I was talking the other day to a friend of mine about the road we're traveling during Ethan's "recovery period", and she asked me if everything was now over. It had been a while that I thought about that, until our conversation, but as I quickly thought through everything we've gone through with Ethan's whole cancer diagnosis, treatment and now recovery - I told her that there were two answers to that question.
As far as I was concerned... or as far as I believed.... it's over. But from a medical standpoint and all of the statistics involved once you've been labeled a "leukemia patient" he will be monitored by some degree for probably the rest of his life... the longer that he remains in remission, of course, the less worry the doctors will exert. But it will still trickle down into other aspects of his life... watching for long term side effects from chemo, radiation and the other treatments. I told her that during those "check ups" I'm sure I will have a knot in my stomach each year just because I can't see how in our human nature, we wouldn't have a slight dose of anxiety... but in my heart, I truly do believe this is over. The miracle is ours. I don't understand the grace and mercy behind it - in the sense that I don't know specifically "why" our son was spared... but I know that he was. And I fully know that it was only the power of God.
I do have moments when it will hit me... Ethan had leukemia.
Ethan is recovering from having cancer.
My baby boy had cancer.
Our son, 11 weeks old at the time.
Diagnosed. With. Cancer.
What in the world?!?!
And I do re-live various moments of the entire process... but just like an umbrella shields you from getting wet in the rain, there's an umbrella of peace around each of those memories. The Lord was there. And it was clearly evident every single day. It's still clearly evident. I remember praying and even writing here in an older post that I not only wanted Ethan to survive, but that I wanted him to thrive. And I assure you, there's not a better definition of the word "thrive" than in our little Ethan. You'd NEVER NEVER NEVER even guess that he's been sick a day in his life, let alone fought leukemia.
Sometimes I can't wrap my mind around God's mercy. His love. But I tell you one thing, I know it exists. I know that better than I know anything else. And most of the time, nothing else matters. Our son is here. He's alive. He's strong (and strong-willed!). A miracle in the truest sense of the word. And he's mine. There aren't even words to describe the gift. How do you say "thank you" to the Lord for such a thing. Yet, I find comfort in knowing that He knows my heart.... He knows my overwhelming thankfulness. And outside of that, I try to thank Him by giving Him every bit of glory and praise for it.
People have told me on many occasion that they'd not be able to deal with something like this if it happened to them. As if I must have some supernatural strength or faith. And I always tell them that if it weren't for the Lord, I'd have fallen a part a very long time ago. I was trying to think of a better explanation and I remembered the verse Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Now as many things as that verse gets applied to, it's the only truth that explains how our family has endured the biggest trial we've ever faced. I can do all things (yes, even a deadly disease being allowed to enter your child's body) through Christ who strengthens me. That's it. Plain and simple. It is not me. It is not my own strength. It's not that I have the secret to the "right amount" of faith. It's only - and I do mean, ONLY - that God gave me (and Adam) the right amount of everything in order to withstand the pain, confusion, hurt, disappointment, etc. His strength in me. His peace in me. His mercy on me. His grace on all of us. His purpose. His plan. All we did was try to open our hearts to Him and trust Him.
And in the tears or the smiles....
He gave us what we needed, when we needed it.