I started working here at Deanne’s studio in July of this year and just love it. What I didn’t realize at the time I was hired, however, was I had finally found my happy, safe place. I have been bounced around a little bit, personally, in the past few years and I truly feel that I was brought here at this time for a purpose. But when Deanne expressed her wish for me to start blogging for her website I had mixed emotions. What would I write about? Would it be good enough? Are my thoughts interesting? Then something happened to me yesterday and I felt such warmth that I wanted to share it with all of our fabulous patrons and readers.
I have a daughter named Maya. When she was 2 years old she was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia. My family and friends were devastated but we immediately went into action mode and everyone rallied around my little girl. I lost almost everything; my job, my house, my car and my relationship with her father. I immediately relocated from my country house and moved, with my mother and daughter, into an apartment in Halifax to be nearer to the Children’s Hospital. Maya needed so many treatments. It was a gruelling path to her recovery, two and a half years of chemo, and she fought kicking and screaming, quite literally, every step of the way. I swear the nurses had to see who would draw the short straw to look after Maya on many days. We joked about it sheepishly at the time but one very patient nurse said to me, “that ‘fight’ is going to save her, you know.” So I began to relish her ‘fight’ rather than apologize for it.
Maya beat cancer beautifully. People often told me how strong I was but, as I told them at the time, I wasn’t the strong one. Maya was my hero. She hated going to the hospital and getting treatments and all the yucky stuff that was associated with it. She didn’t understand why she had to stay still and not eat for certain periods of time, why she was up at two in the morning, demanding coffee and hotdogs, because of steroid cravings. All she knew was that she loved music and wanted to dance and to play as soon as the treatment was over. My mother and I, exhausted after hours and hours at the hospital, flopped on the furniture when we got back to the apartment, but Maya was dancing and laughing and trying to get us to play. She didn’t sit around and feel sorry for herself; she just did what she had to do and got on with her day.
Maya is now a healthy and very happy six year old (almost seven Mommy!) and you would never know what she went through except that she possesses the kind of wisdom and compassion that is only bestowed on someone who has experienced great trauma. I’m still a single mom who works full time and I struggle. But I don’t think about Maya’s illness every day anymore. Things have shifted from survival mode to the more common struggles associated with parenting and yesterday was a prime example of this.
I’d like to tell you that I get along with Maya’s dad famously but it’s not the case. We disagree on many things and yesterday he told me that he wanted to see Maya more often over Christmas. It seems like a simple request but he’s never had her more than one night since she was diagnosed. In addition, it’s part of an existing court order that I need to deliver her to him and pick her up. He lives in Halifax and we live in Amherst which is a two-hour drive one way. This started my bad mood.
Then we needed to visit my grandmother in a seniors’ home. This was also a bit tense due to strong personality differences with some family members. Then I received another call from my ex that further complicated matters. This added to my bad mood. Later on I took Maya to my dad’s family Christmas party where it was VERY loud; kids were running and yelling, food was flying; more bad mood. So when my dad asked me how I was, I had had enough and I told him that I had felt pressured to bring Maya to the party and that I didn’t appreciate him making me feel that way. My dad is a very good man, I’m proud to say that. He looked at me quietly as I complained and grumbled. I expected an apology or sympathy or something! Anything!! So as I drew breath from my rant about my ex and driving and feeling pressured, he said to me in his way, “You know, I read a story in the newspaper today about a little boy in Truro who was just diagnosed with the same leukaemia that Maya had. They are really having a rough time and I thought wouldn’t it be nice if they could meet you and Maya to see how it turned out for her? Wouldn’t that give them such hope?”
In just a couple of sentences my dad gave me a wonderful gift – A Christmas reminder – to be thankful and joyful and revel in my daughter’s health and very obvious happiness. All of the troubles I was having was just because everyone wanted to see Maya and love her and enjoy her spirit. We can easily forget in this very busy and stressful season that we may already have the perfect gifts right in front of us.
I hope this message finds you and your families warm and safe and that you feel love this holiday season.