In my dreams, summer days are lazy and hazy days of digging in the dirt, making rock collections, digging in the creek, with breaks for occasional pirate ships floating through the backyard and dinosaurs that must be evaded.
In my reality, the post-cancer reality, these are my mornings, with naps for all in the afternoons while Mommy works her tail off on the NASA work, and then dinner together with Daddy (don’t kid yourself, Daddy cooks), and then either putting the kids down or back to work again.
It’s not a bad life at all. It’s tough squeezing in being an attentive full-time mom and too much work, but with some creative ways of working (subcontracting, anyone?) and the complete lack of personal time, it’s working out.
And tonight we even got to chase fireflies together while the sun set.
It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was hospitalized with 104′ fever, doctors were warning of cancer’s return, and I didn’t have the energy to walk down the hospital corridor with my IV pole. It’s hard to believe that I was freaking out about the repeated warnings of cancer, wondering if this was the beginning of treatment again, fearing another lost year, if not worse. I still am not quite how sure I got from there to here, but I’m grateful that I did.
One thing that I’ll mention that went very well last week was the weekend nurses at the hospital. For the first time, I’ve been happy with the weekend and overnight nurses, particularly two in the oncology wing named Shadrach and Celsa. They were absolutely delightful, helpful, ready with an ice pack or a comforting word, and they never overreacted to my cancer, my arm wrap (which I had to wear while in bed), or my history. They were really understanding and sensitive, and it made things that much easier. I also got to meet the hospital chaplain as I was checking out. I always like to meet the chaplain; she’s typically the one person who is totally sympathetic and ready to hold a hand literally or metaphorically. This one is very modern — in addition to prayer and resources, she offers Reiki sessions, energy movement and healing. I couldn’t pass up Reiki, an Eastern energy practice, from a Catholic chaplain (which, I’ll admit, legitimized it for me), so I stayed an extra hour in the hospital to have her help me let go of the fear of cancer recurrence, which I was plagued with there in the oncology ward with its white walls, IVs, and worried doctors. She played comforting music and performed what I can only describe (with my strict Presbyterian upbringing) as a laying-on of hands, although she told me words about my clogged chakras, and it was pretty amazing. No matter what the technique, at the end, I was calmed. I was comforted. I was ready to go back to my life and leave the fear of recurrence right there in the hospital bed where it belonged.
And a week later, I haven’t gone back for it. I’ve spent mornings digging in the dirt, kicking around the soccer ball, teaching my children to take turns and count, catching fireflies, and helping them learn. I’ve spent afternoons and late nights analyzing interviews and writing a history of a space science program I love. I’ve been shorting sleep in order to truly live. You know, I still don’t know how many more summers I have here, but I am trying to make the most of the one(s) I have.
I hope you’re enjoying your summers too.