We celebrated Michael’s birthday today exactly how he wanted: at home.
I made a good ol’ southern breakfast, the boys and I gave Michael our gifts, and we relaxed for most of the morning. In the afternoon, the kids had a nice long swim in the neighbors’ pool. After their swim, Benjamin said he didn’t feel well. He pointed to his tummy but said he didn’t feel well all over. He looked pale, and was teary. After lying down for a few minutes, he felt fine, so Michael and I chalked it up to the exertion of the pool–but it didn’t keep us from worrying. I’m confident all is well, but thankful we have a clinic visit tomorrow morning. It will be nice to check in.
In the afternoon I collected the fixings for a low country boil–Michael’s choice for his birthday dinner, and kind of a tradition in our family. Michael’s mama and sister came over to celebrate. It was a lovely, relaxing, low-key day at home, honoring the birth of the most amazing husband and father on the planet.
I have always been aware of my great fortune in the man I married. That awareness has been taken to a new level since Benjamin’s diagnosis. There are many scenarios that test the strength of a partnership. Having a child with cancer (or, I imagine, any serious illness) is one of those scenarios. I have read several posts from mothers who confide within the relative security of the online moms’ group that they are struggling through a divorce. Sometimes the divorce is predicated by arguments over their child’s care. I cannot even fathom this. There are many children on the seventh floor who have just one parent to support and advocate for them. I cannot fathom this either. In Michael I have a partner in the truest sense. We count on each other. We divide and conquer easily. His strength and clarity constantly inspire me. I love so many things about him, but what comes to the forefront of my mind tonight is the big, joyful way in which he embraces life with us. Work stresses come to him each day from many different angles, yet he comes home at night with buoyant laughter, ready and wanting to play with his boys, showing each of us how easy it is to be happy. He makes Benjamin feel strong. He makes all of us feel strong. Happy birthday, Michael.
Tomorrow bright and early, Benjamin and I will head over the Skyway. He will have a complete blood count drawn, and we will have a conversation with an oncologist. We will compare the last two hospital stays and prepare for next week’s admission, which includes another lumbar puncture. Then, if Benji feels as well as I anticipate, I’ll be dropping him off at Southside to kick off his last week of first grade.
It’s imperative that I stay in this living-in-the-moment place, otherwise the emotions would swallow me whole.