August 25th: First Post, Last Post
A year ago today, Ana woke up with unusual pain in her right side. She’d just come home from a week long trip to Vancouver with her grandmother and cousin and hadn’t even unpacked yet. We thought maybe it was fatigue, or something she ate. That morning I went for a twenty mile bike ride and told her if she still had pain when I got back in about two hours, I’d take her to the walk-in clinic in Kingston (it was Saturday).
When I got home, she still had pain. We went to the clinic and they sent us straight to the Kingston E.R. She weighed barely 70 pounds, her skin was peeling from malnutrition (I’d thought it was a result of Scarlet Fever that she’d had the previous month) and her abdomen was distended. Maybe the doctor at that clinic thought it was appendicitis, or maybe he knew something was very wrong with my child.
You all know what happened after that. I wrote my first blog post from Ana’s hospital room that night in Westchester Medical Center during the start of what was to become a forty day hospital stay for Ana. Today is the anniversary of that day.
So what am I doing?
Thanks to Ana’s brilliant and dedicated doctors and to one man who became Ana’s donor and savior, I’m going on a mini vacation.
We’re all headed off to the Jersey shore for a few days R&R. We’re going to the beach and the boardwalk and we’re going to visit with grandma and grandpa and Ana’s sweet cousin Nicole.
I wrote this post yesterday because I knew I’d be busy getting ready for the drive today. I’ve actually been writing it in my mind for the last week because it will probably be the last post – for a long time, maybe (hopefully) forever. I have been mourning the loss of this blog, this critical resource and conduit to our extended community, all month. It has kept me up at night. It has kept me in my bed during the day, unable to face the day. I didn’t realize how much I needed it, needed you, to know what was happening in our lives…reading…letting me know you’re out there.
But Ana doesn’t understand what I’m holding on to. She said, “It’s over mom, we have to move on.” And I said, “But, It’s not!” And then she sighed and rolled her eyes in the way that only a 12-year-old can and said, “NOTHING is ever over, mom! That horrible part is over now and I don’t want to think about it anymore.” And so she was wise, but also childish, in just one sentence. But as much as I need to think about it – can’t help thinking about long nights in bright hospital rooms, and Ana getting thinner, and not knowing when we’d ever come out the other end…I have to. I know it’s time.
I’ve always loved a good ending. I’m a sucker for Disney movies and great, epic fantasies of the Star Wars variety where things are tied up neatly in the end. None of the good guys die, not really. Evil is bested, the guy gets the girl, the scared kid grows up to be a great hero (hello Katniss). But life is so NOT like that. I think I’ve been holding onto the promise of a neat ending – one where all the bad stuff, however horrible, is gone for good. In my ending there would be no scars on my child and no need for a lifetime of anti-rejection medication. I wouldn’t be afraid of cancer recurrence, or infection, or rejection or kidney failure or…
In my ending this would really be over and we would kick back to “normal” – the way we were BEFORE. But I think if I keep mourning that ending that didn’t happen, or the “normal” life we had BEFORE…then I’m never going to move on, not really. I’ll pull the sadness around myself and drown in it, like hoarders drown in their stuff (it’s not the first time I’ve likened myself to a hoarder). I’ll get depressed and stay depressed and fail to appreciate the real gift of TODAY. Today Ana is well and happy and growing stronger all the time. Today is our normal, and I think it’s time for me to accept it and know that it’s okay if the ending doesn’t look like I’d hoped.
I rode my bike yesterday with the very same woman I rode with that awful day one year ago. It was a great morning, just like it was that day. It was a great ride. It’s time to explore new roads…
Ana is doing well. She looks gorgeous. Her labs have been stable. She’s looking forward to going back to school on September 9th. She’s started running…slowly…she’s determined. I bought her running clothes and bright colored sneakers. She laughs a lot and enjoys moments more fully than most 12-year-olds, I think. Here she is with best friend, Lauryn. I could stare at this photo all day…
Emily is doing well. She looks gorgeous too. She is closer to Ana than ever before (except when they were very little). They still fight, but they are also loving sisters who seem to enjoy each other’s company at least 50% of the time.
I guess I am doing well too. I’m sad a lot. I’m thoughtful. I started exercising four times a week about 30 days ago and have lost six pounds of the 20 I gained since January. My business is doing well – thanks to wonderful clients. I am still working on the book which isn’t finished yet, but getting there…getting there.
Jim is doing well too. He’s able to focus on his business and his drum students again. He’s spending lots of time with the girls. He’s eating more broccoli and trying to drink less coffee.
We are starting a new year – a family picking up pieces and feeling grateful that we have each other. Thanks for taking this journey with us – love to you all.