Today I am at the airport. Alone. No kids this time. I’m going to spend the holiday with my family in Virginia.
Every moment, from taking the exit to the airport, to checking in, to security, to the smells of Cinnabon….I remember the trip last December…with the kids….to spend a different holiday with the same family in the same place.
There was snow on the ground like today. There were people anxious to get to their destination. There were kids whining, crying, running around, playing on their parents’ iPhones. The kids and I were counting Vera Bradley bags and Ohio State gear. We were pretending we were on Amazing Race.
As I wait to get on the plane, I feel anxious. I feel weirdly reminiscent. I feel like I’m watching it all on video.
I am seeing things exactly as they were, and at the same time, in a whole new light.
I remember every stop at the restroom and every sip at every water fountain.
He was begging for a drink, clutching his throat, and saying he was soooooo thirsty it hurt.
The back and forth to the airplane lavatory. Forcing him to stay seated when the seatbelt light was on. Feeling aggravated and feeling tired.
And then the instant switch to the feeling of being totally helpless and feeling horrible for your child when his dignity has been compromised.
Sending him into the restroom with extra clothes; his clothes thrown in a trash can in Atlanta.
Negotiating how much he could drink on the second flight, buying him sugar-laden Jolly Ranchers and stopping at the restroom five times before boarding the next plane. Counting every sip that went into his little body. Giving in to his pleas for just a few ice cubes.
Getting off the plane at home and somehow knowing home would never be the same.
We departed on a trip without a care in the world and we came home realizing our fate.
The moments of utter despair and heartache that comes with diagnosis.
The stream of emotions as you accept this new way of life.
The relationships that are affected and changed as you have no choice but to carry on.
The new friendships with the most unlikely of people.
I know I’ve dealt with this the best that I could. I know I am raising a brave boy who has gone above and beyond what a ten-year-old should have to endure.
We’ve weathered every season, been through 11 months of holidays and traditions in this new sweet life. This coming month has the potential to haunt me as the remaining pieces fit together and the memories flood me, just as they have today.
But as I sit here waiting for my delayed flight, I realize how perfectly fitting it is, and surely not by mistake, that this trip down memory lane comes right now at the start of the holiday season when we should reflect, give thanks, and be filled with love and peace and light.