Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Choose Happy

Only two months have passed since I last posted, but it feels simultaneously like many years and a few short days.

Everything is different but everything is gloriously the same - hello, Sleep Number bed!

I haven't written lately for several reasons, but mainly because I haven't known what to write. The swirly whirly in my brain has yet to make it into cohesive thoughts. I haven't had a moment to breathe, much less blog.

How do you put onto paper the most monumental experience of your life? How do you take the biggest, most life-altering THING you've ever known and weave the highs and the lows and the fear and the joy into one simple story?

How do you mourn and celebrate; process and move forward all at once?

How do you catch up with friends and get into a routine and rejoin the real world when all you want to do is stop and rest and heal?

How do you stay quiet when you feel like shouting from the rooftops, "Thank you, God!!!?"

I don't know.

If you read the blog, you know our story. I'm not going to rehash it for the thousandth time. Ok, maybe just a little hash - our son was diagnosed with AML leukemia last November, and has bravely endured aggressive chemo, torturous side effects, and night after night in the hospital.

Time literally stood still for seven months, and we are so incredibly grateful to say that his battle is over. He is in remission! We were given the good word from St. Jude on May 30, and have been back in Shreveport for three weeks. It has been beyond amazing to be home. Everything is better than I ever remembered it. I love doing the mundane. I love doing nothing at all.

Reid and Elle are doing well. Elle is, in fact, doing better than ever. She has all of her people home and she is happy. She is sleeping well and playing hard. She has grown exponentially this past year. And I'm not talking about the growth chart.

Reid is doing great, too. He is having some adjustment issues, though.

He's been feeling kind of meh. I think it's a combo of recouping from the chemo and getting several teeth at once (they were all stunted from the medicines). He's having separation anxiety. Lots of things scare him (but, to be fair, he's never really experienced life before). Despite that, he is full of attitude and has been letting us know he's in charge. He's been throwing things and yelling and refusing to eat and breaking pretty much everything I own. So, basically, just a normal toddler. The docs call it Adjustment Disorder. Mama has a less-nice name for the A part.

We have, of course, been given all of the probabilities and stats about relapse (the chances exist, but are low). We will be going back to St. Jude regularly for the next 18 years. But, I choose not to think about all that.

So, where do we go from here? That's the question I've been asking myself over and over again.

You can't see the things we've seen, hear the things we've heard, meet the people we've met, fear the way we've feared and love the way we've loved without everything changing. You don't just come home and get back in the carpool line like nothing ever happened.

Ok, you get back in the carpool line, but you know what's up this time.

There are so many thoughts and emotions and lessons to process. I'm still in the midst of doing that and I'll probably be doing it for the rest of my life. I may never figure out everything that happened these past two years. And that's ok.

Because this is what I do know. What I have learned: No matter what happens in life, we all have a choice.

We can be miserable, play the victim, and feel sorry for ourselves. OR. We can pull on our big girl panties and get out there and do something with this one and only life we've been given. We can quit looking back and look straight into that bright future.

You can also choose happy. Happy is a choice that I make over and over and over again. Some days it's a difficult choice. Some days I choose from a host of different emotions -- it's something that I am actively practicing.

But most days I'm choosing Happy.

The past two years have been insane -- awful in so many ways. We've been run down and run over.

But they have been wonderful, too. They've made me exactly who I am meant to be today. A better mom and a better wife. And hopefully once I get some much-needed rest, they will have made me a better friend and daughter and sister and advocate.

I've said this before, but at least twice a week I'm asked, "How did you do it?" And I always say, "You just do."

It's such a strange inquiry to me.

Like, what else was I going to do? Just bail out and go to Cabo? What would YOU do?

Is this the life I would have chosen? Parts of it, absolutely not. Hell no. I would never choose to watch my child suffer. To endure such mental and emotional and physical pain. To lay in bed and wonder if he will survive the night. I would never choose to be separated from my daughter or live apart from my husband. I wouldn't choose to feel all alone in my tiny bubble. Separated from friends and family -- both physically and emotionally -- because as much as they love us, they really just don't understand.

But the rest of it? I would choose it over and over and over again.

I would choose to go through a few hard times to get to infinite good ones. I would surround myself with illness and disability, so that I can challenge my own supposed "abilities." I would let people who are assumed to be "less than" teach me that they are more than most people I have ever met.

I would choose to have my little world rocked so that I can open my eyes to the much bigger World out there.

And above all, I'd choose Patrick and Elle and Reid -- just exactly as they are. They have given me everything I have in this life.

Sometimes after the old howdoyoudoit question, I get a follow-up about prescription pills and therapists. Surely, I wouldn't have this perspective without the help of both? Look. I would never knock either of those things -- they can be incredibly helpful and have saved many people I love. I've even used them in my past life. But the thought of popping anything other than a melatonin hasn't crossed my mind in years. And a shrink wouldn't be able to keep up with this brain.

This is my life. I want to feel it and live it and be totally present. Whether it's good or bad (Lord, please help it to be good from here on out), I want I want to get on board and ride that train whichever way it's going.

Sometimes that makes the lows lower. But it also makes the highs SO incredibly high.

Either way, I got this. And, I CHOOSE HAPPY.

I choose to take all of that awful and give it back in the form of good. I don't exactly know how I'm going to do that yet. But, I'm determined to figure it out.

The other thing I've realized, and this has been the hardest thing for me, is that none of this -- NONE of it -- is about me. I can't stop horrible diseases. Or genetic disorders. Or my kid from breaking every. single. object in my house.

I can't cure cancer or change the fact that Reid has Down syndrome. I can't make him walk or talk before he's ready. I can't change the fact that Elle had to come second for seven long months.

I can't break every stereotype and eliminate all ignorance. But, I can try. I can choose to be happy and go out there and chip away at my own little piece of the world. And maybe someone will listen. Maybe they'll take something from our experience and use it to change their own little piece of the world.

My big plan is to rest and get back my strength. I'm going to read a lot of books and enjoy a lazy summer with my babies.

I'm going to choose Happy.

And then, when I'm ready, I'm going to take on this Big Ol' World.

Won't you join us?


  1. Thank you for always posting with such honesty! I know there is a long road of recovery, rest and readjustment ahead of y'all. Enjoy your lazy days with both of your babies at home. Love you all so much. Reid looks so tall in on that trampoline!

  2. I just pulled a miss and made a little post-it explosion of my own around my office with your quote. You and your thoughts and your words and your passion and your lil miss and muster.....such gifts. Thanks for sharing all of them with us. Love you mah miss.

  3. Another amazing post B!! As always, I laughed and I cried. : ) In a good way!! Your posts bring me so much inspiration and so many reminders about true happiness, that happiness IS a choice, and to live your life with an open mind-- for there are so many things you can learn and grow from. I am here to tell you, that you are doing an outstanding job as a mother, a wife, and as friend. My heart is full of joy when I see your lil Miss and Mr. Man back playing together and having a blast back in the port citaaaay!! Once again, thank you so much for sharing with us. : )) Love all the photos--especially of Reid's nose pressed against the back door-- HAHAHA! I love you all and so excited that Reid is CANCERFREE!!!!!!
    Love you all, B

  4. I am so excited for you and your family! I have been praying for Reid and your family and will continue to do so. Thank you for sharing your positive outlook...may it spread :)

    Rachel Mitchell

  5. B,
    Awesome, just awesome! If anyone could take on the world it would be you B, I've thought so since we were rocking the single digits at the beach. So amazed at your strength and the extraordinary outcome you've created from the huge trials and tribulations you've undergone. I envied you when we were young and it's grown to great admiration. I simply hope/wish/pray for a charmed life for y'all from here on out. The battle has been won so bring on the spoils.
    Much love,


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