“Nah,” she replied.
“I’m amazed it fits him,” I added. “He’s got a big head for a kid.”
“Whose hat is it?” she asked, and I told her it’s mine.
“And why do you have a cowboy hat?” she wondered. After all, we live in New Jersey, where the only people who wear cowboy hats are generally passing through the state to somewhere else, like a theme park in Hershey, Pennsylvania, or a revival of Oklahoma! on Broadway.
“My brother gave it to me when I was in the hospital to go with the sheriff’s badge, which read ‘Jennifer,’ that my friend had given me,” I explained. “He figured it would complete the outfit for when I was bossing around doctors and nurses.”
The significance of my son wearing that particular hat for his D.A.R.E. program graduation, a de facto fifth grade graduation ceremony, was not lost on me. A few days after Chris entered his third-through-fifth grade elementary school, I underwent my last of six rounds of chemotherapy. Then I spent much of the fall in daily radiation treatments, before finding out in January that I was in remission from non Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
We’ve been dealing with the fallout ever since.
We dealt with it when Chris was in third grade, and we were waiting to find out if I would need a bone marrow transplant.
We dealt with it when Chris was in fourth grade, and we feared the cancer might come back.
We dealt with it when Chris was in fifth grade, and were –are – both still so angry that we had to go through what we’d been through.
Yesterday, when he was wearing my cowboy hat, he would dance to “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” and I would cry to Martina McBride’s “Do it Anyway.” I knew I would. I cried last year when my older son danced in his graduation and they played that Hannah Montana song about climbing mountains to a slide show with pictures of the kids. I was doing fine this year until I heard these lyrics:
God is great but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray
It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
On my way home, a friend called to tell me she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So, I did it anyway.
Then I visited a neighbor who is dying of cancer and was having a rough day. So, I did it anyway.
Then my kids came home from school, and I got lost in listening to their exciting plans to film a movie this summer with Mary’s kids. And I did it anyway.
Through the good, the bad and the downright frightening, I’ve been praying anyway, because somehow, we made it through the last three years, and somehow we’ll make it through the next three.
There will be rotten times, and there will be spectacular times, and there will be regular, every day times. And yet, I’ll do it anyway. Won’t you?