It took about two years before I realized that I had to talk about it.
Two years of allowing fear, anxiety, anger and sadness to eat at me from the inside. I was too afraid to show that I was struggling so I held it in.
Until the day that I let it out.
Until the day when I came to the realization that if I was going to make it through parenthood and life in general I had to learn to be open about my struggles. Life was going to be full of them. Life with with a child who had health issues was going to present even more obstacles. If I was going to over come them I had to be willing to face them first.
So I started talking and writing.
I talked and I wrote.
I wrote and I talked
I told our story over and over, to anyone who would listen or read about it.
I wasn’t afraid to admit that I had a difficult time. I wasn’t afraid to admit that I had shed more tears than I could count.
I came to the realization that it made me stronger to open up about it and not weak like I had feared. I could feel the tensions ease and the fears loosen. I felt lighter, less frightened and better equipped to face what was to come.
Truth is, this story isn’t just my story.
It’s our family story.
It’s my husband’s story.
It’s my daughter’s story.
And most importantly it’s my son’s story.
Each story I write, each photo I post, each time I openly share a part of our experience I ask permission. Anything that you see, hear or read about has been approved by those involved, most importantly Tyson.
I want to help my children learn from an early age to face sadness in life. I want them to be comfortable with facing the obstacles life is going to throw at them. I don’t want them to feel like they have to put on a happy face all the time.
Our family does that by talking.
At some point in time I wondered if others were tired of hearing about our struggles.
I heard the voices of people who wanted me to get over it. Those who felt like I should be passed the pain and moved on.
But I pushed through and continued to be open with our story.
A recent visit to Sick Kids hospital reminded me why.
I found out that an old friend would be there with her daughter on the same day that we would be there.
Luckily we were able to connect in between our kids tests.
We chatted right there in the gift shop and I found myself swallowing tears. It felt emotional. It had been years since we had actually physically seen each other but we had reconnected over a common theme that neither of us wished we understood. Both of our children were Sick Kids patients, my son struggling with complications of TEF, her daughter fighting cancer.
When my friend introduced me to her mother she told her mother that I was the first person, after her husband, that she told about her daughter’s cancer diagnosis.
I looked at her feeling both surprised and honoured. “Is that true?” I asked.
“Yes” she replied “You were so open and honest about Tyson’s health issues and your struggles with it that you were the first person I thought of”
This is why I am so open about our story.
I am so open about the things that have knocked me down because I know I’m not the only one trying my best to get back up. There are other parents who feel lost in the struggles of parenthood; sick children, lost jobs, issues with school or friends.
We are all in this together.
While I can’t always be there to pick someone up when they have fallen down, I can use my words to help a lost parent find their way out of the fog.
I tell my story over and over again so that the parent who is sitting in their car in a hospital parking lot fighting for the strength to go back in knows they aren’t alone.
I tell my story over and over again so that the parent who sits on the shower floor crying, hoping that the rushing water will drown out the sound of their sobs knows they aren’t alone.
I tell my story over and over again so that the parent who is sitting in the surgical waiting room in a children’s hospital watching their child’s name on that screen, waiting for it to say “In Recovery” knows they aren’t alone.
I tell our story over and over again in hopes that the parent who isn’t sure if they have the strength to pick themselves up can feel my hand trying to give them something to lean on.
That day, in the gift shop at Sick Kids, I hugged my friend goodbye and held on just a little, knowing that my words helped give her some hope during one of the most hopeless moments a parent can experience and I searched for a way to tell her that her words have been that hand that has given me something to lean on more times than I count.