We are approaching the one year mark from the day our lives changed. It’s strange feeling it was so long ago and also just a moment past. I can still close my eyes and see the elevator doors opening on the 8th floor to a sign that said “oncology.”Clara is doing very well. She has graduated from PT and only has OT once every three weeks. We had her conference with her teacher this fall and heard about how she has fit right into her classroom. Partly due to some amazing tutoring, she is right on par scholastically with other kids her age. Remarkable considering she missed first grade almost completely.Her hair is coming in thick and dark. Her eyelashes are enviously long, her countenance sweet and cheerful. She is showing empathy beyond her years and a tenderness that defies the pain she’s gone through. I’m proud of her and thankful for a God who can make good come from all things.Her next check will be on December 12th. She will have a full PT check to make sure all is still well, an ultrasound, and a little post-treatment party with her doctors and nurses. Please continue to pray that Clara remains cancer free.This month we were afforded the absolutely delightful experience of a weekend away granted by Miracle of Mitch, a foundation here in MN that provides support to pediatric cancer families. They let us stay in a hotel in Bloomington, gave us points for the amusement park in the Mall of America, tickets to the aquarium under the mall, and fun money for restaurants. The kids had a sweet time playing at the hotel pool and just spending time together. Brian and I appreciated a weekend where we could pour into all three of them.We have also been granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish foundation! Clara wanted to see an ocean and a big forest so the team got together and are sending our family to California to see the Pacific and some of the giant sequoias. Clara was also selected to have a poster about her illness and wish displayed at the Mall of America rotunda during Make-A-Wish fundraising (the weekend after Thanksgiving and the first weekend of December). We’re VERY excited and starting to plan a trip this spring.Today is cold here with a high of 32. I was digging out Clara’s winter clothes for her this morning looking for a certain cozy pair of fleece-lined jeans. And I pulled out a shirt that had a clump of hair folded in it.
So I cried for a bit. Still crying, actually. It’s a slow recovery and mourning for me. I still have a cabinet of medicines and a three ring binder filled with medical information and blood test results. Last week I found a journal of Clara’s. She wrote a short story about puppies in October. In February she was writing a song with the chorus “you can’t say no, sometimes you just have to go.”A little crying each day, and hopefully a little healing each day. The one-year anniversary brings back lots of hard memories. Clara was sad this morning because the Christmas outfits I got her last year (that were her absolute favorite and most comfortable) are now too small. I remember having to take back the outfits I bought her last November and exchanging them for a size smaller because she was literally shrinking and a full size smaller by Christmas. Abbie occasionally asks if Clara is really done with chemo. She needs reassurance as much as I need to say ‘yes, she’s really done’ out loud. Stephen gets a quick look of fear when cancer is mentioned and then whispers to himself “she doesn’t have it anymore.” We’re all getting through this murky phase and the surprises it brings. This year Thanksgiving will be a little bit different. A little more thankful for health, for good doctors, for family, for friends, for the love of a Savior that doesn’t ever let go. I learned this past year things that I thought I knew last year. But this year … I have learned them deep in my gut. God is good. He is so good.