Saturday, June 30, 2007

An Anniversary of Sorts

You go through life pretty much not expecting the worse- at least I do. I know stuff happens- car accidents, assaults...random horrible tradgedies like little land mines explode without warning, but it wasn't until 1999 that the stuff really hit the fan for me. Just after my good friend, Peter got over grumbling about hitting 40, he was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Two other friends were diagnosed the same year, and then the unthinkable, my eight year old was diagnosed with Leukemia. She is lucky. Three years of chemo-therapy worked for her, and now we only go back to the Lombardi Center for an annual check up.

So back I go down a memory lane I'd just as soon forget, but the clinic there puts any play room to shame. Toys, games, a bank of computers, a VCR and a TV. A great big paper mache tree that goes from floor to ceiling and is constantly being decorated for the season. (Right now there are hand made birdhouses and cranes and paper tissue flowers.) Every holiday and birthday and special occasions are all celebrated. And there are art therapists hanging around- all kinds of art supplies and a kiln. As much joy as possible is produced here to mask the grim yet hopeful business of curing cancer. I didn't know when we started that we were lucky to live only a couple of miles away from this clinic right here in Washington.

So we go in, and the parking guy actually remembers me, and every one falls on us as we haven't been there in quite awhile. My daughter immediately goes to the computer as she always did, and seems to take it all in stride. I sit for a few minutes, then head to the art table where I can't seem to stop churning out stationery with drawing paper, stamps and a glue stick.

No one blinks twice at me sitting in a child's chair. Other kids come in and paint at an easel or another table. I am left alone except for an occasional compliment on my project. I have a hard time talking to anyone there. I can only hope that the sight of my healthy daughter will inspire one of the other parents sitting near by. I hear one mother trying to convince her little boy to leave. We'll be back next Tuesday, she says, you can finish your painting then...Her little boy doesn't want to leave. He wears a little face mask, and he is too young to realize as fun as it is, this is also a hard place to be. And even as my heart goes out to the both of them, I leave the cards that I made on the table. I am grateful that we (fingers crossed) won't be back for another year.

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