Today is a day I prayed for, dreamed about, visualized, and mentally willed into creation. It was at a time that today seemed so far away. It was more of a hope and a wish for a future that statistically had little chance of happening. It is the day Emily will get her driver’s license.
In a children’s oncology ward with my 3-year-old hooked up to tubes, IV’s, and broviacs, I would talk about the future. I would visualize the future I was praying for regardless of what the stats told me.
I vividly remember telling 3-year-old Emily how cancer wasn’t going to be as scary as the day she got her license. I remember laughing and telling her how for “Mommy” that day was going to be waaay scarier! I wanted her to picture her future. To not give up fighting for her life because of the pain of the present.
It was at a time when I knew her will to live was paramount to her survival.
In full transparency, that day seemed like more of an imaginative place so far in the future I couldn’t even feel it. Most of the time I just prayed she would live until 7, the age a relapse was unlikely and I could finally resume breathing like a normal human again.
But 17? Ten years beyond that? It was risky to ask for.
We are told in James 1:6 “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.” The message translates that to, “Ask boldly, believing, without a second thought.”
It was bold to talk about the future as if it was a done deal. It was bold to stand in defiance of the facts. It was bold to confidently paint a future for a child that she might never see.
I was scared, but I was bold. Bold is from an old English word that means “stout-hearted, brave, confident, strong.” I believe we can be scared and brave. We can be scared and confident. We can be scared and strong.
Today I am scared and strong. Today I stood in the waiting room just after she passed her driver’s test and went in to get her license. A big sign on the door said parents and instructors had to wait outside. I did a double-take. “Wait, I can’t go in with her?” I had to hand her all of her 6-point identifications and send her off to a government agency without any windows to even see who she was talking to and just wait?!??! As my mind struggled with this new independence I realized getting her license is more than an answered prayer, it’s a bold step into adulthood. A world without me standing as her advocate by her side. A world where she will need to stand boldly on her own. I fully admit I have struggled with the idea that I might not get to be her college roommate and I might actually have to cross a state line to see my daughter. And that actually might not be every day or just whenever I want.
How did I foreknow 14 years ago sitting in a hospital bed praying daily for my daughter’s survival that the day she got her license would be scarier? Not just because she is driving and NJ drivers are insane, aggressive, and think 55 is really code for 95, but because it’s an inch (or giant leap!) into adulthood. At least in the hospital room, I was her voice. Now she gets to speak for herself. In the hospital room, I made all the decisions. Now she gets to make decisions. How, in the midst of uncontrollable cancer, did I feel more in control?
So today I am filled with gratefulness and sadness. A strange and confusing combination of emotions that have settled into the pit of my stomach.
Sadness that every day is one day closer to her living a life as a grown-up. Where she will have her own house, her own family, and she will “visit” me and not live with me. My heart aches even as I write this.
And gratefulness that today is the day that is scarier than cancer. Today is the day we dreamed of, prayed for, and laughed about.
Today is a reminder of just how far we’ve come.
Today is the day my miracle kid got her license.