In her quest to help my daughter, my sister offered her a special shopping spree at her store last night after hours. I had a difficult time convincing Elizabeth that she needed it (it would be the first thing she did that didn’t involve cancer and Jacob in some way since December 16th) but she finally decided to take her up on the offer. So last night I took my daughter shopping. The atmosphere was subdued at first, with us being alone in the semi-darkness of a closed store, but after a few moments of looking for books to read in the hospital and searching for lotions for the hospital dry air, Elizabeth actually got into the spirit of things and started hunting for some nice clothes to wear to the hospital. (Yes, I am well aware of the theme running through her head as she shopped. Everything was related to the hospital) At one point we imagined my sister coming to an empty shop the next morning and we laughed out loud.
Elizabeth laughed. And I smiled.
She immediately said that she felt guilty shopping when Jacob had cancer, but Jacob’s cancer treatment will last at least 30 weeks, so I certainly hope this isn’t the only time Elizabeth plans on shopping or laughing in that period of time.
You see, Elizabeth is dealing with something so horrendous I cannot imagine it; having a child with cancer. It breaks her heart to see her child go through medical procedures and cancer treatments that bring grown men to their knees.
It breaks my heart to see my child have to deal with this.
Elizabeth and I have had a special bond ever since I brought her home in fifth grade to homeschool. When she lived at home she was a tremendous help to me after each of my babies were born. She changed them, held them, even rocked them to sleep. She was every mother’s dream babysitter. And she loved the same things I did: reading, writing, stationery and letters. As a teen, if there wasn’t a letter for her in the mailbox, she’d lament “I might as well go back to bed,” because isolated out in the country, mail was always a highlight to both of our days. To this day, she still writes to an older woman pen pal she’d started writing to as a teen. She met her husband through the mail, as well as some good friends. She made parenting a teenager a piece of cake. Teen angst? What was that? She was my best companion for book sales and coupon shopping, getting just excited as I was by the good deals.
From my book:
“One. Two. Three. Four,” Beth counted out loud as she tossed the deodorants into the shopping cart. They landed with a satisfying thunk in the bottom. “How many more coupons do we have?”
A nearby customer couldn’t help but smile at the unbridled enthusiasm of my teenage daughter. For an hour Beth and I had roamed the aisles of the Venture discount store, matching up coupons with our purchases and leaving the store with $150 worth of merchandise for less than $25. Inflation was our battlefront, and we were prepared to fight. We’d come to the store armed with a carefully organized coupon box and the attitude that cheap is good, but free is better. I often used our shopping sprees as real life math lessons in our homeschooling, but Beth seemed to enjoy the hunt for good deals almost as much as I did.
She remained “Beth” to me until my mother died this past November, and then I suddenly saw her as my mother always had; a young woman named Elizabeth after her two great-grandmothers. Now I call her Elizabeth.
“You can’t help your child through this right now,” I told my son-in-law Ben when I asked to trade places with him in the ICU, “Let me try to help my child.”
I hope I have been.
It was good to hear her laugh.