Yesterday marked one year since Gavin was released from his stint in the ICU and was able to begin the process of recovery. I remember walking beside his bed as we wheeled him back to his old room on 8B, which was packed to the ceiling with toys and gifts from the Gavinator fan-club. In a very surreal moment, as we crossed the Atrium, a burst of music drifted up to us from the main floor, where a visiting steel drum band was playing Christmas music. Has there ever been an instrument so full of infectious joy as a steel drum?
On that day, I was content in the knowledge that everything was going to get better. I did not yet know what our path would be, but I had been standing on the edge of the cliff for weeks and weeks, waiting to be pushed off, and somehow, through some miracle, I was walking away from it, holding Gavin’s hand while the steel drum band played.
This year has been a year of healing. For all of us. But we are still trying to figure some things out. I sometimes have a hard time being exuberant about Gavin’s wellness, because I fear bringing ill-fate swinging towards me, and because, sadly, I know too well what a fickle and cruel disease this is.
And yet, I must continue to believe in Bean’s complete health and well-being. I have spent all of 2011 rebuilding it, and to be honest, he is looking pretty good. I was once told by another cancer mama that her son didn’t remember treatment at all, because he had been so young. I could hardly believe it, it barely seemed possible that one wouldn’t remember such a traumatic time. And yet, it is so. Gavin no longer remembers going through treatment at all. He knows that we stayed in the hospital for a time, and he still remembers being there in June for his shunt surgery, but he has no recollection of leaving the hospital last January. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A couple of weeks ago, we got out the Christmas decorations, and found amongst them the “Christmas tree” that my sister Lauren and her (now) husband Adam made for Gavin last year. It is a flat folding tree with velcro ornaments to be stuck on. Gavin must have put those glittery balls and gingerbread men on 100 times, but when I brought it out, it was completely unfamiliar to him, and he was excited to play with it. I have to believe that if he doesn’t remember something that he loved so much, he would also have a hard time remembering the bad times.
As Christmas approaches, we are getting excited! We have been counting down the days on a beautiful, hand-made Advent calendar that Gavin’s Nana sent from Australia. Our tree is up and decorated, and Bean constantly says, Oh, isn’t our Christmas tree lovely? We have had many talks about Santa. I have fielded 1,000 questions, and come up with some fairly creative answers too. (If you don’t have a chimney, Santa gets in with his magic key, which opens any door in the world.) Bean and I spent a good part of today making Christmas cookies, and the radio has been tuned to an all-Christmas station for the last few weeks. In light of what happened last year, we are determined to enjoy it this year.
I’m still trying to keep things in perspective. I refuse to get stressed out about Present Buying. That is not to say that I haven’t got any gifts for Bean – I am looking forward to his shining face on Christmas morning! I just want to keep my eye on the prize, so to speak. The gifts I want for Christmas are: the continued blessing of good health, for Gavin and everyone else I love. Happiness, love, laughter, security, food and drink. Throw in a couple of chocolates and I’ll be satisfied!
Just one more note. I have been reflecting a lot of late on the incredible people who surrounded us and carried us through those horrible months that Gavin was in treatment. We could not have done it alone, we were supported by such selfless family and friends. I can never express enough how thankful I was, and continue to be, for all that you have done. Thank you, everyone!