All morning and all afternoon, I was reveling in how fortunate we are. We woke up early and were on the water before most of the boat traffic. Michael and Benji fished all morning, and I paddled my farthest distance yet. I saw dolphin, manatee, stingray, horseshoe crab, osprey, heron, so many fish. We broke for a lovely meal and a swim at Kathy’s house, then went out on the water some more. Gana’s friend was in town and very thoughtfully asked how I was doing during lunch. I told her I just felt so lucky. We were each able to spend the day happily and healthfully doing what we love to do; this includes Banyan in Wisconsin, who is hiking the Porcupine Mountains right now. When we finally got in the truck to head home, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
Then I turned on my phone, and my heart sank.
A little girl who attends Benjamin’s elementary school was just diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. I don’t know this little girl, and neither does Benji, but when I showed him her picture he recognized her right away and knew which class she was in. I kept thinking of the statistic I shared to promote the lemonade stand (that one in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20) to convey to the families at our school that at least one other person who attends Southside would be diagnosed. And now, she has been. I followed the links to her family’s YouCaring page. I could not stop crying. Benji asked me why I was crying so much. I told him it was because they were just at the beginning, and it was so hard at the beginning.
It was more than that, though. It was many things. I felt fiercely protective of this family I do not know. Not another Southside family. Don’t mess with my people, cancer. I also felt guilt, which I quickly dismissed, though I felt it nonetheless–that my boy is so healthy and has put so much of this behind him. I wanted to take away the pain I know this family is feeling. And, underlying all of this is concern for my boy, and how he will feel at school as her treatment progresses.
All evening I have watched Benjamin move effortlessly through this house, with his head full of gorgeous curly hair and his spicy attitude. I am trying to not question our good fortune. I am trying instead to say thank you.