Seven years ago today, July 11th, was the 2nd most devastating day of my life! To say my world got turned upside down is putting it mildly, but that was only the beginning of it! While we were preparing to celebrate Elatia’s 26th birthday on Lido Beach we had to make what we thought was a quick run to the walk in clinic for Andrew. He had swollen glands and a temperature that we thought might be strep throat…..
The Dr said we had to go to the ER because his machine was too small to measure Andrew’s white cell count, it was way too high and needed a bigger machine to measure it. Again, thinking we’ll just be a little later with the birthday cake for Elatia, we went to the ER unsuspecting of the news that laid ahead of us.
Imagine our surprise when they tell us that our son did not have strep throat but instead had leukemia! W T F??? Strep throat was looking really good now! I nearly collapsed as I felt my knees get weak! This just couldn’t be true! Not our amazing, healthy, strong son! They had to of made a mistake! They also informed us that Andrew was going to be taken to All Children’s Hospital in St Pete by ambulance where he went straight into the PICU, was immediately put on chemo and dialysis to prevent his kidneys from failing from the 450,000 white cells (normal is 1,000-1,500) that were being killed by the chemo. No birthday celebration on the beach for us on Elatia’s birthday that year. My head was spinning trying to make sense of what just happened to our son, to our lives.
So the nearly 4 month leukemia journey began with our 16yo son. A journey that was so stressful, yet powerful, profound, intimate and in the end, yes devastating too. A devastation I deal with to this day. A devastation I will deal with the rest of my life.
But if my son had to go, I am soooo grateful that he was willing to go through what he did, to give us those 4 months together. Even through all the stress and pain of it all, Martin, Andrew and I had an amazingly beautiful last 4 months together spending it in love. We laughed, we cried, we sang, we talked, we had slumber parties, we had fun through it all!
I have worked hard to change the devastation days into celebration days, especially all “the firsts” after Andrew passed. But how could I do that for his diagnosis day? I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate my son’s diagnosis day.
But being diagnosed on Elatia’s birthday allows me to acknowledge what happened, BUT celebrate my daughter and focus on that instead. Yes it is a bittersweet day, but getting to celebrate one of the most amazing days of my life while acknowledging the 2nd worse day of my life helps to take the sting out a bit. It gives me a choice on what I CHOOSE to focus on, joy or pain? What a beautiful gift he gave me being diagnosed on Elatia’s birthday! Andrew was/is all about choice. That boy of mine just knows what he’s doing!
Thank you Andrew for a fantastic 16 years together and the last nearly 7 years of, while painful, enlightening lessons as we started our new relationship and journey together.
Thank you for ALWAYS reminding us that through it all, even on the toughest of days that…..
IT’S ALL GOOD!