Every day, as I drove by the Christmas tree farm, I wished for the same thing: “Please let me be here long enough to cut down one of those trees with my kids.” Maybe I was overreaching. I mean, the trees were just babies, row after row of little Charlie Brown saplings that would take years to grow tall enough to tickle the 12-foot ceiling of our new family room. I was, after all, driving to radiation treatment for cancer.
While other parents lamented that their kids had outgrown Santa, I was relieved. Every milestone put me closer to seeing my kids all grown-up, watching them pack their soccer balls and art supplies into their hand-me-down cars to head back to college for another semester. As our children raced toward middle school, other parents dreamed of Christmas Past. But I dreamed of Christmas Future.
So when Elizabeth Edwards died the other day, I felt a pang in my stomach as though someone I knew had passed away, someone I’d shared stories about colic and kindergarten readiness and travel soccer with over chips and dip at the local mother’s group meeting.
One of us had lost the race.
Other parents talk about freezing time or returning to when their kids ran to them when they got home, all butterfly kisses and hugs. Or they complain about sullen teens who do not much more than eat, sleep and grow out of yet another pair of pants.
But I couldn’t have been happier buying my son his first pair of size 16 jeans the other day, the day Elizabeth Edwards died. He’d outgrown his 12’s just this summer and now his 14’s. He’s grown four inches since last spring, and his hands are bigger than mine. His face is longer, his nose bigger, and peach fuzz is growing over his lip.
Good, I think. He’s growing up. Good.
I have been driving by the Christmas tree farm again, once a week, for treatments related to post-cancer issues — issues that I don’t dare complain about now three years into remission. Now, with a dear friend, a brain tumor survivor and mother of two, in the ICU after her second seizure in a month.
The trees are a little taller, less Charlie Brown and more table-top size, like something you’d find adorned with a single strand of white lights by the hostess station at a nice restaurant. But it’ll still be years until they’re big enough to cut down and bring to our house.
So I wish the same thing: Please let me be here. Please let me be here long after my son has outgrown his size 16’s. Please let there be a Christmas Future with a tree from that Christmas farm scraping the ceiling of our living room.