Originally posted July 2014
Receiving a call at 4:50AM is never a good thing. So you can imagine how my heart sank when my oldest daughter entered the bedroom, with a cell phone in her hand, saying, “Arielle needs to talk to you.”
“Hello,” I said, afraid of what I was going to hear in return. Her words sounded as though they had been carefully chosen, like she had rehearsed them several times over before she made the call. I heard, “Okay, Mom… promise you won’t freak out,” and naturally I immediately started to freak out! Then I heard, “And don’t go into Mommy Mode… promise?” I reluctantly promised, with my fingers tightly crossed behind my back.
While my mind was screaming “Arielle just tell me, just tell me what the fuck is happening,” my heart was softly whispering in the background, “Don’t tell me… whatever it is don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.”
I heard the words HOSPITAL and CANCER and that was all I heard.
Somehow, I managed to hold it all together. I listened, asked a few questions, made a lot of “Ah huh” noises and don’t really recall if I ever officially went into “Mommy Mode,” whatever that is?
During the next several hours I vacillated between organized chaos (calling the airline to change my flight, looking for a hotel in London, doing laundry, calling Nick, saying my goodbyes to Sera and my grandsons, etc) to a generalized, mild, just under the surface hysteria.
I very soon realized that this was the beginning of a journey I never, ever wanted to take.
Since that life changing phone call, exactly one year ago today, Arielle has had to endure, hospitalization, chemotherapy, numerous scans, blood tests, MRIs, transfusions, hair loss, surgery and unlimited poking and prodding!
She has travelled up to London, by train, more times than anyone (who does not work in London) should ever have to! She still sees her Oncologist one a month and has blood tests fortnightly (every two weeks).
She has been subjected to immense emotional, psychological and physical trauma.
It must be said that through it all (and unlike her mother) she never faltered, never doubted and never allowed cancer to get the upper hand. She didn’t “bitch” (too much); she didn’t ask “Why me?” or ever ever think about giving up! It was like she reached into the depths of her soul and pulled out this strength, courage and positivity (she had tucked away for this very day) and released it on cancer’s ass!
Last year, Independence Day meant having your freedom and independence forcibly taken from you. It meant losing your innocence and being stripped of all that was fair, right and just in the world. It meant being crushed to within an inch of your life and believing that you and your family would be slowly devoured by an invisible monster.
This year, I’m a bit more optimistic about life, the power of love and the human condition.
I’ve learned an important lesson, from my youngest child… I’ve learned that true independence is not something that can ever be taken away from you by anyone or anything… because true independence is a state of mind.
We are all as free or imprisioned as we choose to believe we are.