“Why did Laura get cancer?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well…she looks good with no hair, anyway.”
—a conversation between me and my oldest son.
A year ago yesterday, Laura was diagnosed with cancer. My father-in-law called me with the news and I almost puked. ”No way. Not in this family. Not to Laura.” were the thoughts that went screaming through my skull. And then the kids and I were on a plane, and then we moved back home, and then I got to pester Laura all the time, as if I could just stare at her enough, I could stare the cancer away. (sorry for the staring, Laura…I thought perhaps my laser beams were more powerful than chemo…) My in-laws were great; they allowed us to live with them (even Maggie, who ate everything in the back yard and jumped the privacy fence every day), sent my kids to a great school, and my father-in-law and I got to watch lots of old movies together. I got to know how cool my mother-in-law really is.
The kids and I moved home to help Laura and John, but it turns out that we got the better end of that situation: we got to be around family while my husband was away. I got to stare at Laura, have sushi with her, meet her friends, spend time with people that I love but rarely get to see. Laura gave me the gift of feeling pro-active; all I did was latch onto her like a love-sick crush, but she just smiled and hugged me. …and listened to Vampire Weekend with me. :)
(“…he was a diplomat’s son…it was ’81…”)
I’m proud of my family. John has more strength and patience than I ever thought humanly possible; my in-laws keep Ryan at the drop of a hat. The brother-and sister- in-law are amazingly supportive. The benefit of a large family is the pool of talents and resources we can offer: we have an accountant, a PA, a logistician, a teacher, a grant-writer, a web designer, a truck driver, and a full time mom. In this family, there’s probably somebody who can do whatever it is that’s needed. …and we genuinely like each other. How cool is that? :) I joke with my husband all the time that his parents like me better, but really, its way better: they like me just the same as they like their own kids. They treat me, Kevin, and Laura just like they treat their blood kin. That, to me, speaks volumes about the amount of love in their home.
For a year now, Laura has endured medical procedures that make my skin crawl. She’s lost her hair, regrown her hair, had tubes stick in her skin and taped there, been sick, been better, put up with nurses who say things like, “You should be dead, your numbers are so bad.” (asshole.) She’s now in remission, knee deep in Maintenance. People think remission means “done with cancer” but that’s not it. She still has to have chemo, still has to have holes punched in her spine, still has to have bone marrow twisted out of her body. Laura still has to be tough, still has to be…Laura. (by the way, don’t play Beatles Rock Band with her. She’s awesome and will make you wish the British Invasion never happened.)
In 20 more months, she’ll be done with cancer. In 20 more months, cancer will be “that horrible thing that happened a while back”. In 20 more months, cancer will be gone from Laura for good. …and we’ll have Laura.
Suck it, cancer! Laura wins!
(…and then I’ll just stare at her because she’s so pretty…)