It’s the little things that matter

Everyone knows kids can say the darndest things. They can make liars out of us and make us laugh like no one else! Their questions can be quite confusing but to them the answer should be quite simple. Where do babies come from? The question we all get sooner or later. Why is the sky blue, why is the grass green, how do planes fly? All simple questions right? But what happens when you are faced with real questions?

I haven’t wanted to write about this because it is painful to even think about. I’m writing this because I’m at a loss of what to say…those words of wisdom aren’t coming to me like they used to. I have a friend who I met in the 6th grade, we were close up until I left my home town when I was 15. We reconnected within the last 6 months or so. We literally picked up right were we left off not skipping a beat. She is my age, 29, has 2 beautiful little girls, one in preschool and one in kindergarten. She received the most horrible news she thought she’d never hear….June of this year she was diagnosed with breast cancer, now it is in her brain. She has just finished her last chemo treatment and will have surgery in January. We keep our fingers crossed it is all gone. We all know that brain cancer is bad news and I do all I can to keep her spirits up. She has an incredible support system.

Her daughters are young and don’t understand. They can’t understand why mom can’t go play at the park. They don’t understand that a low blood cell count is dangerous during cancer treatments and hers is too low to leave her house. Her youngest asks for a sister for Christmas…she has to explain that’s it just impossible but it’s more complicated than usual. How much do you tell them?? They are so young. She says…because I said so! That seems to work right now! It really does kill her though inside. She has tried very hard to keep the conversation light when the girls are around but they are picking up on things. They see her in so much pain and there are days, weeks, she can’t even pick them up. They ask questions…why is mom losing her hair, why can’t mom come play?

She had her 1st parent/teacher conference and was thankful she was alive to make it. She isn’t preparing to die, she is fighting to live. So many things we take for granted. The little things, playing in the park, taking our children to school, watching them in their 1st play.

This is more of a reminder to be thankful for every tantrum, attitude and dramatic melt down,  for every laugh, smile, cry. Be thankful that today all you have is a neck ache, or an upset stomach, it could be far worse. Be thankful that your hair only needs a trim or colored, or maybe it’s not going right for you. Be thankful, don’t take it for granted because in one blink of an eye it can be taken from you.

I hold out for a miracle cure for cancer, I know many that do. I know deep down in my heart she will survive this and continue being the best mom she always has been. She’ll be the same Karo I’ve known for 15 years! She will come see me and we will make new memories.

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15 Responses to It’s the little things that matter

  1. Joy says:

    I’m so sorry for your pain Nikki. I too was given a second chance and I haven’t taken a single thing for granted since. It’s sad but sometimes we need that in order to be grateful for all the good things we have in our lives.

    About what to tell the kids and how honest to be. If it were me, I’d be as honest as I could without the death and dying. But I would try and explain to their level that mommy is sick and explain hair loss and such is the medicine trying to make mommy better. I’m afraid that if worst came to worst and they hadn’t been told the truth, it would just be such a shock for them. Also, “because I said so” is a really lame duck answer. I hated it when I had nothing better to say than that. Don’t you hate it when you have nothing better to bark back than that? LOL!!!

    I’ll for sure say a prayer for this young woman and her family.

    • Nikki says:

      UGH yes I do hate when I have nothing better to say than…B/C I said so! Her hair was coming out in clumps, so she had her boyfriend shave her head. Her dad did it with her! I have to say she sure makes bald look good! If she had any idea how often I cry for her she’d slap me!

  2. javajunkee says:

    oh man (((Nikki))) hugs to you first for having to face this as her friend. And prayers for her and the family. Cancer is just a real touchy thing here for me since it’s so prominent on both sides of my family.

    But thank you for the reminder again about the little things. My kids are older now but I still worry about one of them getting that horrible news or me and never being able to see grandchildren or their marriages. My sister fought breast cancer twice and continues to get clean bills of health but it is scary everytime she goes.

    prayers and hugs from iowa!

  3. SKL says:

    Prayers for her and her kids.

    This is an important message. It’s sad that it often takes a scare or a tragedy to remind people of the important things in life.

    I probably wouldn’t tell kids that young that I had a deadly disease. I’d tell them I was sick and working on getting better. I wonder if there is any charity in her area that could help her take the girls out or do fun stuff so they wouldn’t have to be cooped up on account of their mom’s illness.

    • Joy says:

      That’s a really good idea SKL about the local charity’s in the area. Maybe you could look into that Nikki for her. Someone at a hospital or churches may offer a get away for the girls.

  4. Lucy says:

    I’m really sorry Nikki. This is definitely not an easy situation. I agree with most answers given. I don’t think I would tell children that young that I was dying, but I would definitely say I was really sick. Like you said, Children pick up on these things and its jut easier to be as honest with certain things (not having energy because she is sick, not being able to go outside, etc.)

    I think the idea about a local charity is great.

  5. Laura says:

    Hugs to you, and more prayers for all, coming from Iowa.

    Josh was four and at the end of preschool when Steve had his wreck. It was a scary day for all of us, and a scary time for a while there.

    Through it all, I told everyone, “be honest with him” but within reason. When he asked what happened, we told him that Daddy had an accident. We did wait a little while to tell him it was a car wreck, because it was so bad and I didn’t want him to be afraid of cars.

    But through the entire ordeal, there were lots of medications, lots of wheelchairs, weird attachments to the toilets (handles, so Steve didn’t fall), and all kinds of new gadgets for the Blind Guy.

    We kept it simple – Dad needs the medicine to get better. You can watch me, even help me (we talked about the colors and counted them out as I sorted his meds into the holder for the week), but don’t ever touch them, because they are for certain things. They can make Daddy feel better, but they could make you sick.

    When he asked questions, we answered honestly but simply. “Daddy’s knee is broken. He needs to be gentle with it. He can’t walk or run, but he can play checkers with you.”

    Find the “up” things that can be done with the kids. Mom can watch movies, read books, play quiet games.

    Meanwhile, as a friend, the worst thing I heard – as well meaning as it was – was the phrase, “if there’s anything I can do, call me.” I never called anyone, because I already felt like a burden.

    The better route to take, as a friend, is to say, “Hey, I’m taking Bailey out for ice cream and bowling. Would the girls like to come with? We’d love to have them, and it’ll give you some time to rest. We’ll be back at ….” Or offer to do other things… “i’m making casseroles/christmas cookies/meals today for the freezer, I’ll make an extra for you.” “Bailey needs some ‘service time’ for school.. I’m sending him over to shovel your walk/driveway”

    This gives her the option to get some rest time, and it takes the burden of asking for help off of her shoulders. Because that’s a big deal, needing the help but not wanting to ask and be a bother to people.

  6. Gary says:

    Wow, I’m almost speechless Nikki. I’m so sorry to hear this news of your dear friend. I wish you, her and her family the best and pray for a full recovery.

    Thanks for the reminder about our children! Sometimes as parents we NEED a little wake-up call like this so thank you! 😀

  7. pammywammy says:

    So sorry Nikki.I will have her in my prayers everyday.I know how it feels to be the one who loves someone with cancer.Its a word I dont like.You have to be strong for her.When you see her or talk to her,be yourself.Be the strong one for her right now.I still remember the day my mom found out she had cancer.She was always the strong one,but she looked at me and said”I need you to be strong for me now” And I did it.Antime I was with her,I left all my worries at the door.Walked in and stayed calm.If you are anxious,they become anxious also.Be strong,I know you can do it.You have the heart and soul of a survivor.
    As for the girls.No,you dont need to talk about death and dying.But I do think she should tell them she is very sick right now and that mommy is doing all she can to get better.Kids are so smart,smarter than we give them credit for sometimes.They sense when something isnt right.Just knowing mommy is really sick right now might help them understand why things are so different at home right now.Kids can be so understanding and supportive when an adult they love is not feeling well.I was not well one day,and my grandson sensed his nana was not herself.So I told him nana is not feeling well today.He came over and hugged me and kissed me all over my face.He even covered me with his blankey.He continued to play,but kept checking on me.It was so sweet.And hes only 2 1/2 years old.
    I will have you,your friend and her family in my prayers daily Nikki.Be strong and just love and be supportive in all areas of her life.She will be thankful for your loving friendshp.Thats what true and good friends are for.
    I send the biggest HUG to you today <3.Love you and take care of you.

  8. Just a Mom says:

    My prayers go out to your friend and her family. I lost a school friend 2 years ago to skin cancer. She gave it one hell of a fight that’s for sure! She left behind 3 kids ranging from 1 to 7 at the time. She always had a smile on her face and so did the kids. She was honest with the kids on a question by question basis and she kept it on their level.

    • Nikki says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t and don’t want to imagine her leaving us. My husband has tried to make me see that there’s always the possiblity. I know he’s only trying to prepare me and protect me from what would be a shock to me. I whole heartidly believe she will win this battle. I can’t think any other way.

  9. Nikki says:

    Thank you everyone for everything that has been said so far. Right now her dad has been her savior…he takes the girls to school and stays over night during the hard nights. She inspires me because she is so positive! Always finding the good in what is so bad. The charity is a great idea and I will ask her about it. I know she very involved in her church so I bet there are programs to help her with the girls. Unfortunalty she is in CA and I am in MN. 😦 I wish that I could afford some time to go out there and help her. We talk a lot I try to keep her mind on other things. We are planning her trip here, she’s excited to go to the Mall of America!!!!

  10. kweenmama says:

    There are some great suggestions here, especially all that Laura said. I truly hope all goes well with your friend. I’ll remember her and her family in my prayers.

  11. Sue says:

    This is so sad and I’m so sorry that they (and you) are going through this. I think the charity is a good idea to look into and your words of encouragement and support are wonderful. Honesty is the best way, I think, to be with kids, but they don’t need horrible details. Keep being the great friend you’ve been and that will help her more than she can probably say. She’ll be in my prayers.

  12. mabs says:

    This is heart wrenching. Reading it, makes my heart hurt for you and your friend- and her family. Your reminder about being thankful that I just have a migraine is what I needed. It will go away and I will be fine! I realized reading this how selfish I am at times and I’m going to pray for your friend and all that love her – – and stick this story at the front of my head for when I feel like complaining over how lucky I really am. Nikki, you are such a good person!

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