Since I’ve published my email address on my review site, I’ve started to get emails from people I don’t know. One who touched me this week was Wesley, adult child of a cancer survivor. He shared his story with me, and, as he does it publicly every Thanksgiving, I want to share it with you. He calls it, “Why don’t you take me to the park anymore?” and the title alone ripped my heart.
It was a few days before I let myself read it, fearing what it had to say. Because the title of his piece embodies one of the hardest things about this cancer, one of the greatest fears of all mothers, I think.
Feeling that we’ve let our children down.
And the truth is, I don’t take my three-year-old to the park much anymore. I don’t while away the afternoon with my one-year-old in new and exotic museums like I did when his older brother was that small. I don’t bake cookies, or walk endlessly around the block, or race them “to the next tree!” all the way through the park.
But I do make it a point to do something special with them each day. And so, even though I’m taking three (count them! three!) naps a day now, I have managed to take them:
1. To the truck touch, to check out the fire trucks, police cars, and bookmobile (Saturday);
2. To ride the little train and the carousel (Sunday);
3. To the playroom for an impromptu playdate with friends (Monday); and
4. Outside for a picnic after school, complete with blanket, peanut butter and jelly, and swings in the hammock with me (Tuesday).
And last week we started a new tradition: baking bread together. Yes, it’s just a bread machine (I can’t knead or mix dough anymore, with my crappy arm, but that gave us an excuse to finally get a bread machine! Welcome to the 80’s!), but Widget proudly helps me measure the ingredients and dump them into the pan, and when the bread is almost done, he runs to the doorway and breathes in deeply, saying, “Mama, Mama, our bread smells wonderful.” And then, whether it’s noon or nine p.m., we sneak down the stairs for a fresh slice, soft and warm and a little bit crispy on the outside, making memories with all our senses.
I may owe my early mornings to the radiation center, but they are easy to forget when I can share such beautiful sunsets with my family. I hope that when my children are old enough to ask questions like Wesley did that I will either be healed or still able to make these memories, one by one, with the help of my wonderful sons, who just last night asked, “Mommy, can we go outside and look at the stars?”
… you know the end of this story. You know that even though we were putting on pajamas and picking out books, we ran outside in our stocking feet, holding hands, and looked at the stars. Making memories every chance we get.
P.S. Go read Wesley’s story, if you can. He makes a beautiful point: sometimes, it’s the everyday ordinary things that make the biggest memories for each of us. Like the way mom used to cut apples for lunch.