I overslept. Can you believe it? I rolled over from a very deep sleep, groggily looked at my alarm clock (which I’d set for 6 am) and saw that it was 7:15. 7:15! And we were supposed to have arrived in the sedation unit at 7!

Well, I dove out of bed and went rushing around the house, waking Mark, “Hurry, I’m late! I need your help!”, eating a quick breakfast because my blood sugar was low (of course), digging the car out from under the major snow dumped on it last night and zooming down the hill to arrive in sedation at 7:45.

Nice start to my day, huh? Of course, we had nothing with us except the few toys I managed to stuff in my purse along with a crumbled breakfast bar and two juice boxes. The sedation nurses were great; nobody said, “Late to your child’s first radiation appointment?! Tsk, tsk.” We went through the procedure quickly, forgetting the dose of anti-nausea medicine, and were in the elevator on the way down to radiation when the doctor got a page saying Austin Gallagher had lost his slot!

But we arrived mere moments later and he’d just been bumped to allow a more punctual patient to go first. After ten minutes, he was wheeled into that room, carefully placed on his body mold, making sure all the laser beams were lined up with the grid of permanent marker on his belly and chest. I had to wait outside which is always the hardest part. Not that he needs me; he’s totally “asleep” and has no idea I’m not dutifully by his side. It’s just the fact that something is happening to his body that is too dangerous to happen to mine. He’s being zapped with those poisonous beams and I can’t be anywhere in the vicinity, even safe under an apron.

So I sat in the hallway and drank coffee with dry “creamer,” while old bald people passed back and forth in front of me. This is not a place where I belong, where my beautiful baby belongs. This is not where we should be. And yet, here we are.

It lasted a few minutes and he was awake on the table, struggling to sit up in his half-drunk state. Back to sedation where he wolfed down that breakfast bar before we were delivered to our room on R2.

Shortly after checking in, as I put away Austin’s few toys and texted Mark lists of things to bring, he started throwing up. Puked all over his sweet little gown and bed. The nurse quickly ordered his Zofran as I cleaned him up. Then, as I was holding him in my arms, he did it again, this time all over me and the only pair of clothes I had. Ah, typical; it’s always the little things. They brought me scrubs, took my jeans to wash while I let the puke on my sweater dry. He quickly felt better and we colored, read books and watched Up for the gazillionth time.

Mark arrived in the early afternoon with a suitcase full of gear and I began the process of re-hanging his stars from the ceiling. I think I’m gonna have to put them into rotation, so that only small portions are hung for each visit because it takes a lot of time and some precarious balancing acts to get them all up there. But he loves them, and with good reason:

These images are from his room the week before Christmas. He has quite a collection! And it’s still growing.

You can see him there underneath his “starry sky.”

This is a silly Austin smile, not a pained grimace.

His star-covered tree

Mommy’s wish

Mark is there now, still awaiting the administration of Austin’s first chemo dose. He needs to be hydrated for a few hours beforehand, hence the delay. So, they play and nap and twiddle their thumbs and then it begins.

Last night, as I was folding laundry before bed, I got sucked into the last fifteen minutes of The Sound of Music.  There was the Von Trapp family, escaping the Nazis, literally climbing over the mountains to freedom. The little ones trudging along in their lederhosen, the father carrying the youngest on his back. And, as corny as it sounds, I saw us in them (minus the lederhosen). “Climb every mountain . . .” (come on, sing along now) “Forge every stream, Follow every rainbow, til you find your dream.”

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