I hope you all are ready, or at least nearly ready, for Christmas and can look forward to a small break. I’ve just returned from Nashville for treatment, and I’m resting (and working). Strangely, the last few rounds of immunotherapy have had an adverse affect on me such that I’ve developed severe chills (to the point of shaking uncontrollably), along with a fever. Hoping to prevent this, yesterday the clinicians infused me with 50ml of Benadryl before pumping the drugs. As you can imagine, the Benadryl knocked me out, but it delayed and somewhat lessened the reaction, although the chills still came upon me a couple of hours into our drive home. This time, though, I borrowed a blanket from the clinic to wrap around me for the trip. I can’t ask Kim to turn the heat to 80º after all.
The drive from our home in Bishop, Ga to Nashville, Tn is 300 miles. We travel several interstates and, unfortunately, cannot avoid Atlanta and Chattanooga (and the associated traffic) without adding significant time to the journey. The drives are often scary. We see many accidents. On this trip, we came upon several wrecks just moments after they occurred and were forced to make way for emergency vehicles trying to reach the accidents and help the people involved. Coming home at night, at the intersection of I-75S and I-285E, where there utter chaos of ongoing construction, there must have been a particularly bad accident, as several firetrucks, ambulances, and police cars had to make their way through the stopped cars to the scene. The police blocked 5 lanes with pylons in order to do their work, creating a parking lot behind us. We prayed that no one was severely injured. The fact that it is Christmas added to our fear of the outcome because we would hate for a deadly accident to mar this holiday and those to come with the heartbreaking memories of losing loved ones for the families of those involved.
In my last post (Sand), I wrote about the idea of “glass half-full / glass half-empty” in the context of an hourglass. I mentioned that we have an hourglass on the desk in our bedroom; this wasn’t creative liberty, as the featured image is of our primitive timepiece. The moment I have captured is not a snapshot as the sand emptied from the top orb to the bottom. The sand is actually stuck, and Kim and I aren’t sure at this point what to do about it. Is this some sort of message in response to my previous post? Coincidence…right.
On our way to Nashville on Sunday, I queued up an “instant mix” of music from my library. I’m one of the holdouts still listening primarily to my own mp3s rather than relying on Spotify, Pandora, Amazon or some other service to choose music for me. Sure, I use these products occasionally, but I still find myself returning to my personal library because the songs chosen are often “deep cuts” that I won’t hear on any station and often evoke memories that I associate with them. As we made our way up I-75N, the song “Time Stand Still” by Rush came on (chuckle as you will). Interestingly, this album was released when I was in high school and stirred different feelings then than it does now. As a senior in high school, I realized that I was enjoying the greatest freedom that I would likely experience in life and didn’t want that last year before college to end too soon. Hearing it Sunday, I was tempted to long for those days again, desiring to throw off the shackles of responsibilities and the need to fight cancer to return to the good old days of youth. But the song, and my frozen hourglass, reminds me to enjoy the moment now, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Yes, driving to Nashville every two weeks is disruptive and unpleasant, but it does provide an opportunity to spend quality time with my dear wife. So, from the moment we start the car to leave our driveway and tell Google to route us to some hotel in Nashville, we make the half-full/half-empty choice of our attitudes. This is all we can control, really. Before we left for this most recent trip, Kim prayed for safety and that we’d make the best of our time together. And despite being stuck uncomfortably in a car for over 11 hours, the traffic and the ickiness of fast-food, the chills and fever, and the inconvenience of Kim having left her purse on the kitchen counter at home, time passed and we’re home again. We’re eager to settle in with our children in our seasonally decorated home, with the tree-of-the-year and surrounded by the timeless mementos pulled from the now brittle plastic bins from our basement. With a week off between Christmas and New Years, I hope to cherish this time and not waste it, even when the kids become irritable and ungracious to each other and we’re tempted to think, and even say, “I can’t wait for school to start back up.” As Geddy Lee sings in the aforementioned song, “Time stand still. / I’m not looking back but I want to look around me now.”
I think I’ll leave the sand frozen in the hourglass until 12am, Jan 1, 2018. After the countdown and the ball (or peach) touches down, after kissing Kim and whichever kids are still awake, I’ll shake the sand free to let the new year begin. And for auld lang syne, I’ll turn it over and walk away. What happens afterward is out of my control. But, if nothing else, I endeavor to enjoy life. To stay in the moment. To be happy.
Happy holidays, all.