“We’re going on a bear hunt,

We’re going to catch a big one,

I’m not scared,

What a beautiful day.

 

Uh-uh!

Cancer!

Big bad cancer!

We can’t go over it,

We can’t go under it,

We can’t go round it,

Oh! No!

We have to go through it!”

 

Shannon and I are sitting on the veranda drinking gin and tonic. It’s the first G&T I’ve had in months and I remember how much I like the bitter-sweet, juniper taste. The ice clinks against the glass and the scent of lemon tickles my nose as I take a sip.

Chris is in the pool. He exhales and lets himself sink to the bottom. He rests there a moment and then pushes himself, gasping to the surface. I smile remembering hours spent in this same pleasurable and not-very-useful pastime. When no one is around I still do it.

Josh is upstairs napping. For a moment it’s just Shannon and I enjoying the late afternoon heat. We sit in the shade and let the booze and our son’s antics gradually unwind the tension that we always carry on oncology days.

“I wish I could go back and tell HR not to waste money on that resilience training,” Shannon says. He’s watching Chris and, not for the first time, we are marvelling at our younger child’s “okay-ness”. 2017 has been a harder year than any fourteen year old should have to cope with.

“Are we doing enough for him?” I ask, “Mervyn, says his daughter still has abandonment issues.” I’m referring to an interaction I had recently with a parent who’s child died more than a decade ago. The guilt I harbour about leaving Chris to figure out the early days of high school on his own clings to me.

“Chris knows you love him. And he’s strong. Much stronger that we think.”

Shannon is right about that. Chris is strong. He hasn’t just coped but thrived in the hardest of years. It leaves me with no doubt that Chris will manage whatever life can throw at him. He is resilient.

He didn’t have any resilient training, though. No facilitator arrived to take him through an appreciative inquiry into dealing-with-a-brother-with-cancer. No therapist diagnosed his position on a grief curve. He didn’t meditate or attend yoga classes or have a breathing practice or any of the myriad activities I have tried over the last decade of my life to become more grounded.

So how did this kid manage to do, aged fourteen, what a decade of mindfulness practises couldn’t teach me?

My conclusion (and it’s a conclusion that I HATE) is that he had to go through it. There is no magical skill set that I could have taught him to spare him the misery of this year. How I wish there was.

He had to go through it.

He got (he still gets) a lot of love, a lot of hugs (more than he would like). He also has a Grandpa who arrived and, seeing Chris’ need to be practical, spent a week showing how to fix water pumps. Chris has been overhauling various pool pumps ever since. We make time to talk… mostly about pumps and engines and chlorinators.

He had to go through it.

And having gone through it, he is stronger and wiser and – yes – more resilient than I could ever have imagined.

 

“We’re going on a bear hunt,

We’re going to catch a big one,

I’m not scared,

What a beautiful day.

 

Uh-uh!

Cancer!

Big bad cancer!

We can’t go over it,

We can’t go under it,

We can’t go round it,

Oh! No!

We have to go through it!”

messing about being resilient

Grandpa's lesson how to be resilient included pump fixing

Get a free sneak "peek" of the Cure audiobook

Sign up for the newsletter and claim your sneak "peek" of the Audiobook version of Cure.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This