which have become friends and family. For having a home, a car, food for our table, and abundance of toys for the girls, a Christmas tree with lights and ornaments and the list goes on and on. There are too many things to be grateful for in my life. But it still doesn’t negate the pain that still exists.
Even while writing this post, and being grateful for SO MANY people and things, tears streamed down my face. Because half of my heart is overwhelmed with everything I have to be grateful for, and the other half is still busy, grieving the loss of Kendal. And I don’t think any amount of time will ever change that.