Thank you for taking time to follow Meaghan's journey of healing as she battles Medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer.

Meaghan, our five year old daughter, was diagnosed early November 2009 after an MRI revealed she had a 4 cm solid tumor in her cerebellum. The tumor resection, while successful, resulted in serious complications.

Cancer is a family affair and here I try to chronicle not only Meg's journey, but our whole family's as well.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What's In Your Wallet?

During the past week's follow-up appointments, testing and pharmacy runs, I've noticed something unexpected as I filled out reams of paperwork regurgitating Meaghan's medical history. My wallet configuration is different. The first three cards are my I.D., our primary insurance card and Meg's Children's Special Health Care Services card. Before cancer, I'd have my I.D., debit card, library card, assorted frequent shopper's cards, etc. And somewhere, buried in a slot, health insurance cards were collecting dust.

Staring into my purse, I wondered: What does a person's wallet configuration say about his/her lifestyle? How is his/her life organized? If money makes the world go 'round, what's got him/her spinning in him/her orbit? In the countless trips along I-94 to Children's Hospital, I pass the Lotto jackpot totals. There used to be a time I would daydream about what I would do with a fraction of that kind of money. Nothing ever lavish. Simple things like get out debt, set aside money for kids' college tuition, take care of our parents, charitable contributions, travel. I rarely fantasized about material acquisitions, mostly about the comfort that financial security brings.

Passing those billboards now, I can't even muster a flicker of interest in what limitless wealth would mean. Funny, come to think of it, I don't daydream anymore. Since I was a small child I was always focused on what comes next. Never content in the moment, always future focused, the consummate planner.

My mom frequently asks me what's on the agenda for the next day. It's her way of asking what I need from her. The question perplexes me. I try to wrap my brain around a plan of attack, a strategy for meeting the coming day with purpose and productivity. Instead of action items, my mind empties and my ears swoosh-swoosh. You mean there's a day after today? It's unseemly to think about a moment beyond the next.

Does my inability to manufacture a dreamscape mean I've mastered the art of the present? I don't know. I am certain my happiness comes not from what will be, but what is. That much is different. My joys now are watching Meaghan stroke Ethan's head as he crawls beneath the covers with her; standing at the sink, washing dishes while listening to Meg laugh as Daddy tickles her. My satisfaction comes from feeling Madison relax into my arms after a rough day at school, giggling that she can barely fit her head beneath my chin. And my happiness is seeing our silly Golden Retriever do a full body wag of delight upon seeing me.

Perhaps living in the moment really means releasing the future from our own limitations. Perhaps, if we allow, the joys of the present outweigh our perceived fears of the future. I feel tremendous relief being released from a mind, momentarily, no longer obligated to preconceive. Our family's future has an ending yet unwritten, completely blank for me. And I'm not so afraid.

I orbit my family. No need anymore for shooting stars or streaking comets. Just the joys and sorrows lived between each sunrise and sunset.

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