Our Worst Month Ever

Family vacation to Providenciales
Family vacation to Providenciales

We tried, we really did. Setback after setback, we were determined to leave for Bali on time. It didn’t happen.

It started eight weeks before departure with Jack’s diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder. Then a month before our departure date Tim was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Within a week he had a complete thyroidectomy. Two weeks before departure, we found out that within the year Finley would need a third heart surgery. Ten days before departure we found out Tim’s cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and he received a radioactive iodine treatment. While Tim was in isolation Jack went missing for over an hour and even the police couldn’t find him. He was behind a plant while his momma was sobbing in the street. Six days to departure my mom went into hospice care and she passed away three days later. When I say worst month ever, I’m not exaggerating.

The pregnancy with my twins was pretty rough. At 24 weeks we were diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. The next 10 weeks my little guys fought for their lives in utero, and then Finley continued his struggle for another six weeks before he could have open heart surgery. Tim and I sat in a room of 10 plus doctors including pediatricians, cardiologists, pulmonologists, high-risk OBs, NICU nurses and so on. At each possible birth week – from 24 weeks to 34 weeks – we discussed what our twin’s health might be and under what conditions we would choose palliative care. That was hard.

This period has been harder. There has just been so much, hitting us from so many different directions. We’d try to keep our sense of humor, laugh and say “What else could possibly happen?” and then something even shittier would.

Silver linings and lemonade

It might sound odd, but coming out the other side I’m full of gratitude. Sure, I’ve had my moments of tears, anger and helplessness. But right now I’m thankful that after six weeks of treatment, Jack’s sensory issues have improved and he’ll let me kiss and hug him again. I’m thankful for my husband, who worked tirelessly through his cancer diagnosis and treatment to pack up the business and house. I even had to leave him alone with the kids to finish packing while I traveled Philadelphia to see my mom. Best husband ever. I’m thankful that I got to spend a day with my mom before she died. I’m thankful for the two weeks that we’re spending with my dad, and I’m thankful that we still get to go to Bali.

I’m thankful for family and friends. I’ve never felt so much love and support. I’m horrible at asking for help and I hate to feel like I’m troubling a friend when all our lives are already too full. I had to learn how to ask for help and accept it gracefully. I am thankful for each hug, kind word or offer of help, each playdate, delivered dinner and time spent helping us pack.

I’m also curious how these experiences will change me. I can already catch a glimpse of the new me. I’m not sweating the small stuff and I (occasionally) have more patience with the kids. Apparently I’m stronger than I could ever have imagined. I’ve been called a warrior and told that I’ve handled this time with grace. I’ve been asked how I could still be smiling. What else can I do? I learned way back with my twin pregnancy that smiling and a sense of humor helps.

Most people are supportive of us continuing our trip. Others think we are crazy. It’s certainly crossed my mind not to go. With all the stress my anxiety has reached new highs. Is it the irrational anxiety that’s making me think that the universe is throwing obstacles in our way so we don’t leave. Or is it my intuition telling me not to go? Will we all die in a fiery plane crash or natural disaster if I don’t listen? We are going to the Ring of Fire – known for erupting volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis – and Indonesian airlines have the worst safety records in the world. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. To paraphrase Nirvana, just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean the universe isn’t out to get you.

After many heart wrenching conversations with Tim, we’ve decided to continue. With everything we’ve been through, with life screaming at us how uncertain it is, we feel it would be more crazy not to go. Carpe diem. Anyhow, we’re homeless. Our house is rented for the year and we have to go somewhere!

In four days we leave for Bali. We leave minus a thyroid and more radioactive and sad than before, but full of love and excitement for the adventure ahead.

See you on the flipside.

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Meridith Moore