January 2007. Flight number one between Stockholm and Palm Springs.
My husband and I were in California on our usual annual winter visit. We were chatting with my parents about what their dream celebration would be for their 50th anniversary that was coming in December. Together we hit upon the idea of taking a cruise through the Adriatic with the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey as the center piece. We found a great itinerary and began dreaming of the possibilities.
March 2007. Flight number two between Stockholm and Palm Springs.
My only brother died from a heart attack at the too young age of 48. He wasn't a healthy person so the heart attack wasn't completely unexpected but the timing was a total surprise. Needless to say it was quite a blow to my parents who suddenly found themselves travelling through the valley of the shadow of death.
May 2007. Flight number three between Stockholm and Palm Springs.
My mom never felt very good after my brother's death. When I was in California for the funeral, she was really wiped out. But grief does different things to each person and I assumed that this terrible loss was manifesting for her in physical fatigue. After a wrong diagnosis of pneumonia and near death scare, the cancer diagnosis finally became clear. Stage 3 ovarian cancer. The first chemo destroyed her immune system and we were greatly concerned that she might not recover enough to actually fight the cancer. In the meantime, my father began to experience some difficulties with his heart, no doubt brought on by the extreme levels of stress he was experiencing in light of my brother's passing and my mother's illness. At one point, I literally felt as though my family was disappearing right before my very eyes. I had been so braced for difficult news that when my dad's cardiologist told me that there wasn't anything wrong with his heart, I actually didn't know how to react. I was thinking, "Excuse me. I don't have to deal with any more set backs right now? How odd." Thankfully, over time and with a great deal of care and nurture, especially from my father, my mom healed enough to face the difficult road of chemotherapy and surgery. And finally they got the dosage right for my dad's cardiac issues and he stabilized a bit.
July 2007. Flight number four between Stockholm and Palm Springs.
After a six hour surgery, the oncologist approached my father and I in the surgical waiting room to tell us that he's confident he got all the cancer. There were lingering concerns, but he was optimistic. 10 days later she came home. Once strong enough again, she started chemo.
At this point in time, obviously the chatter about the 50 year celebration was on hold. We were all secretly hoping that my mom would be alive on December 21, 2007. The cruise was fading from view and all of our energy was focused on getting mom through.
December 2007. Flight number five between Stockholm and Palm Springs.
Finally, a trip to celebrate something good! Mom and Dad both alive to celebrate their 50th anniversary. A wonderful open house attended by friends from 50 years of life culminated in a cash gift to help pay for THE BIG CRUISE! We booked it and started dreaming about what a celebration of life and love it would be.
So, now that we've been on THE BIG CRUISE and my parents are doing reasonably well, and I have not flown to California since December of 2007, there are numerous reasons to celebrate and enjoy.