Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Gift of Summer

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but summer's pretty much over here in Boston. The late afternoons are crisp, the nights are cool, and the school supply shopping is done (thanks Demetra!). Now all that's left to do is to sharpen 48 brand-new No. 2 pencils. (Good thing school doesn't start in Arlington until September 10.)

This spring, I spent my emotional energy preparing to spend my summer watching Mat's decline. We planned a low-energy trip to the Cape -- although I put our chance of having to cancel at 50 percent. A more ambitious vacation involving an exhausting plane flight was out of the question. Other than that, we would stay home and take what we were given.

We were given an unexpected gift.

In early summer, we learned that Mat's chemo, 5FU, had reduced the size of his tumors. The smaller tumor mass soon made him feel better -- a lot better. Mat was able to cut back on pain meds, digest food even without the "help" of the drug that also caused convulsions, and cut back on Ritalin. I haven't been to the pharmacy in weeks.

Even better, Mat has been himself. If you saw him this spring and again this summer, you know what I mean. He cracked jokes, went to the pool with the kids (sometimes daily), went to Red Sox games, went to the beach, and obsessively fidgeted with his iPod touch (a birthday present). (Mat even went roller-blading with us one hot Saturday afternoon, but we were a bit presumptuous there. What a disaster.)

By mid-July, we felt so confident about Mat's health that we planned a week-long trip to San Diego for late August (thanks Brandon and Amanda!). We went to the beach, Legoland, the famous San Diego Zoo, Legoland, caught up with friends we've seen only rarely in the last 10 years, went to Legoland, spent hours at the pool with cousins, and went to Legoland. Mat's favorite part about the trip was getting to skip a chemo treatment. (I haven't asked him, but I'm sure his least favorite part was the woman on the plane next to him (not me!) who reapplied her smelly perfume halfway through the six-hour flight.

Mat is slightly overdue for another MRI, which I'm sure will be scheduled when he goes to MGH for chemo on Wednesday. I, for one, am happy for the delay. I've spent my emotional energy this summer just ... enjoying summer. It feels like another round of MRI results will truly signal the end of this summer, and of this gift.


EmilyCC said...

I'm so glad your family got to enjoy the summer. San Diego, even!

Oh, and if you want more summer, come to Arizona! We still have 2 more months of it being over 90 degrees :)

lifeinredshoes said...

And what a gift it has been.

SLP said...

You and the boys needed this blessing. I am glad you are enjoying it:)

Drewmeister said...

What a wonderful gift--so glad you enjoyed summer. Fall is a really fun time too...

contigo said...

Beautiful! I am so happy for you.

Sweeney Household said...

You always "make" me cry! ;)

I'm so glad that this summer Mat has had a break and you have all enjoyed it. Legoland too -- COOL.

amydear said...

I love this post. I'm beyond happy that you had some reprieve from all the medical stuff. I hope Mat has lots more time with you and your family. You are a great writer, so this was all the more fun to read.