Tears of Strength, Cries of Bravery

‘My daughter has cancer’ is a sentence I will never get used to saying outline, nor do I want to. Today, I had to tell that to a stranger in the grocery store when she asked about Marjorie’s PICC line.

“My daughter has cancer.”

Her simple question was one of the hardest I’ve ever had to answer and it left me in tears on Aisle 10.

I haven’t cried in weeks, like really cry, ugly cry. I’ve wanted to, many times, but the tears never came. It was as if my brain knew I was not yet capable to handle the emotional onslaught. I guess my brain now deems me worthy because the feelings have come at me like a wrecking ball in the last 24-hours.

In my ginormous rolodex of feelings, what I feel most is anger. I am so damn mad my daughter is going through this. I am so angry that, once again, life has dealt us a super shitty hand. I hate feeling like I can’t form a sentence or think through a simple grocery list. I am tired of being tired.

I want to be selfish. I want just one hour alone in bed, one hour of escape. I want to curl up and cry, but my body doesn’t let me cry. I’ve worked so hard these last few years to get in touch with what I feel and to have that ripped away from me is excruciating.

This computer, my tired and aging MacBook is my sanctuary. My blog is my outlet. It is the only place where my fingers fly without hesitation and my heart pours onto the keyboard. Talking on the phone is too difficult. It is hard for me to sometimes talk to my best friends about how I am doing. I can only verbalize the basics, not my feelings inside. So I write, I type them out.

I live with blurry, tired vision in my own world. My world where time seems to stand still and only Marjorie exists. But it isn’t a world. It is like living in a clear box and watching the world pass us by while we wait. We wait for the next dose of medicine, for the next PICC line flush, for the next scan. Yes, we wait. Time stands still.114790402_ZCISdqfl_c And yet time is the one thing I need.

I feel like Jessie Spano from Saved by the Bell, “No time. There’s never anytime.”
I need time. I need time to finish building the house that we started a month before our world came crashing down. I need time to sort through the endless stack of medical bills and paperwork on my desk. I selfishly want time for myself to sleep and rest my body.

But when I do have time in that hour or so when Marjorie is naps, I find myself wandering through the quiet house unable to accomplish any of my to dos, much less process my feelings and thoughts.

Last night the emotional wrecking ball finally hit as I rocked my precious baby to sleep. I stared at her precious face and tears poured down mine. It was the first time I have felt anything in weeks. The last real cry I had was the day after Marjorie’s surgery when she was in the PICU. These cries are deep, painful and filled with raw motherly love, a love so deep it hurts. A hurt that leaves me winded and exhausted.

Jordan found me in my puddle of tears and silently wrapped his arms around me. I sobbed harder. Louder. No longer caring if Marjorie woke up. I couldn’t help it. The tears were out of my control.

I choked out to him how angry I was; my emotional floodgates opened and my emotions poured out. I screamed out, “Why, God? Why my baby.”  The exact question I cried out the day we received her cancer diagnosis

Jordan hugged me tighter and simply said, “I’m angry too, baby. I am too.”

I knew those emotions were coming. I was not afraid, rather I welcomed them, even as painful as it was (and still is), I knew I was long overdue to feel them. I found comfort knowing the tears would not flow forever, just like this too will pass. The anger and tears were a necessary part of this journey. Accepting them and standing in the puddle will allow me to step forward.

Knowing that pain doesn’t last is such a gift, but what is a bigger gift, is knowing what I need during these times. I needed quiet. I needed my family. I needed snuggles from my son and my husband’s embrace. I needed him to tell me that he was scared and angry too. That underneath his eternal optimism, there are real feelings there.

People always say, “Stay strong.” There is nothing wrong with telling me nor anyone else that, but I see strength in a different light. To me, being strong doesn’t mean putting on a ‘brave’ face and not crying. Bravery is seen when you allow the tears to flow and your emotions to pour out. Strength is the ability to own your feelings and to show up and feel them.

While this post may not be filled with songs of gratitude, it is no less positive or vulnerable than the rest. It does not cause any need for alarm or worry for it is a post of strength. I am okay.  This is me, simply staying strong, finding bravery in my cries and strength in my tears.

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  • YaseminMerwede
    July 7, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Continued love, prayers for strength, for health and love to you and your beautiful family. May God heal Marjorie! Faith is strong, and I can feel it in you! My best of wishes for you McCall… and for your Marjorie xoxo

  • Kathryn Overstreet
    July 7, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    There is wisdom in this post that we can all learn from. I love you sweet girl ! Tears and all !

  • Janet
    July 8, 2015 at 2:37 am

    There is nothing as beautiful as unconditional love…thanks for sharing and please please plea….keep the wonderful wisdom flowing.

  • Graham Suscha
    July 8, 2015 at 9:34 am

    A pastor once told me that you can honor your feelings (sadness, fear, happiness, gratitude) with your tears. Keep the tears flowing when necessary — allow yourself to honor your strength and bravery. You are miraculous. Your words are a gift. I’m praying steadily for your Marjorie, your boys and for you! God hold you.

  • Kristi
    July 8, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I continue to be moved by your honest and real posts….praying for your family , and know that some of us hold our babies even tighter because of your words ( specifically many of your references to feeling grateful). Can’t imagine the range of emotions you must be feeling as a mother, and know that there are many fellow moms that don’t know you personally who are thinking and praying for your family!

    Keep on writing… It is truly a gift!
    With kindest regards,
    Kristi ( just another St. Simons mom);)

  • Donna Mautemps
    July 8, 2015 at 11:34 am

    McCall you are an amazing women/ mom! Continued prayers for you, your sweet babies and husband that you weather your storm! How to Face the Storms

    Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life,
    rather look to them with full hope that they arise.
    God, whose very own you are,
    will lead you safely through all things,
    and when you cannot stand it,
    God will carry you in his arms.
    Do not fear what may happen tomorrow,
    the same understanding Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day.
    He will either shield you from suffering
    or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
    Be at peace,
    and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
    – St. Francis de Sales

  • buttonwillowdancer
    July 8, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Oh McCall, I wish I could help ease the pain. Your courage and vulnerability guide me through my days. Thank you for being so open with your journey.

  • Kim Carter
    July 8, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    I know exactly what you are going through. Your post made me think of my own daughter, Kennedy. She looked so much like Marjorie did at that age. She is now 13. We went through a living nightmare with her. A doctor perforated her colon and sent us home to “sleep” off the medication. After many surgeries, respiratory failure, colostomy bag, moved to Texas Children’s, loss of job, house, etc…. I felt nothing. All cried out. I know God was protecting me. He is protecting you too. I don’t remember a lot about our every day life but I do remember our first outing to the grocery store after we got out of the hospital. People were drawn to Kennedy. I was so protective. They all wanted to touch her and ask questions and want to know her name. I spent so much time pushing the cart away from the “strangers” as not to get any germs until one lady in line smiled at me and said “Kennedy is a beautiful name. We are praying for a baby at our church and her name is Kennedy as well.” She told me what happened to the Kennedy that she was praying for and I took a step back and introduced her to the Kennedy she had been praying for. The tears flowed, my knees buckled and at that moment I knew that my Kennedy was special, touched by the power of prayer. A true miracle. So is Marjorie. She will go on to do miraculous things in her life that will make a difference in other people’s lives. She is special and she has been chosen and the great news is that she will end up teaching you more about life than you could ever teach her. In God’s time, you will see the little miracle that you created and how many lives she will change all because she is Miraculous Marjorie!

  • claudia
    July 8, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Your honesty will be a source of healing and strength as you walk out this season. It will also fill in those awkwardness when people don’t know what to say; if they’ve read your words, somehow their words will come more easily. So…write and cry right on! They are both good for you! Prayers continue!

    • claudia
      July 8, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Autocorrect! “Those awkward moments when…”

  • Stacey
    July 14, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I have seen these post shared on facebook and I just clicked on it yesterday and went all the way back to the very beginning and read all your post.. I live in Waycross Ga so I’m not to far from you. I had to hold back the tears cause I was at work while reading all of them and I was just so heart broken. You sweet baby girl has been through so much in a short life time. I am a mother of 5 girls and I could not even begin to imagine what you have been through with all this. Please know I am flooding the heavens for you and that sweet baby girl of yours and the rest of your family. But I also wanted to say Thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. We go through life and we have bad days sometimes bad weeks, bad months ect.. I myself have been going through a few bad weeks , nothing really But when I read all your post I thought WOW. Here I was given myself a pity party and I am so Blessed. Please continue to write even after your sweet girl is healed.. just write.. Prayers going up!