“I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.” ~Dr Seuss “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”
As parents, there are milestones in your children’s lives that are momentous in different ways. The day they were born, their first steps, the day they marry… on and on throughout their lives you cherish those times when you experience these joys with them… you witness these moments and celebrate them.
We were fortunate this past weekend to gather our family and friends to celebrate Nick’s graduation from Cooper Union. We looked forward to watching him walk with the class of 2014 on Wednesday. But to our dismay, cancer changed the plans on us.
A few of Rich’s chemo drugs in his pantheon of alchemy cause a certain intestinal distress we’ve not had to deal with in that form during any of our journeys to date. All of that security came crashing down on us Monday night and continued on, and on, and on, seemingly non- stop, for two days. We combatted it best we could with over the counter medication as advised but there didn’t seem to be any change. We struggled to keep Rich hydrated and his electrolytes stable. We checked in with the doctor’s office regularly. Unless he ran a high fever, or became severely dehydrated, there was nothing else to do. When we were getting close to a forty-eight hour marathon, we were told to double the dosages. After a number of hours as Wednesday came to a close, finally there was an effect… after Nick had already walked for his degree.
It was a devastating realization that Rich would be unable to sit in the Great Hall with us. Then we put it into perspective. Illnesses happen all the time… illnesses that are not life threatening… and people have to miss events in their lives. While not the outcome we wanted, we had to change our view of this setback. How could we experience this together while apart? How could we adjust our thinking for this exhausting physical development?
First the physical… whether it’s true or not, we don’t know, but we choose to believe that this extreme colon cleanse is Rich’s body’s way of ridding itself of the dying cancer cells. We visualize them sloughing off and being carried through his body which is certainly anxious for them to go. Perhaps we’re not thrilled with the means and violence of it all, but we rejoice in the healing that is sure to follow. Only more tests and time will show the truth of this theory, but we realize there is less stomach pain lately. It’s been a week without acupuncture because of the holiday weekend and Rich’s illness these last few days. And yet, again, there is minimal stomach pain. Is that because we’re avoiding food and drink that will cause that pain? Maybe, but we’d rather focus on the healing that we’re sure is happening.
As for experiencing it together… we’re blessed to be living in a time when that is possible even when apart. Cooper had a live feed of the ceremony that Rich could watch from home. Laptop hooked up to the TV for a nice size viewing screen. Smartphones at the ready, we texted throughout…. “Will that speaker ever stop talking?” “They’re starting the Electrical Engineers!” “Ten more people to go.” “Did you see Nick?” It was not optimum, but we were able to communicate and experience our son’s graduation from college, each in our own way, but connected.
The photos of Nick in his cap and gown do not include his father, but the tired smile of a proud dad as he sits at home later with his son is priceless.
And that is enough.