Roller Coasters and Carousels

Like the Thunderbolt at Kennywood, January has had its ups and downs.

January has been a roller coaster. Full of ups and downs, and a lot of waiting miserably in lines because you know that it will be worth it when you get to the front.

Last week, I went to see my nearly perfect niece. There were lines at the beginning and end of the trip. I was pleasantly surprised to find the folks at TSA moving us quickly and cheerfully through security, but the airline employees just can’t load a completely booked flight without at least a little bit of standing around. It seems that, as a low budget flyer, I’m destined to be the last passenger to board any plane. (Remember how it was a job of honor in elementary school to be the Caboose? Boy, did they have us snowed.)

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Obviously when I arrived in Phoenix, life was nothing but goodness and light for 4 days straight. I won’t bore you with the details of what a straight-up gift to humanity Baby Maggie is, but I will share a picture.

After I got home, I read about the death of Fatima Ali, a favorite contestant from the show Top Chef who had been splitting her time since her appearance on the show between fighting cancer and eating at the best restaurants on the planet. Until the moment she died, she had truly been living. She was 29, and her death made me very sad.

It’s no surprise that my kids are a constant source of “ups” for me. I love just watching them be happy. I’ve enjoyed every sport they’ve played more than I could ever have expected because I’m watching it through their eyes. And it’s been so fun to plan our 2019 trips because of the light in their eyes when we talk about the details – what highlights do we need to make sure to hit when we go to Pittsburgh? What are the must-eats at Progressive Field in Cleveland? What kind of bonkers playlist do I have to look forward to on our next road trip to New Jersey? Babies are great, but I adore even more the two young men I see when I come down the stairs – usually to see what the racket is in the living room.

My boys and me, where we spend many a Sunday: at Ziggy's with Bob

And I love that I often see them sitting in a room full of friends and/or Max's girlfriend – people who are going to be there for them no matter what. The boys might smell like feet, farts, and calzone, but I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.

There have been a few other downhill drops that have made it such a difficult month. Three dear friends moved away rather suddenly. My pelvis has presented more questionable spots that don’t seem to respond to my current chemo regimen. It’s dark and snowy, of course, because January already kind of naturally sucks. Mary Oliver died. Mary Oliver, you guys.

Some Friday, I’ll tell you about how I ended up with eight staples in the back of my head a few weeks back. 

Or the skin problems the chemo is causing. 

Or how sometimes I just start crying and can't stop.

But when I do, remind me that a few days ago my friend Owen made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe. And remind me how helpful my oncology team and the DHMC podiatrist were with my skin issues. And ask me how great Sarah and the others at Mt. Ascutney ED were when I came in with blood on my head and tears in my eyes. 

And how another friend is house/dog/cat sitting for me so that I can go on a bucket list trip with Nikki. (She tells me that us big girls are admired in the islands because we clearly have unlimited resources. This may be a stereotype, but I’m going to cling to it like the rickety “protective” handlebar of the wooden roller coaster at Kennywood.)

So here I am, at the end of “January: The Ride”, exhausted, exhilarated, and ready to throw up, get back in line, and do it all again in February. Because the carousel can wait. That reminds me. I need to add Kennywood to our “To Do” list for Pittsburgh…

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