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Dancing Through the Dark

I haven’t been sleeping much lately. A combination of moving stress and the time of year. The dreaded day is quickly approaching and my Facebook Time Hop has been a daily reminder.

It is hard to believe that this Saturday, May 27, will mark two years since our Marjorie was diagnosed with cancer. Two years. It feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago all mulled into one.

Some might say, “Don’t look at your Facebook memories.” But that would simply be avoiding what my heart already knows and feels. I want to always be true to what I am feeling and honor it.

Over the past few weeks, my heart has stretched from joyful, overwhelming gratitude to straight up anger to crippling sadness and grief. Believe it or not, I still deal with bouts of grief and work with a professional to help sort the dark trauma of pediatric cancer.

My memories of the first days of diagnosis are very blurry. Some moments are vivid, while others have gapping holes. Lately, a vivid memory keeps surfacing and it leaves my heart in pieces…

It was the day after we received Marjorie’s cancer diagnosis. I went to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face. As I shut the oversized hospital door with my back, I slid down its slick surface landing on the bathroom floor.

What is happening? I want to wake up? I hit my forehead with my fists in silent agony. My baby girl. This can’t be. 

Not wanting to be gone too long from my girl, I stood up and turned to the sink. I washed my face over and over and over. I reached for the scratchy hospital paper towel, eyes closed and face dripping with water. I began wiping my face then buried it in the stiff paper, rubbing it up and down. Forehead to chin. Up and down, up and down. Again and again as if to wipe away this nightmare I was in.

I opened my eyes and realized in that very moment my worst nightmare was a reality. There was no waking up. I looked at the woman staring at me in the mirror and didn’t recognize her. My face was pale and the bags under my eyes were darker and puffier than I had ever seen in my life. I felt broken, exhausted and hopeless – but I knew the latter was NOT an option. It was time to fight.

Here we go, I thought to myself. This is our reality and we are going to beat this thing. I opened the door and returned to Marjorie’s bedside.


Two years later, we stand proud victors – never to forget and forever changed by our experience. Cancer is still a part of our lives – scans, check ups, etc. By the grace of God, it is no longer a daily part of our lives. However, it is often a daily part of mine.

Every bump on my children’s skin, every headache, every virus or when they simply walk crooked, my brain goes to that place. It goes to worst case scenario. Cancer does that to you – forever dents your soul. But I will not let it break me or my family.

Life is going to knock us down. Life often leaves us in darkness. There’s no doubt about that. We don’t choose the darkness, but we have plenty of options on how we can exist in the dark.

We can choose to get up or we can let the darkness define us. We can rise up and stumble out. We can choose to let others in to help, support and love us in the dark. We can create our own light in the dark. We can dance in the dark. Or we can let the dark consume us in its grip. It’s our choice.

Cancer knocked me down. My eating disorder knocked me down. Marjorie’s premature birth knocked me down. Hospital bills knocked me down. Life knocked me down.

These hurdles are a part of me, but they do not define me and I’ll be damned if I will let them define my girl or my family.

Yes, Marjorie was born weighing 1-pound, 15-ounces. Yes, Marjorie is a cancer SURVIVOR (gosh that feels amazing to write) – but she is more than both of those things combined.

She is a WILD, strong-willed little girl who loves life. Marjorie would rather be outside than in. She loves Dory, Elsa, Ellen, baby turtles all things bubbles! She can catch a ball like a boss and is already showing athletic prowess. Her curly hair matches her diva-like attitude. Marjorie is tough as nails and as sweet as sugar. And above all else, Marjorie loves to DANCE!

Last year, I called for everyone to wear pink and spread kindness on Marjorie’s Day. And while, I ask everyone to do that again, I also want to add on to our kindness day with Marjorie’s favorite thing: a dance party.

 

Our family loves a dance party and Marjorie is our dancing queen. Nothing brings me more joy than on those random nights when we turn up the music and boogie down in our jammies. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this day than with a dance party.

It’s no secret I am a huge Ellen fan. I call her my bestie because she makes me laugh daily, even on those not so cheery days. Marjorie busts a move every day with Ellen and me. (She also has an obsession with the 12-Days Reindeer)

Marjorie squeals ‘ELLEN!’ when she hears P!nk’s theme song, which could not be more fitting when you listen to the lyrics –

Today’s the day I’ve been waiting for
Tomorrow won’t come after all
Yesterday is so far away
And today is the only day

Today IS the only day. Marjorie is my reminder of that. Cancer and life’s hardships are my reminder of that. Life can change in an instant. So be thankful. Honor your sadness, but hold joy in the same space. Tell people you love them. Be kind. Laugh (a lot) and DANCE.

My hope is to take the darkness of the day and hold it together with the light, gratitude and love that we feel today. Life is oh so precious. It is hard, like really hard, but it is so extraordinary. We have so much to be thankful for – our healthy bodies, our families and our killer dance moves.

This Saturday, May 27, throw on your pink (or your Miraculous Marjorie t-shirt if you still have it) and do something kind – pay for a stranger’s coffee, call your grandmother, donate to Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital and have a DANCE PARTY for Marjorie!

It is with a massively grateful heart I say to each one of you reading this: THANK YOU. Thank you for the endless love, prayers and generosity you gave us during our difficult time. We will forever be paying it forward for you and dancing through life with our healthy and happy baby girl.

***Please post or send pictures of your Marjorie Dance Parties! #MarjoriesDanceDay. Marjorie, Manning and I are excited to have our dance party in DC with her cousins. Pictures to come! Can’t wait to see your party!***

Dancing queen photo credit to the extraordinary Jeannie Frey Rhodes // Beach photo cred to the extraordinary Amy Headington (Images of Grace Photography)

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