This post is #175 in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.
February 13, 2008
It was Friday, and time for the junior high Valentine dance, and even though Bethany had been out of school since Tuesday, she had made plans to attend. Since Brad was available to be home with Hannah, I was able to spend the day with her. We already had her dress, and I enjoyed taking her to get her hair and make-up done that afternoon at my regular salon. She had plans to ride to the dance with a group of friends, so I figured once we got her all beautiful, she would head out for the evening and I would see her when she got home.
That afternoon, we received a phone call from one of her teachers letting us know that Bethany had been voted as the Valentine Dance princess by her fellow students. It would be a surprise for Bethany that evening, so she didn't want us to tell her ... She just wanted me to know about it so I could come to the dance and see her crowned if I wanted to. Of course I wanted to! We let her leave for the dance with her friends without giving away the surprise, then I drove to the gym so I could be there for the coronation.
Bethany looked beautiful, and I was so glad I was able to be there for her big moment. But oh, what a surreal experience it was! I had hardly been out of the house at all (other than to Children's Hospital and back) for several weeks, and suddenly I was in a crowded room full of strobe lights and loud music. I felt awkward and self-conscious, and almost as if I was watching the entire scene unfold before someone else. And I found myself face-to-face with all these wonderful, concerned people who wanted to know how Hannah was doing. I struggled mightily to formulate an honest answer to that question when her condition was so fragile. And how strange it was to see one daughter at a dance so vibrant and alive, while the other daughter was at home just a shell of her former self. The swirl of emotion that night was indescribable.
Yet I was grateful to have that opportunity to celebrate Bethany and to experience that island of normalcy in the midst of a very choppy sea. I was so proud of her and the grace with which she was handling all that was going on in her young life.