Thursday, December 20, 2007

What makes a Mama proud

Yesterday I received a call from Sofie's therapist encouraging me to do a few things. First of all, move Christmas up a few days if we can. Secondly, to have "the" talk with Sofie. "The" talk included a few layers but it was "the" talk nonetheless.

After a long day at work I had an appointment with my therapist who had been out of town for a few weeks. It was great to be able to have that support before I went home to chat with Sofie.

I arrived at Debra's just as Sofie was settling in for a bath. I had planned to have the chat in her room as we were settling down for the night, but something told me to go for it while she was in the tub. That something was SO right!

I sat down beside the tub to be as close to her as I could be. First thing we talked about was why Grandma Mimi came to visit. I told her that it was because Mama Debra was getting sicker and Grandma wanted to be with her. I made sure she understood that's why there were so many people coming in and out of the house, too. That admission brought tears to both of our eyes.

The next step was THE hardest thing. First a little background. I have an angel that hangs from my rear view window that belonged to my MawMaw Bess(for the southern impaired, that's Grandma to you.) I made a beaded chain and put the angel on the end. Sofie asks about it often so we've talked about angels that were once on earth are now protectors of their loved ones. She obviously "got" it because she's used it in her own therapy sessions. So using angels as a metaphor for death was encouraged by Sofie's therapist.

After discussing Grandma Mimi's visit that was followed by little 7 year old pleas that she wished Mama Debra weren't sick and that she'd feel better. Perfect segue to the next part of the story.

"Honey, we've talked about how Mama Debra isn't going to get better. In fact, (tears are rolling down my face by this point) Mama Debra is preparing to leave us to become an angel. Which means you won't see her unless she visits you in your dreams or thoughts."

Tears are welling up and the lower lip is pooched out in Sofie. "But I want her to get better!"

"Unfortunately that's not going to happen...but once she's an angel, she won't be sick anymore. We just won't get to see that."

"Can I stay home from school tomorrow with you and Mama Debra?"


"Can I spend the night with you in the condo?"

"Of course!"

The next part is what makes this Mama so very proud of my girl.

Laurie, who's visiting from CA, came in to the bathroom and I filled her in on what had just happened.

"Mommy, can I say the "S" word?"

"Sure honey, you can say any bad word you can think of" (In our house, the bad words are stupid, dumb, hate among others. We're allowed to HATE only two things...she hates mosquitoes and bamboo...the bamboo is another story at another time)

"STUPID CANCER!!!" "STUPID DUMB CANCER! I HATE CANCER!!!" at that point, she stood up in the tub and grabbed her tub crayons. She drew a house with Debra, Sofie and me inside. Then she drew a smaller house(in yellow) with Debra in it as an angel. Then she drew Debra in a hospital bed. Above the two houses she wrote good times and beside the hospital bed she wrote, bad times.

"How to you spell stupid?" "S-T-U-P-I-D" "How do you spell Cancer?" "C-A-N-C-E-R" She wrote the words out, underlined them, crossed them a lot of anger out towards them! Then she found a little piece of crayon and squished it into the side of the shower wall..."THIS is Cancer!! I HATE Cancer!!"

You can't imagine how proud and relieved I was to witness her emotions so profoundly exhibited. That interaction made me realize...she's going to be okay. Sad, but okay!

The rest of the evening was spent cuddling, talking. Me answering questions. Before we left Debra's to come to my house, she did go in and talk to Debra. Debra was awake so she got to tell her that she wished she'd get better. Debra reinforced that wasn't going to happen and to remember that she loved her more than anything. Sofie went through a litany of "I liked it better when you weren't sick because..." statements. Those reasons included, no longer getting to cuddle, no longer being able to play, and basically no longer any fun. Debra understands. Then just before we left, she gave Debra a big kiss and we told her we'd see her tomorrow.

If I haven't said it enough...I am so grateful to have a kid named Sofie as my daughter.


Anonymous said...

Good work Jaime! I know it was hard but you handled it great. And Sofia is incredibly resiliant. Good thing.

Nancy Frank

Dave said...

Jamie, I am so proud of you. What a relief for both you and Sofie for having gotten that out! I look forward to seeing you soon. Love, Dave

Rick Crane said...


I think you are a great Mom and Sofie's a very very lucky girl to have a Mom like you.

There's never any way to gloss over the inevitable pain and sadness at these times, but sometimes there are extraordinary moments and events that happen that are unexpected, dear and precious. These are memories to keep close and remember.

I know your plate is more than full, and I just hope that there are people there for you to help and take care of you, too.

love, Rick (Crane)

Betty Prioux said...

Thanks for keeping us intimately connected to what's going on, on a daily basis, Jamie.

I must second Sofie, for myself and probably for everyone else who knows you all and reads this blog: STUPID CANCER! I HATE CANCER!

Yes, that did feel better. Much love and strong warm vibes to all of you!

Maria said...

Dear Jamie, Sofie expressed it perfectly. I feel like squishing something too. Big hugs and lots of love to the three of you!

Susan K said...

Jamie, An excellent job on many fronts! I appreciate how you captured the feelings and helped with the emotions many are feeling about Debra's cancer. Reading how the "s" word was forbidden but OK to use when really needed was cathartic for me too.
Susan K (another library friend)

kaycee said...

I am also really proud of Sofie, reading this.

And I feel good knowing that the two of you have each other.