As I was putting him to bed last night, Quinn turned to me and said, "I so sad, mama."
"Why, buddy? What's going on?" I asked. "What are you sad about?" He was holding my hand, and curled his whole body around my arm.
"I sad Sydney go bye-bye," he responded. We'd had dinner with his friend, Sydney, and her parents the night before. At one point, Quinn hugged her so hard that she toppled off the little wall she'd been sitting on to the ground below. Luckily, it was dirt and her crying was short-lived. They've been friends since before either of them could walk, and Quinn adores her.
"You'll see Sydney tomorrow," I tried to comfort him. He's still in daycare (with Sydney) a couple of days a week, so I can go get my weekly lab work done, and catch up on laundry and emails and sleep.
"It's okay to be sad sometimes," I continued, "but that's when we have to remember what makes us happy, too." We listed out all the fun things we'd done this weekend, Quinn's friends that we'd seen, and the new scooter Chris had just assembled for him.
Quinn seemed fine this morning, but the incident got me thinking: is my sadness rubbing off on the little guy?
For the most part, I try to keep my thoughts here upbeat. Because, for the most part, I'm an optimist. I'm hopeful. I'm able to remember that I'm here now, and that's enough. That hasn't been the case this past week, though. This week has been hard.
Some of it is the treatment-fueled exhaustion -- that even after eight full hours of sleep, my limbs feel like concrete, my head feels like it's in a vice, and I struggle to get out of bed, even when Quinn is asking me to come play trains with him. Steroids don't help.
Some of it is that parenting is hard. I love Quinn more than anything in the world, but I lose my patience when it's 108 outside and he refuses to get in his carseat, throws a complete tantrum in a hot parking lot somewhere. That is not the time when my toddler negotiating tactics shine. Instead, I yell at him to get in the damn car before I take all of his trains away, and then we both end up crying. I texted Chris last week: "What if I die and this is all he remembers?"
Chris told me I was being ridiculous.
I took advantage of Quinn napping on Saturday to take a nap of my own. About an hour into it, Quinn climbed onto my bed and gave me a hug, letting me know he was awake. Then he took off to go play with Chris, and I fell back into a light sleep for another hour or so. I could hear them chatting in the other room, getting ready to go out into the pool, and I couldn't summon the energy to lift my head off the pillow. I had the distinct thought then that my boys might be okay if I didn't wake up at all.
This is so hard to even admit. Fuck you for this, cancer.
Later in the weekend, Chris and I were trying to organize old photos, to get them out of piles on our office floor, to finally finish moving into our home. Looking at photos of ourselves pre-cancer, I got nostalgic for how carefree our lives were, for a time when I didn't worry that every ache might be cancer sprouting up again, for my old body and long hair and making plans more than a few months in advance.
I'm trying to take my own advice and remember all the things I have to be grateful for, but some days I am overwhelmed with the grief of this disease. Some days, this is hard.