It’s “Step in a puddle and splash your friends” day

My Colorado puddles are currently frozen. If this National day is always January 11, then the person who created this holiday must be from a country that celebrates summer during our winter. Or Yuma, AZ. ‘Cuz if you’re stomping in any of the puddles around here, all you’ll get is the sound of cracking ice.

That’s actually one of my biggest phobias – falling through ice. I’m terrified of it. When I lived up in the mountains, I had a boyfriend who would cross-country ski across Lake Dillon whenever there was a full moon. I never went. Ain’t no way I was ever going to ski across the lake, let alone try it out AT NIGHT. I think falling through ice and drowning would be the worst sort of death. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m not sure that any sort of death would be particularly exhilarating but the thought of being trapped under ice is horrifying to me. And any rescue effort would be slippery at best. Nothing to grab hold of. Nothing stable to pull you out. I’m hyperventilating just thinking of it.

Oh, okay. I’m hyperventilating for many reasons. I can’t sleep. Matt is snoring like a maniac. I can usually sleep right through that – even fall asleep to the sounds of his sinus issues if I can find any sort of rhythm to it. But tonight his snoring is very erratic. He’ll start a nice pattern only to stop… then nothing… completely silent… which leads to my questioning  “is he dead?”… and just as I go to put a mirror under his nose, SNORRRRRRE. And I suck in my breath, clasp my hands over my heart, and experience my own erratic breathing. I swear it’s knocking years off my life. I guess that’s better than being trapped under ice.

We’re all under a bit of stress. While chemo is over for Ben, we still have a long way to go. Radiation starts tomorrow. There are pros and cons to that. One of the biggest pros would be the probability that he will not have anymore long-term hospital stays since that stupid chemotherapy will stop making a mess out of him. He’ll start to grow his hair back. His little eyelashes will begin to come in. His incredibly expressive eyebrows will re-frame his beautiful brown eyes. He’ll be back to being my sweet little red-haired boy (I’m quite confident that his hair will grow back in its original color). I will be able to watch the wheels turn in his head while his eyebrows knit together, spinning out thoughts into expressions. His lovely, intelligent expressions. Things that most eight-year-olds don’t have a clue about. God love him.

Today I took Ben and Madeline bowling. Madeline was her easy-going self – rolling the ball from between her feet and then ending her performance with a disco move of some sort. Then Ben would take his turn – run like a crazy man from the very beginning to the very end (often setting off the “over-the-line” buzzer), watch the ball roll down and bounce off the bumpers only to turn and shake his fists every time he didn’t get a strike, which was every single time. And while I knew what was going on in his head – that kid is a perfectionist – an outsider wouldn’t be able to tell because he doesn’t have any eyebrows. I just can’t wait for them to grow back in. While things might not be fully back to normal in our crazy world, at least it will look like it when those eyebrows come back in. Isn’t it all about the aesthetics? Yes. Most definitely. Hurry up, eyebrows.

So. Radiation starts tomorrow. We have to go in an hour early in the morning because all of his marks from his simulation came off. We tried to keep him marked, but it’s been well over a month. Plus, his stint in the hospital over Christmas and how sweaty he got during his vicious fevers, well, there was no keeping him pristine. So he goes in tomorrow for re-marking. Then he’ll have his first session directly after. It’s just to the one area on his back and it’s not a super-high dose of radiation (which should make me feel mucho better about this whole radiation gig, but it doesn’t).

I might have said this already, but when Ben first met his radiation oncologist and they were discussing this portion of his treatment, Ben was astute enough to state “This radiation stuff sounds dangerous.” The doctor and his assistants all looked at me with shock and amazement. I tried to take credit for his intelligence but ultimately had to surrender with a shrug and say, “What can I say. The kid is smart.” His doc did explain to Ben that it was, indeed, a dangerous procedure, but that’s why they were marking him – to make sure they zapped only where it was needed. When we were leaving his simulation appointment, one of the radiation techs pulled me aside and said in all her years of working with children – even up to age 18 – not one child had made such a statement. Most of the questions revolved around “how painful are the procedures?” and how they would feel after the treatment. My Ben. He’s just too smart.

Ugh. Am I still awake? It’s currently 1:45 AM and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a sleepless night. After all, I need to be up really early to talk with Ben’s treatment team in New York. Damn that two hour time difference! The way tonight is going, by the time I finally fall asleep, New York will be open for business. Might as well crack a Mtn Dew and settle in. Once this first day of anxiety is out of the way, I’m sure the rest of radiation will zoom by. Pray for minimal side effects, please. He deserves smooth sailing.

Normalcy. Oh, I long for Ben to have that opportunity. To be a normal boy. To grow that hair back in. To play with friends, dream of his future, make plans that aren’t flimsy and fraught with constant change due to sickness or treatments or appointments.

And to lean back with his face to the heavens, catching raindrops on his tongue, and splashing through the many puddles of childhood instead of slipping on this treacherous ice called cancer.

More later. 🙂

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