Telling the Kids: The First Surprise
We put off telling the kids and then we were forced to jump right in, and I discovered anew that it's usually best to plunge right into the deep end---don't think too much, just go.
The Bishop emailed the news about Shane to the ward two Saturdays ago and on Sunday morning his daughter texted Sage to say, "I'm so sorry to hear about your dad." Which, of course, prompted an immediate phone call from Sage. I had to leave just as the conversation began, but Shane gave me a recap. He and Sage had an in-depth conversation about the CT scan findings and what's ahead. And Sage took it all in and understood.
Then, on Monday (5/16) it was time to tell the kids. Mornings are best for Shane so that's when we shared the news them. Haven sat beside Shane on the sofa with her hand in his, Micah perched on the sofa arm nearest Haven (those two stick together like glue), Sage on the other side of the room, me kneeling on the floor beside Micah. I glanced at Shane and got the visual ok (he asked me to lead this one). I explained that we knew Shane had cancer and instantly Haven's brow furrowed and her eyes were heavy with worry. Micah was expressionless but his eyes were quickly filling with tears, I wondered to myself how long he could hold them back. Eventually, there was no stopping them. After I delivered the news, we sat in quiet for a few moments, allowing it to sink in. Shane said he could see the wheels in Micah and Haven's heads turning...they were connecting the dots. The father of their dearest neighborhood friend, Prita, died of cancer just two years ago. Would their dad die too? It's hard to know how Sage feels, she tends to hold her cards close to her chest. For now she is keeping life full with school, cousins, friends, and soon, work.
But here's the amazing thing. Just 20 minutes later, Micah and Haven were jumping into the hotel pool and having a grand 'ol time with Grandpa, and Sage was on her way to hang out with cousins. They are incredibly resilient. They've also been incredibly fortunate to be spending their days with the Drapers (Shannon and Scott) and now the Waltons in CO (Melissa and Dave), two of the best families in the world, so they were shielded from much of the deep grief and anguish of the early days. And as strange as it sounds, Shane being sick and tired and unavailable has been their status quo for the past 5 months. This is nothing new, but now it has a name.
Our prayer is that our children continue to be resilient, joyful, and at peace, no matter what may come.