Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Long Ride Home

We go out to our bright yellow zipcar and wait for a moment.  Take it all in.  Think.  

Did he just say stage four liver cancer?  Whoa.

I tell Steve I am sorry.  He tells me I have nothing to be sorry for.

I know this, it is not like I planned this or have been secretly keeping it from him, but I don’t know what else to say.  What is there to say?

We head home, but it is only four o’clock.  I don’t want to go home while the babies are still there. It will be so hard and awkward when the parents say “So, how’d it go?”  We decide to go to Del’s.

If you are not from Rhode Island, you won’t know about Del’s, so let me tell you about it.  Del’s is what you want in the heat of a summers day.  It is icy and delicious and comes in flavors like lemon, blueberry, watermelon, grapefruit, cherry, peach and mango.  It is crushed ice, but not just any crushed ice.  Somehow the ice is smaller and softer than other frozen lemonade ices.  It is the perfect texture and size, slushy, but not too slushy.  The ice appears round, but it is not too crunchy and hard because it is so small and fine.  It is wonderfully refreshing.  There are many different kinds of frozen lemonade in Rhode Island, each with it’s own texture and flavor combinations, but to me, Del’s is lemonade perfection.

It is Friday afternoon, rush hour, so traffic is heavy.  We are in Johnston, a strange land to us, and the closest Del’s that we can think of is East Providence.  We decide it might be too far to go and take too long, so we drive past a few places where there might be “instant” stand possibilities, places where they drop off a huge cooler on wheels with an umbrella and an attendant.   We drive by Home Depot and Benny’s, with no luck.  We pass a New England Lemonade truck which is heading in the opposite direction.  It looks like East Providence is our only option.

It is not really that far away, just a ten minute ride from the East Side of Providence.  It is just, well, there are no straight lines to get you there.  We negotiate the maze of streets and finally, we are there, sitting in front of the Del's stand, at the sign of the frozen lemon. It is getting close to five and I don't want my kids to worry about where we are, so I text that we are stuck in traffic.

Steve gets me my favorite, cherry, and a grapefruit for himself.  We’re livin’ la vie da loca here.

Lately, I am cold all the time.  There isn’t any body fat left on me, so you would think that Del’s would be the last thing I would want.  It is cold, but you sip it, get all the juice that is loose in your cup and wait for more to loosen up.  It makes my hands so cold, I put my cup in the cars cupholder, and let that warm, black interior space help melt my icy drink.  I wrap my sweatshirt sleeves around the cup to pick it up.

After a few sips of the Del’s, I text my daughter again.  I ask her to let me know when everyone has been picked up.  “Only two left,” she texts back.  “Going soon.”  We start the car and head home.

If you don’t know what a Zipcar is, here it is in a nutshell.  You sign up online to share a car owned by Zipcar in your neighborhood.  You book the time you will need a car on their website, pick up the car from where it lives, either in a parking lot or on the street, drive it for the time you have reserved it for, and then drop it back where it lives when you are done.  If the car needs gas, you fill it up before returning it.

One of the rules of Zipcar is no eating or drinking in the car.  There is often evidence of both these activities in the cars, but I try to follow it.  It keeps the cars nice and clean.

When we get back to our space,  we still have a half an hour left on our car.  We sit there, with me sipping my Del’s in the car, right in its homespace.  I feel like such a rebel.

As we walk the four blocks to our house, I worry.  How am I supposed to look when I walk in the door?  Do I cry?  Do I laugh?  Do I smile?  It is such a weird thing to worry about, but I realize that the way this is delivered will have such an impact on how it is heard.  Steve and I talk this over as we walk.  Tears, well, I’m not really feeling that.  Probably not with a smile Steve suggests.

I come in the house the usual way.  “I’m home!”  Like in a 1950’s sitcom.  I always do that.  I think it's funny.

All of my children, Kaileigh, Ayla and Alex are there.  My sons girlfriend, Filipa is there.  My sister Sara is there too.  They are all seated around the dining room table waiting for me.  I give hugs and start right in.  With a smile.  

Everyone takes their cues from me.  No crying.  Everything is going to be okay.  I am going to do everything I can to be around for them, it will just take a little time to get through this.

The big immediate news is that I am on a clear liquid diet all weekend.  We start thinking and making plans for food.  I am really hungry right now, and getting Asian food from the Gourmet House on Hope St. is one of our favorite Friday night traditions.  I can get soup and just eat the broth.  Off we go.

My sister Sara goes off to tell my Dad, my youngest sister Jill and my brother Tim for me.  I hadn’t even thought about telling them yet.  I was just focused on my kids.   Her playing messenger is such a help to me.

At the Gourmet House, I get the Tom Yum soup, “a dish for two or three.”  My girls help me by eating the stock out of it.  The broth is warm and delicious.  After having to eat broth last weekend for my last cleanse, I am not looking forward to another weekend of the same.  Admittedly, I was doing the easy thing, and drinking the broth that comes from a box, so this Tom Yum gives me some hope for deliciousness.

We walk back home and decide to play a game.  My kids love to play them when we are together. We find an old one in the basement, Clever Endeavor, and break that out.  We have never played this one before.  I play until I think I will just drop into bed and fall asleep, but once I get there, it is not so.  I lay there and think, wait, drift, but never quite sleep.  I put the light back on and decide to write for a bit, and then read.  

I am reading “Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson.  There are words on the page, but they go right through my head.  After reading and re-reading the same paragraphs over and over, it seems to work as a lullaby.  Finally, I fall asleep.

I awaken Saturday morning and my first thought is, “It’s Saturday, only two more days.”  It is going to be a long weekend.


  1. well, it's true your delivery made me feel like it's all going to be okay. so i believe that. i picture that belief like a balloon, a balloon of belief that floats you along, carrying you through. and that makes me smile, picturing you, small, atop a big red balloon!

  2. Soon... Getting there, Kathy. I am praying for the very best outcome tomorrow. With love to extraordinarily special you.

  3. "Hold on to what is good, even if it is only a handful of earth." You exemplify that here, Kathy. You're brave and strong. Hang in there. The love you have for your family is vital and sustaining, and will give you strength. We're thinking of you daily and sending you our blessings. Much, much love.