Normal. It’s a word I’ve never really identified with. Growing up as an overachiever of grand proportions, I’ve always shied away from words such as this. I’ve never aspired to flirt with Normal, or tango with Average, and can hardly utter the word… Ugh… Mediocre. Routine? – the bane of my existence, and solid was a word I’d like to hear only in reference to my backside. I always pictured myself living a more glamorous existence, chasing the tail of life, and filling it up with adventure. I’ve discovered, however, that normal is relative, and certainly not bad. In fact, I would even say I now crave normal.
This past week was surprisingly just that, with a daughter who was functioning as a wonderfully average five-year old. Lulu is off of chemotherapy for almost two weeks, and our regular-ish little girl has reemerged. What most people find to be ordinary, we now find extraordinary. Her fighter blood counts were so high we were able to do crazy things like go to the grocery store! We got ice cream one day, and went to a park – WITH other children! We sat at the dinner table together and shared a meal where Lulu actually ATE! It was only yogurt and one bite of chicken, but we could have been dining at The Four Seasons, it felt so good. I had a business meeting that I’m not sure how it went, but who cares! It was a normal thing to do, something I haven’t done in 6 months. I met a good friend who is going through a hard time and I was able to listen to someone else’s problems. Wonderful! My dad is in town and we actually went out on not one, but two dates! I mean, come on, this is pure gluttony.
The icing on the cake was a visit to Lulu’s K4 class. She had only attended for 2 months before her diagnosis, but her school has been surrounding us with love ever since. When we entered the classroom, a hush fell over the room. The kids were lovingly and cautiously instructed not to touch her due to exposing her to germs. We hadn’t been able to tell the teachers of her improved status for this week. Lulu was beyond excited, bouncing up and down, overwhelmed into smiling silence and eyes so happy they squeezed almost shut. Gingerly, the little ones approached. Jimmy, my dad and I watched from a distance, letting go of any control over the situation. One little dark-haired boy came up to her and quietly said, “Hi Lulu, you look just beautiful”. Wow, thank you God. The kids were curious, but completely respectful. I wanted to grab each one of them and squeeze their little cheeks off, then send a letter to their parents thanking them for raising such gems. Her principle read a story to her class as Jimmy and I held hands, being sure to keep the other hand free to wipe the tears that were escaping rapidly.
Yes, Normal is relative. I remember when Lulu had an undiagnosed ruptured appendix on top of her leukemia, which caused her excruciating pain and multiple surgeries. There were times when we thought to ourselves: can’t she just have normal shitty cancer? Bo, a boy we met in the hospital during this time, is one of the sweetest, most kind-hearted boys I’ve ever met. He was recently given his walking papers; remission. He rang the bell at clinic, meaning his fight is over, he’s won, and his new normal can finally begin. We felt lucky to be there that day. He had adopted Lulu when she was at her worst. Bo saw the little fighter in her, and just took to her, even when she was too sick to even know he was there. He’s been her big brother from down the hall, making her little presents and always keeping her in his prayers. Bo just celebrated his 13th birthday yesterday, and his present? He found out his leukemia is back. Please pray for him and his family. Normal has now moved into divine.
-and, Hey Normal, we know we only have you committed for two more days, but please stay for a while… and visit Children’s often.
A.L.L. of Us