• 100 Days of Good Karma: Day 48 (Back to School: Parent/Teacher Conference)


    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Day 48 of 100 Days of Good Karma.

    Connor woke me up last night at 3am.

    He came to my side of the bed and said he had a headache.  Barely awake, I lifted the blanket and let him crawl into bed with me.

    As he snuggled in next to me I had a mostly-asleep thought:  He only does this when he’s getting sick.

    And then I flung back the covers and flew out of bed, remembering I can’t get sick.

    I stumbled into the bathroom, Connor padding along behind me rubbing his eyes.  After fumbling through drawers, I located a thermometer and was relieved to see his temperature was fine.

    I put him back in his bed then crawled back into my own.  But before I did, I threw my pillow on the ground afraid of what germs might be on it.  Just in case the thermometer lied to me.

    After I dropped the kids off at school a friend of mine and I had coffee in my kitchen.  She talked while I did the dishes.

    I felt a hair tickling the back of my neck so pulled out my hair tie to fix it.  I ran my fingers through my hair and… it happened:  the first clumps came away in my fingers.

    I sighed and showed her.

    “I guess four was the magic number,” meaning my fourth chemo treatment being the one that knocked my hair out.

    Later in the afternoon I met with the kids’ teachers.  I wanted to talk to them in case Hannah or Connor needed someone else to talk to this year.

    Behind professional demeanors, they had that ‘holy-shit-she-has-cancer’ look all over their faces.  This completely uncontrollable and involuntary look is equal mixture pity, fear and gratitude that they aren’t wearing my shoes.  I don’t fault anyone for this look because I’ve worn it, too.

    I just never thought I’d be on the receiving end.

    I tried to be very matter-of-fact.  I felt very matter-of-fact when I walked into the office.

    For the first 10 minutes anyway.

    They had a few questions for me:

    • Have I started treatment? (Yes.)
    • If the kids were upset, what would that look like?  (Reminding me that they’ve only known my children for four days, and I’m sorry all over again for dropping this bomb on these very nice women.)
    • Would it be okay to check in with the kids now and then?  (Yes, please.)

    I was fine until I told them that Hannah is the kind of kid that would blame herself.  My throat cramped around the words and I pointed to a box of Kleenex sitting on the edge of the table.

    “Can I have one of those?”

    It’s funny how tears sneak up on me.  I always think I can predict which conversations are going to set me off and which I’ll be able to hold it together.

    I am usually wrong, and yet, still surprised at being wrong.

    The school counselor handed me the box.  Tears stood out in her eyes, but it is a mark of her strength and professionalism that she didn’t let them fall.

    I pulled myself together and asked what they needed from me.

    Their main recommendation:  Let Hannah and Connor know that their teachers and the school counselor know about my having cancer.  That way the kids don’t feel like it has to be hidden or that they have to be the ones to break the news.

    This was a particular stroke of genius.  I immediately saw that the kids, Hannah especially, might be afraid to talk about cancer in case they thought they wasn’t supposed to.

    After the meeting ended every ounce of my being wanted to go home, curl up on my bed and cry.

    Maybe it was being woken up in the middle of the night and being afraid of taking care of my potentially sick child.  Or maybe it was the increasing thinness of my hair.  Or maybe it was having a conversation I’m getting tired of having.

    Maybe it was all three in the same twelve hour period.

    Instead of going home, I went to the gym.

    Today’s silver lining:  Thirty minutes later I was sweaty and smelly but I could think again.

    What’s your silver lining today?  I love comments!


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4 Responsesso far.

  1. Cindy Smith says:

    I’ve been wondering, but honestly don’t know why I haven’t asked yet. How are the kids doing with all of this? Especially Hannah. We love Connor too, but she will always have a special place in our hearts. And especially because she is older (and able to understand more than that precious little red-haired boy) and a girl who will be a woman all too soon.

  2. […] And yet, even with all the chaos, I can’t help but think of how our back-to-school went last year. […]

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