When Gregory was well enough after transplant for us to return HomeHome, we came back to the Spokane area and moved into our family’s Water Retreat. Around eight months post transplant, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. I hesitate to share these next words. They are so steeped in emotions that I have been keeping them tucked in my heart. I’m not even sure of my intent to share them now. I know I cannot ‘release’ them. They are branded into my heart and my soul. The red-hot branding iron used to imprint them in my being still leaves behind a raw wound that I find myself picking at, from time-to-time.
We had been discussing Gregory’s current state of health. The conversation shifted and she asked, “What about Curtis and AnnMarie?” I don’t recall the exact words, but she asked me, “Have you forgotten that you have two other children?”
*blink, blink, blink*
I was put in a position of having to justify why all my time and energy were put into saving the life of my youngest. You really cannot understand what this Odyssey is all about, until you experience it. Gregory’s life hung in the balance and as a mom, his caregiver and the Momcologist that I am, it was and still is, my responsibility to get him through this and protect him any way I can.
Which meant that I trusted that Curtis and AnnMarie’s Daddy and my mom had it covered. I told myself that a period of separation was far easier to deal with the aftermath than a lifetime without Gregory. Daddy and I made the decision to divide and conquer. I’d like to think that the decision we made really did help to save Gregory’s life. I’m also willing to admit that this belief is also filled with ego. I’ve mentioned before that the reason’s for Gregory’s survival are inexplicable. Crap shoot. Roll of the dice.
I’ve never really taken the time to write about how this has affected the siblings, Curtis and AnnMarie. The trauma of Gregory’s diagnosis, my immediate absence from their presence and my physical absence for 15 months. Even when we returned HomeHome in August of 2010, I was not completely available for them. The return to HomeHome brought on it’s own host of adjustments and emotions.
Yet, Curtis and AnnMarie continued to age, continued to grow up and continued to witness their broken mom who spent nearly all her time with their brother. The last year has been much better. We are working on what we can as it comes up. We have (hopefully) re-established a sense of security They know they are loved by me, unconditionally. We still have moments. My GAWD, do we still have moments. Gregory is the youngest, naturally his contributions to the family are age appropriate. His siblings still see a disparity and think he is being favored by me. I don’t think this is something that we will ever get over. As special as Curtis and AnnMarie are, there is not getting around the fact that Gregory is, was and will always be favored on some level. *big deep breath* Did I just admit that?
One thing that I know for certain: I am doing the best job I know how to do. I have not failed any of my OffSpring.
They will have a bit of brokenness about them as adults. Truthfully, who doesn’t. My hope is that they will recognize it and understand that it is no one’s fault. My hope is that all of this talk, talk, talking we do will open their hearts and their brains to see that we made the best decisions for OUR FAMILY. My hope is that it won’t take them having their own children in order to see the love that surrounds them.
Siblings of kids diagnosed with cancer get the short end of the stick. I don’t have any suggestions or ideas on how to better support them. WHY? The answer lies in the circumstances. The people they need most, their parents, are largely not available to them. For long periods of time. No matter how many people step up and offer support, these people are not their parents. I have lost a solid three years of Curtis’ and AnnMarie’s life. Gregory is now the age AnnMarie was at his diagnosis. I can’t reclaim those years. I can’t undo the hurt and abandonment that happened.
I can show them love. Thankfully I have an unending supply and it’s easy to offer.
To ALL the siblings. Giant heaps of unending love….