Monday, November 22, 2010

D Day Minus - 154: (October 5, 2009): The Baton

I chauffeured you and Katie to Dulles around three in the afternoon. You sat beside me in the passenger seat, eyes front, fidgeting with the grab handle of the SUV. Did you think holding the handle tighter would get you to the airport any faster? 

Katie sat behind us on the hump. That way she could hear what we were saying – way in the front. She kept checking her purse for something. I think it was her identification and her phone. I knew it wasn't boarding passes. You had them. The only thing for sure was – she was nervous. Probably about flying or the treatment or running off to Houston with you. It didn’t matter what it was – she was allowed – on so many levels.
I didn’t say a word. I’m sure you’re glad I kept my trap shut about that. Instead we talked a lot of food in Houston and how big MD Anderson was along with the infamous Waterfall CafĂ© in the Mays Building. Then we were silent. Each of us absorbed in our own private realities.

I thought about this day as I drove in the pack of Washington Flyer Cabs, Mercedes, and BMWs and other high-end cars. I noticed there weren’t too many clunkers in Northern Virginia and my latest Diet Mountain Dew was almost gone.  Mostly I thought “it was finally here.”  It was the big travel day for our one hope—the BrAF Clinical Trial. And finally for two reasons. First, the two weeks waiting to start the trial, seemed like eons. Second, you sort of Rainmanned me. You’d called me two or three times to confirm when I’d be home. Then you called me a couple of times on behalf of Katie. She wanted to know about the logistics of flying since she hadn’t flown in  awhile. “Would her nearly empty bottle of saline solution for her contacts make it through airport security? What is the weather like in Houston this time of the year? What should I pack? Should I bring my computer?"

You had an early shift at Wegmans. You were so excited about the Grand Opening next month and being there for “your team.”  “Oorah,” with a Marine bark is what I’d thought every time you mentioned it. And that was a lot.  I didn’t say anything because you’d think I was giving you crap. I wasn’t. I loved that you were so excited.

Anyway, I was trying to get in as many hours as possible. I was going to miss a lot of work the next two weeks. I was your travel buddy for weeks two and three of this round. I wasn't complaining. Just stating the facts. I’d do anything as long as I could be there with you. Still I was on edge.  

This morning at work, I over compensated in organization and efficiency because that was the only thing I could control. Copious amounts of contraband gave my charade away. I went through four of twenty-four once – ers of Diet Mountain Dew along with nearly two plenty packs of Dentyne.  Your voice nagged each time I threw away an empty.  Something about diet drinks causing cancer. I shut it out by blasting my iPoD. I listened to Ludacris Get Back when I heard your nagging.  So “You Get Back.” That made me smile and relax a little. But every now and then my stupid nose would tingle, which was a tell tale sign, I was on the verge of tears.  

Honestly, I wanted to go so I could be nosey and know everything about your treatment. Then I wanted to stay so you and Katie could have some time together. But now, it didn’t matter. I couldn’t change anything now, because what’s done is done. I could’ve booked a ticket. I could leave work. Work would understand.  

On the other hand, part of me was relieved to get a break from traveling because if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid. And you knew that was always in the back of my mind, whether I said it or not.  Still part of me was jealous Katie was going to be the one with you when you started the BrAF trial.  Plus I wasn’t sure how she’d react as the primary “go to” person if things, you know, “went south.” I didn’t want to pinch you off from Katie and control the situation, either.  I wanted you to live your own life and know that I was always there on the sidelines.  

Still, I had a heavy heart about not being in Houston for this trip. But, Dad was right. I needed a little balance and you needed to do some of this on your own. This was something you had to figure out with Katie. But I bounced between relief, a little hate, and sheer unadulterated fear about the whole trip. Talk about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. What a dichotomy? But, you know how I am.  We probably talked it death at least thirty times.  Because when it came to this, we had diarrhea of the mouth. You said, “Come. I don’t care. You’re my mom.” You meant it. But you needed your space. You did. 

Route 28 was pretty clear so we made the trip to Dulles in fifteen minutes. I patted your hand on the tan console just before dropping you and Katie off.  Just like I had since you were little.  I don’t think Katie noticed, but you wouldn’t have cared.  I opened up the back hatch and you pulled out Katie’s and your carry-ons. Katie wore as much zebra as she could beg, borrow or steal. That made me smile. I hugged you and said the usual. Then I hugged Katie and said, “Have fun. Be careful. Take care of yourself. Take care of him. I’m trusting you.” All in one breath. 

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