National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week

>> Monday, September 13, 2010

This is the National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week.  Check out this website, whether you have a chronic illness or know someone that does.    Below is a story I wrote for FW about a mother suffering from a chronic illness and her daughter who is made to walk through it with her mom.  My kids have had to do that and still are.  Chronic illnesses are far-reaching and have long-lasting effects on everyone it touches.

Mommy's Sick

The bell rang and kids flooded the courtyard of Washington Grade School. Allison looked around from the top of the steps until she found her friend, and then ran to catch up with the short, red-haired girl named Gracie. 

“Wanna come to my house and play?” Allison stood face-to-face with Gracie, hands on hips, waiting for an answer. 

“I dunno. I have to ask Mommy.” Gracie shuffled her feet, looked over at her mom who waited in the van, and then looked back at Allison. “Um, some other time, okay?” 

Allison scrunched up her face. “Gracie, you used to be my best friend!” She stomped her little booted foot and marched off in the opposite direction. 

Gracie stood on the sidewalk and watched her very best friend walk away mad. She bent down and picked up her back pack and walked slowly to her mom, trying to hold back the tears.

Rachel beeped the horn to move her pokey daughter along. “Gracie, come on.” 

“Hi, Mommy.” Gracie plopped her bag into the van and hopped in, her face bright and cheery. 

“How was school?” Sunglasses hid her mother’s eyes, as always. Gracie forgot what they even looked like.

“Fine.” Gracie looked behind her and saw Allison’s van right behind theirs. She caught Allison’s eye and mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.” Allison turned away and pretended not to see. 

“Mommy? Can I go to Allison’s house sometime?” Gracie waited for an answer, and twitched her foot in anticipation. 

Rachel looked at Gracie through the rear-view mirror. “I guess it would be okay. When?”

“Um, sometime soon. If she ever asks me again, that is.” Gracie muttered that last part under her breath

“What, Gracie? You’re mumbling again.” 

“I said, ‘whenever she asks me.’ That’s when.” She sat head down, and watched both feet as they twitched. 

“Stop thumping the back of the seat,” Rachel snapped. “It hurts my head.”

“Everything hurts your head, Mommy! I can’t go anywhere, I can’t have friends over.” The tears she had been holding back now fell from Gracie’s eyes. 

“I can’t deal with this now. Please…” Gracie hung her head, sopping up the tears on her coat sleeve. 

The drive home was made in silence except for sniffling from the back seat. Before the van even stopped, Gracie jumped out and ran inside. 

“Supper is on the table. I need to go lay down,” Rachel called to the back side of her daughter. 

“What’s new?” Gracie ate as she flipped through channels. The quietness of the house was too much so she turned the TV on loud. 

She jumped when she heard the phone. “Hello?” 

“Hi, Gracie!” 


“What’s Mommy doing?”

Gracie sighed. 

“Oh, in bed again, huh? I’m sorry. You know Mommy’s sick.” 

Tears welled up in her eyes. She could barely talk because of the lump in her throat. “I know, Daddy. Mommy’s always sick. When is she going to be unsick?” 

“I don’t know, Honey.”

"She hates me and I hate her.” 

“She loves you. You know you love her, too. I have to go now. Tell Mommy I called when she wakes up. Okay?”

Gracie groaned, “Okay. When are you coming home?”

“Tomorrow morning. Be a big girl and take care of Mommy for me. I love you.”

“Love you, Daddy.”

Gracie snuck into her mother’s dark room. She pulled back the comforter and inched her way onto her Daddy’s side of the bed, careful not to jiggle. She ached to feel her mother’s arms around her. 

Rachel woke and pulled Gracie close, enveloping her in her arms and up against her warm body. “I’m so sorry, Honey,” Rachel whispered. “I hate being sick and I hate how it hurts you.”

“I hate it too, Mommy, but I love you.” Gracie snuggled up even closer and let the warmth of her mom’s body help heal her lonely one. 

In the morning, Gracie’s dad, tiptoed into the room and found his two favorite girls lying in bed together. Rachel lay curled into a ball and Gracie was tucked up inside. Gracie’s head lay on her mom’s outstretched arm and they both were smiling dreamily. 

“Lord,” Chris prayed quietly. “I shouldn’t have worried; You’re taking care of Rachel and Gracie just fine. We don’t know what the future holds with this illness but we do know that You are in control.” Chris climbed into bed beside Gracie and wrapped his arm around them both and drew them close. “Please help us, Lord.”

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