Monday, July 10, 2023

Bites on Our Lines

 “It was the hardest year of my life, the year I found out you had stage 4 cancer,” my teenage son said.

My heart dropped. Having terminal cancer is one thing… but seeing how it’s negatively affecting everyone around me… that’s another. It’s terrible realizing that something so vastly out of my control is impacting those closest to me. That’s honestly the hardest thing about my diagnosis.

I looked at Trey and tried to keep the tears from my voice. But then, instead of saying anything, I turned toward the lake. “I just know you’ll catch something,” I said, motioning to where his line punctured the water. And as we sat there, quietly watching, I remembered something from years before.

We all know kids can be cruel, but when Trey was only 8, he came home with a shocking story.

“Mom, during recess the popular boys started picking on Jeremy. They kicked and punched him. It got really bad because they even picked him up and swung him into a pole.”


I blinked, stunned.


“It was really hard, Mom, but I stood up to them. I didn't know if they’d start beating me up too... Or calling me names like they have in the past. Plus, there were a lot of them.”

Even at 8, Trey loomed big for his age, but he's always been the sweetest kid. I wondered where this story would go or if anyone had told the teacher.


“I finally went right in the middle of them and yelled,” he said. “I asked why they were hurting him. Carter said it’s ‘cause he's a wimp... Because he's a pansy, and he’s different from the rest of us.” Trey took a deep breath and gazed down. “I got so mad. They looked like they would start hurting him again, so I stood between him and them. I was so angry—I couldn't believe they threw him into a pole just because he’s different. And for some reason, I screamed, ‘He’s SENSITIVE. So what?!’”


Trey and I both sat quiet for a while as I digested his words; he'd gotten to the heart of the matter in just a few seconds. We should all be treated with respect—and appreciated for our differences—thank, God, my boy knew that early on. “Did they stop after that? Did someone tell the teacher?” I asked.


“Yeah, they stopped, and the bullies kind of seemed surprised. So, I brought Jeremy into the classroom for the rest of recess, and the teacher let us hang out there. We stayed in the classroom for lunch and ate together too.”


“You’re a good kid,” I said.  “I’m so proud of you, Trey. Did you tell your teacher?”


“No!” he said. “I’m no tattle-tale. I stood up for him, and it wasn't a big deal. Someone else told the teacher.”


“I’m glad she knows,” I said, relieved.

Trey sighed. “You know, I beat everyone in the long jump last week? I was 7% popular, but after this I’m back down to 0% again.”


I hugged him, this big ol’ hug. “I just know it’ll all work out,” I said. “You did the right thing.”

Trey shuffled at the lake’s edge, and his words brought me back to the moment. He was no longer an 8-year-old fighting adversity but a teenager facing a parent’s mortality.

“Mom, you’re gonna get better, right?” he asked.

“I don’t know for sure,” I said. “But I’ll tell you what I do know; I’m gonna fight like hell for every second I can get with you guys.” Then I set down my fishing pole, and even though my hands smelled like fish guts and mud lined my fingernails, I put my arms around my big, strong boy. “I just know it’ll all work out,” I said, echoing my exact words from years before.

Trey rested his head on my shoulder for a moment, then he sat up, somber. And there we remained, fishing our hearts out but hoping for a lot more than bites on our lines. We simply hoped for more time.


  1. Your kids have been through this cancer journey with you, they have suffered in a way no child should, but I know it has also made them stronger. Sending love to all of you.

  2. You’re son Trey is an amazing young man with a beautiful heart. You’re the most incredible Mom, Elisa! ♥️🫶♥️

  3. Love your book so much Elisa and all the fotos and the videos. Your sight of life is so positiv. Stay strong and take good care.