By the time you receive this, our not-so-little-anymore five-year-old will be free of that port in his chest, the direct line to his heart, that has been a constant reminder of his battle with cancer over the past 12 months.
We’ve tried to shelter him from as much as possible, support him as much as we humanly can, and put on our strongest faces for him.
But there are always steps we each must take alone, no matter what challenges we face – even if you’re five years old. But not surprisingly, our children are far stronger and far better teachers than we give them credit for.
Here’s a little sample of why.
The other day, our five-year-old caught a stomach virus and vomited for hours. It brought flashbacks to all the sickness he had while taking chemo. He has been sick more times than we can count over the past year on top of his cancer.
One time after he vomited, he went and looked at himself in the mirror, and he said.
“Be brave. Be strong.”
And then he looked up at my wife and said, “I say that to myself a lot.”
I’m sure he’s said that to himself all throughout the past year. And just today, in the middle of a million things going haywire, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Be brave. Be strong. Just like him.” And it helped.
Our autistic nine-year-old uses his ‘talker’ (speech device) quite a bit for scripting. It’s often hard to tell exactly what he’s going to type next. But there’s one phrase he types and says out loud a lot.
We don’t know where he heard it from or exactly why he types or says it in a particular moment, but it obviously means something to him.
So I tried that, too. This week, I got down on myself and thought I couldn’t do something, and I said to myself, “Always try.” And it helped, too.
Your children and mine are strong and wise. Inside them exists this amazing truth manifesting itself in their daily lives even in the midst of enormous challenges. Be watchful, and learn from them.
Most of all, be brave, be strong, and always try.