Fear, it can cause me to stand still and freeze me in place, but only if I let it. I have had to face a lot of my fears in my life, especially in the last five years. It’s a choice, it’s always a choice for me.
My biggest fear that I’ve had to face yet was death and loss. Not for myself, but for my son Jimmy. He was only four months old. I was sitting in that hospital room after the doctors told me that there was a good chance he could die from the excessive water on his brain and the brain tumor that pushed on his optic nerve. It was a major shock on my system, and my brain went immediately to best and worst case scenario at the exact same time. I wanted to know he could survive, but I also attempted to prepare myself for the worst. It’s an odd feeling really being pulled apart in two different directions. Half of me wanted to crawl in a corner and just be, that was the fear. The other half wanted to fight with everything I am. I had to choose.
I lost myself for a moment in that hospital. I forgot who I was, what I was capable of. I remember screaming at the top of lungs, “this isn’t fair.” The vastness of the diagnosis, all the unknowns took me over. I had to think, I had to get away from all the opinions and thoughts of everyone around me. I had to find me again.
I went into that small little bathroom, and I turned on the shower. I stood in there for what seemed like an eternity and just let the water run on my face. I cried like I’ve never cried in my life. I made an agreement with myself, that after I cried that would be it. I wouldn’t cry again for me, because this wasn’t happening to me, it was happening to my baby boy.
I closed my eyes and just talked to myself or maybe to God if he was listening. I visualized all the paths I could take. The worst first, where I would go into a depression, be by myself, ignore my son until he died and maybe I would be okay after that. I saw how it would affect all the people who I loved in my life. I didn’t want that, I didn’t want everyone to die inside. It took me a millisecond to say absolutely not.
Then I went to a middle ground. I would accept the opinions of what the doctors said. Put him on 3 different drugs, a port surgery and agree with them that he could not see. It took me a half a millisecond to say screw that too.
Then I started to see glimpses of the eternal optimist that I always was. I believe that the impossible is possible, I always have. I believe that miracles happen everyday. I needed to find hope, something to cling onto. So I imagined myself fighting for Jimmy and proving the doctors wrong. Jimmy would be that one miracle, the person that could overcome all of it. I pictured his whole life, each phase and how I would react to it down to the last detail of what my face would like when each occurred. From crawling to walking, then talking. Baseball and Kindergarten. His first love, his first best friend, his first accomplishment. Jimmy graduating from high school and moving him to his college dorm. Him dancing with his wife at his wedding. The look he gives me the day he becomes a dad. The first time he kicks ass at his new job. All of it. I even pictured him at 80 years old flirting with all kinds of girls, laughing being himself in all his cuteness.
Something came over me standing there naked with water running down on me. The symbolism of it all, looking back really means something to me now. I had to be brought to my knees, stripped of all material things to understand what I was truly capable of. I guess I’m stubborn that way. I had this urge to give it all to God, to say okay you take it over, I trust you. I couldn’t do it right then. Fear was still in the back of my mind. I was holding on to those images of Jimmy growing up though and confidence started to build. I was getting close.
I finally got out of the shower at that point. I’m not even sure if I washed my hair at that point I was so caught up in my thoughts. I got dressed and walked into the room where Jimmy was laughing on his crib hospital bed hooked up to all kinds of wires and IV’s. I went over to him and smiled whispered in his ear and said I’m right here and your going to be just fine my love. He cooed and smiled that gorgeous smile. His big brown eyes looked up into mine and I felt a peace come over me, “like I know exactly what I’m doing mom, trust me.” I just nodded my head and smiled.
The doctor came in a minute later, telling us what the plan was, which was three different chemo therapies and a port surgery on Friday. I said are you sure we have to do all of that, can’t we start with just one thing. He is so tiny and new to this world. She said no this is protocol for this type of tumor as she walked out of the room.
Then something odd happened. It was only about two minutes and she walked back into the room and said we’re not going to do the port surgery, we can start with one drug and do it through an IV. Its called Carboplatin and we’ll give it to him tonight. I started believing in my vision.
The nurse hooked Jimmy up to that IV of chemo that night and listed off all the things that could possible go wrong. He could have seizures, he could go into shock, she went on and on. I kind faded her out and looked up at the clear fluid in the IV bag and imagined at as water and it wouldn’t harm him. It was a four-hour process they started around 11pm. I held him in my arms the whole time. Smiling and singing to him.
Two hours in my phone buzzed. It was a link to a story from my cousin Buzzy about a little baby that survived the worst kind of tumor, a miracle. That was it, I let go of my fear because I knew in that moment the impossible was in fact possible. I know Jimmy’s story would be his own, but equally as beautiful and miraculous because I would make it so. I hope as you read this you find hope and let go of your fears. Jimmy made it through that night with not one side effect. He started sweating from his head the whole time he was on the IV. When I lifted him up my arm was soaking wet. I didn’t know if it was me sweating or not. I didn’t realize it at the time, but his body was getting rid of all the excess water surrounding his brain. That was just the beginning of his journey and mine. We have faced and overcome a lot of fears in between then and now. This one though, this fear or letting go of this fear and trusting in God and whatever his plan is has given me strength to get through everything I face even today.
It’s okay to be afraid, to have fears I just remember who I am, face them and find hope instead. Even when all seems lost. It’s there, hope, you just have to know it’s there, find it and remember who you are.