For many years, I looked forward to the new year. For some people it is a chance for a fresh start, but for us, since Phoebe's diagnosis in 2010, we hoped it could be a chance for a life without cancer. Phoebe was diagnosed with cancer late in 2010 and so naturally, we anxiously awaited the new year, desperate to say good bye to the year that brought us leukemia. We believed that 2011, and all the years that would come after it, would be lived without cancer. 2011 came and it brought remission, but it also brought relapse, and so once again, we found ourselves anxiously awaiting a new year. 2012 came and brought more remission and we spent all but 3 weeks of this year without cancer, so once again we looked forward to the new year. 2013 was our year without cancer. We had a full year and it was so good, but Phoebe was still receiving low dose chemo, so we looked forward to 2014. 2014 would be our year without chemo or cancer, but then it came and brought with it Phoebe's third and final relapse. We still held on to hope for a future without cancer and believed that 2015 would be our year. The year we would finally be rid of cancer.
2015 was the hardest year. As hard and unpredictable as the years before it, but without promise of remission or a cure for Phoebe's leukemia. We spent the entire year trying clinical trials and combinations of drugs in an effort to finally be rid of cancer. We were thankful for the time we had; the time given to us by these trials, research and new therapies. 2015 was wrought with complications, infections, and heart ache, but it was also full of so much joy. We laughed and played and enjoyed the life we had. Mae learned to ride a bike without training wheels and Phoebe learned to ride one with. They both squeezed out all they could from each day - whether it was a day at St.Jude or a day at the park. It was a good and beautiful life and as hard as it appeared from the outside, I would live 2015 over and over again if I had the chance. Over and over and over again. I would hug Phoebe tight and watch her play with Mae. Even the darkest days were bright days compared to these days without Phoebe.
We had no idea that 2015 would be the last year we would have with Phoebe, or that we would never get another chance to start off a new year with hope for Phoebe's cure and her future. We had no idea that 2015 would be a year of last moments and memories. Of last hugs and snuggles, last words spoken, and last kisses. We had no idea that we would never get another chance to start off a new year as a family of four. That Mae would be left to grow up without her precious sister and friend. We had no idea that Phoebe would leave us.
And so 2016 - you are bittersweet. Much more bitter than sweet as we look ahead to a year without our precious Phoebe. As we look ahead to all of the firsts without our girl and try to hold on to and remember the lasts. New Year, like every thing else, will be hard and different and we will do our best to make the most of this new life for Mae. I can't imagine there will ever be a time when I look at the new year with hope - eyes bright and open to possibility.
Or maybe the hope has shifted. And so, as we embark on this new year without our precious Pheebs, as the busyness of the holidays fades away and our house is quiet and empty, I find myself asking for peace and healing. Please, be gentle with us 2016. Help us remember and honour our sweet Phoebe. Help us make it okay. Help us find the joy and hope in each day. Help us live life as Phoebe did - with joy, eyes wide open to possibility, heart full of love.
We miss you sweet Pheebs.
Thank-you to everyone who has made a donation in memory of our beautiful Phoebe. One reason we had so many beautiful moments in 2015 was because of research and it is so important to us to give back where we can, so thank-you for allowing us to do this. The research was never moving fast enough for Phoebe, but we have hope that in time, there will be answers. Please follow the link below to make a donation of hope.
Some beautiful moments from 2015 ...