When people ask me how I’m doing and I say, “I’m okay,” it’s kind of a lie. I’m not really okay. I’m terrified. I don’t want time to move forward because as each day passes, I feel like we’re all being dragged towards the edge of a precipice. I’m mired down with thoughts of Ana’s pain and Ana’s sorrow and doubts about my own ability to be strong for her. A part of my mind is always preoccupied with fear. No matter how much I try to stay positive and enjoy the small moments of our lives together as a family, there are reminders of what’s coming.
Like today when I mentioned to Ana that I wanted to cut a piece of hair to send to the stylist who is going to order her wig. She reached up and pulled out a thick tendril of hair and handed it to me.
She did it matter of factly, the way children sometimes do about things that strike the rest of us with abject terror.
I took the hair from her, said thank you, asked her if it hurt coming out (yes, slightly) and tried to ignore the feeling I got in my stomach. It’s the same feeling I got when the midwife told me, at 20 weeks pregnant, that something was wrong with my baby. And again when I walked Emily into the operating room at just six months old, then had to leave her there for over six hours. And again when I drove Ana to the emergency clinic in Kingston on August 25th when something told me this was a much bigger problem than appendicitis.
And now Ana’s hair is everywhere. It’s on her pillow, in the shower, on the sleeve of her sweatshirt. I found a strand wrapped around the container of strawberries in the fridge. The fictional image of a child with cancer – the bald head and wide eyes – isn’t fiction anymore. It’s not someone else’s story. It’s my child and she’s not okay. I’m not okay. I’m terrified.