My middle child and I made a quick (525 miles and 8 hours of driving each way) 3-day trip to Minnesota.
We wanted to go to Ikea to help her stock up on items for her new home.
It was also an opportunity to spend some time with my sister and brother-in-law.
My brother-in-law found out in January that he has cancer. I talked about that here.
Since then he has been fighting it and undergoing treatments. Radiation. Ports. Chemotherapy. Tests and more tests. Oh, and the side effects. Oh, and the ups and downs of dealing with this monster. You don’t want it to become the focus of your life, but it becomes like the elephant in the room. You just can’t help it.
Because cancer not only affects the patient. It affects the family.
My sister has been a little depressed. And that is completely understandable. The immediate caregiver and person who is closest to the patient wants to put up a brave front, but they have ups and downs, too.
When my daughter spent some time with her uncle and listened to him talk about the treatments and side effects and his emotions over dealing with this disease, it made her sad. It really hit home to her seeing and feeling it firsthand from her uncle.
I think that is a good thing. It’s not good that he has cancer. But, it is good for her to understand that this is one of life’s many challenges. Loved ones sometimes get sick and, yes, everyone dies. Sometimes, we go through it together.
I don’t think you should hide the facts of life, whether good or bad, easy or hard, from your children. While you should be age appropriate in explanations, and you should not put them in the middle, and you should not put adult problems on their shoulders, it does not help kids of any age when things are hidden from them unduly.
Our visit wasn’t all sad either. My daughter was able to spend time with her uncle who was unable to attend her college graduation.
And we were able to spend time with my sister. We celebrated my daughter’s recent successes and her bright future.
Lifting each other up. The young and the not-so-young. Children and parents. Sisters and brothers. Nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles. It’s what good families and friends do.