Docked at one. Yeah, I think I can get used to this...
We made it :)
You know how sometime you are so busy thinking about your current crisis that you neglect to think ahead?
Good thing I have Corb around. Here we are sitting in the airport congratulating ourselves on making it and certain our plane will take off after a slight delay. After a leisurely breakfast and getting settled in the waiting area, Corb takes out the tickets and realizes the plane we'll be on touches down in Charlotte AFTER our stopover flight to Tampa takes off!
A quick trip to the counter. We grab the last two tickets for a flight at two. Next flight after that: four.
Phew! This trip is fraught with trickiness.
At the carport to the airport. Everything good so far!
The roads to Braintree were pretty clear. Feeling good about this, although tired. Only slept for four hours last night.
Woke up at 4:30. Kyra clearly did not want us to go. Corb would not let me take her with us. I guess...
So you know how you're trying to figure out when and where to spend your vacation time, and it's months in advance, so you don't spend any real time thinking, "Gee, I wonder if the weather's going to be bad when I head out for my trip?" I mean, if you're booking something in early December, you kind of know there might be bad weather in January, but you brush that aside, you know what I mean? You figure, "Ah, we can deal with that when we get to it."
Hmm. Guess who booked a cruise to the Cayman Islands for this week-end. This guy!
For those who don't live on the East Coast of the United States, this week-end has become known as the week-end of the monster snowstorm of the year. They've named it Jonas, for some reason. Snowstorm Jonas, and it's gobbling up Washington DC, New York City and all sorts of other areas in the states in between. It's hard to take seriously something that reminds me of the Jonas Brothers every time I hear about it.
It's not like I didn't give some thought to this possibility. I mean, I did take out insurance. And I did ask our travel guide what she suggested back in December, and her advice was to fly out the day before the cruise, to give yourself plenty of time for contigencies. "Leave Sunday morning. Your boat takes off at 4 on Monday, you should be fine," she said.
So, I felt fine. She said I should be fine, so fine. Fine, I've got this covered. Fine.
And then, starting around Monday, we started hearing about this huge motherloving storm. I honestly thought it was a bit of hyperbole, at first. I mean, this year has been so mild so far, the weathermen are probably making a bigger deal out of this than it actually it, right?
Around Thursday, my friend Kim suggested I might want to consider heading for Tampa before Sunday. And I did consider it. I spoke to Corb about it, too. And we decided, it just wasn't possible to do. Neither of us could get out of work on Friday, and Saturday was supposed to be the day when the worst was going to hit. And besides, added hotel room expenses? Another day of eating out in Tampa? "Also, it doesn't look like it's really going to hit our area that bad," said Corb, after checking weather.com. "We're just going to get a few inches, that's all. It's going to go out to sea."
Well, here we are. It didn't go out to sea.
This afternoon we braved the elements to pick up a new suitcase, and as we were driving to pick up some clothing for Corb, my phone started ringing. It was the airlines. The flight from Providence Saturday morning had been cancelled.
"Oh no," groaned Corb. Oh no, indeed. Shit. SHIT!
Immediately I called the airlines back. Turns out, there are no flights at TF Green to Tampa until TUESDAY. Kind of late to catch our cruise by then.
What to do, what to do? Dammit, I am NOT going to work on Monday. I've earned this vacation! "See if they have any flights going out of Boston," suggested Corb.
Sure enough, thank God, they did have one, an hour later than our flight from TF Green. It means getting up at 4:30 in the morning to be on the safe side, but I'm fine with that, as long as we can get on the flight and get out of here. So far, Boston seems to have been spared most of the snow, and even here in Eldredge, it seems to be dying down. If Boston doesn't work out, though (AND IT WILL), we will even consider Manchester, NH, which hasn't gotten any snow at all.
So, contigencies planned. Fingers crossed. One way or another, Snowstorm Jordan is not going to bring us down!
PART ONE: KERRIE
"They think Mom might have colon cancer."
Shit! Why did I decide to call my sister back on the drive home? If ever there was a swerving off to the side of the road moment, this was it. Amazingly (for me, I guess), I kept my cool. Maybe I was too tired from the busy day, I don't know. "Well, wait. What do you mean, might?"
"I mean, they aren't sure, because they haven't done any testing yet. But they think that might be why she's been complaining about stomach pains for a year now. At least, that's what the doctor said today."
Oh. Well, there's a whole boatload of difference between "might" and "has." Corb's family helped me to figure this one out. Her cousin Shelley went through treatment for breast cancer (for a second time) this past year and has kept a good attitude all the way through. His grandmother was on death's door for years and pulled through more times than I can count. His mom's boyfriend Jim was diagnosed with Hodgkin's, and that one is fairly serious. What I've learned through all that is:
"Then we just have to wait and see," I replied. "We can't freak out yet. We need to find out what exactly she has and how bad it is. And stay positive. She needs us to stay positive more than anything!"
"Teddy, I need to hear that," she said. "Laurie is kind of freaking out about this. She gets a little dramatic about these things. I think you need to call mom and dad and say exactly that."
Funny. Thinking that I'm NOT the dramatic one.
Well, I did call my parents, but what I said was essentially the same attitude my dad had about things, which is what I figured. "We have to wait and see," he said. "They drew blood...again...and took a sample. She has a colonoscopy scheduled for the end of the month. We will know more after they look at that."
A few days later, Kerrie sent me a text: "Mom's blood work looks good. That's the first relieving news. Not out of the woods yet, but still good!"
I thanked the gods above.Good news, indeed.
PART TWO: FAMILY
Saturday was the party at my house, with everyone but Tommy. There's a photo of mom and dad and the three of us, shown above. (You can even see our lovely Elvis painting in the corner, if you look hard enough.)
It was a great day. Mom looked good and we had a ball, playing board games and eating pizza.
We didn't say a word about what she was going through. We didn't have a single conversation about anything serious, even though I am sure it was on all of our minds. But not a word, even though Laurie and I had gone over and over how important it was to talk things through a few days before that, mouthing platitudes and overstating all the right words.
Typical us, I suppose. But maybe it wasn't the right place to do so. Besides, the kids were there.
Instead, we focused on having a good time. And I have to admit, Laurie was lovely. It was almost a side of her I haven't seen in years. She was laughing and making dirty jokes (just as dirty as the ones I like), and at one point, she made a joke with Kerrie that made her laugh so hard she was crying. I found myself having trouble laughing along and that's when it dawned on me: You're the one who has to loosen the hell up, Teddy.
At one point, Mom started talking about ghosts in the family house. We were talking about the Amityvile Horror and mom started talking about one time that a door slammed shut in our garage without warning. I couldn't help it, I had to tape a little bit of her conversation.
Kerrie, who was sitting next to me, turned and looked at me, as I was taping. I shrugged, sheepishly. "I know."
PART THREE: MOM
Tuesday afternoon, Laurie sent me a text message. I didn't get it until six that night. My phone had died at work.
Before I could respond, Kerrie called me. "She does have has cancer, Teddy."
What? What about the blood work? What about..
I immediately called dad. "What's going on?"
Dad sounded strong and upbeat. Despite the news. Typical. "The sample they took shows she has cancer, Ted. The good news is, since her blood work was positive, it means it hasn't entered her blood stream, and so they think it's probably Stage 1 or 2. They'll know more once they do the colonoscopy this month. But if it is what they think, she won't need surgery, and their recommended treatment course is radiation and chemo.
"It's going to be a really sucky three months," Dad continued. "But she is going to get through it and I am going to be here to take care of her through the whole thing. The hospital she will be going to is only ten minutes away and they are affiiated with Dana Farber. And, our doctor is one of the best."
"That's good news," I said. Well, ish.
"And what I am telling all of you kids is we DO NOT want you to stop what you're doing and we WANT you to live your lives. The only thing we ask is if we need you, please be there. That's all."
"Dad, you know we will. We love you guys."
"We love you, too. And Mom is going to get through this."
Honestly? I think so too. I feel it in my gut. Even though we've gone from "might" to "has" in under a week, I know Mom has the might and the strength to get through this. And she'll have her whole family by her side. These next four months may be horrible, but at least we know what she's facing now, which is a relief.
Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind that there's ben so much talk of cancer in the news these days, what with David Bowie and Alan Rickman. And Jim. Not to mention, Corb's mom had a smaller cancer scare while all this has been taking place. What's going on?
Never mind that. Now is the time to take care of this. Now is the time to get past this...together. I'm going to think positive and be there for my mom every step of the way.
I just looked up next to my desk, and saw the following items written on the little blackboard that hangs over my computer:
- Lose weight
- Publish the next book
- Finish Confessions
- Worry less!
- Aspire higher
My how times flies! Well, hmmm...those are all good goals for 2016, too. Okay then..wipe wipe wipe..scribble scribble scribble...
- Lose weight
- Publish the next book
- Finish Confessions
- Worry less!
- Aspire higher
And while I am at it, maybe I will add the following:
- Make Jekyll and Hyde awesome
- Travel to three places you've never been
- Make the back yard completely magnificent this summer
That’s it! Just three other additions. I think eight is enough for the new year, don't you?
Okay, deep breath. Now to get to work...
In contrast, during the rest of my exceptionally lazy day (which is what the first day of the year should be, in my opinion), we watched an Australian horror movie called The Babadook, which completely surprised me and made me squirm all the way through. It's a totally different style and genre, but I have a feeling that's the movie I'm going to be thinking about and remembering more clearly a few months from now.
Awww, heck. Who does things like that? Here's to a great 2016!
New phone, new LJ app. Maybe it will inspire me to use it more!