“I’d recognize that look anywhere,” I muttered to myself as they wheeled her son into the PACU. She had hair that had been hastily pulled back. Her cell phone was glued to her hand and giving constant updates to those who were concerned about her son. And that look. The look of a deer caught in the headlights. The anesthesiologist was giving her the run-down of what happened from a pharmaceutical standpoint, like all the drugs that had been administered during the surgery and what to expect when her kiddo finally woke up. She nodded as if she was hearing every word. I knew better, however. That time post-surgery is spent inspecting your child – much like how you gingerly touch your newborn – to make sure they’re okay. Ensure that they’re breathing normally. Grateful to finally see that precious face after what seems like hours of waiting. It is truly like a rebirth. Starting over. Hopeful. Now that they’re in your arms (or as close to that as possible), you pray that from here on out they have a life filled with health and happiness.

THAT’s what goes through your mind. You don’t have the energy to hear what the doctors are saying because you’re just so thankful your child is okay. I’m sure this is why discharge papers were invented – so you could read what happened at your leisure.

Me? I knew the ropes. As it was, I was standing by my own child’s bedside, waiting for him to wake up from his surgery. My well-weathered skin had been toughened by the procedures – the chemo – the radiation – and whatever else came next. My leathery appearance had been subjected to beating after beating of what we go through as parents of a child fighting cancer. This is not to say that I am not affected when my son has procedures – I most definitely am. But I’ve learned to compartmentalize a lot better than I could in the beginning. Not this lady though. She was a newbie. Her scared, soft center came oozing through every pore. There was not one thing about her situation that I could envy.

We are on the backside of Ben’s therapy. It’s been a roller coaster for sure, but we’ve come to a valley where things have smoothed out and we have the option of getting on with our lives – or at least – what’s left of them. We’re missing some limbs (or a rib, in Ben’s case) and our hair is mussed from traveling at high speeds, but as far as Ben’s health goes, we’re in a good place. Matt has worked diligently to get Ben enrolled in a new Phase 2 study that might have some preventative aspects to it, which is always welcome. This study is in Kansas City and should be minimally invasive both physically and emotionally. The travel will be much lighter. The side effects will be fewer. And, we can stop at any time without any ill-effects.

Oh, I like to think I know how to handle what’s coming next. But, in all honesty, I guess I’m more doe-like than I realize. Apparently, I’m destined to have the sort of life that will always blind-side me. Will always throw curve-balls. Will always surprise me. I don’t know why I think it’s so different from anyone else. We’ve all got our own hooey to deal with, right? I should figure out a way to not be surprised when things don’t work out according to the plan I have concocted in my head, because it just never, EVER, will. Of that I am certain.

I’ve always liked John Lennon’s quote of “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” And when I think of Mr. Lennon I’m reminded that his life didn’t exactly go according to his plan, either. But he lived with great passion until he was murdered at the age of 40. I’m four years past that age myself and am wondering how the rest of this is going to play out. Interestingly enough, eleven years ago, I held my infant son against my chest in a Baby Bjorn as I wandered through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame perusing an exhibit of John Lennon’s life. Things he’d written. Things he’d touched. The church pews that were the anchors of the bed that held him and his new wife as they promoted peace. But it was a snapshot. I saw the beginning, the middle, and the end. It was beautifully touching. The exhibit chronicled the pieces that meant something and the rest was left to just blow in the wind. I need to figure out how to best chronicle my life. Just HOW do I let the crap go? And HOW do I embrace what’s coming next?

Frick. I never wanted any of this to happen. I thought I was setting my life up to be something all-together different. But, it is what it is. And I can either feel its warmth or get run over by it. I guess I’m just tired of running.

So, I’m just going to stop.

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