Tonight, I tucked Ava into bed and whispered, “How about tonight you don’t suck your thumb?” She replied in her snotty pre-pre-teen way, “Yeah, that’s gonna happen.”
She reemerged from her room to whine and half-cry that she has a canker sore. Willey jumped from his chair to give her a swig of Listerine, coaching her to swish for as long as possible. She whimpered in pain. Then he swept her up in his arms and flipped the light switch off with her fanny. “You can turn the light off with your butt.” She giggled as he carried her to her bed.
I’m sitting in bed, typing, with an ice pack on my chest. I had my fifth (and final, I swear!) surgery Monday. It’s been almost one week. I felt a swelling and bruising start today and basically freaked out because the last thing I need right now is an infection and to go back to Dr. Parson’s office for drains. That would be a major bummer. This surgery was to correct some positioning and to give me “nipples.” It went well as far as I can tell. It will be a resounding success if I keep infection at bay!
During this summer break, we took a vacation to Legoland. It was just what we needed: mindless fun. Ava had her first roller coaster ride and Josie rode mini-cars with her sister, both earning “drivers’ licenses.”
In addition to this fun, I worked all of June, teaching remedial English to incoming 7th graders and training for my new Ed Tech job. The teaching was challenging. How do you work with 12 year old students who can’t spell “dirt?” How do you impress upon these kids that they need to do their best ALL of the 15 days of summer school, not just two or three? How do you retain your cool factor while admonishing them for eating Doritos and candy for breakfast?
I’ve also taken this time to address dental and medical appointments for the girls. Ava is starting to show an overbite as well as what orthodontists call “overjet,” which is caused by her night time thumb-sucking. I want to do the right thing. I want to purchase an appliance if that is what is necessary. I know she will stop sucking her thumb if her thumb is met by a row of metal on the roof of her mouth. But I am mourning for her at the same time. She has always sucked her thumb and it brings great comfort to her. Her thumb is her best friend. It’s time for her to find security in something else, but what? Peaceful thoughts? I wish I had her equivalent of the thumb…something that brings me instant calm and repose.
Security is a state of mind. Sometimes, in the deepest, darkest corners of my mind, I wonder if I still have some residual cancer. Did they get it all? How will I know whether it’s back? I want a 100% guarantee that I will remain cancer free forever. I want to know that Josie and Ava will always be safe and happy and employed. I want to know that Willey will always be healthy, too. There are no guarantees. There is only the opportunity to shed light on the dark corners of my mind with the joy of the present moment. When we are fully present in the moment, there is no room for fear or worry.