Friday, January 1, 2016
2015 was a harrowing year for the RamerNation. I am most anxious to turn the page, and begin anew.
As half of our family began decorating our home for Christmas one weekend in December, it occurred to me that I didn't have any ornaments stored from over the year. Whenever we travel or have a special event, my souvenir is always an ornament for the tree. At the end of the year, we unwrap them, mark the date on them and remember our gift of time together and our blessings as a family. It is a moment of pause, filled with a prayer of gratitude.
I found no special ornaments in the basket downstairs where I usually stash them. Initially, this was puzzling to me, until I mentally scrolled through the year and realized that we have spent more time in the hospital, than in our home. I neglected to get an ornament while on our whirlwind trip to the White House back in April. It took me a moment to calculate that this trip, in fact, occurred just eight months ago.
Returning to the hospital, I waited to learn if Alex's stem cells would grow in Brent's marrow. We hoped that the latest round of chemo had knocked down the leukemia that has beat up our son and dominated our attention all year. After relapsing this fall, Brent has gone through a targeted therapy, epigenetic therapy, radiation, more traditional chemotherapy and a second stem cell transplant with an extra dose of fighter T cells from his brother Alex. Things at this time were inexpressibly difficult, even by our standards.
Along with many others, I prayed fervently that each therapy might work.
The things that I really wanted for Christmas this year are not found on Amazon. But for my children, I wanted a tangible gift for each of them, something meaningful to represent our family's year long adventure. I sought out the art therapist who kindly gave me some materials to work with in Brent's hospital room.
I wanted to show how none of us has been alone, even as our family has been divided.With different colored wires representing each of us, I twisted them, showing how the Ramers have supported one another, wherever we happened to be. Beads symbolized our big events for the year: brain surgery, bone marrow transplant (twice) and Olivia's birthday. The wires representing Dan and me crisscrossed back and forth twisting around our children's wires, at home and hospital, hardly touching each other. There is a bead at the bottom, a token for when we all would return home together, which was only the faintest of hopes when I first began the project.
I snorted when I finished, seeing how, quite unintentionally, the ornament seemed to form a double helix. There certainly is irony in this.
Aside from the irony, there is also beauty, at least in my mind's eye. We have been challenged beyond imagination, evident in how my sister was not comfortable sharing Lauren's brain tumor with her new coworkers over the summer. She feared that they wouldn't believe that we actually had three of our four children in the hospital within the same month.
But I would be remiss if I didn't point out that our family has also been unbelievably helped and supported through our protracted struggles, both at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, and at home. We have been prayed for and cared for, by so many people. This is quite humbling. We are blessed at long last, to be able to share some good news.
Both Lauren and Brent begin 2016 with health, which far exceeds expectations.
We are all home, together.