Every time May rolls around, we get very excited in this house. This one will mark the six-year anniversary of Lucy's bone marrow transplant—making Mother’s Day even more meaningful. Lucy, now 7, is cancer-free, but transplant day always brings about conflicting emotions.
When I consider where we are and all we've gone through, I certainly feel joyful. But this joy can often come with sadness for what could have been and what has been lost. Having a child facing a terminal diagnosis taught me the importance of practicing gratitude even in the dark days.
Considering how worried I can get as a mom, I wasn't often very afraid while Lucy was sick; I think my background as a nurse helped me stay calm. I felt like I could understand most of what was going on and the hospital environment was familiar to me. But after transplant, I distinctly remember one very long night when Lucy was getting much sicker. It seemed like morning would never come. Early, before hospital rounds, I called a friend and sobbed over the phone with her. My friend listened and we prayed together. By the time the doctors came in, there was a plan for treating her. I was, and still am, so thankful for doctors and nurses who cared about her and had the knowledge to treat her.
When I tell our family's story now, people ask me how I lived through Lucy's illness. And I tell them the truth: I really don't know. After that dark night, she did improve, but ever so slowly. That summer was filled with repeat admissions, countless doctor appointments, and complications, following a year of near-constant hospitalization. I do remember clinging to the adage, "One day at a time." After living so long at the hospital, I was grateful for small things like days at home, sharing meals and seeing my children play together.
We're far enough out now that I can allow myself to think of the future: What she will act like as a teenager. What kind of career she will pursue. How she will own her story. What will she do with this pivotal part of her life that she doesn't remember? I have to be brave, to be honest with her about how difficult it was. I want her to know that she is God's miracle in our family—that no one expected her to survive.
Even if I can envision the future, it's not guaranteed. It never was. In these uncertain times, we see that more clearly now. Lately, every morning I try to train my mind to be grateful. Today, I’m grateful for the gift of transplant medicine that saved my girl and the six years it has given us so far. And I’m grateful to be celebrating Mother’s Day again with two healthy children.