Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The Good Outweighs the Bad

I keep saying that sometimes our problems aren’t as obvious as terminal cancer. Whether you’re getting a divorce, trying to find a job, or struggling with situations in general, life can be tough. I’ve had so many surreal experiences that I honestly try to be empathetic to everyone. You just never know what people might be experiencing—whether they appear to be having a hard time or not.

Most people assume that since I’m fighting cancer, the worst aspect must be the pain, but I have to admit that the emotional parts have been much harder for me. 

It’s just tough knowing that my kids and husband are stuck in this hardship with me. There are times when I’ve thought I “deserve” this, but my family definitely does not. And even though I wish I could shield them from every pain, I can’t this time.

Just last week, Indy bounded into the front room where I rested on the couch. “You’re not feeling good?” she asked.

“Today isn’t my favorite day. But that’s all right,” I said. “The bad days are what make—”

“The good days shine!” She beamed, finishing the sentence for me.

“Do I really say that so much? You knew what I was gonna say?”

She nodded. “Mama, you know our special spot? By the second water fall?”

We live close to the Portneuf River where locals have hung a rope swing and nailed boards to a tree so kids can climb up high before swinging into the river. It’s the sort of place I dreamed of as a child, and I love that my kids go there often to swim. Long before I got sick, I’d go with them. 

We loved crossing a group of rocks that go to a tiny island where the kids have found lizards and other fun creatures. On the other side of the island are two waterfalls that not many people know about. It’s such a magical place. Water rushes from one waterfall then pools over a large flat rock that all of us liked sitting on. We’d dangle our legs off the second waterfall, and that’s where we’d talk about life. 

When Sky was younger, I remember sitting there when she finally shared certain struggles. I talked there once with Trey, and he told me about a girl he liked. And I’ve had incredible moments with Ruby and Indy too; all of these times make the river special to us.

“Can we go there? To the second waterfall?” Indy asked.

It suddenly felt hard to breathe. Although I have been there after my diagnosis, things have changed even since then, and I don’t think I can make it over the rocks anymore. “Sweetheart,” I whispered, and I dreaded each word. “I don’t think I can make it.” Sadness pooled in her eyes, and I tried not crumpling right there. 

We’ve done so many things to try making new memories: like shopping sprees at the dollar store. We’ve bought dollar makeup products and given each other facials and makeovers. Once I even did Indy’s makeup to look like Joey King—her very favorite movie star from “The Kissing Booth” and “Bullet Train.” We posted the makeover video online and wrote “Joey King” in the description, wondering if the actress would ever see it! We’ve crafted and painted. We’ve cooked and played music together. But we can’t hide the fact that things ARE different. I can’t visit the second waterfall, and it hit me that the hardest thing for Indy to accept is not that I can’t go but the “why” behind it… the fact that I still have cancer and it’s not getting better. Unfortunately, last week, we found out that it’s getting a little worse.

“Are you doing okay?” I asked. 

“It’s just… Mama,” she said, “sometimes I get scared.”

“So do I,” I replied, and then I gave her a big, long hug. “But everything will work out,” I said. “And we’ll think of something neat to do. I promise.”

The next evening, Mike sent me a text, “You won’t believe what Indy just got in our P.O. Box.”

“What?” I wrote back. 

Moments later, he sent me a picture of a box he’d just picked up from the post office, a box from Joey King. After seeing the picture, I felt so surprised that I almost dropped my phone!

Not long after, I nearly cried as Indy opened the box. She appeared completely flabbergasted, reading a card from her favorite movie star. “My makeup artist, Allan,” Indy read, “was kind enough to send along some of his favorite products.” She pulled the lid from a box and found numerous makeup products. “Mama, can you believe this is real?!” There were so many other things as well: blankets (for movie nights) books (to read together)! Joey’s mom even sent a hot pack for me—something that helped her during her own battle against cancer.

“So many of these things are activities we can do together!” I said, becoming even more amazed. I didn’t feel quite so bad about the second waterfall anymore.

“This is some sort of miracle,” Indy said. I could hardly believe that Joey King had watched the video of Indy’s makeover. (To put this in perspective, she has over 18 million followers on Instagram alone.) Not only had she seen it, but to show such generosity of spirit… and even the timing of everything. Now we have so many things to do together… so many new memories to make—just in time. 

“Mama, she must be the nicest person.”

“I totally agree.”

“And you know what, I realize what you meant now,” Indy said. “The good really does outweigh the bad. What Joey did will stay with me for the rest of my life because I learned that miracles DO happen.” And as we each snuggled into our new blankets and prepared to watch a movie featuring Indy’s favorite star, I had to admit that I totally agreed; Miracles do happen. I got the best kids in the whole world.

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