Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Pain Is Miles and Miles Behind Her

On an otherwise relatively uneventful day spent driving from Bryce Canyon through Capitol Reef National Park and into Moab, I received a piece of news I’d been waiting to hear for years. Bringing tears to my eyes, it was one of those moments I’ll always remember where I was when I first heard it.

Without giving too much away, today marked a very significant milestone in the cancer survivorship of one of my kids.

Since the fall of 2006, I’ve followed her journey and been devastated, uplifted, jaded, and ultimately inspired by the strength and poise she has shown throughout. Today, for the first time, I can truly stop worrying and be hopeful that, finally, things are going to be alright for her.

Strangely, she unknowingly played a part in my planning for this trip. At the most basic level, she coined the nickname “Greggles” referenced in the title of this blog. However, on a much deeper level, she actually caused me some reluctance about setting out. When I first learned of her diagnosis, I was deeply troubled that there was seemingly nothing I could do to help her. I had always sought to make my campers and students “all better.” This actually played a part in my decision to stay in New England after graduation. I needed to be around, just in case there might be something for me to help with (This also had the effect of deepening my commitment and bringing me closer to my subsequent classes.). When I traveled to Houston at the end of the 06-07 school year, as much as I enjoyed the trip, in the quiet moments I felt uncomfortable that I was so far away from my kids, especially her. That same fear entered my mind in the initial planning stages of this trip. But after nearly 5 years and with a better understanding of her situation, I was able to put the worries aside.

Last night’s incredible sunset and today’s long drive over mountains, past canyons, and between lithified sand dunes served as imposing and powerful reminders of nature’s indifference to human affairs. The sun will rise and the mountains will crumble on their own schedules. But for us people, to acknowledge and recognize dates and moments can be incredibly meaningful, rewarding, and important. It’s part of what makes us human.

Congratulations on the first 5 years, and here’s to 75 more. 


  1. HEre's to February 18, 2016!

  2. Lovely post and I echo your Mom's comment!

    Trauma as a child, whether it be illness or something else will shape the adult you become like nothing else. I have always been amazed and blessed to witness how children somehow manage to grow up, passed and beyond the most egregious trauma and illness-often surpassing in maturity the adults around them. Sometimes it takes years to see it, sometimes you get to see it every step of the way. I think you were lucky to witness the latter.

    Now..if you don't post by midnight Wednesday should I send out the tracking hyenas? (amysue)