After a visit to the beach it’s hard to believe we live in a material world. ~Pam Shaw

I actually jumped the gun a bit.  I thought the next thing we did after the Path to Progress was to take a break from chemo and go on vacation.  But there was quite a bit that happened before we went to the beach.  It’s so good I have Caring Bridge to fall back on.  Teagan “graduated” from Shooting Stars Pre School and she had class picnic that she was very excited about.  I had forgotten that she had to memorize and say “My name is Teagan Baughn and I’m going to VanBuren Elementary,” during the graduation ceremony.  She mentions her friend Remington several times when she’s talking about graduation and having play “dates” – which is funny because we just ran into them before I started this series.  He had gone to a different school and we lost touch with them and we bumped into them at the Orange Leaf Yogurt a few weeks ago.

I also forgot the giant flood that we had in June of 2008 – well I didn’t forget because I remember driving through running water, high running water (like they tell you not to) so that I could go to Franklin (of all places) to dispatch.  But I did forget it all happened during our adventure through Chemo-land.  Teagan’s account of the flood/storm was going on a “white-ning striked” house with her daddy & being disappointed because it wasn’t on fire.  She’s going to be a firefighter someday despite all my best efforts.

We had softball games and one weekend the Gary Brackett IMPACT Foundation Football game where she met a lot of NFL players and another weekend where we walked in the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society.

Then on June 25th…. We bought a bulldog.  Yep, that was a great idea.  While you’re busy with 2 doctors’ appointments weekly and play dates and fundraisers to keep your life “normal” – add a puppy!  But Teagan wrote (and I quote) “I love my bulldog very much and he snores.”  He was still small then…. 11 lbs. the day we picked him up.  Now, 100 lbs. later, she doesn’t love him so much when he wants to snuggle.

We did decide as a family we needed a break.  Looking back at all the stuff we were doing I’m thinking we were right.  We went to our favorite “stand-by” vacation spot Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Teagan wasn’t allowed in the ocean because of her “button” which wasn’t a big deal because she didn’t like the ocean anyway.  She did however LOVE the pool, and the condo we stayed at had two, one of them a zero entry so she could play without someone being in the pool with her.  I remember that trip mostly as being a realization.  We were so excited to “get away from it all and just relax.”  We did get a chance to relax, but we soon realized that we can’t ever get away.  I think I honestly thought that “it” would all go away for a week while we were on the beach.  But we still had to watch for fevers, and make sure the “button” stayed clean, and some little girl in the pool was afraid of her because she didn’t like a girl with no hair (and her rude-ass mother wasn’t much better).  She still got tired very easily, if I remember this is the trip where she actually fell asleep at dinner one night.  Just laid her head on the table and she was out!  We did have some good laughs and none of us wanted to go back home at the end of the week.  Even though we came to that sucky realization that no matter if we are in Indiana or Alabama we still had a daughter who was going through chemo, who had her brain operated on twice and no matter where we go nothing changes that; it’s still good to spend any time by the ocean.

I once saw a quote

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life that you don’t need to escape from.” Seth Godin

I never much cared for that quote even though I get what it’s saying.  It makes one big assumption, that you are going on a vacation not to relax or explore a new place but to escape your everyday life.  I’m sure the example above was us trying to escape our everyday life because at that time our everyday life was about blood counts, temperatures, IV flushes, and twice weekly doctor trips.  In that instance I think you’re allowed an attempt at escape.  Sadly, it doesn’t work.

As I keep reading the pages of Caring Bridge I keep seeing all these events we were at or places we had gone to – even as simple as roller skating or as huge as the Gary Brackett fundraiser and I’m beginning to see how we “dealt” with things.  We were on a non stop train, we just went from one thing to another.  If we stopped — we had to deal with reality.  Reality was that our life was never returning to “normal.”  I know I use the word “normal” in quotes a lot but what I mean by that is our life would never go back to a time when Teagan didn’t have a brain tumor.  I can look back and see what our life was before this all happened and it seems like a whole different universe.  I read once that it takes 2 to 3 times the length of your treatment time to get through all the feelings like guilt, depression, anger, hurt, fear…. I don’t know there’s probably more.  I hope I’m on the 2 times plan, that means I’m coming to the end!  Oh no…. no ends….. 😦

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