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What a difference a year makes.  I find myself struck day after day after day by the power of the memories of last year.  Right before Thanksgiving (last Thanksgiving), Austin had an ultrasound that revealed a new spot. New, as in not the same spot we’d been watching and worrying about all fall. So we knew, at that point, we almost, mostly, practically knew what that his cancer was back. But we weren’t quite ready to commit yet, to actually do anything about it.

So we waited, a few more weeks, for a repeat ultrasound.  And that happened on December 7. One year ago tomorrow. And that, well, you can read it here. It was a Monday and then I sent Austin back to school that Tuesday and Wednesday because I knew these would be his last days there for a good long while.  We spent one quick night in the hospital that Thursday for a CT scan and then returned the following Sunday for the next surgery and big pre-Christmas stay.

But it’s that day of school on the 8th that I remember. I dropped him off in his classroom and walked out as he cried for me, held tight in the arms of his teacher. It wasn’t unusual, he cried when I left on most days last year (and many this year). He ends up happy, within mere minutes, so I knew in my head it would be okay. What I felt in my heart was another matter. That walk out was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.

One of my closest friends happened to be parent helping in her daughter’s classroom that morning. And I had stopped to see her for big hugs on my way in, but I didn’t want to stop again so I walked out the door and down the path to my car, and I suddenly just lost it. Another mom came walking up, one I know well who had already read the previous night’s update and I just fell into her arms. She was holding a baby bundled in a snowsuit but managed to hold me too. And I sobbed. And I really wanted her to go back in and get my other friend for me, but I couldn’t bear that one minute when I’d be standing out there alone in the snow, while parents who didn’t yet know wandered past me. So she did the job (thanks, Lisa) and I mumbled over and over into her winter coat, “I don’t know if I can do this again. I don’t want to do this again.”

But, boy, did we do it.

On this weekend last year, we chopped down the top of a pine tree here in our new yard and brought it back to our old house to serve as our Christmas tree.  Well, it turned out to be pretty spindly and lopsided and very Charlie Brown-like:

So we made up for it yesterday by buying two trees. One for the living room, which the boys are calling their own because they finally got their wish to have colored (as opposed to my preferred white) lights. And another for the dining room, where I finally got my wish to have a perfectly color-coordinated tree.

Yup, we definitely did it.

My sincere apologies (partly tongue in cheek) for not requesting anyone’s help on Thursday night with the whole key debacle. It honestly didn’t even occur to me to ask someone else to do it for me but I promise you I will the next time (although we do try to learn from our mistakes and hopefully there won’t be a next time!). It actually all worked out okay. I bundled Braedan up (in the thirteen degree weather, not 18 like I’d thought) and we drove around looking at the holiday lights while waiting for Austin to be released. At 10 o’clock, we pulled up to the hospital entrance and Mark delivered a very awake and excited Austin to my warm cozy car. The two boys literally shrieked with delight at seeing each other and squealed the entire way home. We let Braedan sleep in Friday morning and I brought him to school after 10.

Next, my sincere apologies (less tongue in cheek) for not updating the Carepage site when I posted here on Thursday. A few people told me yesterday that they hadn’t gotten their email alert and therefore hadn’t checked the blog. I insisted that I had updated the Carepage but when I finally checked it last night, discovered I was wrong (I have a few things on my mind, you know).

And finally, again sincere apologies (again somewhat tongue in cheek) for my multicultural faux pas with the Menorah lighting. Braedan told me last week that Hanukah started “on Friday” and so, fully trusting my five-year old as a valid source of information, we lit the first candle last Friday, the 4th! We had made it through four candles before I realized the start of Hanukah was actually yesterday, the 11th. So much for my attempt at religion. . . .

Enough apologizing (no one wants to hear the cancer mom say she’s sorry, right?). Our weekend has been lovely. Mark and Braedan went to the Cavs game last night (another source of squealing delight) and several of my girlfriends came over with wine and chocolate after Austin went to sleep. There was much laughter and some tears and way too many bottles of wine consumed, which added up to a near perfect evening.

This morning, the boys were picked up by their favorite family friend “Uncle Pauly” who took them on a surprise visit to Dunkin Donuts (“a Dunkie’s run”) for breakfast. Then they went back to Caryl and Paul’s to make gingerbread houses, an activity they worked hard on for many hours. This was good because we had a showing this morning and another tomorrow afternoon — our first  showings in weeks, how’s that for great timing?

Now we’re making lasagna and awaiting the arrival of Mark’s parents. We’ll traipse over to the General Electric plant at Nela Park to see the best lighting display in town, one of our favorite holiday traditions and then show off all the progress on the new house. After dinner, I’m off again with my friends to the alumni holiday party for our high school.

The boys are just delighted with everything lately. Austin is jumping and laughing and cartwheeling (yes, he knows how to cartwheel) more than usual, they’ve been bickering a little less than usual. Our Charlie Brown Christmas tree is up and decorated. Wishing stars have been arriving from near and far. All is good in this house. All is good.

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February 2020
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