Last week I got a speeding ticket and I was elated. This may seem like a strange reaction to have but it was the kind of thing that used to happen to me before cancer. You know, the day to day bad stuff that you curse yourself for and move on. I was trying to get my son to choir practice before school began and I was going 28 mph in a 15 mph zone. All of a sudden I see the flashing lights in my rear view mirror. "Oh no" I groan, as I pull over right in front of the entrance to my sons school. The officer walked to my side of the car. " What did I do officer?" I ask, truly unaware that I have just been gunning the gas pedal in a school zone. "Ma'am, does your son go to this school?" He asked in the condescending voice that every police officer has. "Why yes," I say as sweetly as I can hoping for mercy. "Well then you better slow down!" He took my license and I realized there would be no warning, he was using me as an example. So there we sat with him writing the ticket right in front of my sons school. As all the law abiding mothers drove past getting their children to choir practice on time.
My son is eight and of course he was mortified. "Mom, everyone is looking at us. Can't you just take me in, I am late." I explain to him that I have to wait for the policeman to write a ticket and that he will be late for choir practice. As the minutes tick by and we see car after car enter the school drop off line, my sons agony increases. I am not upset about the ticket as much as I am upset that he is so embarrassed. "Mom, I am not going to school," he states as if he has a choice. "Oh yes you are buddy," I say emphatically, "Going home is not an option." He begins to whine because of the combination of being late and the embarrassment of being pulled over in front of school is all too much for him. "Well, you better get over it Luke, there are much worse things in life. Like getting cancer. So get out of the car." I said as I was finally able to drop him off.
It wasn't really fair of me to do this. It wasn't the worst thing in the world for my children when I had cancer. Their day to day lives were largely unaffected. They had the support of a large community of women from across this country and from different parts of my life who came to our aide to help us. I wasn't with my children alot of the time I was sick but my surrogates were. They were there to take my children to school, make us dinner, bathe me and rub my feet. Several of my friends actually moved in with us for short periods of time. It was a hard thing for me to do. To give up control of my life and let other people step in for me. Would my children be ok? They would have to be. I didn't have a choice.
So when Luke was embarrassed about being pulled over in front of school, I was lucky. His is a reaction many eight year olds might have in that situation. How thankful that I am for this. They haven't been changed too much, although they have their scars too. They get a little bit too worried when I am away for too long. They cry a little more often than they used to. They are all too familiar with the word cancer.
All in all though, we were all saved by the many women who came to my side day after day for eight months. It changed our lives for the better.