Another Step

I know myself well enough to know that when I find it hard to write, I’m usually avoiding something. The words aren’t flowing today, and that’s because I’m uncomfortable thinking about tomorrow. At 8:30 am, Jordan will check in for the surgery we’ve diligently researched, laboriously discussed, and frequently postponed. But we can’t avoid it any longer because it is what Jordan needs and it will make her life better.
When I was not much older than Jordan, I found myself in a sticky social situation at school. I was inclined to ignore it, but one day when I was exceedingly sullen and full of self-pity, my mother gave me sage advice–advice I’ve never forgotten. She said, “you can avoid this for as long as you want, and you can make yourself miserable, or you can address what scares you and put it behind you.” It was one of those moments where the world compressed and I felt a moment of understanding that made me see things differently. As usual, my mother was right. The fear of what I had to do paralyzed me. The thought of getting it done created hope.
Today, our family wrestles with the dividing line between fear and hope. The fear emanates from not-so-distant memories, and the hope lies in the promise of the girl. Jordan’s last surgery was somewhat routine. It was when they implanted the port catheter so that she could receive chemotherapy more easily. Yet, I will never forget the fear in her face as they wheeled her to the O.R. She is a brave, brave child. She proves her bravery so often we take it for granted. After two brain surgeries, we figured this port catheter procedure would be a piece of cake. But surgery is surgery, and the recovery process was fresh in Jordan’s mind. She grabbed my hand and asked me if she needed to do this. Her eyes were wide and her mouth trembled, and I had to muster bravery of my own when I told her she did.
It’s one thing to be brave when you’re making decisions about your own health. It’s quite another when you’re making those decisions for someone else, especially when that someone is a child you adore. She trusts me completely. The gravity of that trust is never lost on me. I believe, in my heart, we have made the right decision. Jordan trusts us, and she is ready. But I dread the moment tomorrow when I know she will ask me again, “do I really need to do this?”
The procedure will take more than four hours. When she comes to, she’ll undoubtedly experience pain. She’ll face a daunting recovery path. And, she’s going to endure a couple of months of boredom and restlessness from not being able to animate her energetic body the way she prefers. But she will do it, and she will provide inspiration to us in the process. It’s a lot to ask of a child, and I can’t find it in myself today to marginalize the road ahead by painting rosy pictures of the way she’ll cope. I can only tell myself the choice is right and take the next step with her. As a family, we are about to face what scares us and put it behind us.