June 23, 2008
What do people I know wish for more often than anything (besides lower gasoline prices)? Unencumbered time. We all know the drill. We have a lot going on. We try to give each of our children the special attention they need. We don't want to short change our boss. The to-do list for the house gets longer rather than shorter. We need to fit in more exercise, more time with our spouse.
This is the usual for many people. Parents with cancer have all that and more. Let me tell you, I have felt the crunch lately. Between January 7 and May 13, we made ZERO trips to Houston related to Erin's treatment. We did everything at home and satisfied her Houston doc with monthly trips to our local pediatrician for blood draws. In the 42 days since May 13, we have driven to Houston ten times, spent countless hours researching and discussing treatment options, and had our ears grow hot waiting on hold with schedulers, insurance reps, and pharmacists. We have shuffled and re-shuffled Erin's schedule to accommodate her plans. Walter's research sabbatical ended on June 1, so back to the daily office grind for him. Summer school started for me the day after Memorial Day, so back to the daily grind for me. We have done what hordes of other folks do: run as fast as we can to keep up with the daily demands and fall into bed at night.
That's why I consider yesterday the perfect day. We needed to see the Tjoelkers before they left on vacation. Erin usually hangs out with Nico and Adam a lot, but Organ Camp, Chemo Camp, and Church Camp had intervened, and if we didn't see each other yesterday, we wouldn't meet up again until we were all in Pittsburgh in the middle of July.
The solution: Walter and I picked up sausage from Meyer's Barbecue (for a review of the sausage click here) when we passed through Elgin Saturday. I instructed Elaine to supply a watermelon, and I threw together some potato salad using ingredients that I didn't have to go to the store for. Erin used up the last of the peaches and blueberries to make some fruit crisp thing that she got from her new cookbook. When the Tjoelkers got to the house, we each found our favorite floating toy and slipped into the lake. Erin, Nico, and Adam proceeded to swim as far from the slothful parents as they could within the confines of a twenty-five acre lake, while the rest of us just hung out, suspended in seven feet of muddy lake water on noodles and inner tubes. The hundred degree heat faded from our memories. The lake was lukewarm on top, but chilly towards our toes. We had nowhere to go and no demands on our time. We talked. Laughed. Floated.
Eventually we drug ourselves out of the drink and had firsts, seconds, and in some cases, thirds of the thrown-together dinner. We watched the sky turn from baby blue through the spectrum of yellows and reds and finally to purple as the sun moved out of sight.
At the end of the day we fell into bed, just like always, but somehow better.