I was wrong about the Tuesday tummy ache. It returned this morning too. They are gone almost as soon as they appear; still, I don’t like them. Benji’s tummy aches have been harbingers of bad things, and bad things aren’t welcome here.
Today was filled with more Christmas and birthday preparation and a longer to-do list. I spoke with All Children’s twice today, once about Benjamin’s appointment Monday, and once to turn down some tickets to a Tampa Bay Lightning game they offered us that we can’t use. The children’s cancer community in St. Pete and Tampa is incredible. The support has slowed a little bit but it is still there and it is strong. Group meetings, counseling offers, events, tickets, photography, gifts…the parents of a child with cancer in St. Pete or Tampa know they’re not alone. But there’s no place to go or group to join for a parent in Sarasota seeking support in navigating this.
For me, it has been extremely healing to comfort and teach other mothers online. It is also healing to reach out with an experience and be validated by those who are walking ahead on the path. Yesterday, I learned of another local family who had just sent blood work off to be tested. I felt their fear. I knew that if the results came back the way ours came back last New Year’s Eve, this family would be starving for information. Today, amidst the hustle and bustle of my list, I decided to use social media to invite other mothers of children with cancer in Sarasota to tea in January. Thankfully, I only know a handful. But maybe the word will spread if there are more.
I had the extreme fortune today of seeing a friend I haven’t seen in a full year. She has read every post and has sent so much love to our family. Benji was with me for the unexpected encounter. My friend’s face radiated joy when she saw us, and it absolutely filled me with happiness. I was happy to see her, of course; ecstatically happy. But I also felt proud. Proud of Benji. Proud of us.