We always remember her on June 9 and celebrate what a big milestone that was! So, of course, it's been on my mind a lot today. Clara's birth and fight for her life were a crash course in navigating hospital life. We learned how to go to rounds, ask questions, notice trends and record them. We learned how to park in the right spot, wash before entering (NO ONE wore masks then), how to make her little spot feel cozy and comfortable with blankets from home and not too sterile. Stepping back into those rhythms the last week has been weirdly comfortable. There are moments when I realize "I did this for Clara and now I'm doing it for me." Loading patient belonging bags and toting things back and forth between the hospital. Guessing what symptom might be a side effect of what and what medications might be able to be adjusted to solve a problem. I haven't been allowed to leave my teeny little room in the Cancer Center since they plopped me here because I'm on a 21 Day Covid Lockdown, but I know as my family treks back and forth, walking these same halls, they must be remembering and feeling so many of those same things, too.
I'm not trying to get into any toxic thinking patterns about how Clara's journey prepared me for this one. Quite frankly we'd have preferred to have neither, thank you very much. I don't think this happened to me because "I have enough faith" or "I'm built to handle it" or any of that other nonsense. But I do think our journeys prepare us for our journeys and that I can actually give some gratitude for all that I learned twelve years ago and how it's helped me slip into hospital life more smoothly than I might have otherwise. I trust and adore the care team that's giving me care now just the same way I trusted and adored Clara's care team then. We're in such good hands with the village of family and friends caring for us and staff here working so hard to treat me. My kids have amazing support from a huge web of loved ones ready to walk through this with them.
Clara said something to me this morning that I thought was really wise for a twelve year old. She compared this leukemia diagnosis to our time during COVID, "We always used to say we had it so much better than most people because we had you and Sweet Mama to teach us and jobs the grownups could keep working and plenty of resources to be able to endure it really well. We had COVID better than most people had COVID. And now the same thing is true with your cancer. We have this amazing hospital right in our town, our entire friends and family and church and tons of people helping us and caring about us while we go through this. We're going to be okay."
Can you believe that came from that baby in the Homecoming pictures from 12 years ago?
On today, I celebrate Clara's Homecoming and the twelve years of rich and abundant life she's had since. And I look forward to my own future "Homecoming," a day that I am claiming will come with full and complete healing (in five years of full remission!)and a rich and abundant life to follow in part because of the journeys that have prepared us for this one.
Clara today, 12 years later:
Thanks be to God.