Today was Austin’s last day of school, an end to his first year of preschool that feels light years away from its beginning. I am so proud of him and he is so proud of himself, convinced that today’s ice cream party proves he has accomplished something great. And he has: he continued going, with impressive consistency, even when he’d already had radiation early the same morning or had just finished chemo the day before. He went on field trips when his low hemoglobin made him cold and stayed for Lunch Bunch when there was nothing good for me to pack him, except bland, low-sodium, low-phosphorous sandwiches and a Tums floating around in his lunch box.
But he did it. He made friends and he made art projects, he had movement class and he had library, he proudly guided us around the building to find his paintings for the annual evening Art Walk. He belonged to something, was a welcome and valued member of that class even when he was absent for weeks on end. Nobody ever forgot him when he was gone, thanks to the daily “We wish Austin well” chant led by his teachers. And when he returned, his little classmates treated him with kindness and also, thankfully, with complete normalcy. They never tiptoed around him, afraid of what he could or couldn’t do. To them, he was just another kid, without hair and with a sock covering up the tube on his arm, but just a kid nonetheless.
So he did it. One year down, nineteen to go.
Oh, and his chest CT was clear and there were no noted changes from his last ultrasound so all’s good. Bring on summer.