last week we went to minnesota for our annual family reunion (shout out to the sheehans). as always, we had a great time getting to see family members that we only get the chance to see in person once a year. some of the annual traditions continue - family pictures, animal show, ride with clydesdale horses, swimming, eating a ton of good food, building sandcastles by the lake, lots of laughter and catching up. we had great weather while we were there which made it perfect so that we could be outside more than inside. seattle weather hasn't provided us with that opportunity very often so it was a welcomed change.
every year when we are at the reunion, i always take two hours to head up to the main lodge to go to the spa for a massage. this year they had changed the form that i had to fill out when i checked in. i had to check a "cancer" box on the form. wasn't expecting for the word to even be a part of my time up at the spa. when the woman came to take me back for the appointment, she did a quick scan of my form and said "ok, i see that you have checked all of the boxes no...oh wait (this would be the moment she saw that i checked the cancer box), i need to go and talk to someone, i will be right back." i immediately felt like i should have just lied and not checked that box because i didn't want to deal with whatever was coming. so out comes the woman, and she has another woman with her. the woman asks me why i checked the cancer box, and i explain to her the reason why. she then asks me a couple of other questions (am i in treatment, do i have lymphedema, etc). this entire conversation is taking place in the spa’s reception area. really uncomfortable for me. so when they decide that they are ready for me to go back, it is all that i can do to not break into tears. the entire interaction caught me off guard, all i wanted to do was get a massage and be pampered for an hour. i didn't want to talk about cancer, nor was i actually even thinking about it that morning when i walked up to the lodge. i didn't cry there, but did later in the day when telling barrett what happened. unless i have no choice next year, i won't check the box on the form.
after we left minnesota, we headed to wisconsin which was the first time all three of us had been in that state (shout out to the pattersons). we had a great with our friends checking out their town and madison. childrens museum, zoo, bubbles, water balloons, tons of fun. maybe the most unexpected surprise of trip was the chance to see lightning bugs. the three of us had not seen lightning bugs before, they are awesome to watch as they light up the night. we even caught some and got to see them light up in our hands before they flew on to their next destination. so fun. if we had lightning bugs here, i think that i would be out every night to watch them. simply magical.
in addition to wisconsin and lightning bugs, this vacation included some other firsts for us and i loved them all:
- first time that malena asked to play games at red robin (or chicken robin as she calls it) - i think our days of not having games in restaurants be on her radar screen are officially over.
- first time that her and i had pictures taken in a photo booth, super fun.
- first time that malena rode on a full size merry go round - and she loved it, as was obvious from the five times she rode it
- first time that malena played an electronic piano and asked us to sing while she played, i think that we may have a little musician on our hands
we had a 4.5 hour flight home out of chicago so i figured it was the perfect time to start bloom. hands down, one of the best books i have ever read. ever. (abby - you were right, i could.not.put.it.down). i don’t usually keep books, i will definitely be keeping this one. the book is focused on finding beauty in the unexpected, the focus of which is on the birth of the author's daughter who has downs sydrome and how life continues from the birth forward. there were many things within the book that i could identify with related to my journey with melanoma. since part of the book focuses on the bonds between siblings, it of course had me thinking about a sibling for malena.
on that flight, we couldn't all sit together so i was in a row behind barrett and malena. i was sitting next to a woman who complimented me a couple of times on how well behaved malena was on the flight. when barrett and malena got up to use the bathroom, the woman told me how adorable malena was. she then asked me if we were going to have a second child. i almost lost it in that moment, i was already emotionally charged from reading the book, and you know that topic is hard for me in general right now. i told her that we were undecided on that right now, and then she continued on. why would you be undecided? why wouldn't you have a second child? you should definitely have a second child. don't you want her to have a sibling? you are young, so nothing will happen to you, but when you are gone, don't you want her to have a sibling so she isn't alone? you wouldn't want her to be much older, or for you to get much older, before you have a second one. they won't have much in common or play together if you wait too much longer. do you have siblings? well then you know how great it is to have a brother or sister, don't you want that for her? i literally didn't know if i could say one word to her because i felt like i was going to burst into tears. my thoughts were...please, please, please stop talking to me. you have no idea how hard the words you are saying are for me to hear, especially since i say most of them to myself on a daily basis. how dare you for even saying these things to me when i am complete stranger. i so wish we weren't on a flight so that i could get up and leave this situation. how do i end this quickly so you stop talking to me and i don't lose it? why do things like this have to happen to me? but all i could say was that those were all things that we were thinking about, and then i put my face back into my book and didn't look up again, hoping she would take the hint. whether she took the hint or not, i do not know. but she didn't talk to me about that again, and i was so thankful. we couldn't land fast enough so i could get away from her.
but, as it always does, the good parts of vacation far outweighed the couple of moments that shook me up.
i hope that your 4th of july was a great one, ours included sunshine, fun in a kiddy pool, ice cream, s'mores, laughter, some afternoon naps, and no work. perfect way to spend a wednesday, i wish they could all be so good.
only a few times did i think about next wednesday which will be the day that i get my results from the scans that wait for me on tuesday. my pre-scan nightmares are in full effect, and sleep is hard to come by. on monday, i will have my 6 month check with my dermatologist. next week is packed with appointments, let's hope it is also packed with good news.
let's hope. let's hope. let's hope.