Safe passage

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BOOKENDS, by Darkroom Daze on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

The school year ended. It’s only when it ends that you let yourself perceive how much of a weight it has become by the end. The kids’ disappearance from the house in the morning accelerates into something that feels like it’s only a half-hour long, and their restlessness is palpable. I’m sure no one becomes a teacher because of the last week or two of school, when they are forced into roles more akin to cat herder… or prison warden.

We made it. We all did. It wasn’t long after the year began that my lung metastasis showed up. And then the brain stuff in mid-April. So in a way, my metastatic cancer experience has sort of bookended the school year.

It was a banner year for both Young J and Young A. Last night as we ate Indian food for our Shabbat dinner, I asked them each what had been their favorite thing about the year. (Some of their teachers may be reading so I won’t report on their findings. Let’s just recall that kids can sometimes have much better short-term than long-term memories!)

Then I wanted them to know what I was most proud of. Young A began reading this year, and became quite a role model and official reader in his class. It was easy to praise that.

Young J’s greatest accomplishment, in my opinion, was not academic at all. This year, Young J learned how to be a friend, and found good friends, three of them. Going through his school notebooks yesterday (always a dodgy prospect when you have a kid with ADHD), I found one of his math notebooks had been repurposed into a notebook for listing out how the school could be made better. It has about five chapters worth of ideas, and it seems clear that Young J was the official recorder – some of the candy suggestions, for example, were things he’s never tried and I’ve never heard of.

And then, not willing to leave well enough alone, I told them that my favorite thing about the school year was that I was still around by the end of it. Of course, I did not phrase it that way, and I’m hoping my kids don’t learn for a very long time how serious my illness was (is?). I told them I was happy to be feeling better at last.

I’m strapped in an airplane seat right now. We’re heading to Colorado for a week before the kids start camp. We’ll be in Denver visiting J’s aunt, and then go with her to Rocky Mountain National Park. I was in Colorado once before, at age 14, when my brother U played in the Aspen Music Festival. I’m looking forward to sharing the majesty of the mountains with the kids. I hope neither of them is afraid of heights  (what a time to discover it). And we’ll also do a lot of railroad-related activities. And maybe some horseback riding, which I was cleared to do during my last call with Nurse Practitioner R.

Mainly, though, I want to shout from the mountaintops that science has allowed me to survive (thus far) the tests of the past months, and I have a community that has supported me and sustained me and cared about and for the kids and J, and also patiently listened when I was a raving lunatic on steroids. Turns out we didn’t need that trip insurance after all. I’m glad the fee went to waste.

I’m feeling good enough to ride a horse. Nothing else really matters right now.

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