Apparently my immune system did not get the memo that it is summer, not winter.
My kids are not used to seeing me laying on the couch for days at a time--have I ever mentioned I'm a bit hyper? (I always tell parents of active kids that while it may be hard to parent, it is a blessing in adulthood.)
Anyhoo, all that lounging created a lot of angst for my kids. Not just normal angst.
Mei Mei sat and watched me cough. She showed great concern throughout the days, then finally, hesitatingly asked, "Mommy no die? Mommy cancer?"
Knife in the heart. No words for how it shatters my soul that even our newly adopted kids know the evil of cancer--and silently worry that death's tentacles linger.
And yet their fears go infinitely deeper, especially for my kids adopted at older ages.
They fear the loss of their mother. They fear in a way that goes way beyond what most children can conceive.
Every child's deepest fear is the loss of their mother.
And adopted kids? They fear loss infinitely more. They KNOW. They've LIVED it.
They know what it is to cry for a mother who only exists in their dreams. They know abandonment. They know what it is to go unprotected, untouched, unloved. They know what it is to be alone. THEY KNOW. And they FEAR it will happen again, no matter how much I try to convince them that it won't.
And really, how can I be sure? How can I be sure I'll live through my kids' childhoods?
I reassure my children that I will do everything in my power to be safe; to live a long and healthy life. I wear my seatbelt, go for check-ups and eat my veggies. I even find myself being extra careful because of their precautions. (When Hubby and I went to Hawaii, I refused to kite-sail because Vu's last words to me on departure were, "Mommy, please don't die!")
But there are no certainties--and they know it. They know it even more clearly in our family where cancer and death has shown its evil grasp.
It comes up in conversations. Lan Lan says that if I ever die she is going to be so mad at me! Mad! Oh, my sweet, spicy girl.
Vu says that if I ever die he is going to die too. He has even gone so far as to consider ways he might achieve it. When he first started asking me questions like how long it would take to die of starvation I was concerned. In reality, I know he was simply longing for a solution of how he would possibly survive the loss of his mother--yet again.
The only solution that really seems to help my kids is to talk about it--to quit denying the possibilities and instead face them head on. I let them know we have a plan for the unthinkable, reassuring their tender hearts that they will NEVER be alone again. We talk about who will care for them (especially if both parents die) and how our relatives and friends will rally around, encircling them with abundant love and devotion.
My kids feel especially surrounded by love when I remind them of ALL the people in their lives who love them; individually naming each and every sibling, relative, godparent, friend, neighbor, teacher and counselor.
And, of course, I remind them of the One who loves them more than all those people combined. The One who created them. The One who cried with them in their darkest hours and who will take their hurts and use it against evil, for good.
And most importantly, I remind my kids that death is only temporary. Eventually, we will all be together for eternity. ETERNITY. There will be no tears, no sadness, no loss, no devastation. No cancer. No death.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." ~ Revelation 21:4
Joe always loved theme parks. At Knott's Berry Farm
we looked up at a clear blue sky, sans for this single cloud
streaked with a rainbow. I felt like it was Joe, smiling down from heaven.
Ultimately, I can't heal my children's broken hearts. Loss has been their reality. Their hearts may be puzzle-pieced back together, but the transparent cracks threaten to shatter all over again. I can't promise I won't die prematurely or promise they won't have more loss.
All I can do is make fear and death a safe topic of discussion, hold my kids close, love them deeply, and teach them to trust Jesus (regardless of what earthly life throws in their path).
I can promise I will be their mommy FOREVER--for ETERNITY.