In May 2011 we booked a holiday to Europe/UK to celebrate 1 year of NED following adjuvant chemo and surgery (Stage III at that point). 5 days before we were due to fly out we got the results of what we thought was a routine CT scan showing evidence of several growing mets in my wife's lungs. As we have now done a few times - we raced to the edge of the abyss and peered down expecting to be hurled down against our will.
We decided to proceed with the holiday - partly because it seemed better than sitting around in despair and partly because there was doubt that we'd be able to claim on travel insurance. We fully expected this to be a horrid experience and many times contemplated cancelling - right up until boarding the plane really. I remember sitting in the departure lounge feeling dejected as I looked out at all the other exuberant travelers brimming with joyous anticipation. Our son had just turned 3 the day before and I could see that he could sense something because he kept coming in for cuddles more so than usual.
We boarded the plane like deported asylum seekers and well I can only say that we must have left our despair behind in the departure lounge somewhere between the over-priced cafes and the duty free shops. I'm convinced that it was in part because of our 3 yo son's excitement of being on a big plane - and lets face it a child's enthusiasm is more contagious than an airborne zombie plague. But I really think it was simply the ghosts of holidays past possessing us in the moment. Whilst we couldn't ignore the undeclared baggage sitting in lung class they played little role in the holiday and in fact, dare I say, they may have indirectly enriched the experience - even if it was just to focus us on what we did have - right there and then in the moment. (Although I did hope that quarantine would confiscate them every time we passed through a border control point - alas it was not to be). We had a fantastic 5 weeks away and were relatively steeled for the many battles ahead. In fact many of our most profound decisions about out futures were made on that holiday.
We cant afford to do holidays like that anymore but we do now make a point of small trips away closer to home and we've even taken to camping (as long as its within driving distance of a coffee shop, liquor store and usually a Queensland beach!) There is something about the ghosts of holidays past and the distance away from the daily reminders of what you're going through that just keeps you focused on those beautiful simple things that seem to invoke the biggest questions. We've also taken to day trips in and around our own city most weekends to invoke the same spirit of day trips past.
Thanks Ray for reminding me of these brighter moments...may there be many more.