My mom and I were supposed to go away together to a spa at the Jersey Shore in June of 2007, but I wound up with a bed overlooking the East River — at New York Hospital. Cancer got in the way of our trip, but now, we’re making up for it. Just the two of us, mother and daughter, on a the vacation we should have had nearly four years ago.
There’s reason to celebrate: I had a clear PET scan yesterday and now, my oncologist is setting me free from scans. I’m still under watch, mostly with blood tests, but I no longer have to go through the hold-your-breath and jump-when-the-phone rings anymore. I’m in a rush to get out, so I thought I’d re-run this piece from 2008, written after I found out I was in remission:
“Go take a shower!” my husband shouted at our 10-year-old, Nicholas.
“I have to practice the saxophone first,” Nick explained before blowing “Ode to Joy” for all of us to hear.
“Nick, get in the shower!” my husband demanded after our son had put away his saxophone.
“I gotta practice the piano,” he replied before playing “Ode to Joy,” even though that’s not what his piano teacher had told him to practice.
“Nick! Shower!” my husband ordered.
Finally, our firstborn finally went into the bathroom and shut the door. Soon, I heard clicking. CLICK-CLICK-CLICKCLICK-CLICKCLICK CLICK…
“He’s playing ‘Ode to Joy’ on the bathroom light switch,” I explained to my husband through giggles.
“Sax, piano, light switch,” my husband agreed. “Next, shower head.”
My family members have been exhibiting their relief and joy at the news of my remission in many different ways. My normally reticent father called everyone he could think of to spread the good news. My normally social mother hid for a few days to let it sink in before telling her network of friends. My brother ordered us some champagne at lunch last week, and my husband started joking around again. My younger son smiles more now, and my older son, well, he plays “Ode to Joy” anywhere he can.
It’s been said that when one person has cancer, it’s like the whole family has it, too. I guess that means I’m not the only one in remission around here.
My family is experiencing their own relief—relief that sometimes plays out in song. For me, watching the weight of cancer lift from their shoulders these past few weeks has been nothing short of joyous. And my son’s “Ode to Joy” is truly music to my ears, no matter where he plays it.