Sunday, October 4, 2009

Before and After

Recently, I spent time looking through some old photos and videos of Jael. I am struck by something I can't deny. She has changed. She is a different little girl. Not in every way, but in many ways.

She used to be daring and reckless with her body and safety. Now she is guarded, careful, and untrusting of her abilities.

She used to refuse to ride in the stroller and would choose to walk long distances. Now she can make it a few blocks, but always ends up in the stroller or with me carrying her.

And the thing I can't quite put my finger on is her personality. In so many ways she is the same, but in so many ways different. She was shy around people she didn't know before, but now she is completely untrusting. She even takes time to warm up to our extended family. She laughs a lot, but there seems to be a sadness always lurking.

As I looked at the pictures and watched the videos I felt a great sense of loss. The little girl who knew nothing of pain, surgery, CT scans, MRIs, hospitals, hospital beds that go up and down, nurses, doctors, techs, bloodwork, tubies, poles, medicine, blood pressure cuffs "little squeeze", daily shots that she calls "itchies", chemo, and sitting still for hours at a time is gone. Pieces of her childhood, her innocence, stolen by cancer. She knows too much. How could it not change her? She seems to have aged, grown up more than she should have to in just two months time.

At our last doctor appointment, I was telling our nurse about how Jael had to sit in a chair for her stem cell harvest for practically an entire day and that she did an amazing job. She never had a melt down or got really nasty. She took it all in stride. The nurse made a comment that she has a 3 year old grandchild that could never sit for that long or even close to that long. I told her that if we had attempted to do that 3 months ago it would have never worked, But she has been broken down to accept these medical treatments. I know that sounds dramatic, but its true.

My little girl has changed and I believe she will never be the same again. I don't think that is a bad thing, because I KNOW that my God says He will make all things good. And in many ways I already see that in her. She is more patient, more compassionate, and more loving than she ever was before.

The first picture was taken at her birthday party on June 28, 2009. The second was from an informal photo shoot taken on September 12, 2009.