My youngest is six years old. She is the most expressive when it comes to confusion, fears and grief surrounding the cancer in my body. A few months ago, she drew a picture of herself and me. I was passed out, laying down. She was standing. I was bald. She had hair. A tornado was hovering above us. She was pulling me with a rope to rescue me.
I thought of this drawing the other night* when she frantically said at bedtime, “Don’t leave! I can’t stop thinking about hurricanes! Hurricanes are stuck in my mind.” I asked her why she was thinking of hurricanes. “I read a book at school. Do NOT go to Florida from June to November! That is when there are hurricanes. It is so scary. I told Elwyn to NOT read the book!”
I had a trip planned to go to Florida in mid-November. I did not bring this up. It was time for me to be a comforter. I needed to offer conversation to calm her fears. As my mama bear instincts flared up, I got scared that I wouldn’t always be there for her to do this. I needed my Comforter. So I had a silent conversation with God about my fears, while I spoke to her.
“Remember: I was born in Florida. I lived in Florida until I was six, your age.”
God, please give me enough years to see her graduate from high school.
“And, I lived there for all the months of the year. Hurricanes didn’t happen often, but when they did, we got a warning from the weatherman.”
I just met someone…she had stage 3 cancer. She has lived eleven years since. Is that enough?
“The homes have special shutters and are prepared for hurricanes. They make sure the windows don’t break.”
Six years old plus eleven more…what is that??? Six plus eleven..? Six plus eleven is only 17. That isn’t enough.
“You drive away from the ocean when the weather man thinks you’re in danger.”
God, I admit that asking to see Phoebe graduate from high school is kind of a trick request because it means I get to see all the kids graduate from high school.
“Maybe you stay with friends or at a hotel, but either way it’s pretty fun.”
God, give me more years.
“Then, you come home and usually it’s no big deal.”
Phoebe was satisfied. “Weathermen are the best people in the whole world! I love them the best! Well, not the best, because I love God first and then mommy and daddy! But, I am SO glad there are weathermen.”
And oncologists, and surgeons…and the One who calms the storms…
*This post was originally written in November and has been sitting amongst the drafts for awhile.