For Peyton on October 19, 2021:
Peyton, remember when you were given an airplane pin by the flight medic as you began your journey with cancer that stormy day in October? Who would have thought such a simple thing would bring you so much comfort in a life turned-upside-down-snow-globe-shaken moment. But it did and when you recently went through your keepsake box to pack for our move, you reminisced about that pin and placed it back inside for safe keeping.
You are brave, Peyton. The bravest person I know. You are brave for a lot of reasons, but really I see your bravery the most in your honesty with yourself and with life. You are remarkable in how authentic you are. I was just telling someone the other day about your hair loss during your cancer treatment. They said they had donated their hair for cancer patients and it made me think about what you said to me after the nurse recommended to you that you should shave your head because it might be hard to see your hair fall out. When he left your hospital room, you said to me “Mom, I’m not going to do that. Let it just do what it’s gonna do.” You were ten years old. You didn’t hesitate or overthink it, but simply just spoke what you really felt about it. After I learned about an organization that donates wigs only to children, remember that I told you I would get my hair cut and you said you really didn’t want me to change anything? Already so much had changed in your life. Your acceptance of your situation helped you not be tethered to anything but what you truly felt inside. Maybe it was because your life got more quiet once you were confined to hospital beds, that you were able to tap in to what you really thought and felt. Mostly though, this is how you are innately— unpretentious, true, real — honest.
Remember when your sister and I kissed your bald head with our red, lipsticked lips and you didn’t like it? You were frank about it and tried to get away from us, but after realizing how much it meant to us, let us do it and even let us enjoy it and those are some of my favorite photos of you. Not so much because it shows kiss marks peppered all over your smooth, shiny head, but because you are half unhappy about it in your expression and half laughing about it. I love it because it tells the true story of that moment.
When we are honest in our trials it helps us in countless ways. It brings a freedom juxtaposed to the things we cannot control. This is what you taught me.
Today, I see your honesty with yourself and life in so many ways. You are strong because of it. To see you embrace your current challenges with such courage is such a gift to those of us around you who are fortunate enough to live our lives with you and love and be loved by you. You have always been a light in my life for the best way to live and always will be. ~ xoMom
Peyton was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia 11 years ago to this day, October 19.
Jess is Peyton’s mom and co-founder of Peyton’s Potion. She is a Life Story journal writer and storyteller. Jess has been keeping journals from a young age. Her journal entries throughout Peyton’s cancer treatment were also posted regularly on caringbridge.org.