Avalon's Army of Angels
February 16, 2009
Sickie Anam and musings...
I had some moments today...some deja vu's I'd prefer to never have been able to reference.  

Ambrosia and Avalon stayed at my parents' last night.  School was closed today for President's
Day anyway, so we thought we'd be nice to everyone and let Grammo and Pappo get some hug
time while the girls played hookey from normal life.  Now that he's laid off, Pappo can have
weekday playtime, although it nearly kills Grammo to have to be a grown up and go to work!

All the way around though, this ended up being a less than stellar stay.  Poor Grammo and
Pappo, with absolutely no intent on our part - we sent them two little sickies.  We knew Ambrosia
had a slight case of the sniffles on Sunday.  What we didn't know, was that the 'slight case' was
going to morph into torrential monsoons of the nasal variety.  Worse, we had no idea that the
healthy Avalon that left our house in Columbus, would magically transform into Fever Girl once
she settled into Dayton.  With an immunocompromised Grammo, these are definitely two kids
that shouldn't have been staying in her house.

Better yet, my supposed-to-be-an-extension-of-Sunday free day, ended up being anything but
'free'.  I was up to my nose hairs in a clingy, cranky, feverish 2 year old, with all the
independence of a butt boil.  I'm telling you, I've had warts that were further from my skin than
Anam was today.

OK, as insipid and whiny as he was, you couldn't help but feel sorry for the little guy.  He was
miserable.  I'm pretty sure he had a headache, because he kept trying to yank his eyelids off.  
When they reached a different time zone, I really had to lay down the law about keeping our
respective body parts roughly in the zipcode of the main event.  Criminy, the only thing I've ever
seen stretch that far is "Little Anam" - and what he does to that poor thing should be
Anyway, as I sat on the couch today, feeling pretty sorry for my little man, I suddenly flashed
back to other days with a toddler on my lap - days I wish I had no memory of.

Its an interesting thing, our perception of our reality.  I've often found myself marveling at Anam
lately.  I mean sometimes, he's so damn cute its nearly painful.  I watch him, amazed at how
adorable he can be, how funny, how fascinated he is with the entire world around him.  We
laugh at him constantly, seriously enjoying every antic and expression he bestows on us.  
Today, as I suddenly flashed back to the days of a very sick, fragile toddler, I realized
something.  I'm finding Anam so fascinating, because I haven't had the chance to appreciate a
toddler in nearly twelve years...

Aurora is 14, she was our first.  We reveled in every head tilt, poochy belly, and adorable look
she sent our way.  I remember relishing being a mom - constantly amazed that I was getting to
take care of such a wondrous little creature.  Six years later, we welcomed Ambrosia.  Ambrosia
was an entirely different little creature.  She cooed, smiled, and
lived entirely differently than
Aurora had.  But by the time Ambrosia was approaching this amusing 2 year old phase - we'd
welcomed our Big Surprise, Avalon.  Fric and Frac are only 22 months apart.  So the lovely
halcyon toddler days of Ambrosia , were clouded with the demanding newborn days of Avalon.  I
don't remember having anything remotely close to the luxury of enjoying any antics...I was too
busy trying not to drown in diapers.  

As Avalon crept closer to toddlerdom, I clearly remember reaching a place of calm, where I
could manage the two little ones, yet appreciate the maturity of my blossoming "big girl".  It was
fun and we were stupid happy.  In fact, that Summer, our business had the most successful
year we'd ever had.  We had actually started believing we'd be able to build the dream house
we'd imagined for so long.  Nick even went to a land auction to try to get a piece of property
we'd been wishing over.  All was good...and then...

As you know from the existence of this website - Avalon's toddler days were brought to a  
screeching halt by the Beast.  Cancer robbed her of a time in her life that should have been
nothing short of perfect.  Cancer robbed us all, and sometimes...it sneaks in the door to remind
me of its power.

This afternoon, as I held a whimpering, feverish baby, I flashed back to the weeks and months I
held another little wonder.  Anam is 28 months old.  By the time Avalon was 28 months old,
she'd been diagnosed with cancer, had 3 major operations, spent weeks in the hospital, dealt
with weeks of painful "packing" of an open chest wound, and endured 11 months of
chemotherapy.  She'd also been battling excruciating migraines for months, but we wouldn't
figure that out for nearly another year.

I suddenly understood today, I've been enjoying Anam's world discovery so much, because
those blissful moments were violently torn from us with Avalon.  We spend hours some
evenings, laughing at Anam's latest game, turning ourselves inside out to hear him giggle.  I
don't remember Avalon having a giggle.  I know she laughed, we all did.  Its just...that
soul-filling, heart warming, bubbling, rolling laugh wasn't there.  I don't think there was ever a
time her body let her embrace the universe that freely.  I think she was so busy fighting to stay
here...she missed her time to grab those sunbeams.  

I know it may seem ridiculous to muse over things so long past.  In some respect, I agree.  The
thing is, once  you've been dropped into this world, there's really no escaping it.  I don't get to
forget that time, its a part of us.  Its been woven into our family history, like it or not.  Some
days, its nearly gone, then others...it sneaks back in to remind you what you've lost.  

The gift of cancer is that it reminds you to stop and appreciate the joy in a minute, particularly
one spent with people you love.  I know I'm much more cognizant of those perfect moments in
time than I ever was before.  Sometimes, I find myself trying to freeze a moment, like I want to
make sure I can put myself back there in the future.  Every time we all pile on our bed, giggling,
tickling, and
loving sharing time and space...I do my best to carve every sound, every smell,
every aspect of that moment into the deepest, most sacred parts of my memory.  I know I'm
blessed to have the opportunity to do so.

I'm not joking when I say we're the
luckiest people on Earth.  We are.  For no matter what
cancer took from us, it didn't take
us.  It didn't take away my baby, it just changed how she
came to know this world.  I know mothers who will have to wait to hold their children again until
they make their final journey.  I spend every day thanking the Universe that I have all of my
children here to hug, kiss, and wonder at.  I have no delusions, I know
every single day is a gift.  
I understand.  Its just that, every now and again, I have to face those old demons.  Maybe I
have to revisit them, to help me keep my perspective.  Maybe I have to remember the
losses...to properly value our gains.  Maybe...I have to occasionally be melancholy and
miserable, so I can remember how happy I truly am.  
Anam - 28 mo, taken Feb 15, 2008
Avalon - 28 mo, taken 8-05 at the Cancer
Survivor's picnic.  She had little hair, had to
wear the hat and glasses to protect her from
sun damage and the mask to guard from germs.  
A picture really is worth a thousand words...