Tonight, I’ll sleep….
I’ve been addicted to Facebook since I was introduced to it several years ago. I was able to virtually reunite with friends from high school, old boyfriends and a variety of players who have had starring or walk on roles in my life story, people who would have otherwise been only memories now update me regularly on their day to day activities. Not only do I get to talk to them again, but I know what they had for dinner! I’ve been exposed to great pictures of cats, pigs, birds and babies and I’ve learned a lot, too…no really, I have. There is no doubt Facebook has made my world bigger by making it smaller, making what once was simply inaccessible…accessible.
Facebook has also become a forum for anyone with a cause, a story, or a gripe. Hey! If you need to get 1 million likes so your mom gets you a puppy, then here’s a like for you. I’m all for animals getting homes and, for the record, follow several pages dedicated to just that. Doesn’t matter the cause, if you have a Facebook page, you can get some attention. I applaud this method as, while every cause may not matter to me, it does to someone. Some of the causes are funny or educational or inspiring…and some…some just break my heart. I got pulled into a page a mom writes every day updating the world on her 3 year old son, Tripp, who was gravely injured when a tree branch fell on him on the playground. I faithfully read her posts, cheer for Tripp’s progress and feel true sadness when he has a setback. My friends ask why I torture myself, but in this now smaller big world, how do you turn your back once you know? I’ve struggled with that and try to be sure I balance the sad stories with the inspirational ones. I cheer when a pig is rescued, a friend’s child wins their championship and I laugh at all the political jokes no matter my personal view. I rejoice when my friends get a new couch and try not to be too jealous when they go to Puerto Rico for two weeks. Facebook can make me smile and make me cry….I guess that’s why I like it.
Recently, a friend liked a post from a Facebook page called “Team Laney”. Curious, I checked it out. A seven year old girl fighting cancer. I started to read and then started to shake and, then, I cried. This is when I hate Facebook. I was having a perfectly pleasant day and now I knew about Laney and her battle and the sadness and hope and fear and joy that is her journey.
I know she likes alligators and has beautiful eyes.
I know, like Maddie, she is in second grade.
I know her parents have a strong faith and pray for her every day with a belief He will do what is best. I know their faith moves me and reminds me of how powerless we are. I know that scares me.
I know she’s had a transplant and that her Daddy paints beautiful murals on her hospital room window. I know he loves his little girl fiercely. I know how that feels.
I know there have been benefits and “THON”s to help defray the medical bills. Its overwhelming and I know I’m lucky that I can’t even imagine.
I know she loves to play Uno. I do, too.
I know she had hallucinations and its so scary for her. I know her room is covered with cards, stuffed animals and things to make her smile.
I know her sister shares her birthday and they are the best of friends. I know their birthday is coming up and it might be their last together.
I know she’s had a nice Thanksgiving and that there is hope. I pray this little girl gets better. She has to.
I know I keep reading even though it hurts my heart….
I know the battle is over, there is no more hope. The cancer has won.
I know she’s home with precious little time. I know her family is there for her and she is loved and cherished and safe.
I know, when I scroll back and look at her journey and her pictures before she was so sick that it breaks my heart and touches too close to home. My daughter, too, has dark hair and beautiful eyes, loves all things glittery and pink and is the light of my life. I know I am lucky today and that another mother is not. I know life isn’t fair and it makes me angry. Little girls should not get sick. Little girls should not be facing death.
Christmas Eve, I kissed my babies good night and prepared for bed with the same level of excitement I have every year – somewhere between relief, exhaustion and anticipation for the next day. I mentally went through my children’s lists and hoped I had hit on the presents that were the most desired. I know Christmas is about more and I cherish the time with family and friends, but, as a Mom, its important they have a nice holiday, create good memories and get that special gift. Just shy of midnight, I snuggled in for a much needed sleep before a day of love and chaos. I said a prayer of thanks for my children, for family, friends, my furry loves and another, new prayer….one for peace for Laney and then I turned off the light.
At about 3:15am, I woke up feeling panicky.. I have had these attacks before so I knew to relax and walk myself through what might be causing me to feel this way. Maddie was asleep next to me dreaming of a mini-fridge and TJ slumbered next door. My children were safe, sleeping. I let the dogs out, checked on the pig and got back in bed. As the initial panic started to dissolve, I got my computer, checked Facebook and started to crush candy. That usually helped me clear my head enough so I could sleep but that night I played until I ran out of lives, went on to backgammon and then, crossword puzzles. Hours later, I just couldn’t sleep.
At about 5:45am or so, I checked back with Facebook, anticipating some of my friends with younger children might be starting to stir. My eyes scanned across a post and I froze.
“My heart breaks right now. Our little angel on earth earned her pink glittery angel wings in heaven. She took her last breath at home in her bed at 3:10 surrounded by all her family and friends. I miss her so much already.”
This was the reason for my anxiety … I had gone to bed realizing on some level she wasn’t going to make it through the night, wasn’t going to celebrate Christmas with her family. I laid in bed and, again, I cried.
Big tears rolled down the sides of my head, filling my ears and soaking my pillow. When we cry, we are vulnerable, not only to what is making us cry but to every other sad thought that is hiding in dark corners of our hearts. Tonight was no exception and I laid in bed and felt bad that one mother had lost her child when I clearly didn’t fully cherish mine. I wasn’t offering to switch places but I beat myself up believing, in the wee hours, that I didn’t deserve the wonderful gift of my two children.
I went over the previous day in my head – remembering getting annoyed at Maddie for her ridiculously high energy level, remembered asking her to please go away for a little while so I could get a few things done. Remembered telling her I’d watch her cheer routine (for the millionth time) later, remembered telling her I was too busy. I realized I’d let TJ play video games most of the day because I wasn’t tuned in to him and had gotten frustrated with him for minor things, things I should have let go. How could I be so horrible, so selfish, what the hell was wrong with me? Another mother was grieving and I had been “too busy” to be there for my daughter, had asked her to go away and had been cranky with my son. I was a monster. In the dark, in my panic, that was all I had. I was failing them.
As the panic started to dissolve and my tears to dry up, some level of sanity returned. I was able to think straight again and I had a thought so clear it was like someone had quietly whispered one word to me in the dark. I wasn’t selfish or mean to my children, wasn’t failing them and I wasn’t unaware of how lucky I was…not at all. I was blessed with normal.
It made so much sense.
Because I was blessed with healthy children this holiday season, I was also blessed with being too busy, feeling overwhelmed and the time to put off watching the cheer routine until “later”. I had “later” and I had taken advantage of it. I had budgeted my time the best I could, had spent time away from my children, in a distracted state of “crazy to get things done” so I could make their day special, filled with presents, good food and family. Normal allowed me to be happy, tired, frustrated, excited, joyous and a good mommy. I remembered, lying there in the dark, I had also spent several hours with them making and decorating cookies, wrapping presents and watching a holiday movie. I HAD cherished the day. And…”later” when things had calmed down, I had watched that cheer routine. Had watched my healthy happy little girl dance.
Laney, I believe you whispered to me that night. With just that one word: “Normal”, you showed me its okay to live normal, to enjoy normal and to sometimes wait for later. That’s what normal is. Mommies get frustrated and Mommies make cookies. They yell at you to brush your teeth but they also love to watch you dance. With one word, you made me remember my children have my love and my support and that makes them luckier than so many. “Normal” reminded me to relax and not be so hard on myself. Thank you, little one.
I want you to know, I’m both sorry and relieved your journey is over and I know you understand.
I know I will miss your updates but am peaceful in the belief you’re in His arms now and no longer in pain.
I know your beautiful smile is back and I know you’re medicine-free and can run and play and dance. I know that brings your mommy peace. I know I wish I could hug her.
I know your angel wings are pink and glittery and you’re playing Uno with your new friends. I know there were others there to greet you and keep you safe until you see your mommy again. I need to know that.
I know your journey and strength touched me and I am better because of it. I know this is why I ‘torture’ myself with these Facebook pages I follow.
I know I will think of you often and the lesson you shared.
I know, tonight…tonight I will sleep.
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