I feel I need to apologize for not posting much this summer. It's not just that we've been busy, although that is probably part of why there haven't been many updates; I just haven't really known what to say. Things have, for the most part, been going well this summer. I find it harder to write about the good things than the bad. I think of all of the kids we know who are still in treatment, or who are no longer actively being treated because all of the most effective treatments have failed. I think of Violet, Max, Hunter and Nick, who had tumours like Kol's - but whose fights against cancer have ended, and I feel guilty that our child, our family is doing well. It feels like bragging to talk about the good stuff. In my head, I know that it's not bragging - we're just telling it like it is - but at the same time, we don't want to make others feel bad because things are going well for us. I also know that I love reading the stories of other kids with tumours like Kol's who are doing well. It's reassuring to know that there is proof that this cancer can be overcome.
I think I've also been reticent to post about the good stuff because I'm afraid that if everyone knows that we are doing well, that Kol is doing well, they will move on, stop praying for us, stop reading this blog, thinking we don't need them any more. I know I'm like that, and I think most of us are. We all want to help out in times of need, and when we don't think we're needed any more, we move on. There always seems to be a huge outpouring of support when tragedy strikes - lots of organizations sent people to Indonesia after the tsunami there, or to New Orleans after Katrina, but we back off when the crisis is over. I know it is normal for support to come in waves, but at the same time, I still crave the support. It is wonderful knowing that we aren't in the fight alone. I still love hearing people tell us they've been praying for us or Kol, and still are. I love it when I see that we still have lots of people checking the blog regularly. I love getting e-mails and reading all of the comments on the blog. We still need you. We still covet your prayers, your friendship, your support.
As I said, Kolbjorn has been doing really well; he's gained weight and grown taller, his hair is back, he's been running around, swimming, teasing his sisters, reading books to Birgitte and Annika, and it feels good. It warms my heart. I feel like my heart is going to swell so much that my chest would explode. I've loved watching Kol be a normal kid this summer (or maybe a better way of saying it is that I've loved seeing Kol being himself again.) I've loved watching the kids spend time together and play with friends and cousins. It was even good to see Kol hiding in the cabin; while his sisters were tubing and going for rides on the boat, he was most often inside or sitting on the deck reading. He's kind of like his dad that way.
We spent about 10 days at Christopher Lake and Kinasao this summer. Our family attended family camp over the August long weekend. It was good to relax and spend time with friends. Pastor Sid Haugen led the bible study, and I really appreciated the discussions we had. I think Kirk did, too. The kids had a blast. Even Annika, who is normally quite uncertain around people she doesn't know well, started outgrowing her shyness and even spent most mornings with the babysitters. After family camp, Kolbjorn and Birgitte attended day camp. They also enjoyed that - there were lots of people they already knew there - including several cousins, friends from church, and Rachel - Kol's best friend from camp.
We got home in time to help out with VBS at the church. Julianna and I were crew leaders, Mari, Kol and Birgitte participated, and Kirk was Chef Pierre Mon Frere - a character in an ongoing skit throughout the week. Annika spent most of the mornings with Kirk, in between show times. After VBS, Julianna and Mari took off to Kinasao again for skills camp. They had a blast, as usual.
This summer has also been a time for emotional healing; for processing emotions that were suppressed, or too hard to face before. I have cried much more this summer than I did last year when Kol was going through all of the treatments. Last year, we felt we were being carried through it all. Like in the poem the poem "Footsteps" - God was carrying us then. This year, there have been lots of quiet moments when I look at the kids watching movies, playing a game together, giggling, reading books to each other, or even fighting with each other and I suddenly realize how easily that moment never may have happened. How close we were to never being able to experience the joy or emotion of that particular moment. How close we were to losing our son. It hits literally me like a ton of bricks, takes my breath away. The tears come and I can't stop them even if I wanted to. It's been a tough, emotional summer, but it's been good, too. I expect that, for the rest of Kol's life, we will always be aware of the possibility of a relapse. The fear and concern will always be at the back of our minds, and every headache will be more than a headache. I didn't expect, however, to still be feeling the emotional aftermath of Kol's surgery and treatment so intensely over a year later.
The big plans I had for getting lots of things accomplished this summer (like finishing the renovations on our house so Kol wouldn't have to share a bedroom any more, and yard work that was neglected for the last 2 years) took a back seat again, this time to the emotional healing that we all had to do. We've tried to spend more time together just as a family. I know that I have been craving more time with Kirk and the kids, and the kids have all been asking both for more one-on-one time with us and for more family time together. They've also been needing more snuggles and hugs. I suspect we've all needed reassurance that we're all important, and we've needed to re-connect. We've needed to catch up with each other. As a result of spending more time together, we've been able to have some much needed, heart-to-heart conversations. On Wednesday, we talked to one of the social workers we know from the cancer center, who told us that it was obvious that we talk with our kids. As a result, our children appear have adjusted well to Kol's illness. It was wonderful to hear that from someone who has seen lots of families, and sick kids and who knows what they are talking about.
Edited to add: Kirk just put up another post yesterday, too - don't miss it. If you can't see it, click on "Kolbjorn's Journey" at the top of the page, and scroll down past this post to see it. Or click here.