Almost nine years ago, when I received my triple negative breast cancer diagnosis, my first prayer was “God, please let me watch my children grow up!” My son was four years old and my daughter was 19 months old. My daughter was just barely walking and talking and my son couldn’t comprehend all that was happening, but had a basic understanding that mommy was sick. Both of my kids were in day care when I was diagnosed.
Through the years, there have been many times when I’ve been sucked into a hectic schedule of work, busy work, kids’ activities and the fast pace of day to day life, I’m reminded to stop, pause, take a deep breath and watch – truly watch and digest what’s happening in my children’s lives and watch them grow.
This past weekend on our annual “Say Goodbye to Summer; Last Beach Weekend Before School Starts” trip, we drove to the beach. We love the beach and take every opportunity we can, especially during the summer, to get to the beach; day trip to the beaches not far from us or a longer ride further down south – we are game. This weekend, as we drove to the beach, my now 10-year-old daughter, napped on the drive there. My son and I sat in the front conversing as old friends. We talked about everything, especially him starting junior high school and his upcoming 13th birthday. We laughed, got serious at times and had the best conversation. The richness of that moment is so precious. In our ride on a two-lane road, as my car slowly made its way through a grey, drizzling day, we connected in such a special way.
It was a rainy day when we got to the beach. No matter; just being by the water, hearing the ocean brings me peace. The beach is my serenity and my sanity and being there with my kids gives me so much calm and joy. We walked on the boardwalk and slipped into our favorite candy store to pass some time.
The next day, we awoke to clouds that eventually made way for the beaming sun. Joined by their cousins, I watched my children laugh, run, catch waves, play racquet games and fill the day with fellowship and fun.
We got back to use Labor Day Monday to prep for school. My daughter excitedly and anxiously awaited this morning, her first day of middle school. Their maturity and independence was in full swing. I had little role in their prep for the day as they laid out their clothes, made their lunches and my son awoke to his own alarm. School drop offs and goodbyes were quick as they didn’t require any hand holding that they once did. Their independent spirit was in full bloom.
I could be sad because they no longer cling to my leg or need that last, reassuring hug to start the day. Or, I can look at it as a sign that my husband and I have provided the support they needed in their “younger” days and welcome and celebrate these milestones. We’re moving on. They’re growing up. And, thank God, I’m blessed to be watching.
Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor. Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate who chronicles life after a breast cancer diagnosis. Living my manifesto, Soul of a Survivor, and always striving to color outside of the lines when defining my new normal.