It’s cold here. It’s winter here. It’s June. I re-joined the gym.
Last November my gym membership was up. I decided not to renew it because it was warm outside and I wanted to start up running again. Well, I ran a few times but really, I failed. I crawled back into the gym, with my tail between my legs, asking for the deal they offered me six months ago and guess what, I got it!
So, with my membership renewed, I strolled in at five past six the next morning ready to resume my gym regime. Surprisingly I remembered the bike settings and got on, strapped my feet in and started pedalling—except something was missing. I used to look for two bikes next to each other and set them up or when I got there sometimes my bike would be set up for me. I was missing my gym buddy…Nicole Bell.
I met her 2 years ago when she moved to Melbourne from Missouri. She had Facebooked the bishop’s wife (another great friend of ours) and we knew she was coming. When I first met her, we bonded straight away. She was LDS and American, how could I not love and embrace her within seconds of our meeting each other. We were kindred spirits right from the start. I met her, she handed over two of her kids to me and she went off to the city. Her youngest was not quite one yet and spent the day on my hip. He never cried but just kept looking at me. He was so cute, they both were and I loved having them. She has three boys in total, her oldest boy was having his first day of school in Australia.
The little man I was holding I fell in love with, everyone did. He had blond surfer hair sticking out and curious eyes but the expressions on his face seemed like he was always processing things…like he’d been here before and he knew stuff…deep stuff.
My sweet friend and that sweet boy had a life changing ordeal last year. Well, it happened to him but almost killed her. I’ve asked permission to share my photos and her words…
I have been told my child has cancer. A very rare cancer that honestly, we know very little about. So, little that to treat it we throw the toughest possible chemo at it. And even then, survival is less than 20%. Some survive, but most don’t live past the first year, let alone to year 5. I have listened to a mother cry to me as she shared the horrible news that there is nothing more that can be done for her child. I have sat next to a mother as I’ve held her dying baby riddled with tumors, weeks before his passing. I have wept and cried with a mother who just lost her child unexpectedly.
I am a mother to a cancer survivor child. I have spent a solid 8 months in a hospital. I was once the “new family” on the oncology ward. I have seen “new families” arrive and I wept every time. I cried knowing how they feel at that moment. All the fear, all the unknown, the medical language is nearly Latin and all your trust to save your dying child is placed with the doctors who you just met and all the nurses who you are still being introduced to you. And you cannot forget that your child, the whole reason why you are there feels sick and it will only get worse as the chemotherapy start doing its job. When will my child’s hair fall out?
Your sick and twisted mind starts to plan the funeral. But you cannot do it. Just as you start to envision your own child’s funeral and life without them, your mind stops you with uncontrollable tears. Did you ever think you could cry all your tears out of your little eyes? Well, I’ve come awfully close. I have fallen so deep. I have been in a place so deep, so dark, so full of broken hearts. A place one cannot imagine but can only go if their hear is pulled out of their chest and shattered. Not a place for break ups or bad hair days, but a little place where the hurt is so deep because when your heart shattered it took with it part of you, and left you completely exposed. You are vulnerable. You are struggling to breathe.
Suck air in….right……now–breathe! Good. Now Blow the air out…..right…….now, again great job. And repeat.
The everyday task that are subconscious habits are now hard to do. I’m still in this deep dark pit. Then I see it. Hope. It’s that flicker of light out in the distance. At fi, st you second guess that you even saw it. Oh, look! There it is again. Hope. You begged to chase it. You desire to have it. It’s hope that disperses the dark and lifts you out of the pit. It’s what makes breathing easy again. It brings with it a reason to fight. A belief that I am a fighter and can handle this journey I’m on. It even brings about laughter. I know, oncology families don’t laugh, right? Wrong! We start to climb and find joy in the most unusual places. We are still very fragile. We still have moments of fear, sadness, intense emotional pain, frustrations, exhaustion, but we find hope. Hope is the start to faith, and faith teaches us patience. Romans 8:24-25 in the king James Holy Bible says, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
-Nicole Bell, mother of little trooper, Rhett Bell
This is my Nicole. A mother I look up too and will never know how deep she had to dig to find the strength she showed all of us through this process. I was lucky enough to help out where I could and be humbled by what I was witnessing.
Here is a teeny tiny snapshot of our friendship and the fun we have together in only two years…
When I said “Selfie” she was ready! I miss our deep down belly laughs together.
Here is Rhett a year ago when I was with him…He’s on top of the world!
He just had his latest scan less than a week ago and all is clear. We love you, Rhett and Nicole.
Oh and Nicole, the gym misses you too but not more than me. My mornings are just not the same without your tired face and you’re penguin-walk coming into the gym. Waiting to see if your face will hit the glass door or will you remember to push it open with your hand. Thank you for being a morning person for me. I love you.