Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Little Bit of Excitement

Last night was tough. As I tucked my boys into bed, and sang Billy Joel's "Goodnight My Angel" to each of them, I realized that I have no idea when my babies will be sleeping at my house again. This is their dad's weekend with them, but he allowed me to have Friday night so I could squeeze in a little more time with them before my treatments begin on Tuesday. Once they start, I can't guarantee I'll be feeling well enough to take care of my little monkeys. At this point, we've decided they can visit whenever I'm up to it, but they'll probably have to sleep at their dad's until this nightmare is over.

This sucks.

Since we still had a few hours together today, I decided to take my boys to the pool. Jen, my college friend, and matron of honor, who had driven in from Massachusetts yesterday, helped me get everyone into their bathing suits and loaded into the car. Even though the doctors tell me I'm still not allowed in the pool, I needed to take today to soak up the sun. Once chemo starts, it'll be all shade and oversized hats for me.

When we arrived at the pool, Jen and the boys headed for the cool water while I baked on a lounge chair. Beads of sweat dripped down my forehead and glistened all over my body. What I wouldn't do for one little dip. I watched as Dylan jumped off the diving board, swam to the ladder, got out of the pool, circled back, and started the whole process over again. Then my eyes scanned the water until they found Justin, who had his arms wrapped around Jen's neck while he watched his brother splash into the deep end. It's my last healthy day with my babies and I can't even play with them.

This sucks.

I felt my phone vibrate and held it up to my face. I squinted in the bright sunlight until I could read the words my ex-husband had sent, "I'd like to pick them up at 2."I checked the time on the screen. 12:15. Hmmm...Not much time left, but I really didn't have a choice. It's his weekend. I let them swim a bit more, then ordered some lunch. They were on the playground at about 1:50 when Jen said, "Jim's here." Oh, did I mention my ex's name is Jim? Yeah, I went from Jim to Jimmi. Hey, at least I won't say the wrong name by accident! Jim, who is habitually 15-30 minutes late at all times, arrived 10 minutes early on my last pre-chemo day with the kids. I barely had a chance to give them hugs, and he was hustling them out the door. "Hey!" I yelled. "Can I at least say goodbye?" Jim slowed down so Jen and I could catch up and walk with them to the parking lot. I hugged and kissed each one of them over and over again. "You know you can call me any time, right?" I asked them. They nodded. "And you can see me whenever I'm feeling up to it, ok?" They nodded again. "I love you," I choked on the tears. They threw their arms around me, "I love you too," they said in stereo. And then they were gone.

I walked into my house, which already seemed too quiet, and hit the play button on the blinking answering machine. "Hi, Suzanne, it's Rachel from Priscilla of Boston. I just want to tell you that your wedding gown came in today..." I didn't even listen to the rest of the message. I turned to Jen who was coming down the stairs and said, "My dress is in!" Her face resembled the excitement I was feeling as I picked up the phone to call my mom. "What are you doing later?" I asked her. "My dress is in! If I can get an appointment in a few hours, can you and Daddy meet us there?" She agreed and I dialed the number for Priscilla of Boston.

4:30! I'm finally going to put on my beautiful, perfect, gorgeous wedding gown at 4:30!

It seems like forever since I ordered the gown in October. Yes, I ordered my dress nine months ago and it's just coming in now. I know it sounds like a really long time, but it was being custom made to my exact measurements to hopefully save a lot of money and work on alterations later. But it's FINALLY here!

Jen and I got cleaned up, I threw my Vera Wang shoes and Swarovski earrings into the car, put the convertible top down, turned on the radio and we were on our way.

I rang the bell at the back door of the bridal salon and heard the loud buzz signaling us to enter. We walked down the hall and I saw it immediately. There it was, covered in a thick, plastic garment bag, hanging on a rack by the front desk.

My wedding gown.


All mine.

My parents weren't there yet, but I left Jen to wait for them while I followed Dina, the store manager, into a fitting room and started to undress. While she took my gown out of the bag and off the hanger, I put on the earrings I had bought last week. I was supposed to return the others, but since they were just as beautiful as the ones I had chosen for myself, I came up with a better idea. I'd surprise my mom and give them to her! After all, I knew they'd look amazing with the spectacular dress she had bought for my wedding.

Dina unzipped my gown and held it so I could step into it. She shifted it a bit, then zipped it up for me. She helped me to slip on my shoes, then I stood up, looked in the mirror and just stared at my reflection in amazement. "It fits almost perfectly. Wow," Dina said. She was right. It was as if the dress had been made for me. Oh, had!

I opened the door and slowly walked out. Jen gasped with approval, my mom's smile covered her entire face, and my daddy's eyes started to tear as he walked over to hug me and give me a kiss on my shoulder. "Do you like it?" I asked. "I love it!" Jen said. "You look beautiful," my mom agreed. "It's very pretty," my dad started, "but don't you think it's a bit tight?" I giggled. "Oh, stop! It's supposed to be this way!" He tried again, "Maybe they should let it out just a little bit." "It's fine!" I insisted. Then my mom chimed in, "Can you sit down?" I rolled my eyes, walked over to a couch, made an attempt to bend my body into a sitting position, and laughed. "Who needs to sit anyway?" But they were right. "Ok, maybe it can be taken out a tiny bit."

The more I gazed at myself in the mirror, the more I felt like a bride and not a cancer patient. I held my hair up, then let it fall back down over my shoulders. I turned from side to side, then I looked over my shoulder so I could check out my butt. "Are you gonna wear it home?" my mom asked with a smirk.

As much as I would have loved to stay and stare at myself a little bit longer, Jen and I had plans to get to a movie, so I really needed to take the dress off. Dina came back to help me and I questioned her on the alterations, "What's the longest I can wait to have the dress fitted? I don't know what my body will look like after two rounds of chemo, so I don't want to do it too soon." Dina asked about my treatments and when I thought I'd be able to come in again. She said she would work with me and do whatever has to be done to accommodate my needs.

I got dressed and headed to the front desk to make my first fitting appointment. "Let me think. I start chemo next week. It's one week on, two weeks off, one week on. I guess I should try to get in right before my second round." I looked at the calendar on my phone. "How's August 7th?" I asked. "That works," Dina said as she wrote it in the appointment book.

I thanked everyone at Priscilla's for being so understanding and willing to work around my situation. Then Jen, my parents and I walked out into the summer heat, exchanged hugs and kisses and went our separate ways.

It's almost 1:00 AM. I have one more day of freedom before I'm sentenced to report to Sloan-Kettering every day for the rest of the summer. But you know damn well I'm going out with a bang! Tomorrow (or today) is my bridal shower. It's a day to forget about cancer and think about my wedding. I feel like wearing a sign that says, "No C-word today, please!" For just one day, I'd like to talk about dresses and cakes and music and flowers and happiness! And when my daytime fun is over, and all the guests leave, I get to kick up the excitement a few more notches at the Poison/Motley Crue concert later tonight!

I may be one day away from Hell, but nothing is gonna stop me from enjoying the next 24 hours!

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