When my brother Elden and his wife Susan were engaged in their battle against Breast Cancer last year I wrote about not knowing what to say to someone when they’re “in the fight”. I of course didn’t know that soon I’d be the person who people wanted to reach out to, but weren’t sure how they could, or what they could say.
I can’t express how weird it feels to receive so much love and kindness from so many different directions. It feels really good, and it is important to me that people to know I appreciate their efforts in supporting my family, no matter how well they know me. I’m acutely aware that the choices Anson and I have made for our family, and ending this pregnancy, may be different than the choices others would make. There is no part of me that believes there was a Universal Truth somewhere inside all the circumstance, that there was One Right Choice.
I’ve simply had to trust myself, to have faith in myself, to believe that I’ve collected all the information I possibly can, from the best sources I possibly could find. I’ve had to exhaust every single option for a test, for an opinion, for guidance. And then I’ve had to sit alone with it, feeling this baby boy kicking inside me, and wonder what this mother is supposed to do. Over and over the same answer comes to me: what would I ask someone to do for me, were I this child? And undeniably, the truth is I would ask them to do the same thing as if I were suffering in old age, or suffering due to any terminal illness. I would ask them to not prolong it, to please let me go.
This answer has not brought me peace but I do not doubt it. Every email I get, every comment, every hug on the playground or squeeze of my hand in passing helps bring me peace. The strangers and almost-strangers that share concern, bring me peace. The unending gifts of conversation, time and love bring me peace. My friend’s confidence in my ability to discern and choose the best path for my family brings me peace.
I still don’t know what to say to people when they’re struggling with their own battles. But I do know it is this confidence in me radiating from those around me that has given me the strength and clarity to make it. And that gift of support and strength is exactly the thing that will get me through this week and able to move forward without regret or guilt. It provides me the magic to continue to enjoy the love and happiness in my home, and in the world at large. I am writing today full of sadness for the process that begins today, but also full of gratitude for the gifts given to me by those around me, near and far.