Staying in the hospital is not the best thing ever. And the last time I only had two big highlights:
#1 - I had a mock photoshoot in the bathroom—where I tried to make my hospital gown “sexy.” The nurse ended up freaking out because I’d been in the bathroom for so long (trying to hide from her honestly). Later an award-winning photographer saw the photos online and asked to take PROFESSIONAL pictures of me in my gown for cancer awareness! Say whaaa??? Talk about awesome!
#2 - While I stayed at the hospital I had several wonderful visitors including my 16-year-old daughter.
If you’ve been reading my posts, you might recall that my 16-year-old ran away last October, a week before I was officially diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Honestly, her absence in our lives has been harder than the cancer. Although we kept in contact weekly, even that brief interaction seemed unexpectedly strained, and I couldn’t understand how we’d gone from extremely close to distant in a matter of moments.
But I have good news: Over the last couple of months my 16-year-old started contacting me more and even said she missed me.
When she came to visit in the hospital, we played games and laughed. After that, Sky said something that really struck me: “I forgot how funny I could be,” she said as we giggled.
You wouldn’t believe it, but she actually decided to come home. And now that weeks have passed, I can’t tell you how full my heart finally is again. Despite nausea, having labs that still show I’m in liver failure, and currently being on probation from cancer treatments, I am the happiest! Thank God I stayed at the hospital because I think that visit is what ultimately encouraged my baby girl to come home!
It’s not easy raising teenagers. In fact, it’s hard being the one to set down rules, make sure they have chores, help with homework and job responsibilities (that 5 a.m. paper route was the worst!), and work together with your spouse to stay in lockstep. I’ve decided though that as long as we’ve shown them how much we love, appreciate, and value them—for who THEY are—it works out in the end. They’ll know they can succeed and thrive in this tough world.
I once met a man, years ago; tragically his son had committed suicide. I remember our conversation because he wanted to give me advice even though my kids were quite small at the time. “Just show them how much you unconditionally love them. That’s what I failed to do.” And I’ve held his words close to my heart. Even though the teenage years have definitely had moments I thought we’d never get through (like when Sky ran away), the best we can do is show unconditional, selfless love.
This “reunion” still hasn’t been easy. We’ve had to talk about my fight against cancer, and she’s even spoken with a counselor at the Huntsman.
“I believe she pulled away because she was so scared to lose you,” the counselor told me. “She knew you were sick when she ran away—she knew something was wrong. It’s pretty common for kids her age to withdraw. It’s their way of coping.”
“Wow. I just never thought she’d need to leave to process all of this. You’d think this would bring families closer together.”
“Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
I thanked her for everything, then we hung up and I walked into a fancy photography studio. Remember that award-winning photographer (and amazing friend) I told you about earlier? Dawn (of Fuzzy Love Photography) normally takes pictures of animals, yet she sent me an idea of boudoir poses for the “hospital gown shoot.” So, as I walked into the building, while still thinking about the call with my daughter’s counselor, I mentally prepared for a unique photo session.
Can you believe—after the insane year I’ve had with surgeries, hospital stays, radiation, and infusions—this woman made me feel like a real, live model!
After laughing and having the most wonderful time , I ended up telling Dawn about my daughter.
“I wish I could meet someone who went through this as a teenager—someone who knows what it’s like to be so young and have a parent with cancer...” I had JUST said the words when the owner of the photography studio peeked her head from around the corner.
“I’m so sorry for eavesdropping,” she said, “but I heard what you were saying. My mom… Well, my mom died of cancer when I was 17….” Her eyes grew quite large as she waited for my response.
My heart stopped. It became so incredibly hard to breathe. There stood this gorgeous business owner who appeared unscathed by hardship, and she was literally my answer to prayer.
Dawn and I looked at each other and both teared up. It was one of those serendipitous moments.
The lady who owned the building talked with us about what it was like dealing with this as a teenager and how I should just be as loving and understanding as possible. “I pulled away from my mom too,” she said, then explained that she hadn’t talked much to her mom for the last month before she died.
“I don’t blame my daughter for pulling away,” I said. “This whole thing is so incredibly hard to process. I’m sure your mother felt the same. We simply love unconditionally. In the end, we just want our kids to know how much they’re loved….”
“Your daughter will be okay,” the woman said. “She has an amazingly strong mother, and she’ll look back and see that—just like I do. Give her the space she needs when she needs it. It’ll all work out.”
I wiped more tears away. This whole encounter would be etched into my mind forever.
Dawn and I walked from the building after that. I told her thank you for everything. (I had a sneaky suspicious she hadn’t done this as a cancer awareness shoot at all, but because she wanted to make me feel special.)
I gave her a huge hug and asked if she’d like to go to dinner sometime. “You’re too much fun!” I said before getting into my car. Because she IS epic!
So, that’s what I did last week after my appointments at the Huntsman in Utah. I had my pictures taken by the best animal photographer in the Western States and met a stranger who reminded me that my kids will be okay despite this harrowing situation. They’ve had a good foundation, and I need to remember that just like God has a plan for my health, He’s also looking out for my family every step of the way too. It’s astounding how serendipitous moments work; after all, when we’re open to the unexpected, that’s when miracles can happen.
For more info about Fuzzy Love Photography, please visit: Fuzzy Love Photography
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