I thought maybe I was just anxious for those general reasons--like what if my alarm doesn't go off? What if I cannot find an essential item? What if we are late and Lily misses her race? But as I prepped all my stuff, a bottle of hand sanitizer rocketed me backwards to the days of 2007-2012. Those days, I would be packing my mom backpack for an early check-in at the hospital.
It's funny how are bodies and spirit remember things, while our minds foolishly try to protect us.
In 2007, Lily was in proton radiation therapy for 6 weeks. Every weekday, I'd pack my bag of the things we would need--diapers and post-sedation bottles and toys for the waiting room and books and notebooks for me. Then, we'd put Lily to bed and wake her up at 11:45pm to give her a bottle of Pediasure. Lily was so used to the unrest of being in a hospital that she'd take the bottle, accept the rub on her back and go right back to sleep, only to wake up early to head to M.D. Anderson for sedation and radiation. The Pedicure was to ensure she wasn't too hungry when she woke up; and to also make sure we kept her weight up and avoided a feeding tube. We were desperate for that one bit of normalcy.
Then after treatment there were so many early morning MRIs. The night before I'd pack a bag--books and a laptop for distracting me and toys for distracting Lily (and later Chloe). By the time Nick came around, Lily stopped needing sedation. No more early wake-ups, she could stroll in with a belly full of sushi and just lay right down for her 2+ hour study in that loud scary MRI machine.
I don't know how she does it.
I'd pack those hospital bags with such hesitation and avoidance, waiting until the last possible moments to get everything together. I'd stay up as late as I dared--avoiding the inevitable early wake-up for the treatment that I prayed would save my daughter without hurting her and the scans that would prove it all worked.
These are horrible, traumatic memories. But that is all they are. Lily is healthy. I don't pack bags anymore for early morning hospital check-ins.
The bag I packed tonight--it has a cowbell inside that Lily bought me so I could cheer for her. She's talked about that cowbell for three years and it is one of my most prized possessions. My bag has my South Jersey Rowing Club beanie hat and snacks for my nervous eating while I wait for her to row by. And of course, it has that hand sanitizer. This time, the hand sanitizer isn't because I am going to a hospital, but because I might have to use a port-a-potty on Kelly Drive.
My anxiety, well, it's been erased by writing this blog, gratitude for Lily's beautiful life and remembering that packing a bag for an early wake-up call is nothing more than packing a bag for an early wake-up call.