We found out last week that Jammie's cells are 100% engraphed in Steven's marrow. We also found that his marrow is still free of the cancer and the cytogenic mutation. Both of these are the results we have been praying for. Fervently.
Although this in itself does not guarantee that Steven will be cured, they are critical pieces of the puzzle. Without these pieces, we would never even have the chance to see the work completed.
We also received the sign we had prayed for: the rash. A rash had been said to be a good indicator that the new cells would recognize the cancer when/if it returned. It showed that Jammie's cells were active, working and recognizing that something, was indeed, foreign.
In fact, despite Steven's assurance that we haven't, I think we might have prayed too hard. It has been present for over a week and is not showing any sign of clearing up. In fact, it's spreading. Even raging as it is, I hope that it is still a good sign, and that Jammie's cells make themselves at home. Soon.
Despite the great news, I have found that I continue to worry about Steven, the kids, and what our future looks like. It is ridiculous, really. I know this.
It's common knowledge, after all, that no one can predict what the future holds. Still...we try.
The anxiety leading up to the results, despite my attempts to ward it off, became almost debilitating. Despite having friends that were with me when I discussed the possibility of the cancer still being present with Steven's nurse, I felt myself starting to shut down and succumb to the fear. In my car, in a parking lot, I cried as I shared with them my greatest fears relating to Steven and this horrible disease.
When they left that night, I clung to Steven. For the first time in months, I broke down in front of him and he tried to comfort me.
I clung to prayer and searched for God in all things, unable to question His inevitable presence in so many of the blessings we have experienced. I turned my mind to the people who have continuously reached out to Steven and I and lifted us up with prayers and kindness. I turned my mind to the generosity of so many, and the opportunities it has provided. I turned my mind to the hands that have comforted my children and watched closely as they have grown, physically, and emotionally, as I have been away. And, as I have done innumerable times during this journey, I said the rosary as a way to calm my mind.
The day we got the good results was the last day that I held the beads in my hands, noting the feel of each and I went through the prayers.
As I went to retrieve them this week, wanting to again, calm my mind, I found them missing. Gone.
I searched the house and turned things inside out. They were no where to be found.
This duplex is not large, and there are limited hands that would have been here to touch them. Yet, they were gone.
Unexpectedly, the loss I felt at their disappearance was pronounced. I had never been a big "sayer" of the rosary. Funerals and special masses were about the only times I said the prayers. However, beginning with Steven's first hospitalization in St. Louis, I began to say them more and more frequently. I was not by any means an expert and, in fact, had to download an app to help me know which "mysteries" were said when. It's true what they say about "Cradle Catholics" in my case. Many of the very traditions that are held in high esteem by the church had been taken for granted by me, instead of taken to heart.
Steven's situation changed that.
With my busy mind, and inability to just be still, the rosary seemed to be the cure. It moved my hands, and my mind...and most importantly, my heart.
Unfortunately, the rosary has still not been found.
Fortunately, the rosary has not been the only thing to move my heart.
Far from it.
The past few days I have been trying to formulate the words, or the method, to adequately convey how I feel about the outpouring of love that has been shown to my family during this time. Time and time again I think about personally making phone calls, sending messages on Facebook, or a card through the mail, something, anything, to thank everyone for the things they have done-the countless things that have been done.
The only thing holding me back? The intense fear of forgetting someone.
Steven and I can not even begin to comprehend the kindness that has been shown to us during this time. It's humbling. It's heartwarming, and at the same time, heartbreaking. It's overwhelming and words seem to understate the importance. It has changed me. It has changed Steven. It has changed my kids.
I remember crying in the parking lot of Mercy hospital in September, as I spoke to my sister on the phone. Through the sobs I choked out my concern, "I am SO afraid this will change my children...so afraid it will change WHO they are."
Without missing a beat, Sarah replied, "It will".
And she was right.
At the time we agreed that our biggest hope was that this disease, and the subsequent journey, would change them for the better.
And it has.
As a parent it is humbling to admit it. My children, who I have spent years shaping, have changed, without me, in a matter of months. In my absence they have grown, they have matured, they have adapted, and their eyes have forever been opened to the importance of community. This change has had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with you, and the love that has been shown.
They have seen the impact that your prayers have had in our life. They have seen, firsthand, the outpouring of love at the benefit, NINE days after Steven's diagnosis. They have seen my parents hand deliver card after card from people reaching out to us, showing us their concern and love. They have seen people shove money in our hands, refusing to have it returned, because they wanted to "do something". They have seen people travel hours to come show us they care. They have overheard the phone calls expressing concern. They have seen a man at the church we have been attending here in St. Louis, a stranger to us, give Steven his name and number, "just in case" we needed someone here...while we were far away from home and family.
They have seen, in a way never seen before, the way that God works through His people on earth.
And it has changed them.
It has changed us all.
Although I may never be able to personally thank everyone for all they have done, please know it hasn't gone unnoticed. No matter how large, or how small, it has made an impact.
And, as my children grow, please know that they, too, will share the blessings that they have witnessed, or experienced first hand. Your generosity has crossed generations and has shaped the lives of those who are just learning what it truly means to live.
As I said, my children have been changed.
We all have.