We crossed into Maine and Ky shifted in the passenger’s seat. He conked out as we crossed the Tobin and snored through the entirety of New Hampshire. “I’m hungry, Mama…and I need a bathroom.” I had a feeling that would happen eventually. Ky can only be two places with a roof: home and the hospital. When we were first discharged from Children’s, I asked what I should do if, as we traveled home, he needed to use the bathroom. The nurse practitioner gave me a fresh container of hospital grade wipes (that will even kill Tuberculosis!) and special gloves…I could disinfect something enough so that he could use it in an emergency. Shit happens…and now I could deal with it.
Eventually came today.
The Kennebunk rest area is located twenty five miles up Interstate 95. 6 months ago, it would have provided a fascinating location for a study of humans and their behavior. Today, all I could think about was germs, the number of people who had touched the doors, that sort of thing. But, I could get him squared away. I got him a fresh mask and purple gloves. I tucked the wipes under my arm and in we went. “Mama, I’m okay now…I just need to pee.” We were already beyond the threshold of the door, so we continued. “I’ll just use a urinal, Mama. It’ll be okay.” Ky could sense my nervousness, but I saw his too. His gloved hands were tight inside the pocket of his sweatshirt and, I think without realizing it, he was looking ahead to figure out where the least amount of people were so he could walk there. It wasn’t hard – it wasn’t all that busy today. I’m assuming Ky’s trip to the bathroom was, mostly, without incident. He emerged pretty quickly, declaring that he felt much better. As we walked out of the rest area, Ky said “Mama! They make milk chocolate M&M’s now!!” I looked over to where his eyes were fixed. The classic brown and white packages were stacked high on a display. “I think they’ve always been milk chocolate, Cappy.” “No, Mama. I think those are brand new – brand new since I had my transplant! I’ll have to try them!” I agreed and we continued back to the car.
As I buckled my seat belt, it occurred to me that since August, Ky hasn’t been anywhere but the hospital, Maine Children’s Cancer Center, and home. No convenience stores, no malls, no Wal-Mart, no Target. Since I’m a mama who is particularly adept at feeling guilty, I immediately wished I’d at least found him a nicer restroom. Something with…slightly more class, more clean, more…just more.
“Woah, Ky – that was the first time you’ve been somewhere but the hospital, clinic or home…in a long time. I just realized that. How was that for you?” He looked over and smiled. “It was great, Mama! Did you see the tank with lobsters? People must be buying them like crazy. There were only two in the tank. It was nice to see people. And no one really stared at me. And you know what? I got to see a new kind of M&M’s! I’m so trying those.”
People have asked a lot about how we are, how things are going, what’s new. They’ve asked what’s next and where we’ll go from here. All fair questions. I’m sorry I haven’t answered sooner. I’ll try to be better at that.
Life is a lot like this little snapshot. We’re good. Things are good. We see things differently than we used to. None of it is easy or perfect, but my word – he is a warrior – and my word, I am a worrier. Today, right now – that’s what’s in front of us. Where do we go from here? Probably to the store. We need to try some new M&M’s.