Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Boys Are Made Of

"Snakes and snails, and puppy dog tails - that's what little boys are made of."

Trying to figure out what to blog - and when to blog it - is a ongoing struggle.  There are things going on that I'm not comfortable sharing with the world at large - much of it having to do with my family.  I try to remember that just because I have cancer doesn't meant that they should lose their privacy.  My husband has been very supportive of my writing here, but I think my boys struggle with it.

They're at difficult ages - 18 and 20.  They are dealing with something I never had to face at their ages - the prospect of possibly losing their mom to cancer.  I don't know how to help them deal with it as I have no experience at that age to draw on.  As they have gone through other things growing up, I always had *something* that I could draw on - but this?  I'm clueless.

My mom is still alive and well and healthy.  My dad as well.  My beloved Aunt Linda passed away when I was in my mid-twenties, and let's face it - we're a lot more grown up and settled at 24 or 25 than we are at 18 or 20.  At 18 and 20 we are still trying to figure out who we are, and what we want to do with our lives, and how we want to do that.  Those are tough things to figure out - and I would imagine even tougher to really think about when your mind keeps turning to "my mom is sick...my mom might die...my mom is better! my mom's cancer is coming back..." 

We have offered counseling to both of them.  But they are boys, raised in redneck country, and I get the feeling that they feel like it wouldn't be "manly" or something if they went.  So as far as I know, they talk about it with their friends, and I hope and pray that it's enough.  And I hope and pray that if they need more, that either one of them will feel comfortable enough to come to me or their dad and ask.

I get the impression from them that they are tired of mom worrying about them so much.  Both do their best to reassure me when they can that they are fine, that they are handling the chaos that comes with a parent with cancer just fine.  Being just 18 and 20, they can't begin to understand the love that a parent has for a child.  They just can't - no more than I could until I had children of my own.  They think I'm worrying unnecessarily.  The love of a parent for a child cannot be explained to someone who doesn't have children - either of the body or of their heart - it doesn't matter.  It's just a different kind of love.  It can be overwhelming at times - for the parent as well as the child.  And it is oh-so-hard to let that child go out there and make their own decisions and choices.

But we have to - the whole idea is to raise them so they are able to make it on their own someday.  I have to trust that everything their dad and I tried to teach them over the last 18 and 20 years will find fertile ground in their hearts.  I have to trust in their choices, even if those choices might not be *my* choices.  I won't lie - it's hard - so very hard.  It's doubly hard when you're aware that you might not be around when they finally get it all together.  That you might not see them finish college, find a career that they love, marry, or have children of their own.

Sometimes that is what hurts the most - the possibility that I might never know my own grandchildren.  I am almost positive that I'll never know my own great-grandchildren.  It pisses me off.  Except for my grandmother who passed away from ovarian cancer in her 50's, the rest of my relatives were fairly long-lived.  My dad's father is in his 90's and still kickin'.  I had every expectation of living to be a sorta sweet little old lady, spoiling her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Now?  I'm not so sure.

So I try to trust in our raisin' of them.  I pray for them every chance I get.  I try to be available to them in case they want to talk - and if they aren't comfortable talking to me, or their dad, I'm supportive of them talking to anyone else that might help them get through all this. But most of all - I just try to love them without smothering them.  It's hard to do when you don't know if you'll have months or years or decades to show them how much you love them.  I just hope for the best.  I hope that what they are made of is strong stuff.

And maybe - just maybe - if all of y'all reading this can drop a prayer to the deity of your choice, maybe my boys will be ok.

It's not too much to ask, is it?  

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