I had grand plans for telling my daughter what was going on.
I wanted to talk to a child psychologist so that i would better understand what to expect and what she would be able to make sense of. Like so many things, however, the universe seemed to have other ideas.
Climbing into bed last night, Nathan said to me, “You may have to talk to your daughter…”
It seems that she overheard a conversation that i had a few days ago.
So I did some late night reading and tried to come up with a plan, loosely, because obviously my plans don’t always work out.
I decided that I would approach the issue as nonchalantly as possible, with as much optimistic honesty as i could.
When I opened her bedroom door, she was sitting up in bed. I moved her over and climbed in beside her.
“Hey, buddy. I heard you might have a question for me.”
Awkwardly, in a strange, quick voice that wasn’t her own, she asked it.
“Do you have cancer?”
I sighed. Because where kids are so straightforward, adults complicate things. I needed to be honest and candid with her, on a subject that I’m still just trying to cope with, myself.
“Well,” I said to her, “the short answer is yes.”
Now she waited, and I obliged. I started by finding out what she had heard and what she already knew. She told me that cancer is a very bad sickness. She knows this because her hero, Terry Fox, lost his leg and eventually was killed fighting cancer. She knows that cancer strikes different people in different ways and in different parts of the body. We spoke a bit about the kinds of cancers that we know of, but of course, this is all still new to me and I’m definitely not an expert.
When she had questions, I gave her answers as best I could. I explained to her what a cervix is, and a very general idea of what the procedure would mean for me. I told her that in a couple of weeks, I was going to go to the hospital and then I’d need to rest by watching movies and hanging out on the couch for a few days. She asked me if the procedure was going to hurt.
She asked me if I was going to die.
“I’m going to be fine,” I told her. “If this procedure doesn’t get everything then the doctors will have a new plan to help me.”
Our conversation started winding down and I told her that if she has any questions, I’m here for her. To be honest, talking to her was easier than talking to some adults because for her, the conversation wasn’t as loaded. She trusts us, and so… if I say everything is fine, then she takes that at face value.
She asked if she could read to me, and then she did. She curled up against my ribs as I packaged the moment up in a keepsake box in the back of my heart.