Our oldest daughter was 48 years old when, out of nowhere, our youngest daughter was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. This news changed forever the relative stability and order that had shielded our family to that point in time.
For nearly half a century then, my wife and I had been the ultimate and infallible fixers Broken toy? Daddy mend; Grazed knee? Mommy makes better; Rough spots in school? Quietly vigilant but ready to step in to see fair play; Trouble with love life? We were counselors, confidantes, handsoff or heavies, whatever fitted the circumstances; Poor, lifechanging decisions? Your choice, learn from it, BUT always, in the background, remaining capable of rescue if the last throes of drain circling were reached.
From babes to kids to teenagers to their own families, we provided our offspring with what we saw as only necessary and sufficient guidance. Not ideal by many measures but the end product comprises three vigorous families each succeeding admirably and providing their own guiding mores to following generations. An agreeable process based on the birth life death cycle of the natural world.
Then calamity and failure, visited upon us by the scourge of cancer. A threat, indeed an unprovoked and potentially deadly attack on our family. After fifty years of careful stewardship an assault completely outside our experience and worse yet, one against which we were powerless. Life’s landscape had suddenly changed. No experiential parallels, no source of advice or suggested course of action, nothing to offer – in short, complete impotence and a lot of confusion.
However was this to be resolved? In the end, by the character and strength of our stricken daughter and her family. After a period of reeling around from disbelief to shock to anger to despair and back again to disbelief, she and her husband went into hyperdrive and met the challenge headon. Doctor visits, specialist visits, research, learning, more visits, more research and, finally, a plan they could believe in!
Next, energetic and diligent execution of the plan, crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s.
Over the ensuing year the downsides became slightly less scary, negative emotions slowly diminished, the future was continuing to unfold and maybe, just maybe, this thing can be lived with.
What an accomplishment and, Oh My, have we been two impressed bystanders!