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Not bad at all.

We just completed what was undoubtedly the best year of Austin’s life. The only year of his life, so far, without hospital stays (those few overnight hours in the ER in Junein the ER were nothing). The only year of his life, so far, without surgery. The only year of his life, so far, without any significant health problems: no diagnoses, no recurrences, no major medical drama.

And the first year of his life, so far, in which he was nothing but a normal little boy . . .

Just a regular kid …

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Dancing (I think that’s what they’re doing) …

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Riding…

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Shaving …

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Celebrating …

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Skiing …

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Rescuing …

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Snuggling …

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Hunting …

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Learning …

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Snoozing …

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Fielding …

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Beaming …

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Hiking …

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Avoiding …

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Crashing …

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Big wheeling …

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Hot tubbing …

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Boating …

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Monkeying …

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Field tripping …

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Blasting off …

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Dressing up

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Living it up …

To many, many more ….

A rousing goodbye from the Gallagher family to 2010. It has had its high points, that much is true. But, boy, has it had its lows.

Last New Year’s Eve, Austin was in the hospital for chemo and radiation.  It was, remarkably, our very first holiday to spend in-patient (but not our last). Braedan went off with friends and had a sleepover on the westside, happily celebrating with too much stimulation and too little sleep. It was Mark’s night to stay with Austin and, usually, we made our switches pretty quickly, always eager to take full advantage of those few free moments away from the hospital. But it was New Year’s, so I decided I’d stay until midnight before heading home by myself. Mark picked up pizza and we had wine while Austin zoomed his remote control cars around the room, all the while hooked to his chemo pole.

By about ten o’clock, the two of them were lying in bed sleepily watching basketball, and I was pacing the room with nothing to do.  Mark kept urging me to go home and get some sleep; I kept insisting that we be together at the stroke of midnight.

“It’s just a day, honey, just like any other. One date on the calendar. We’ll have more New Year’s Eves together.” All together, though? I wasn’t so sure.

Finally, giving in to my own exhaustion, I kissed them both and headed out into the cold. As I was driving up the hill, I contemplated stopping at my parents’ house, where I knew they were gathered with friends having dessert and champagne after a dinner out. Or at another friend’s house, also nearby, who was having a small party. I didn’t really have to be alone, I mean, I had options. But it just seemed like so much work, I’d have to tell the same Austin stories over and over, like how I’d ripped his Mediport out by accident twice over the two preceding days.

So I went home and straight to bed, which was where I needed most to be. The particular chemo Austin was on that week required his pee to be measured every two hours — which meant he was sleeping “like a baby” (and not in a good way), so a solid night was definitely in order.  After about an hour of fitful sleep, I was awakened by the sounds of celebration coming from Coventry Road — bars and cars, people cheering and horns honking. I checked my clock and sure enough, 12:01, we had passed into a new year. I felt alone, but strangely not as alone as I’d felt on some New Year’s past, when I’d actually been surrounded by people. I knew my life was full and complete, with my wonderful husband and my two dear children, and I just held on to the thought that next year would be different.

And different it is. In only good ways.

So, goodbye 2010. And hello 2011. Here’s to wishing it’s nothing but bright.

For some unknown reason, I was unable to get holiday cards out in the mail this year, so here it is, our virtual greeting to all of you.

2009: what a year. It started with the Dietrich family vacation to Jamaica, where the boys enjoyed swimming in the ocean, swimming in the pool, and naked soccer playing. They did not, however, enjoy riding the ponies.

A few weeks later, Mark and I had the distinct honor of traveling to Washington D.C. to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th president.

March and April stunned us with what we thought was a recurrence of Austin’s cancer. This earth-shaking event proved to be relatively easy and quick (relatively being the operative word there) and suddenly we were right back where we’d started.

As spring arrived, we began an unexpected house search, came very close to buying one that wasn’t right for us and then finally found The One.

Summer flew by with a quick trip to Cape Cod, a few weeks in Chautauqua and much work preparing our current house for its market debut.

Fall was filled with significant milestones as Braedan eagerly started kindergarten and Austin reluctantly started preschool. We finally took possession of the new house and began what continues to be an on-going renovation project. Austin’s health was questionable, uncertain, indeterminate . . . and carefully watched.

And, well, you know where that led us.

All in all, it was a year of drastic ups and downs: good health, bad health and in-between health; old houses, new houses and almost houses; lives beginning, most notably that of our niece Amira, lives ending and lives being lived to the fullest.

As it began, 2009 was marked, more than anything else, by an enormous sense of HOPE. 2010 will begin the same way.

Happiest of new years to us all,

Krissy & Mark, Braedan & Austin

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