The day the battle ensued.
One of those things every parent dreads and hopes won't happen in their lifetime ... a 'private meeting' with the head doctor of the Emergency Room of a local Children's hospital in a conference room where you are given the terrible news ... "your child has a tumor." Our world turned upside down in that fateful moment. We would never again be quite the same.
We had been anxious and growing frantic as Lauren's condition had worsened, but no tests were giving an 'answer' to her pain, declining health, and dramatic weight loss she was exhibiting. We had been in and out of doctors offices for weeks, but until that CT scan showed the vicious beast growing inside of her we couldn't have imagined the deep and real fear that we would now become intimately familiar with. We simply didn't have any idea it could happen to us. And, as we would learn over the next years as we struggled, won, recurred, won again, recurred, etc., there was never a 'reason' why it would happen to her. No logic, no common sense, no fathomable notion would have suggested how something so vial found its way into something (or someone) so perfect and less likely to suffer from cancer.
But, cancer was ours, whether it made sense or not. It crept into our lives like a thief in the night and it left a heartache that will not heal, for it cut her life short way before we were ready to let go. We know we never would have been ready to let go, no matter how long we had to fight for her life. She was just worth every bit of anything we were required to give to the battle.
Fighting was a privilege, for Lauren was (and is) a privilege beyond our comprehension. She still fills our life with smiles and laughter we could not know without her, while her absence also fills our life with tears that do not run out or dry up and emptiness that can't possibly be filled. I laugh and cry most every day, but no day seems to inspire the same sorrow as the day the cancer was diagnosed and there was no 'rewind' button to prevent the tragedy. July 1 will always be a challenge for me as I contemplate all of the regrets, the fatigue, the bitterness, the difficulties, the sadness, and the heartache of seeing her have to endure the illness, the treatments, the side-effects, the loneliness, winning only to lose again, and to have the cancer finally one day stop her heart from beating. I hated what she had to go through and I do not like the memories that accompany this day, but through the tears, I will always give thanks that her 15 mortal years were ours and her eternity will be too.
The beauty of a 'forever family' is all the more deep, more profound, and more significant when someone such an enormous part of everything you are is already in heaven ahead of you.
I will also give thanks for the friends it brought into our lives. I still give thanks to a loving Heavenly Father for Dr. Lemons, Diane, Stephanie, Tiffany, Michelle, Kelli, Carrie, Amy, Mindy, Dr. Lenny Wexler, and many others who stood by her side and helped give her reasons to fight, to be brave, and most importantly for her, to laugh.
If I could bypass cancer, I would. If I could erase July 1, 2006 from my life and hers, I would. But, I would sign up for any of it again for the privilege of Lauren and her siblings and father . . . . loving this deeply is truly worth all the heartache and sorrow that comes with it.
God please bless those who suffer, those who fight, those who win through life or win through death, those who care for, those who research, those who fund, those who study, those who serve, those who care for, and those who have to watch so helplessly from the sidelines. God please bless a date to be the day of the 'cure', instead of the day the battle ensued. And, may it be soon.
In loving honor and memory.