It was last Sunday evening when we finally reminded Brody that he was having another follow-up MRI the following morning. As parents, we never forget but we wanted to wait until the last minute to talk about it with him knowing the anticipation is just as bad as the experience itself. We expected he wouldn’t be happy but we didn’t expect for him to get as upset as he did. He truly started sobbing. First tears, then uncontrollable sobbing as Bo took his in the other room and hugged him tight on the couch.
Seeing your child scared to death is so painful and gut-wrenching. MRI’s are far from the worst of what he’s experienced but every time he faces his fear of needles. And, it’s a reminder of a wound that is still fresh. More than anything, revisiting the same office where we first discovered the brain tumor is a scary reminder of the many unknowns in life. So, it is understandable that he’d be scared. Bo and I have been scared for weeks leading up to this one.
Now, prior to March 25th (diagnosis day), my children had only really seen me cry one time that they remember, when I heard that my sweet Nannie had passed away. Since this past March, that stat has increased quite a bit as I really have been much more emotional. They’ve seen me sad and we are good about discussing feelings in this family but I am not a crier, really…. or, I didn’t used to be.
Back to last Sunday at the dinner table, when I saw Brody’s reaction, I couldn’t help but get upset. I walked away from the table to avoid the kids seeing me cry (again) but Anna saw that everyone was getting emotional with Brody’s reaction. She immediately responded with, “I think Brody should sleep in the big bed tonight”. To this day, my snuggly children’s favorite reward is sleeping in our bed all night! (some things never change!). And for Anna to suggest this for Brody and not herself is huge, as normally she’d be really jealous!
As I continued to fight back the tears, she looked distressed. Now, when my sweet babies were born, Nana began calling them her angels, and are they ever! Seeing that everyone was stressed, my sweet angel, Anna, also quickly ran to grab one of her unopened birthday gifts from her best friend. It was a real mussel in a can that you open to discover a lucky pearl.
Each real pearl is unique and the various colors represent different categories of good luck and fortune. You open the can, then pry open the stinky mussel, and the good luck and color of the pearl is revealed. Trying to help lift Brody’s spirits, she told him that he could borrow the lucky pearl for his procedure. The color of the pearl was white for health, and it did indeed provide the perfect distraction at the perfect time.
The pearl in the sandwich bag went with Brody to the radiology office and stayed with him until he was put to sleep. And, it did indeed bring us a report of good health! It was just what we needed and Anna was not only willing, but also so generous to share the little token of love with the boy she admires and loves more than anyone on this earth. She is an angel.
Most children cannot define empathy. I have discovered this in guidance class over the years as many of my books and lessons teach empathy in some way. And while some do know what it means, empathy doesn’t always come naturally for kids who are born to be really be self-serving. As they pass through the many turbulent stages of development and angst, some kids just stand out when they have the natural ability to think outside themselves and really want others to feel ok. Empathetic children like Anna are really a gift to this world.
Empathy can be taught, and studies prove that. But every once in awhile, God gives us a naturally empathetic child with a true gift to care about others. I am so grateful for her empathy towards me within the last six months. She has really been my angel.
When I’ve looked exhausted and felt like I just can’t do it, she was there to tell me I looked sad and tired and give me a hug. (I clearly remember this moment in the big bed the first night away from Brody when he was in the hospital.) When I have been broken down or when Brody has been scared, she’s always been there for us with her gentle, quiet love. Her hugs are so healing. Much like a mussel, she is beautiful at her core. She is our sweet angel and she definitely has provided us with pearls of wisdom for what matters most in life. Thank you, Anna.