August 13, 2010

Travels with Sam

Posted in Children, Family, Travel tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:47 am by Liliana

Sam - taking a break in Boston

Sam - taking a break in Boston

Sam and I spent a lot of time together this past week as we drove to Boston to help Mike and Karen move. I was taken aback by how much he has grown and changed this past summer.

I thought I knew everything about my youngest son. But in the tireless activity that has been our lifestyle the past year, I have missed the delicate signs of maturation that take time and close attention to recognize.

Sam drove most of the long way to Boston. Sometimes we listened to music that he loves. He told me stories about old rappers like Tupac and 50 Cent. Sometimes I told him family stories about people he never met. Sometimes we talked about history, war, the Russians, Napoleon, Stalin, Pat Tillman. Sometimes we drove in silence.

Sam worked hard helping with the move. Together with Mike he carried heavy furniture, boxes of books, kitchen paraphernalia, computers, suitcases. He spent hours helping Karen assemble IKEA furniture and I watched in wonder as he figured out how those complicated schematics fit together in three dimensional space. He worked with Karen to refinish a desk that has been her grandmothers, and that Mike will be using to work on.

I didn’t know Sam could do all that.

We didn’t just work. We spent hours walking, exploring the city, visiting colleges, eating.

Eating! These are some of the foods we ate: Southern Barbecue, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian. One night Sam ordered two lobsters, ate them both, and then finished Mike’s leftover cheeseburger. He is a growing boy all right.

But what impressed me most is Sam’s generosity. For his birthday last year, Sam got a present he dearly prized – a droid cell phone. He loved that thing, but when Mike asked if he’d be willing to trade with him for his (ordinary) phone, Sam did. He gave it some thought, he struggled to decide, but in the end, he not only gave the phone to Mike, he taught him how to use it.

On the way back to Michigan, Sam and I got stuck in terrible traffic, got lost in Buffalo, experienced rain and bad weather. We argued and got mad at each other because he wanted to drive straight through and I wanted to spend the night at a hotel.

But after we stopped, ate, rested and talked, we were on good terms again. We spent the evening at a tiny movie theater across the street from our hotel – watching Inception for the second time. We both loved it more (and understood it better) than the first time.

We slept through the night, woke up refreshed, had breakfast and got back on the road. Sam drove most of the way home.

February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Family, Health, Holidays, Women tagged , , , at 8:40 am by Liliana

A gift of love

A gift of love

My husband Jeff is not a very romantic man. He is a computer programmer, a person who sees the world through the prism of reason and logic. In the early years of our marriage, it took me some time to get used to his indifference to romantic celebrations like Valentine’s Day, but it didn’t bother me too much. I cared more about how he behaved every day.

During the winter of 2005, I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Chemo therapy had left me with no hair, emaciated, depressed and listless. I was not a pretty sight. Every day I would wait for Jeff to come home from work at 5 pm. He was my compass to wellness. I though that if I survived one more day, I was closer to the end of treatment, to health, to the coming of spring.

I didn’t even know that Valentine’s Day had arrived that February until Jeff came home a little later than usual. His arms were full of gifts for everyone in the household. He bought boxes of  chocolates and candy for the kids, cheese cake for my sister, a necklace for my stepmother. For me, he bought a fancy card, and a huge bouquet of pink spray roses.

I remember that I burred my face in the flowers and held the card to my heart. I cried and I cried. The gift of love came at the moment when I needed it most.