words cannot even describe the feel of my daughter’s embrace when we returned home.
Bursting with joy, she ran out onto the driveway, no care for shoes and we showered each other with love. Eager to show me the “arrangement” she had put together, she wanted to lead me into the house – except I had to pause to get the dog outside as I should not be close to her for three months – and as she and her dad struggled to get the dog, my favorite neighbor burst out of their front door to shout out, “Welcome home!! Yay!! You did it!! You’re home!!” Big smiles all around, I admired the yard, so carefully tended to by our other favorite neighbor and my in-laws while we were away, chrysanthemums in full bloom.
Once I made it up the three stairs – carefully so as not to fall, as my platelets are still super low and any fall or injury could turn very dangerous – I noticed the “welcome home” sign taped to the front door and other adorable notes adorning the front hall.
Then I noticed the sparkling clean everything, including the air, thanks to the toil of my adoring mom. If there is one thing to recognize my mom for (and there are at least a million), it is her penchant for cleaning. Her own mother taught her well, from a very early age, the importance of a clean house; perhaps she channels her mother’s energy now when she cleans. Our house was clean from the inside out – she and dad even paid to have the air ducts cleaned. She pampered us with super cozy flannel sheets and a delicious crock pot of scrumptious, wholesome food. Nothing too fancy, but the homecoming felt luxurious, indeed!
As Adelaide tried to fill me in on everything different about the house, we found time to eat dinner, read silly poems of Runny Babbit Returns by Shel Silverstein, and watch videos recorded during my stay at 16 Prentice. Of course, this was all greatly exhausting. Then, I faced the flight of stairs. Slowly but surely, I remembered that although tired, stairs before HSCT were dangerously challenging and I had fallen down stairs more than I like to remember. Now that my left knee can bend, the flight feels a bit less difficult, though my need to build muscle is palpable.
As I snuggled my daughter to sleep that night, I savored the smell of her hair, the slight smile on her face, and the sweet sentiments we shared.
The next day we spent connected at the hip, snuggled in blankets to play boardgames, build legos, and watch tv. Super lazy Sunday.
Enter the challenge of school routine. Recognizing my body and mind are still sloughing off the hospital sleep schedule, and not knowing how I would fare with getting her up and off to school on time, thankfully Andy was home to help. Of course, not at all accustomed to the routine that Adelaide and I spent the past two years developing, his best intentions were lauded when she whispered to me, “I like mornings best when dad is at work.”
After dropping her at school, we were off to LabCorp as part of my new routine: weekly blood draws every Monday for 4 weeks, then every other Monday for eight weeks, then once a month for three months. We then stopped by my neurologist office to share the discharge paperwork and seek recommendations for physical therapy. We were home by 11 and I was ready for a second breakfast and a nap. I reminded myself, I have the immune system of an infant and embraced the reality of newborns: eat, sleep, poop, repeat.
Sometimes it really is about the little things in life, often overlooked, that mean the most when you’re looking to feel good.
In the words of my great, great aunt, “To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.” Harriet Beecher Stowe
Be kind. Be present. Be well.