Oh, you know I’m gonna keep on writing . . . just because the PICC line is out doesn’t mean we’re that done! Not like the first time when Austin’s Broviac was removed and I wrote that fantastic (in my humble opinion) ending on the Carepage, which became the last page of the book, and then stopped updating until his next CT three months later.

Here it is, just in case you weren’t around back then: the original ending, written on Wednesday, March 19, 2008:

“It is not lost on me that tomorrow is the first day of spring. We started this journey in the dog days of summer: a swelteringly humid August in Cleveland. Walking around the air-conditioned hospital in a hoody sweatshirt zipped right up under my neck, hands stuffed into my pockets, not aware of whether it was night or day let alone warm or cool. And then I’d have a chance to walk outside, through that revolving door, into another world complete with its own climate. Lose the sweatshirt, search for sunglasses, wander past the innocent guy selling hot dogs and university employees preparing for the onslaught of new students and their families in the weeks ahead.

Then on through the fall, a vibrant college campus, glorious autumn colors, young people blissfully unaware of the horrors that go on inside that huge building looming over their campus. Our toughest days. But it was a warm fall and we tried to make up for what we had lost of summer, strolling Austin from the hospital around the pond at the Art Museum, tossing coins in every fountain we passed, wishing, always wishing.

Into winter, the holidays alive with hope and possibility. Twinkling lights and happy wishes reminding us constantly of all we have to be thankful for, of all that others have lost. The final chapter of this story dragging on much like Cleveland winters do. Learning that the Broviac would stay in for extra weeks and possibly months felt like Groundhog Day with a poor outcome—how much more (winter, cancer) can we take? How much more (snow, sickness) will come our way?

But spring is coming, at least according to the calendar. New life, rebirth, growing, blossoming. Austin is going to sprout up like a weed in the months to come, I have no doubt. He will finally outgrow the onesies he’s been wearing since last summer, will learn to swim, will experience the freedom of running naked, will begin to forget.

We have come full circle, through the seasons of the year. We hope beyond hope that our cycle is over. But Mark and I will never forget.

Today was easy. We arrived in pre-op around 8:30 and spent a good stretch of morning just waiting (so much of this has been about just waiting). Austin was grouchy because he hadn’t been allowed to eat breakfast, but we managed to distract him with toys and tickles. When we changed him into the hospital gown and removed that carefully wrapped ace bandage from his chest, he nearly pulled the Broviac out all by himself! Then the docs used it one last time to administer propofol rendering him gleefully oblivious to the masked strangers who wheeled him away from us. We were back in post-op holding him a mere forty minutes later, nothing like the eight-hour surgeries we’re all used to. He sports a regular little band-aid over a tiny hole, no stitches, not much of a scar. Just like that, whoosh—all better.

And then we walked together down that hall leading away from Pediatric Surgery one last time. Feeling lighter, satisfied, content. We stood at the elevator, waiting for our chariot to arrive and whisk us far far away. The elevator stopped, door opened, another family got off as we got on. We didn’t know them and yet we knew them all too well: their reason for being here was written all over their faces. So for one it ends and for another it begins, this cancer roller coaster does not stop for long. Mark shot me a knowing glance and we squeezed hands and vowed once again to never forget:

We were, we are, and we will remain the luckiest.”

I loved that ending. I imagined readers coming to that final phrase of my 254-page memoir feeling good, relieved, satisfied that after all that drama, all was well in our lives. And then they could put the book down and walk away. Just like I thought we had.

Except we hadn’t.  That quick little Broviac-removal wasn’t our last visit to “Peed Surge” and our chariot didn’t carry us nearly as far away as we’d hoped.  It was a full year, almost to the day, before I had to write this one and even that was only the beginning of what will have to be a seriously revised book (or two?).

But even though the ending didn’t last, that final thought holds true. And no matter what befalls us, we remember it every single day.