Grieving One September at a Time

I hate September. I haven’t always hated September. It wasn’t until last year that I really started to loathe the month.

Sure, I hate summer ending, but it wasn’t about swimsuit season coming to an end. It was about all of the gold. So much gold. All for pediatric cancer. I wanted to delete, unfollow and pass up any opportunity to spread awareness.

10404141_10101916558568126_4208969447660243502_n.jpgLast year, I wrote about embracing the gold label. I talked about finding peace with it, but this year is a different story. I am straight up angry. I do not want the label nor the responsibility to change my profile to gold. I do not want to talk about the pitiful fact that pediatric cancer only gets four percent of cancer research funding – that’s right FOUR.

I am pissed, angry and just want to stick my fingers in my ears and stomp my feet. This month does not apply to my family. My daughter did not have cancer. Nope. We will pass. Thank you.

This is grief.

This is my soul still trying to reconcile the massive dent that cancer left. It is a dent that will never be filled or repaired. Nothing can heal the pain that I have seen. Nothing.

On May 2nd, we heard two glorious words: cancer free. Since then we have lived in a wonderful blissful state in which we did not see one oncologist or doctor. Since the day Marjorie was born, there were doctor appointments every month or even week. The last few months have been utopia.

This Wednesday, we will check in with our new oncology team at Memorial Hospital in Savannah. It should be a simple check up, but nothing is simple when it comes to pediatric cancer. It hurts. It physically hurts to walk my baby girl into the doors of another oncology clinic.

Grief is such a crazy process – a lengthy process. The grief that came with my eating disorder was such a lesson in patience.I no longer ask, “Why me?” or “Why Marjorie?” My heart has settled that there will never be an answer. There isn’t a timestamp on grief. Your heart can ache on and off for years on end – some years more than other.

Lately, my heart has lived in a blissful state, just needing a break from it all. And now it is back the grind. Not so ironically enough, our return to pediatric oncology coincides with childhood cancer awareness month.

So yes, I bought the gold ribbon for my mailbox and I will attend and support any and all local fundraisers. Because if there is one thing to celebrate, it is my Marjorie and the millions others who battle in the pediatric cancer arena.

IMG_1383While life is wonderfully normal, our lives will never be the same. May 27, 2015, forever changed our lives. “Your daughter has cancer.” We were inducted into the Gold Ribbon hall of fame that day. The month of September will never be about fall leaves or football season. It will be about “Going Gold” and cancer.

Maybe next year I won’t feel so much anger when the clock strikes midnight on September 1, but this is where I am right now. I feel sick when I think back to those nights in the hospital and see my baby girl so ill.

While the anger still sits on my stomach, there is so much pride in my baby girl. I look at the (insanely) wild toddler she has become and sit back in awe. The world is her playground and she leaves no corner unturned. Nothing phases her. She is known to face plant (literally), hop back up, dust her hand and keep running. Marjorie is tough as nails – just like every other cancer warrior out there.

There is something ultra special about these kids. They are innocent warriors, battling until the end. No matter how angry my heart may be at times, I will never turn down an opportunity to Go Gold. My girl is here because of research, because of so many countless others who went before her.

God did not put me on this earth to be a pediatric cancer advocate – that I know for sure. My mission is eating disorder awareness and positive body image. But pediatric cancer is now part of my story, whether I like it or not.

It is my responsibility to spread awareness where I can – even if that awareness is talking about my grief and anger. So this is where I am right now and in this month of September 2016. Maybe September 2017 will be different. I don’t set expectations on grief or time. I only know that I will continue to move forward one day (and one September) at a time.

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  • Terri Hobgood
    September 5, 2016 at 4:22 am

    McCall, you are the most beautiful woman, inside and out!! Your words are so loving and touching. You are a true inspiration to all. God bless you and your sweet family. Prayers and love from Louisiana!!

  • Kristen
    September 6, 2016 at 7:58 am

    It’s amazing how much you have both overcome! Strongest mother daughter team ever?? Quite possibly…