The Road Ahead

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I could be mistaken, but the kids may handle the start of the school year better than I do, and I’m not even in school. As the first day of school was getting closer, I found myself wishing there had been more time, or maybe that we had been able to do more with the 2 ½ months the kids had off.

Of course, this wasn’t an ordinary summer for us. Josh spent the Spring and all of June in Grand Rapids, with Theresa and I staying close by so there was always somebody there to support him. Things started to feel more normal once he was home towards the beginning of July, but we still haven’t traveled much, other than back to Grand Rapids for doctor appointments. There was a time when Josh and I could just hop in the car, and drive to Wal-Mart, or we might pack and then travel to see family. Now, trips are more complicated.

Perhaps this summer will be best defined by Josh’s journey back to health. Lately, his days have been defined by highs and lows. At his strongest, he has been able to move around the house with his cane, grab food out of the refrigerator, and demonstrate other kinds of independence. There are other times when the chemotherapy and medication plainly knock him out.

This week will mark the start of his next round of chemotherapy, with five days on the medication starting Monday night. This past week he has had bouts of nausea which doctors said are side effects of the chemotherapy he took a few weeks ago. So, we don’t know what might happen when he’s on it again.

Even as I lament how fast the summer went by, I can’t help but wish that it could be Winter sooner, so he can be done with these treatments. And, of course, hear that the cancer is officially gone for good, and that the chemotherapy can end.

But, if there is anything I’ve learned from our experiences over the last five months, is that it is better to value the time that we have with someone and to focus on living day-to-day. I see in Josh’s recovery an example of why it’s important to count your blessings, as well as what it takes to get back what you’ve lost.

We know that over the next few weeks Josh will be completing his next round of chemotherapy, attending physical and language therapy and, somewhere in between all of that, resuming his high school classes. We are still working out the logistics. I know that Josh has been eager to get back to his school routine and, especially, see his friends. But, we are working hard to find an approach that is the safest and most accommodating for him.

I think that my anxiety around the end of summer vacation comes from my memories of how I would feel when I was about to return to school. Regret about not using my time to the fullest. But, at the same time anticipation of the challenges I would face during the school year.

These days, it’s a reminder that my kids are all growing older–it doesn’t help that four of us have birthdays in the Fall. Maybe starting with this Fall, we could count our accomplishments, and take note of how far Josh has come. And, anticipate the challenges and victories that are around the corner. He has a ways to go, but thankfully there is an end in sight. I hope that there will be a time some time soon when we both can hop into the car and drive to Walmart, just like the old days.

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