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I guess that last one should have been titled The Year in Picture. This one can be the Year in Pictures.

2012 started with a family trip to Jamaica, with requisite swimming, horseback riding and playing with cousins:

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Once back at school, Braedan was the youngest kid in the district to join Ski Club. He enjoyed it immensely despite record little snowfall:

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At the end of February, Mark and I went to Charleston, South Carolina with friends. A wonderful weekend in a beautiful and charming city:

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March was dedicated almost entirely to St. Baldrick’s events, from the Bluffton Basebald trip to our Cleveland Heights event to the always fun downtown head-shaving. I was surrounded by bald people all spring long, which could not have made me more proud:

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Then we ventured off to Colorado for a spring skiing adventure, complete with an ambulance ride to the medical center for Austin’s low oxygen levels:

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We fully expected May to kick off the grand two-year cancer-free celebration, only to instead plunge into sixteen days of darkness and despair upon believing Austin’s cancer had returned yet again. A lucky double rainbow and a long overdue MRI provided intense relief at the end of the month and our good-year-gone-bad reverted to great.

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Then it was summer and all the joyous relaxation that comes along with it, including endless hours of baseball. baseball, baseball, swimming and waterskiing in Chautauqua and biking through Europe:

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And of course, our tenth wedding anniversary and our super celebration-of-everything party:

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Fall meant back to school for Braedan and off to school for Austin:

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More travel, this time for Mommy and Daddy on their own:

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Plus birthdays and fall sports, school events and some “little” surgeries, a lot of lost teeth and holidays, holidays, holidays. Of course, this was all interspersed with fighting, crying, whining, random ailments and injuries, complaints about school and battles over homework, boredom, sibling rivalry and the like. But I suppose that’s what makes it all worth it. The year ended with a few days of skiing in Chautauqua in near magical conditions:

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It was definitely a year to remember, filled with significant milestones and an awful lot of globe trotting. But what matters most is what remains: health, happiness, family, friends, luck, love, laughter. We’ve got it all.

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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.

I was ordering photos from Snapfish tonight and finally uploaded some off of Mark’s phone that he took last December. So I was quietly scrolling through picture after picture of Austin in the hospital —  sad pathetic faces as he was recovering from surgery in the PICU, goofy silly smiles as he was playing with Braedan on the movable hospital bed, contented sleepy eyes as he gazed up at his glittery wishing stars . . . and I was pretty amazed, yet again, at how far we’ve come. How that seems like a lifetime ago and also seems like just yesterday. How it feels like we were completely different people living in a completely foreign world, but is sadly so familiar.

And then I finished my slideshow, a bit dazed, and Snapfish popped up  to announce their great deals, as long as I ordered by midnight, 30% off and free shipping (!), (it is Cyber Monday, after all): I could make a flipbook of my images or have it printed on flowery postcards or even emblazon it across a ceramic coffee mug! Look at all the incredible things I could do with my image! They even had samples, all right there in front of me, with my very own photo already inserted into all these creative little trinkets. What great value! Wouldn’t this be fun?

Only here is the image they were bombarding me with, this is what I could drink my morning coffee out of:

 

Oh dear. All I could do was laugh. I brought Mark in and he laughed too. It’s okay now, you know. It’s all okay.

Just watch out for your holiday card this year . . .

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February 2020
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