I can’t believe we’re really at this place in Phoebe’s chemo treatment. Just this afternoon her oncologist stopped by and we were remembering together what things were like for Phoebe this time last year. She was six days post-invasive brain surgery, was just beginning to get past her tremors and would soon be intubated for a serious seizure. Chemo would begin at the end of January, and by February Phoebe would be in septic shock in ICU fighting for her life.
I am so glad to be here, in this hospital room tonight with my girl as she finishes up this round of chemo. We are in the same room she was assigned to the very first time she came to the oncology floor. This is the room where I pulled out gobs and gobs of beautiful blonde curls that were coming loose. The curls I still save in a Ziploc bag in my dresser drawer. And tonight she is here by my side, head as smooth and shiny as an apple; she has battled her way through sepsis, she has been through intense respiratory therapy when her left lung was collapsing, she has had to re-learn how to swallow how to hold her head up, how to use her fine motor skills and how to walk. She has lived through adrenal crisis, mucositis and hallucinations from her bouts of high sodium.
And she has lead the way with her joy. She has lived in the moment when I could only fear the future. She has brought a smile to others when I have been so inwardly sad that I hardly noticed people around me. Her contageous laugh has attracted a gaggle of nurses to her room to “see what all the fun was about” time and again. She has said “thank you” every time someone drew blood or accessed her port. And she asks everyone she meets “did you miss me?” even if they have never met. She radiates joy, this girl. It’s something other-worldy I can’t explain. But each night when she makes her rounds on the hem/onc floor just before she goes to bed, I see it. In the faces of all who have come to love her here, I see her joy reflected.
When we named Phoebe, I just loved the name. I didn’t know it meant “Brightness”. We chose her middle name “Lucille” after a dear friend who was also a nanny for us when we traveled in missions. I didn’t know Lucille meant “illuminated light”. But my daughter is..a bright, illuminated light. She really is. It is the perfect description for Phoebe Lucille. And I get to be the steward of this bright, illuminated light. What a blessing.
I can’t believe we’re here, so close to the end of treatment. It seemed forever away, and now it is in sight. I know the end of treatment will carry with it it’s own worries and concerns. But for tonight, I will just live right here, in this room that has seen so much, and recount this year with gratitude.