I am all up in my feels.
This day started off like a normal day: I took Joshua into Little Rock, to meet up with his FRIENDS at Therapeutic Recreation. I ran some errands and then met Holly for a quick bite of lunch. I asked if she could pick up Joshua from TR for me, and she said that she could. And then she headed to get him...and I headed to meet Clark.
At Arkansas' Children's Hospital.
Today was Clark's annual oncology check-up. We waited a long time in the waiting room...as usual. I don't mind this at all, because I know that, when we get back to the exam room, the doctors and nurses will give us all the time we need.
I was prepared for all of the questions. ACH is a teaching hospital, and so, many times, they will send in med students to ask questions and examine our child before the doctor comes in and asks the questions and examines our child.
I was prepared for the lab work Clark needed. With his type of cancer, a certain blood test is a good marker for it...so that's mainly what they use.
Side note: In the waiting room today, there was a little boy playing with his sister, Mom and Grandmother. He was running around and having a big, ol' time. Just then, the nurse opened the door and called his name. Instantly his face changed. He began to look for his mom. His little eyes got big...his chin quivered...and his face just crumpled.
And Marty got all tuned up watching the whole thing. It brought back so many memories, and it just broke my heart.
Clark doesn't cry anymore, when they take his blood. That ended a long time ago. When he was little, it took me and an extra nurse to hold him down...so that another nurse could draw his blood. He would hardly sleep the night before, and then would be a nervous wreck in the waiting room. Seeing his little face, those big, blue eyes, his quivering chin...so scared...I could hardly stand it.
I was NOT PREPARED for Clark's doctor to release him from the Oncology clinic.
Like, for forever.
I felt my tears stinging my eyes, and I started to get all hot and clammy. WHAT IN THE WORLD? As happy as I was for this news, not gonna lie...it's scary. These annual check-ups...knowing that Clark is being monitored each year, brings a huge sense of comfort and relief. But now...they're cutting him loose. And it's a good thing.
Dr. Becton spent a good amount of time telling Clark things to watch for...chances of recurrence...and the likelihood of any residual problems from his treatment. He said there should be NO CHANCE (or very, very little) that he would have any problems, as a result of his treatments, becoming a Dad. This was a concern of mine. He also said that there was NO CHANCE (or very, very little) that his children would have cancer just because he did. This was a concern of Clark's. We were so encouraged!
I've been bringing this child to ACH for 17 years. SEVENTEEN YEARS. Today, for the first time ever, I didn't bring him. He drove himself. He drove himself from college, like a big boy...and I met him there. It was weird.
There are so many memories in that wonderful hospital. SEVENTEEN YEARS from exam to surgery to diagnosis to chemo to re-checks and check-ups. We are going to miss seeing Dr. Becton SO MUCH, but tonight? We are just very thankful.
After his appointment, I bought Clark a cup of coffee from the coffee shop in the lobby...and then we walked out together to the parking lot, and said our good-byes. If we had known we were getting this news, maybe Jim could've come with us...and Holly and Joshua could've stayed in town...and Faith-the-girlfriend could've been there...and we maybe could've met the grandparents for dinner to celebrate.
Or, maybe I could've had a cupcake for him...or a cookie or something.
Instead, I gave him a big hug, and told him that I loved him very much. I watched him get in his car and drive away...and then I sat in my car and bawled my eyes out for a good 5 minutes. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Not only to God...but also to the family, friends and strangers He used to minister to and pray for our family, and for Clark...for all of his 19 1/2 years. But especially during the last 17 1/2 years. Everyone who has covered our family in prayer, held us up, encouraged us in any way...needs to share in our joy today.
Because we don't stand alone.
You will never know how much you appreciate the prayers and support of others...until you are in a situation where you need them desperately.
I don't know how to tie this all up neatly, because my heart is still about to beat out of my chest. I can't even believe the events of this day!
You can make a difference in someone's life, like others have made a difference in ours. Because, people are hurting, y'all. I want to encourage you to get involved...in your church, your small group, your Mother's Day Out friends, your neighborhood, your gym buddies, your work people. Share your needs with others...and encourage others to share their needs with you. If you can do something to help, like physically meet a need...DO IT. If you can't, PRAY. It's our greatest weapon and our greatest privilege.
"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:4