Packing Our Suitcases with Hope and Caution

Baseball in Pittsburgh is the best of everything (unless you're really invested in them winning; that's far from a given).

We’ve got some great trips coming up in the next six months. In fact, just this morning, after a particularly rough infusion visit yesterday, I printed out tickets to a comedy show for the boys and me. If I’m going down, I’m going down laughing with my kids.

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Next month, we’re going to drive to a family reunion in North Carolina. These are cousins that I’ve adored since childhood, never see enough, and have a lot of love to pass along to during this first visit with many of them since my diagnosis.

In July comes the big baseball trip. Back to home base, so to speak, in Pittsburgh. I’m beside myself with excitement at the prospect of showing the boys my city. Besides cheering on the Pirates (and the pierogi that race around the bases during the 7th inning stretch), I want to show them the last remaining wall of Forbes Field and enjoy the view of the stadiums from the Point and from the Incline. I want to eat Primanti’s sandwiches with them the way they should be eaten – sitting on stools in the little hole in the wall in the Strip District. And of course, we need to try out the local donut offerings, whatever they may be.

What's left of the outfield wall of Forbes Field

It feels pretty scary to me to make plans right now. How far ahead can I safely buy the tickets? How terrible am I going to feel, and how well can I handle/afford the unexpected problems along the way? AAA, a cheap room at the Albany Best Western, and Midas were the keys on our trip to NJ to see Seton Hall beat Villanova a few weeks back, but the room and the new tire were certainly not in the budget. I’m really hoping that the incident was simply a confidence-builder and not a portent to the “adventures” to come…

I’m doing my best to focus on the gifts of these trips.  We’re driving to the reunion in North Carolina so that we can pick up my niece at the airport (along with her parents). How many books will she and I read on the way to the AirBnB? Probably a thousand. Or possibly just one, a thousand times. Note to Brother Tom: Do NOT forget to bring Silly Sally!

And a dear friend/former boyfriend, upon finding out our plans for the Pittsburgh/Cleveland trip this summer, made some calls and connected us with an incredibly generous group called One Day To Remember. They’re a Pittsburgh-based organization focused on giving parents with life-limiting illnesses an adventure to never forget. Last week, I bragged about how great my friends are. This week, I’ll tell you that I’m also great at picking men to date and/or marry who treat me with so much respect far after the ends of our relationships. I wish this was a skill I could market. I’d spend all of the extra money on the airline and baseball tickets we need for this trip.

Whenever I can, I spend extra money on the travel insurance just in case things get bad and I have to cancel. I spring for more conveniently located hotels in case I feel like I need to get back quickly. Driving will add an extra level of flexibility to the trip to NC. Sometimes though, I just click the “purchase” button even if there is no cancellation policy. Sometimes, there is value just in the making of the plans. I’m super excited for these trips, and even if they don’t happen for whatever reason, I am savoring the joy I feel now in the thinking and planning with Max and Dalton.

I hope, of course, that we make it to all of our destinations. And I hope that my kids learn with me all of the quirks and special details of the places we go. I hope they see my example of treating people kindly and seeking out their stories. I hope that when we hit the roadblocks, they understand how to solve problems with patience and how to accept changes in plans with grace. I hope that their confidence to travel grows as well does their appreciation for their home. 

I know that they see the love of the people around us who help us get to all of these places. I hope they will pay these gifts forward for the rest of their lives.

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