Stuck Like Glue

Hala and I share our 'keys' .. worn around our necks for tough days when we need each other

I get it.

I understand it completely.

Some days I just need my kids.

Some days I just need my husband.

Most days I need all of them, within touching distance. I need them near and I need to know they are ok. But even more importantly, I want them to know I am ok.

It is important for all of us to know that everyone in the family is present and accounted for, and ok. Some days we just need to be close.

Treatment weeks are the worst. The kids are on edge. My husband is on edge. I am exhausted and worried about those I love.

We’ve tried a lot of different things to help everyone feel better when we are apart from each other for ‘scary’ doctor appointments or tests or treatment. We’ve tried secret handshakes, secret words, stuffed toys to pack in backpacks, notes in lunch boxes…you name it. But nothing has really stuck. This means that while I’m sitting with an iv in my arm the kids are usually at school, worried and upset. It makes learning hard, and it disrupts their thought process. It makes treatment hard, as I sit for hours on end with nothing to do but…well…sit. So I think and worry and worry and think and it’s all I can do to NOT call school 500 time asking how they are.

I’m not really sure what happened, but this week was harder than usual. Lots of tears. Lots of clingy drop-offs. And LOTS of nights with kids cuddled as tightly and closely as humanly possible in our king-sized bed.

Imagine if you will a very big bed, with four people and a dog all squeezed as close to each other as comfortable. And in many cases, even as close as might be uncomfortable. But that ‘stuck like glue’ feeling is where everyone breathes deeply and calmly. Our hearts finally slow a bit and tears dry and there seems to be some peace.

During one of these moments, my daughter told me she felt like she was inside my heart. My son has said something similar…something about wanting to get inside me so he could hear it pumping even MORE loudly so he could go to sleep easier. Once my daughter also told me that she thought only Mommy got to have Daddy’s heart, and she was relieved to know that she too held a special place inside her Dad’s heart.

And from somewhere in that pile of arms and legs and hugs and kisses, the ‘key’ to our heart(s) was born. Something we all could carry around, or wear, on tough days. Something to remind us that we’re never alone, and there are always three more in the family willing to make you laugh after never-ending treatment, willing to cuddle you after a long school day, or willing to just listen to all your worries.

This weekend at Disneyland my daughter and I saw some silver keys behind a case. Something lit up inside her, and she smiled and said ‘like the keys to our hearts Mommy’- and I knew what she meant…exactly what she meant. Of course she still doesn’t get the concept entirely, declaring that the middle of our living room also holds the family ‘heart’ – but generally she knows what it means.

We’re wearing our keys around our necks now…the girls are, anyway. The boys haven’t figured out exactly what they will do with theirs yet, but it may just stay in concept form to them-which is totally fine. What is important is we all know we’re together in this. We have each other. And we always hold the key to each other’s hearts…keeping us close, grounded and getting us through the tougher days the only way we know how-as a family.


  1. Hugs. Just..Hugs. Hang in there, all of you.

  2. I love it Erin. I thought it was wonderful when you tweeted about the keys – it’s even moreso with all of this.

    I’m getting a cortisone shot in my spine on Wednesday morning at my C6-C7. It’s not even a worry compared compared to chemo, but there’s that stupid ‘small risk’ involved that makes for bigger, longer hugs.

    They say that having children is like having your heart get up out of your body and walk around in the world… I think perhaps there’s that feeling when all of your family is wrapped in love – when any of you is at risk, all of you are at risk. Good that you have the keys to hold in your hands and hearts.

    Love from here.

  3. This is so sweet, buddy. So very sweet. Your family is so rich with such amazing, deep, profound love for each other – but that has always been there. Solid. You must be so proud to have raised such caring, empathetic, amazing little people. Love you all very much!

  4. I so love this post. I admire you so much Erin.


  5. The family bed is so important during times of stress. I’m so glad you all have each other!

  6. There is such comfort in that squish of arms, legs and hearts all curled up together.

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