Time is an interesting thing. It never changes, yet this summer I feel like it’s sped up and slowed down both at the same time. Didn’t school just get out and suddenly August is right around the corner?! I’m sure I don’t stand alone when I admit that I have multiple to-do lists from the past months and have yet to accomplish the majority of it as planned or even at all. It can be frustrating. As I am learning over and over again though, life does not stick to your plan. And honestly, what a relief! Looking back, I’m glad that everything in my life has not gone as I had planned because if it had – I would not be where I am right now. And I know I am exactly where I should be right now. When it comes to time and life, there is a plan – but it’s not mine. Today I am feeling especially grateful to know that God, who is the author and creator of life, steps in and adjusts my priorities as He sees fit. He has a plan far greater than any of ours and when it takes over, just wait because you will never be disappointed in the end.
So what am I getting at? I have a lot going on in my head these days. As I sat down to gather my thoughts on the last couple of weeks, it hit me – – has it really been only a month since this “cancer” word came into our lives so personally?? And at the same time – – Wow, it’s only been a month. Back in June I would have thought I’d be complete tunnel vision right now and journaling strictly about pregnancy, my fat ankles & all of my worries about becoming a first time mom in only a couple of weeks. But life happens, and I am glad that this last month’s events have realigned my priorities and perspective to better prepare me for whatever lie ahead in my soon-to-be life as a mother. Unexpected bumps in the road often do that.
We were blessed as a family to be able to have ALL of the Gossling’s together on the 4th of July (See prior 4th of July post). Grant, June and Michael had spent two long weeks in the hospital and finally made it home the night of July 3rd. In just two weeks, Grant had undergone more surgeries and painful tests than any child his age should have to endure. Though answers were found and he was also able to begin the road to recovery and started round one of chemotherapy. Seeing little Grant after that first chemo cycle broke my heart. He was just that – little. He looked drained and tired. It was another eye-opener of the reality of the road ahead when Grant had to be admitted back into the hospital the very next day because of a fever. His blood counts were too low, so the next four days were spent at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
As soon as Grant made it back home, it was decided that a final family picture before his hair fell out was a must. The morning of the photos, Grant’s hair had already started the process. If I touched his head, it would come off on my hand. Our little guy was not in the best of moods for family pictures – which he has every right to be cranky! – but I’m satisfied with the morning’s captures. I prefer photos that speak truth instead of overly forced. There were frowns as well as smiles & it’s good to remember both.
^Little Sydney. Uncle James is always giving kisses (which she secretly LOVES!)^
^…and a Big Sis Grant Cheeser!^
^Stick fights with little James were fun for a while. Grant tries to still monkey around the best he can^
^He even bonked Mommy on the head!^
^When tears come, Spidey and Mommy to the rescue^ (James & I laugh at the picture on the left because it requires a double take)
^Grant really wasn’t thrilled with the picture taking that morning. Thank heavens for dum-dums though! The right shows his efforts at a cheeser for me^
Right after family pictures, Brenda arrived. She has been cutting Grant’s hair for a while, but this time was much more emotional. The reality is that everybody relates cancer with a bald head. At least I do. Seeing little 2 year old Grant already so frail and now lose his hair brought tears to my eyes. For me, it was another humbling moment of “this is really happening.”
^Brenda put on a superhero cape to make him more brave^
I’ve tried to put myself in June and Michael’s shoes. Accepting that your child has cancer is one thing, but with that comes the extended hospital stays, sleepless nights, managing three other children, trying to be there for them & help them understand, keeping up with work and your home, and trying to maintain a state of normalcy and find peace in the situation. It’s no wonder the phrase “One step at a time. One prayer at a time.” has become their motto.
I am grateful to be a part of this journey – To be a part of such a close-knit and faithful family. I feel that little Grant’s illness has brought us even closer together and closer to God… Not only our family, but friends and strangers as well. I am a firm believer that God is our Heavenly Father. We are His children. He knows us and watches over us – – – Though it is usually through other people that he meets our needs and answers our prayers. The support and love shown to June, Michael, Grant & the entire family from people nation wide are a perfect example of this. It is a reminder to me that a huge part of this life is about reaching out, blessing & uplifting those around us.
Uncle James decided to go under the shears for Grant as well. He doesn’t exactly have the prettiest of heads without hair, but that’s ok. Hairless is in his future, and so we first had to do a tribute to Grandpa Goose…
…Like father, like son…
^Here’s our remake of the infamous Geezer Cheeser!^
Only four more of these three week chemo cycles left (trying to stay positive) with round two starting this coming Monday. One step at a time though. After these chemotherapy cycles there’s more chemo and a lengthy & rough stem cell transplant coming. I cannot fathom what it takes for Michael and June to keep their calm when spending so many days and nights in those small hospital rooms. This is a long road, and I admire them for dealing with the situation so well.
The family has been blessed to be able to remain at home since July 9th… so we’re going on a full week now! Grant’s head has lost much more of the few stubbly hairs left. His blood counts have risen and that brings more joy to these days at home. There will be many ups and downs in the future though. Come Monday, the chemo starts again and there will be less smiles from our little Monkey.
Going back to time and plans… Cancer was definitely not in the plan for this summer. Or ever really. Though I will accept it because it has already been an incredible growing experience for me. Hardships mold and shape us into better people even though we may not see the results for a while. This battle isn’t even directly mine, yet my eyes have been opened to a more eternal perspective of God’s plan, to the vitality of faith in my daily life, and the blessings of cultivating a desire to selflessly serve and sacrifice on behalf of others. I’m about to have a baby – technically any day now! – and I’d say that having this fresh on my mind couldn’t be a better way to prepare for parenthood.
There was a time in my late teen years that the following verse took on a profound and very personal meaning for me…
Joshua 1:9 – – Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
I had a psychologist explain to me that the word “dismayed” meant allowing all of the negative “what if’s” to creep in. It is dwelling on the worst, the glass half empty instead of half full. I have learned that where there is faith, there cannot be fear. Where there is faith, there is peace and comfort.
In the past month I’ve seen tremendous strength, great courage, and unwavering faith that God is present in this fight against cancer. I’ve seen more unity, more prayer, more encouragement, and more smiles than you’d think would accompany such a heavy burden. I’m not saying it’s been easy. I look at Michael and June and see complete exhaustion sometimes. The sadness and frustration exist. They’re expected. But as the quote goes and rings even more true as time passes, “The future is as bright as our faith.”