An interesting phenomenon occurs when there is cancer in the family, the push-back and bickering and fighting stops. It just stops. You don’t miss it at first, you don’t miss it at all
We have three loving and wonderful daughters. They pick at each other, they fuss and fight and are just terrible to each other at times. Who was going to fold the napkins while setting the table? Who was going to vacuum around the cat boxes? Who was going to sit where while doing homework? Who was going to use this bathroom instead of that bathroom? They would pick and pick to the point where you had enough.
It just stopped. They did things in silence, or worse, whispers.
Apparently this is normal. It is also very strange.
My daughters will talk you ears off. Tell you every single detail about something they love or just experienced recently, it could be anything. It is usually a single energetic sentence of a wonderful story that can go on for hours. I love them, they are the best part of any experience. All you have to do is ask what they liked best and they are off. If you ask them what they liked least or what they would change or what they wished would have happened you can get a very lengthy high energy monologue.
Not those days, not when I was going through cancer treatment, it all stopped.
We went through a book called 100 Days to Brave ( https://www.amazon.com/100-Days-Brave-Devotions-Courageous/dp/031008962X ). This helped us keep some of the lines of communication open, helped to have a time each day to check in, helped us come together as a family. It was a sort of a neutral conversation starter. Who knew that this family would ever need a conversation starter??
Treatment ended, another surgery happened and one day last spring right before I went back to work the younger two started picking at each other over who would use a salad fork. We were short one regular fork for dinner and no one would wash one by hand. They argued like top lawyers in front of the Supreme Court. They each had a passionate argument for why they should get what they wanted without having to do anything they didn’t want to. It was music to my ears.
Later my husband gave me a little crap about my hats taking up so much space on my dresser. They should, I had them in three distinct piles naturally! Again, music to my ears. I was not passionate about my hats or how they had to be, I just knew they didn’t have a permanent place in my life. I wouldn’t even give them a semi-permanent place in my house. He didn’t really care about how I stored the hats, this was the fourth month wearing them, well on the down slope of needing them. But in that moment he had a need to share his opinion about how, when and where my hats were stored. It was nice.
Honestly, I do like hearing the kids get along with each other much more than listening to them fighting and being little craps to each other, but there is something missing when they are not being that way. I hope and pray that they grow out of it, but to have it happen suddenly and for a critical illness—it felt like a cancer panther had just entered the jungle of our home and these silly monkeys went silent to protect themselves from the predator.
The palpable forced, scared silence is not a good feeling, but when it ends and the childish fighting re-starts, in any of us, it’s a little bit nice. It’s nice to know that they are sisters behaving like sisters again, hopefully they grow out of it, when the time is right, not because there is something worse happening to put an end to it.