Count It All Joy

count it all joy cover

Count It All Joy

Copyright 1999 Sheila Ethier – First Edition

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data – Ethier, Sheila, 1957 –

Count It All Joy – ISBN: 0-9685057-0-8

 

Count It All Joy can be purchased directly through the author, Sheila Ethier.  The retail price is $16.95 and this includes shipping. Count It All Joy is also available on Amazon.com

 

I am sharing a few pages of my book with you. Grab a latte and read the entries below.

Introduction from Count It All Joy:

In the quiet shadows of the morning I take journeys in my mind to the happier times of my life. The days of packing up the car with little treasures from home — toys, pillows, blankets, peanut butter sandwiches…and my sons, Brandon and Jason. The three of us created adventures and fun as we traveled to city parks, nearby lakes and sometimes the rocky mountains of Alberta. In the compact “Limited Edition” car that I bought for my family, I felt the Joy of being a single mother. I felt the bond that ties mother and son would never be severed by poverty, illness or death. My white car offered freedom to seek the pleasures of life that I wanted my sons to experience.

Pictures of our journeys are tucked away in my mind, but they begin to fade as I remember my illness: the reality of shattered nerves, weary mind and restless spirit. Today, the journeys of happiness are shorter, and the challenges of living appear larger than ever before. For the past four years, I have been recovering from a chemical imbalance in my brain caused by chronic stress, called major depression. The illness has taken control of my moods, my energy and my sense of well-being.

When I was first diagnosed with depression, I denied that I, a registered nurse with a good attitude and a positive outlook on life could be depressed. It took several months before I could see that the symptoms my body and mind were experiencing were those of depression. I accepted the illness then and worked with my psychiatrist toward recovery. That was the summer of 1994.

My recovery has been very slow, due in large part to the fact that I am a single mother of two sons, one of whom is chronically ill. During the past several years I have experienced some of the darkest hours I ever hope to encounter. The profound sadness, the loss of interest in living and the anxious, restless energy have been very frightening. Throughout my recovery, the tragic events in my life would continue, so the healing was very difficult.

In the spring of 1997, I decided it was time to write about my illness and my life’s experiences. I chose to write my story in the form of a journal. When I began, I knew that my story had to be told but I had no idea where to begin or how to get all my thoughts on paper. Initially, I hoped someone would write my story for me. I was incredibly ill and not overly excited about learning how to write a book.

One morning I selected a notebook and pen, went to the Grabbajabba in St. Albert and wrote my first entry. This was the beginning of a routine that allowed me many opportunities: to express myself on paper, to get out of the house, to meet new people and to chat about the simple pleasures of life. I still continue with my routine. I work toward being a better person, being a great mother to my sons and sharing my story.

Many of the entries in this journal come from the deepest corners of my heart and soul. Some were very painful to write. There are breaks between the dates of the entries, and some entries are very short. Some days, I had no energy or desire to write and could only sleep or do small errands or tasks that required little thinking.

Writing this journal has kept me focused and given me a sense of purpose. Writing about my illness has literally helped me to heal, to feel better about myself and to learn how to accept the challenges I continue to face. I carry the sadness that is in this book. Cry if you must, but please don’t carry the pain. Take what you have learned and be inspired to love more, care more and give more. 

If you or someone you know has depression and needs help, please contact your local Mental Health support agency. A family physician can also provide assistance in obtaining proper medical assistance. You don’t need to face the illness alone.

A secondary theme of this book is children with cancer. Dr. Giulio J. D’Angio of the University of Pennsylvannia School of Medicine notes that, with increasing survival rates for children with leukemia, it is now time to look as ensuring that these children do not become “chronically debilitated and handicapped adults.” Successful management has assumed new dimensions,” says Dr. D’Angio. “The focus has been properly placed not only on the impact the disease and treatment might have on the the child, but on the entire family unit.”

My youngest son was diagnosed with T-Cell Leukemia when he was two years old. That was in the fall of 1987. Since that time I have passionately devoted my time to improving the quality of life for children with cancer and their families. Many children have died because of this illness. I therefore dedicate this book to the children who suffer no more and to the families who grieve the loss of their child.

The Journal

Thanksgiving Prayer

On October 10, 1987, after I had cried for 24 hours because I was informed that my son had a very aggressive and advanced form of T-Cell leukemia, the pastor from my church gave me words of encouragement from the Bible. Little did I know that these words would become the foundation for my survival for the years to come:

Count it all Joy when you fall into various trials. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2, NKJV).

As I read the words, I refused to accept them. I cried out loud and said, “There is no Joy in cancer, God. I have enough strength and courage. My faith been tested enough. Please, not now Lord, not when I am finally happy. I am in nursing school. You whispered to my soul, Lord, and said, “You will be a nurse”. I am doing a good job. How could you let this happen to my son? He has leukemia and I don’t want him to die. Please, not this in my life now.

One week later, on a Sunday evening as I rocked my baby whose blood was producing abnormal white blood cells on the ward that made little kids bald, I surrendered Jason’s life to God. I said, “Thy will be done. He is in your hands. I will accept whatever lies ahead. He is your son. If you want him, Lord, you can have him. But I hope you let me mother him for a while.”

Thank you, God, for the gift. I am still rocking my baby!
For ten years my son’s fight for life has inspired me to love more. I have been able to look past the pain and to find Joy.

Foreward by Dr. Guilio D’Angio

The motto “Cure is not enough” has been proposed for pediatric oncology. It is perhaps difficult to remember that a few decades ago every child with leukemia dies within a few weeks of months of the diagnosis. There was no effective treatment.

Drs. S Farber and L. Diamond and their colleagues, who revolutionized the management of patients with cancer, found that a simple chemical, and anti-fol, could induce remissions in children with leukemia. That was enough to initiate the revolution in oncology, especially for children with cancer, as new curate agents were developed. Drugs were found to be effective against not only the leukemias, but also the various solid tumors of childhood. The multi-modal team was brought together, and survival rates began to climb. It was entirely appropriate during these early years to fix only on whether a child with cancer lived or died.

Even so, as early as 1903, the deleterious effects of irradiation on normal growth and development had already been defined by Perthes. He irradiated one wing of chicks and found that the growth in the irradiated wings was stunted. Radiation therapists have therefore been concerned for decades about the late effects of radiation.

As cure rates climbed, it became clear that attention needed to be paid to the means used to achieve a cure in order to ensure the child would not be a chronically debilitated and handicapped adult.

Successful management has assumed new dimensions. The focus has been properly placed not only on the impact the disease and treatment might have on the child, but on the entire family unit.

Many studies have shown that siblings often are the most disturbed. This is understandable since parental attention necessarily is devoted to the sick child. These concerns were expanded to the psycho-socio-economic consequences for all members of the family. For example, out-of-pocket expenses, even when there is adequate medical coverage either through governmental sources or private insurance, can amount to considerable figures. The employability and insurability of survivors of childhood cancer can also be adversely affected, depending on the depth of understanding of the employer and/or the insuring company.

One of every 1000 young adults in North America is a survivor of childhood cancer. Society will assume an ever-increasing responsibility for the long-term surveillance and care of the survivors. It is to the advantage of all citizens that the treatments be efficient and beset with as few late complications as possible.

—Giulio J. D’Angio, M.D.

Department of Radiation Oncology

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

 

Wednesday, April 30th, 1997

The pain and sadness within me does not escape nor surrender itself. Living with a child who has such intense medical, psychosocial and educational needs has literally destroyed me.

I look for Joy and happiness in each day. In rare moments, I find a spirit of peace and contentment. Then the peace quickly vanishes as reminders of survival as a single mother and fears about my son’s survival overwhelm my soul. Why, after all the trials he has had, do we now have news of heart damage? I cry and cry until the pain is so intense I can endure no more. I take my medication and wait for sleep to come. I sleep for peace but sometimes dreams rob me of that, too.

Today I am very discouraged, angry and tired. I will take T.J. for a walk and look for a friend. When I step out of the door, people expect me to smile and not grumble. I hope I can do that today.

I keep myself well groomed. People comment on how healthy I look. In nursing school I was taught the importance of bathing and grooming the patient. When we are ill and confined to bed, hopefully we feel a bit better if we are washed and have a change of clothes and clean bed linen. Good hygiene was very properly addressed in terms of improving one’s self-esteem and promoting healing.

Early in my depression, I hung on to this theory and soon realized the pleasure I received in pampering myself with floral scented lotions, soaps and perfume. With very little desire to participate in activities that once brought me Joy, I became newly focused on the texture and scent of my skin, hair and nails. I couldn’t have a conversation with a friend without crumbling, but I could give myself a manicure or pedicure without crying. I loved shiny pink nail polish, soft, rose-fragrant lotions and sweet, fruit-scented soaps. My senses were delighted with these simple yet luxurious “It’s time for me” routines.

I work very hard to look good so I’ll feel better. The routine of self care offers me control, comfort and a sense of normalcy. To look at me, one would never suspect that I am lonely, sad and afraid. Even the words, “I have had a total collapse of mind, heart and spirit,” do not allow the person next to me to understand the pain.

Monday, May 5th, 1997 

Where is the Joy that I speak of?

In the early morning, my mind turns over the questions, the ideas the opportunities and the responsibilities I must answer and act on each day. Alone, while I am in the middle of a nervous breakdown, I tackle each thought and task as best I can. Jason needs to see the plastic surgeon and the pediatrician some time soon. The neuropsychologist wants to discuss the results of Jason’s testing. The boys need to see the dentist, who is always the last on the list of doctors to see. I think it has been two years since the boys have had their teeth cleaned. Brandon needs shorts. Jason needs a glove for baseball. I need a new pair of glasses, the pair I wear are four years old. Does Jason need therapy to deal with the brain injury and post- traumatic stress? Do I need therapy? Where’s the money? Where’s the Joy?

The Joy is in remembering the fun and laughter I have brought to my sons’ lives. The memories of all the special children I have cared for and loved as a pediatric registered nurse.

The excitement builds as the Blanket of Love project is officially promoted and endorsed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Edmonton Division. I started the Blanket of Love project out of a desire to provide comfort and support to other people with a mental illness. I got the idea of giving a Blanket of Love to these people from using a quilt that my grandmother made for me.

One afternoon I was very cold and, looking for a blanket, I came across a quilt I had stored away. I looked at the worn, bright yellow and orange patchwork quilt and my mind went back to the day my grandmother gave it to me. I immediately felt a peace wash over me, as I thought of her and the fun we used to have together. I covered myself with my quilt made of love and let the warmth soothe my cold, achy body.

As I lay there remembering all the love my grandmother gave me, it came to me that other people with depression should have their own Blanket of Love. In the middle of my darkness I found a reason to hold on to life. I smiled as I closed my eyes for sleep, “Tomorrow I will start a new project.” I still use that quilt to remind myself that I am loved, even when my mood does not allow me to feel so.

The Joy is in today and the beauty that surrounds me. The new buds on the trees, the spring plants waking up from their winter slumber, my puppy’s friskiness as he hunts for the scent of who knows what. I am delighted with these simple pleasures and put the worries of the unforeseen on a shelf. Today I will take one moment at a time. Accept the challenges as they come. I will take care of myself and trust that God will give me strength to get through the day.

Tuesday, May 6th, 1997

Yesterday I slept from noon until 6:00 p.m. Sometimes when the pain is too much, sleep is the healer. At 8:00 p.m., I bought a milkshake and went to Jason’s baseball game. I couldn’t bring myself to sit with my mom and the other parents. I stayed in the car and from the safety of the familiar burgundy interior, watched some of the game. I also wrote a letter.

Jason slept in his own room, in his own bed. Jason is afraid to sleep alone. He says he sees shadows in the dark, and he is afraid of dying in his sleep. To ease his fear, we discussed the fun of having a bedroom full of Mickey Mouse and friends. On Sunday we put up decals of Disney characters. It was great fun.

On Monday I made his bed with the new Mickey sheets and comforter set. The room looks exactly as we had hoped. A fun, happy room that makes you smile as you close your eyes and fall asleep. The night light adds a special glow to the room.

This morning I shaved my head. Why I am not sure, but afterwards I felt very pleased. Both with the new look I created and with the freedom I felt in being allowed to shave my head. Through the shaving, the trimming and the cleaning, it suddenly occurred to me that fear is what causes my physical pain. For a few brief minutes I felt freedom, happiness and Joy.

In the small bathroom of white and soft pastels, there was my body in the skin nature gave me, hair falling to the floor. I had control of the razor. “Shaving and Freedom!” I said to myself.

This is for you Jason, Ashley, Gloria and all of my friends who are bald. Shaving and Freedom! I thought, “This is what cancer and the treatment does to you. You become bald, cells in your body change or are destroyed, you have no control and fear robs you of happiness.”

The sound of my sons’ voices interrupts my awareness of freedom. Fear and the physical pain appear again. I immediately feel the draining of energy from head to toe. Their voices have reminded me of the responsibilities of living today. Will the phone ring with news I don’t want?

Loneliness, sadness and fear. Mose people with depression or anxiety disorders and some people with a healthy mind experience feelings of unwanted or unreal fears. For me, as a woman, as a mother, as a nurse, the fear has been a part of my life and has eroded the best of me.

Again, I say, I should be in a place where someone can care for me. Where is that place? Who would care for my children?

Thursday, May 8th 1997

Keep busy, don’t stop. Walk, run simple errands, water the plants: any simple activity is the goal. Don’t call the doctors yet. Just the thought of being a mother drains my energy level, peace of mind and spirit of hope. Concentrate on good things, appreciate nature and praise yourself for your accomplishments. Don’t worry about money. It is only a means to an end. Money will not save Jason’s life. Work with what you have and look for Joy.

Monday, May 12th, 1997

I once heard that we read to know that we are not alone. I write to know that I am not alone.

In the age of computers and technology that changes faster than my boys change their socks, I suppose I could sit at a keyboard and type my story. I actually did sit at my son’s computer one day and attempt to enter a writing program. After 30 minutes of the little arrow moving all over the screen and not being able to “click on,” I gave up. Then I realized I never did like mice and decided that writing my story with pen and paper was more appealing.

Writing by hand, with ink, also seems a touch more romantic. I like scrolling my thoughts across a clean sheet of paper.

I am an incurable romantic. I look for romance every day and in every opportunity. Ahhh, it is soothing to wipe away a tear, to caress a furrowed brow, to smile at a stranger, to receive a hug. These loving and yet simple gestures are sure to bring Joy to my soul. It has been said many times that I am too sensitive and too emotional, and that I care too much. Why is that? Are the tears a symptom of my illness? Or was I always this sensitive? It has also been said that I should get a grip and snap out of it. Get back to reality. “What is reality?” I ask.

I wake up every day and ask, “When with healing come?”

Oh, if only major tragedies would stop occurring in my life. The emotional and physical trauma I have experienced have sharpened my senses. I have an increased awareness of human suffering. I know what pain is and what loss is. But because of these experiences, I also know what Joy is.

When the doctors informed me that Jason had leukemia, a part of me died. The agony of knowing Jason had cancer and fearing that would lose my baby was more than I thought I could bear. I cried almost every day. I was convinced I would never smile again ore feel happiness. Life became very serious, and I avoided people who didn’t understand my pain. I was convinced Jason would die. My son had cancer, and I was a student nurse who knew what leukemia did to children.

Jason was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia on October 10, 1987, and it wasn’t until February 1988 that I caught myself smiling. I remember thinking, “How awful. How could I smile when my son was so ill?”

The pain is so intense, it is as if today is the day that they told me Jason had leukemia.

Where is the healing, the closure, if the would remains open? Jason is still alive, but his cure came with a price. We still live every day knowing that cancer may strike again. We must also face the medical and emotional challenges that the treatment of T-cell leukemia brought to our family.

Deep within me there is a knowledge that if I accept the day as it is I will find some reason to smile. Maybe a tiny ray of sunshine will peek into my life and I will feel Joy.

I must accept that Jason will die one day. Death is a part of life. Until he takes his last breath, I will do everything I can to make him happy and to keep him safe. Today, I am still not ready to write about Jason’s battle for life.

Thursday, May 15th, 1997

Today I will look for Joy. I will take T.J. for a walk. I will work in the garden. I will talk to new people. I will not let fear, pain or loneliness creep its heaviness into my soul or let it lie upon my shoulders. I will drink a latte, look for flowers and gaze upon the beauty that surrounds me.

I tour the riverside of St. Albert, looking at all the familiar buildings, bridges and paths. Memories of long walks with my babies in a double stroller come flooding back. Oh what sweet, easy, promising days those were. We can never t=return to those days. Life was very different back then.

It is two years ago this weekend that I was hospitalized the second time for major depression. On Sunday, May 9, 1995, I took all the medication I had to stop the profound sadness, despair and pain. I was at my sister’s house for a few days to get some rest. I could not get settled and the tears would not stop. I no longer had the strength or desire to live.

I swallowed all my pills and laid my head on the pillow. I closed my eyes and waited for sleep to come. I was very tired but thought, “Maybe I should tell my sister.” It was one of the better thoughts I had. Because of the love of my sister and Dr. Silverstone’s belief in me, and by the grace of God, I am alive today. They would not give up on me and encouraged me to fight my illness. They believed that, given enough time and with the proper medical support, I would recover.

Friday, May 16th, 1997

I sit here in the local cafe bar with a heaviness in my heart, wondering where the Joy will be today. I say to myself, “What do I do? Where do I belong?”

My family is going camping. That leaves me alone with puppy, T.J. The ladies next to me are discussing sewing and iron-on patches. Normal living occurs all around me. I know that if I keep busy, keep connected with people, walk and garden, I will make it make it through to the next day. I will look for pink roses, bath T.J. and give him a hug.

Saturday, May 17th, 1997

I cried so hard yesterday afternoon that I feared for my safety. I wanted to be in the hospital and have someone care for Me!

But then I remembered what it was like staying in the hospital. You enter the psychiatric ward in intense emotional pain. “Someone, please help me,: your soul cries out. You wait for healing to come, and it doesn’t. Being alone, resting in bed with no interest in anything, only caused me to become more restless. “I was a student nurse on this ward. Now I am a patient,” I thought to myself. “What am I doing here?”

It came as no surprise that I began helping the other patients. I listened to them, helped them with laundry or ran errands. Helping people has always made me feel good. Why can’t I help people now? I have one conversation, and I am in pain. My face, neck, shoulders and back feel so heavy. What do I have left to offer when I hurt so much?

It takes great energy on my part to look for the Joy in each day. Everything scares me: my kids, strangers, sleep, thinking.

Today I will “just do it.” No thinking. I will volunteer to work at Hole’s greenhouses. There are plants and people there.

The boys are home early from their camping trip. Maybe with the boys at home, today will be a happy day. I love my sons but I really could use help in nurturing them. My sons remember the adventurous we used to take. The past three years have been difficult for them as they see their mother sleep more, stay alone more and cry more. They have had their own journeys of grieving and healing. I try to balance their pain with Joy. I make sure they have “normal” childhood experiences like baseball, skateboarding, street hockey, movies and fishing. T.J. was added to the family to bring us happy times. What a bundle of Joy and blessing he has been, with his doggie antics, wet kisses and unconditional love.

Friday, June 13th, 1997

How do I describe intrusive, bothersome thoughts and perpetual sadness? I wake up each day with a desire to feel normal, stable and content, only to feel the energy leave my body without warning, at any particular moment.

To be a part of life, you must participate in activities of daily living. I can perform morning care for myself adeptly. I leave the house at 6:30 a.m, drive to a local cafe, eat a bagel, drink a coffee and read the current news. I continue with the routine to bring stability to my life. I fight the feelings of despair and anxiety by going out. The morning outing is familiar and it allows me to be a part of the community.

However, the stimulation of seeing people, chatting with a stranger and reading the news is sometimes more than I can handle.

Today, I am sad, lonely and rather fatigued with my inability to function. I think I will go shopping and look for little pieces of JOY.

Saturday, June 14th, 1997

 Yesterday I actually shopped and purchased four picture frames. I also selected a beautiful bouquet of roses on the wall near my antique desk. I then carefully framed four pictures of my friend Julie, her sister Tara, Jason and myself.

It was a very emotional and tearful experience. Julie was only two years old when she passed away from a brain tumour. The memories of Julie and her delightful smile are neatly framed on my desk and in my hear.

I occupied the rest of my day with decorating my suite. My home is rather cute and friendly, with my collection of teddy bears, roses, pictures of friends and a few antiquated items purchased from garage sales. Everything seems to have its own place and meaning.

Late in the afternoon, the tears poured forth with a sadness for the children I have held and cared for. I also had an incredible longing to be held in the arms of a man who loves me. I am a 40 year-old woman with the same memories of children, love, pain and loss that a 90-year-old grandma carries in her heart.

Tuesday, June 17th, 1997

 Today is my birthday!

I went to the local community health centre. I felt I could not get through the day without help. Talking to the social worker eased the panic, fear and pain.

I have been crying more than usual. The brokenness I feel troubles me greatly. Several health care providers have suggested that I place Jason in foster home. The bond between Jason and me will not allow me to consider that option.

I need help in caring for him because I am emotionally and mentally exhausted and because his medical and psychological needs are incredibly complicated. It has become difficult for me to be an objective advocate for Jason when I am so emotionally involved in his care.

Saturday, July 26th, 1997

Yesterday, I spoke to my son’s pediatrician. I informed him that Jason was on his way home and I was afraid. I had the usual spine-tingling, gut-wrenching fear I associate with being Jason’s mother.

The five happy campers returned home last night. Guess what? Jason was sick. He had a sore throat, swollen neck glands, and difficulty swallowing and breathing. As he slept, there was a familiar pattern to his snoring–choking, coughing and crying out for Mom. It kept me awake all night wondering if the leukemia had returned.

The night before he was diagnosed with leukemia was too frighteningly similar to this night. Ten years ago was like yesterday as I lay in bed, knowing I would have to take him to the hospital in the morning. Who will i call first when the doctor tells me his cancer has returned? Oh bother, don’t think about that. Try to get some sleep.

Ten years ago I was told he had leukemia. Today I was told he has mononucleosis. “You might want to call the oncologist and the pediatrician on Monday,” the doctor on call informed me. As I drive Jason home he is asking me if he can eat chips, and my mind is racing faster than I can drive. Can he go to the kids’ cancer camp on Monday? Will this affect his heart? The elevated white blood cell count and the slightly lower red blood cell count…Is Jason relapsing?

I wasn’t convinced he had mono. Ten years ago I was told he had mono, and four days later I was told he had cancer. This is not going to be a very good weekend. As I was driving and my heart was breaking, I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or cry. This really isn’t fair. Where should I go? Who should I call?

“Relax, Miss Ethier,” the doctor in the emergency department kindly told me. “Relax. It’s not leukemia, it’s only mono.”

O.K., I am not a neurotic mother. Calm down. Big deal if Jason missed cancer camp last year because he was in pediatric intensive care on a ventilator recovering from the fire. This really sucks. I am tired of trying to cheer Jason up from disappointment.

Monday, July 28th, 1997

I survived the weekend, mostly by occupying time and refusing to let fear and pain enter my soul. I gave God the glory, and I thanked him for our blessings. Brandon prepared for camp on his own. My, how he has grown.

Jason nursed himself by taking his medication, brushing his teeth, bathing, and entertaining himself with movies and music. He was rather quiet and rested most of the time. The night-time breathing of snoring, coughing and chortling sounds remained the same.

In my heart and mind, though I am still not convinced he has mono. I feel he has relapsed. Family and friends say, “Don’t think like that.”

“O.K.,” I reply, “I’ll look for Joy.”

Brandon is gone with his friends of ten years to the kids’ cancer camp. Jason will need to see the pediatrician today. We will make it a fun journey! I just woke up from a 15-hour slumber so I should be ready for the adventure. Driving to the doctor is not a big deal; it is a familiar outing for my family.

Monday, August 4th, 1997

Is there anyone out there who knows how very difficult it is for me to get out of bed, shower, wash my hair and go for my morning coffee? Nothing has changed, except that I am getting better at occupying time. I still get the physical pain to my face, scalp, neck, shoulders and spine. I push the fear and bothersome thoughts aside and look for romance and adventure. Please, Lord, help me to get through the day.

Wednesday, August 6th, 1997

The sadness, fear and loneliness that creep into my heart and soul keep me from interacting with other people. I want to be alone to protect myself from sadness. It is very difficult for me to look at any one thing or any one situation objectively. I push myself forward to the next moment, the next task, keeping busy so memories don’t overwhelm me.

I suppose some memories are useful. If I remember attending to Jason’s protocol of chemotherapy, radiation, throwing up until 2:00 in the morning, blood infections, pneumonia and blood transfusions, with me sleeping in hospital beds while at the same time attending the school of nursing program during the day, my heart fills with pride and a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Tuesday, August 12th, 1997

Brandon came back from the kids’ cancer camp, and Jason finally made it to the kids’ burn camp. I drove Jason to the bus on Sunday morning. He was so excited and pleased that he was able to go. He picked a seat near the front. On the seats nearby, I could see donuts, juice and video movies. I knew the kids would enjoy the trip to camp. Jason recognized several kids from last year’s burn camp.

My mood is still one of sadness, and I cry very easily. I walk to nearby shops and wonder if I look as sad as I feel. I still look for Joy and happy feelings. I stay away from reminders of pain. When Jason is happy and having fun, I don’t feel the usual anxiousness I experience when he is at my side.

 

copyright © 2015 Sheila Ethier

 

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