The breeze, the sun, the smell, and the blanket. The blue skies on top of me, and the green grass below. This is how I remember childhood…laying down on a blanket surrounded by the outside and looking up in the skies. The warm sun kissed my face, and the breeze wrapped itself around my skin. My eyes full of wonder as I imagined dragons, birds, and all sorts of things formed by the billowing, fluffy clouds that captured my sight.
Mom’s baked goods coming fresh out of the oven. Sweet morsels filled with sugar, and love. This is how I remember childhood…knowing that I was deeply loved, and that Mom could whip up just about anything out of nothing, but it all tasted so good.
Dancing, the smell of the studio, tights and leotards, blisters on my feet, and the laughter of my dancing friends. This is how I remember childhood…sweet memories of performing, and dance teachers applauding and critiquing. Dancing filled my head with dreams, and my soul with passion.
The records, the station wagon, Friday nights at the skating rink, and racing Big Wheels up and down the street. Neighborhood streets with children playing kickball, the sound of crickets, and coming inside when the sun kissed the Earth goodnight. This is how I remember childhood…carefree, adventurous, independent, and fun.
Sickness, needles, doctors, machines bleeping, white sheets, blood, in and out of consciousness, surgery, more surgery, bad news, terrible news…this is also how I remember childhood. Strength, prayer, the power to overcome, the persistence of parents, and the love that enveloped my life before illness took hold, and after, also depict the script of my life.
When serious illness strikes a child down, it sure does its best to erase the goodness that came before. It doesn’t, though. All of the cherished times become just that…more cherished, sweeter, and fondly remembered.
In my life, when I think about my childhood, my mind does not automatically go back to the hospital and illness. No. It goes back to the warm breeze, the sun, Mom’s goodies, the dance studio, the rink, and the streets filled with children and crickets. This is how I remember childhood.
I suspect, or at least I hope, that the same is for anyone who has experienced a traumatic illness in childhood. Illness cannot capture all that came before. It does not do that.
Remember the good, the great, and the laughter. Remember friendships, family, and fun.
Remember that illness does not dictate who you truly are.
Remember, illness doesn’t do that.