Monthly Archives: February 2024

764 Days

At the end of September I wrote about Gus and Maranna going back to India to face and tackle the cancer diagnoses that Gus had been given. As they boarded the plane, I sent them a text expressing how sad I was that they would no longer be a semi-short plane ride away. I included a prayer for the help and guidance to get through this next challenge and these words that came to me as I was feeling through all of the emotions:

As the distance between us increases, I will remind myself:
When my eyes cannot see you, my heart still will
When my ears cannot hear you, my mind still will
When my arms cannot reach you, my prayers still will

Typical of Gus, he was positive in attitude towards the treatment and prognosis. I tried sending a card each week with some of the artwork that I had pulled out of the kids doodling books and sheets from school, but after 9 weeks of sending cards and only one being received, I gave that up. I had updates from Yolekha, Lara and Adrian in a shared chat with them and conversations with Maranna and Gus from a separate shared chat, so while I didn’t feel out of the loop, I did wish that I could be there for support.

I knew in reality that they had all the support that was needed right there and had loads of people who would jump through hoops to do anything for them. One of the things that I had learned in becoming friends with the family, is that whenever possible, Gus and Maranna were changers of lives. There are countless stories of how they changed peoples lives: through personal interactions and giving of time, education or money: through the volunteer work in agencies they supported: through their daily lives of openness and kindness.

At the beginning of December – Midway through the progressively grueling first two months of chemo treatments, the doctors performed another pet scan to see the effectiveness of the chemical cocktails. The news was brutal: the chemo had done very little or nothing at all in stopping the cancer’s progression. The teams – medical and family – huddled back up and called upon a new strategy. Word was: if he responded to new treatment, he might get six or more months to live, otherwise it would likely be around three months. It was surreal and heartbreaking.

An example of Gus’s dedication to making this world a better place: the day that he was to be admitted into the hospital to start the new treatment, he paused to complete some work he had started for one of the foundations he was helping out. I think Henry David Thoreau would have said this quote about Gus:

Gus finished the project and went into the hospital and the bottom dropped out further. Every procedure they seemed to do caused a negative ripple effect. Gus was sent into ICU, would stabilize enough for hope that he would get to go home for the holidays, only to have another crisis arise sending him back to the ICU. By the end of December, everyone was just desperate to get Gus home to where he would be surrounded by the generations of love that might be the only miracle drug left at their disposal. They didn’t get him home for Christmas, but they did take him home just after the new year on 01/03/24. It was a blessing to all to have everyone together.

Gus lost his battle on 01/06/2024. Barely over three months from the initial diagnosis. 764 days after Ted died. Two years, One month and Three days. That is how long the universe took to rotate and bring back into full view the painful time of seeing a loved one go from healthy, to a battle that they were unable to win. The loss of Gus was different, yet so eerily similar that it cracked my heart back open anew. It stirred up all of the emotions and even had me feeling the remnants of emotions that each generation of the family was feeling. It brought back the ache and the feelings of missing. Missing the person. Missing the connection. Missing out of future memories.

Ted was not the traveler that I am. He wanted to know what his personal space and bathroom would be like before going anywhere and there were many places he would never consider going to. India was one of those places he had placed onto the list of not wanting to travel to. He had heard stories of India’s crowds and people sometimes not having the same issues of concern for a bathroom that he did, yet, when he met Gus and Maranna, he pledged that he was willing to put away those concerns to go to India to see them. Top to bottom, they are a family that we both loved right off the bat.

Many of us wrote something to put into a memory book about Gus. I may as well share mine.

“Gus’s journey in the past few months cracked open my heart to so many emotions. I would find myself crying at one side and then memories with him would flush through and have me smiling: remembrance of our first meeting and Gus handing Amara over to me so willingly for my first cuddles with her. Our visits both in Seattle and in our home in Colorado and him commandeering the kitchen wherever he was. Gus and Maranna both singing John Denver songs at the gift shop of Red Rocks Amphitheater. His first sledding experience in our yard – albeit a very short run built more for Amara- but his joyfulness and adventurous spirit emanating as he too sledded down the hill. The candid and honest conversations of life that we would have driving in the car or around the kitchen table. Gus’s curiosity in life and the continual willingness to grow and change with it always inspired me to emulate.
It was evident to me that Gus had an impact on this world which was vast and deep and with the kindness and love that we can all only strive to mirror. I am so thankful that I have gotten to know him so that I have my own stories to share of the legendary life he had. I am incredibly grateful for his sharing of himself and his family with me.
I lack further words to express all that is in my heart, but you can count me as just one more person in his life who loved him.”

Recently, Maranna shared with me a letter she wrote to Gus as she deals with her grief. With her permission, I will also share with you as it is a prayerful poem that touches upon what many of us feel as we lose a spouse.

“My Love,
Enjoy being in that land of freedom and song…
I struggle without you as I travel on.
In this overpowering void I know you’re there..
In my heart, mind, soul..almost everywhere!
In dreams you hold me and whisper near,
To remind,prompt,assure,p’raps wipe a tear;
And Life sweeps up and presses on…
Disguised in Smile and Bustle, the ache’s long drawn.
Tears moisten the eyes but drop from the nose..
A weariness travels through, right down to my toes.
A dry sob camouflaged emerges a sneeze…
I resist being the wet blanket
In surrounding sunshine and breeze.
Even as a warm blanket of love,care and thoughtfulness spreads,
I’m grateful and lucky…..makes my path easier to tread.
Rest easy my Gus..I love you.❤️”

In loving memory Augustus (Gus) Mallier

Sally

December 2023

December began and was frequently filled with many holiday gatherings. Friends, neighbors, family, framily, it seemed like every spare space had a gathering to it.

Part of those gatherings were in Ohio. I went to help my sister prepare and have a baby shower for my nephew and his wife who were expecting their first offspring. Also on the agenda, was a retirement party for my sister in law. Unfortunately, my sister in law and brother were sick and so that party was cancelled. I had a great time visiting several friends and spending more time with my sis since we avoided the farm this time due to whatever crud they were dealing with. We even had a last minute visit over in Pennsylvania with my Aunt and cousin. Luckily they knew the owners of the cafe we ate in, as otherwise we might have been kicked out for the level of laughter we generated in our getting caught up on each others lives.

I arrived back home in Colorado and my nephew Ian followed me out the next day so that we could all go ski/snow boarding together. Galen, Devin, Ian, Molly and I met up at Arapahoe Basin once again and had a super fun day playing on the slopes. This was the first time I had skied with both of my boys in decades, so it was really nice to be up there all together.

Not just settling for skiing, there were hikes, walks and parties every night as everyone wanted to spend some time with Ian.

I finished off December with a low key Christmas, some beautiful snowy hikes in the woods below us and a meet up with my friends.

Fun fact: In the last photo are the two reasons that this blog was ever started in the first place. Anita – to my right = was Wilma in the earliest blogs. She is my friend who had moved to Australia and was doing a mud obstacle race. Jane – to my left – was the team captain of our obstacle team. Lucky for me, Anita moved back to Evergreen, and Jane was here visiting over the holidays. It was another good night of fun.

2023 was an intimate year with so many extra special times for connection, reflection, joy and heartache. But then, that is life, isn’t it.

Love,

Sally

November 2023

November began with a great visit from one of my sets of Albuquerque peeps. Erin and Kenny came up for the Queen concert and their daughter Lena and I got to hang out alone for that evening, but really spent a few great days doing puzzles, playing Uno and crazy 8’s (Uno was definitely the game choice for elementary kids in my life and between Amara and Lena, I played more Uno in 2023 than in all of my other years combined). We colored together, made cookies, and did some bird watching too. So fun. Oh, and I got some awesome time in with her parents as well. They crack me up tremendously and are a riot to be around. I was so glad to have them here.

My North Carolina Peeps came in next and although they stayed with family in town and not with me, we did get to spend some time together and get in an early season ski day at Arapahoe Basin Ski area. It had been several years – maybe decades? – since I had skied there and I had forgotten just how gorgeous and special it is. Super fun ski pals.

Sometime mid month, I came home one day to Birdie (the 15 year old cat we had inherited when our previous neighbor Barbara passed away) laying on the floor under a chair.

This was odd as this cat never slept on the floor. He prefers a chair, or lap if someone is around, and will crawl up under a comforter on a bed if he just wants to be alone, so to come home to find him on the floor was alarming. I bent down to pet him and he was breathing fine but did not move. Thinking he might feel stuck under the chair, I moved that away from him and still no movement. I lifted him up and carried him to the sofa to sit with me for a bit and realized he still was not moving and would not or could not even lift his head. I messaged Devin at work (the cat is very attached to Devin and stays with him every night and when he is home – otherwise he will find me). The dog had recently had an episode of temporary partial paralysis and recovered after a few hours, so I was hoping this might be the case here as well – albeit a near total paralysis for Birdie. When Devin got home, we decided that taking Birdie to the vet was likely only going to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in tests and MRI’s or X-rays and at 16 (been a year since we inherited), they would likely then just charge even more to put our kitty to sleep. We cried and held the poor feline and prayed that he could somehow regain his strength and mobility. He did not seem to be in pain and would still eat if we held his head up in order to do so. We kept protective coverings under him wherever he was placed and decided to give him time and see if he would begin to recover on his own or not. It was as if we were now running a convalescent 24 hour care center. I was lucky that I was home and was available to take on the care when Devin was at work. I cannot tell you how heart breaking this was for both Dev and I. It was quickly apparent that this cat had become our grief therapy pet, and the thought of loosing it was more that either of us could manage. Tears flowed often from the both of us as we knew that even though after a week with small measures of regaining the tiniest bits of movement, that this was not sustainable and not a way for Birdie to live. He did start to let us know when he was uncomfortable and so he would use the litter box if someone held him up in order to do so, but this too was not sustainable. He was beginning to move his head and his legs would twitch, so we felt that there was function possibility, but how long could we go on with carrying him everywhere and doing everything for him? We finally set a date for when we would say goodbye and set out to love on the guy as much as possible for the last few days. I think we were feeling not just this immediate grief, but it brought in all of our losses and heaped them into this one situation that just ripped our hearts out in a new and different way. It was as if we had been transferring all of our grief into this purr puff over the past year or so and now that we were tasked with saying goodbye to him, we were going to be required to take that grief back and carry it ourselves once more. You just don’t know how much you’ve onloaded onto someone or something else until you see that the load might again be yours. (yes, it could also be an opportunity to release all the grief and let it go along with the cat, but it was hard to see that at the time)

The morning of the date set for euthanizing, Devin brought Birdie over to me to show me how he now was holding his head a bit better and the sparkle was back in Birdies eyes. Well, it was only our time and we giving in this rehab trial, so we decided to give it another few days to see if it was a trend or if this was as good as he could get. The days turned into weeks and over that span, he seemed to get a bit stronger every day. He soon could stand in the litter box as long as someone supported his wobbling side to side. He then progressed to tying to walk, but his head was just off of the floor as he made his attempts and he could easily just summersault over and not get up. This trajectory of recuperation maintained it’s steady rise to where he is now. He plateaued to where his front legs are fully functional and his back legs work as a waddle, but he doesn’t bend them to be able to jump. He still gets up onto Devin’s bed much like an ice climber would a frozen water falls. Unfortunately, he either has to wait for someone to get him back down, or he does his own version of a dead man’s fall onto padding we have on the floor for him. He waddles all through the house and can manage the two steps up into the kitchen addition just fine now. We feel like he’s had a pretty miraculous recovery.

We spent Thanksgiving with our peeps eating a delicious bacon wrapped turkey, playing games and feeling so very grateful. So Yummy, so fun, so lucky to have so many great folks in our lives.

Love

Sally

October 2023 part 3

San Francisco was a delight. I was staying inside Presidio Park- Lara’s apt.-, walking distance to many great spots -so many that I just didn’t have the time to explore all of them. I walked over to great friends of Yols and A that I have also gotten to be friends with. They live where there are so many beautiful old houses that you see in pics of the city. After a beautiful and delicious home-cooked meal, Lara (who had joined us a bit later) and I took a driverless Uber home to her place. Buckled into the backseat with no one in the front driving was a bit of a surreal experience. One day, I did a little walking venture and went to the tunnel tops – a spot with beautiful gardens that also gives great views of the bridge (when Karl the fog is not around), views of Alcatraz and you could see my next destination – The Palace of Fine Arts. It was all beautiful. Later in the evening, Lara took me to Golden Gate Park to see their Dahlia gardens among the other beautiful fauna. A short but great stay in SF.

Lara kept the items packed up for future use for when her parents were to come for visits and I took the now emptier car and headed east. My thoughts were to keep checking out National Parks as they presented along the way with the first stop being Yosemite. Their site relayed the information that no campsites were available, but I’ve been to too many parks where nothing is shown, but with last minute cancellations, or sites held and released, there is usually something that can be had. I was wrong. There were several campgrounds already closed and the ones that were open, were full and the sites were “ass to elbow” close in proximity to one another. I did get to see most of the major features and views as I was able to easily drive all around the park despite the lack of campsites. It was gorgeous from all of the avenues leading into and out of the park.

Having no cell service inside the park, I was unsure where I might be staying for the night. I decided not to lollygag too much inside the haven of granite, which is the park, to give myself some time and daylight and see if I could find a safe spot to park on the outskirts. I emerged on the east side of the park on 102 and into cell service and a plethora of messages. Stopping for a few minutes to digest the new messages, I decided I should forgo further park-hopping and just make my way home. It was made clear that I was being missed and I should head back. I had about a 1/3 tank of gas and the price at the town on the east exit was over $7.50 per gallon, so I declined to head that direction and instead jogged down the highway to where 102 took off east once more as a three-season road not open in winter months. There was a tiny town of Benton on the other end of the road which Google said had a gas station, so I decided on that route. As I got onto the new section of 102 I became aware of why it was not open in the winter. There was no one along this road for them to need to plow it in winter. I saw not one power pole, housing, or even barn structure along the miles and miles of road. Again away from any cell service, I said a little prayer that nothing should break down or happen while on this stretch as I wasn’t sure when anyone would find me. I made it to Benton only to find out that the gas station was closed. I don’t know if they only have daylight hours or what, but closed they were. The map showed a dot on the map of an even smaller town up the road and then about 80 miles away was a bigger town of Tonopah. At this juncture, I decided that it might make good sense to let someone know where I was in case something unexpected happened. The mileage gauge said that I should make it to Tonopah if worse came to worse and I had to trust that it was correct. I called and left messages with both sons before I again lost cellular service. The dot representing Coaldale on the map turned out to be an intersection with an abandoned building and nothing more. In one section of the road with service, I googled where the next rest area was. There was one called Millers rest area just ten miles or so before Tonopah that also allowed camping for the night, so I headed to that. I don’t mind sleeping at a rest area as they are generally full of truckers and I feel that most are good people and will watch over me if needed. I was none too happy driving into Millers rest area to find a sign saying no truckers allowed. A chain link fence surrounded the area of the dilapidated but working restrooms. Galen called just then and I asked him to google the next two rest areas that I would encounter should I decide to bypass this one for being on the sketchy side of my low standards. He looked them up and said that they were worse than the one I was at as they were just pull-offs in a field without even a bathroom. Being the only car in the place, I moved away from the bathroom building and under a security light toward the entrance. I figured anyone coming in would have to pass me and I would be left to be by myself and could keep an eye on any activity around the bathrooms if there was any. I slept somewhat fitfully for the first few hours waking up each time someone drove in. This only happened twice in that timeframe and each time, the folks stayed in their vehicle for a few minutes before getting out. In my mind, they were sizing up the safety of the place just as I had done. I had bear spray in the car and kept the keys with the alarm button at ready should I need it, but the place was kind of creeping me out. I decided that maybe I should just check to see about a hotel instead of car camping where I was weirding out a bit. A quick search brought up the Clown Motel – billed as the scariest Motel in the USA. It was adjacent to an old cemetery. I like cemeteries, but the idea of the clown motel creepiness was enough to convince me that I was just fine where I was. I then fell back asleep and slept soundly until around 5 am when a white van pulled into a spot a bit too close for my comfort and I was certain it was time to get to town, get gas, and be on my way once more.

The big lesson for travelling between California and Colorado for me was that you should always get gas when you see a station as there is more uninhabited space in this section of the U.S. than you realize.

I made it through Nevada and Utah and home to Colorado without any other major events but with lovely scenery.

The day after I got home, I broke my pinky toe. Nothing to be done about that, so guess I’d just take it easy for a bit.

I went to an orthopedic Dr to get my knee checked out before ski season since it still hurts from time to time – he was not interested in looking at my toe. The joints on the knees look good, so just need to strengthen the muscles around the knee.

We got our first good snowstorm and it was warm enough the next day for me to meet Mollie at Golden Mills for an outdoor beer to share how our trips back from the Pacific Northwest had gone.

Fun fact. The Golden mill is just recently an up coming food and beer hall. It originally was a mill and feed store and is the first place that I ever purchased chicks for starting my own coop.

And that my friends is finally the end of October.

Sally

October 2023 part 2

My return trip home driving their Honda instead of taking the plane trip back was still up in the air when I left Seattle. All I really knew for sure when I took off from Seattle was that I was heading to the Oregon coast to Cannon Beach. In the past week or so, Mollie (one of Ted’s ICU nurses) had texted me that she had purchased her desired car -4 Runner – from a dealership in Portland, Or and was flying out and picking it up the day I was leaving. Being too coincidental to be so close in proximity, we knew we needed to meet up. In our texts of possible options and directions to head after meeting up, we settled upon meeting at Cannon Beach.

I drove south on I5 and crossed the Columbia River where there was the largest logging port yard I had ever layed eyes on. I wondered where all of the logs could have even come from. That question was answered as I ended following a different road than previously intended and going through major logging areas instead of following the river as I had thought I would do. I was not upset about the mistep in directions as the foresting, deforesting and afforesting was fascinating. I made it to the coast and since I was ahead of Mollie, I first went up to Seaside and checked out their beaches first.

Mollie arrived shortly after I had traversed down to Cannon Beach and we spent the next several hours walking the beach and catching up on what had been happening with both of us since we had last seen one another. We then walked to a nearby brewery where we enjoyed their fares as well as a few more hours of chit chat. She relayed her timetable for needing to get back to Denver, and I divulged the overwhelming feeling that now that I had made it to the Oregon coast, I absolutely wanted to drive the length of it and would go all the way to San Francisco before heading home. We decided we would look for a spot to camp in our respective cars for the night and part ways in the morning. She called an RV park that was nearby and said she had spoken to the guy and he had spots for us. My Seattle peeps were wanting to know where I was and what was decided. We exchanged the following text.

We headed back to the beach for the sunset and there on the beach was something I would never have guessed we would see there. It was a herd of elk on the beach. Besides, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, I had not seen elk in any other spot, let alone on the sand at a beach!

We then headed to the RV park where we parked along their entrance road – by the river and next a picnic table – and headed off to find the man named Peggy – in the third RV to the left. It was a wooded area to one side and the river to the other and a dark night, so there were stories brewing between us about what we would find at Peggy’s trailer. Turns out that Peggy was not a pudgy old man chewing tobacco and sitting on his porch with torn cut off sweats and his one legged dog, but a kindly older woman who had maybe smoked enough Marlboro’s back in her day to fill up enough Marlboro rewards books to furnish her RV and giver her the raspy voice of a retired cowboy. We signed in, got the pass code to obtain entrance to the bathroom and showers and I knew we were in the right spot. The 4 digit code to get in was one that Ted always used. It figured correctly that he would be watching and laughing at us on this current adventure.

The next morning, I got up to a beautiful sunrise and started the pot for either Turkish coffee or tea. According to Devin and one of the gals he works with who makes her coffee this way, turkish coffee is when you put the grounds into the cup/mug/yeti and then add the boiling water. When the coffee grounds sink to the bottom of the vessel, the coffee is ready. I will attest to the accuracy of the method. As long as you don’t swoosh things around, you get a good cup of coffee and no grounds in your mouth – until the very end if you are not careful. I had the coffee, Mols had tea and we hugged hard as we said our goodbyes as we drove off with her heading east as I ventured south.

I rejoined the 101 coastal highway and jumped off whenever the fancy struck me. I was in love with the Oregon coast. The ruggedness of much of the shorelines, the huge rocks jutting out through waves close and far from shore, the power of the waves. It all made me wonder how any ship had once landed safely upon these shores. I stopped at an overlook just past a town that heavily advertised it’s whale watching adventures. I was thankful that I had remembered to pack my binoculars for the trip and pulled them out now to see if I could locate any of the huge beasts. I could see a few of the charted boats cruising around looking for whales, but no one was excitedly pointing and they seemed to be just scouting around. I began to wonder if I would even recognize a whale from my cliff side perch. Just after having the thought, two large masses rose out of the ocean. I could see them even without the binoculars, so, it was fantastic with them. I soon learned to scan for the blowing of air that was proceeding each rise through the waves. I kinda felt sorry for the paid customers on the boats, as the whales were never quite where they were and here I was enjoying them all without spending a dime. I am a lucky gal. Not one or two stops away from the whales, I pulled over at a turn off and was thrilled to see sea lions playing in the surf. Then, I noticed the brown rocks below me were not just rocks, there were hundreds of Sea Lions hanging out and resting on the rocks. Soon after, I passed where you could take an elevator down to where Sea Lions hang out, but again, I was feeling like my free tour likely showed more that could be stashed away in the caves. I stopped at many spots such as Thors Well and a lighthouse view and others I cannot even recall names of on my way to the Redwood National Park which was my destination for the night. I was burning daylight and hoping to get to a camp spot at the lower end of the park before dark, so while I very much enjoyed the drive, I did not stop much in the park until the campground. My camp spot was just a few hundred feet from the cliffs edge and path down to the beach. A beautiful spot, even if it was starting to rain.

I awoke to a beautiful morning, made my coffee and took a walk along the beach. I had it much to myself until surfers began to arrive to catch the morning waves. I had hit the Redwood National Park at dusk, and dawn had not long passed when I left, but light was not needed to feel the majesty of the place. I set out next for the Avenue of the Giants. There were large trees in the Redwood National Park, but the trees set before me as I drove into this scenic byway were even more massive. I’ve been through Europe and checked out every cathedral I came across and while so many of those were far above anything I could imagine, these trees with the sun shining through their canopy that brought to mind those stained glass windows, were more holy and breathtaking than any of those structures. I was loving the decision to go down the coast. Between the redwoods and San Fran, I got to enjoy some pretty spectacular wine country. The skies were clear all day and I was looking forward to seeing San Francisco, but true to it’s reputation, the golden gate bridge was blanketed in fog even while all around it was clear.

This post is getting a bit long, so I guess I’ll try to finish up on a part 3.

Sally

October 2023 part 1

October was a weave of so many unexpected threads.

I neglected to explain in September’s post how shocking it was to have any negative health news about Gus to begin with. He had always been a healthy, athletic, vibrant, soulful individual, so to have anything slow him down by any degree was dismaying. Since getting back to their own team of doctors and new oncologists, it was determined that they would begin with chemo for 8 sessions -checking for changes around half way mark- and then likely do surgery and then evaluate the situation once more after the completion of the rounds. Chemo was an overnight admittance to the hospital for the administration of the drugs and this pattern would commence every other week.

Meanwhile, we soldiered on with the kids activities, playing Uno with Amara all throughout each day – as it was her new obsession. Her strategy and card awareness increased by leaps and bounds over the next weeks of playing – that occurred during any pause in other activities. There was also trips to the playgrounds to swing, practice the monkey bars – something Amara also excels at, slide and just release the kind of energy that all kids store up to be released in fun ways.

The first week without Nana, Baba and Mom felt delicate as we were also suddenly dealing with additional life and death events. We received news that one of Lara’s housemate’s and dear friends younger brother had just died from a motorcycle accident. The tenuous structure of life as we were also packing and dealing with the ever changes in existence was an elixir that left us unsteady at times. I will say that the energy in the house, while sometimes fragile, was also strong with the support and reliance that Adrian, Lara and I were developing and drawing upon. It was a very intimate time of being a part of this group and in working through all that was a part of each day. We had all started this with a great bond, but the intricate weave of all that we were navigating through was a beautiful web stronger than could be measured.

Then, as if we weren’t having enough to steer through, Galen called to say he was going to see a Dr. about a lump he had on his leg. This was on a Friday and his report after the appointment was not alarming, so he was just to await the report from his consultation. On the following Monday, he called me while I was out running errands and told me he had received his report and that he had lymphoma! My head began to spin at the implications. He said that they wanted a follow up procedure, but didn’t know when it would be scheduled yet. I questioned if there had been a biopsy? What exactly had they done at the appointment? What the heck? I also told him to pressure them for the next follow up appointment as this cannot be taken lightly. He said I need not come immediately home since they did not yet know more. We spoke for a while and I then relayed that I needed to get back to their house and needed a moment to process this new information. He said he understood the need as he had been processing it for around three hours prior to calling me. I told him to send the report to me and I would call him once back at the house. I was incredulous at the amount of really hard crap we were all dealing with. While driving back to their place, I contemplated if I could even tell everyone this new bit of awful news.

I stopped the car nearby the house and pulled up the email that Galen had texted to confirm he had sent. Taking in some deep breaths, I read the medical terms and analysis. Shaking my head with incredulity, I began to process the information under a new lens. My son was not suffering from a cancer of his lymph system, he was instead sporting a fatty lump beneath his skin and apparently, a deficiency in reading comprehension. I immediately texted him to re-read the info and gave him a link to what a “lipoma” is so that he could stop going down the road of terrible news. Lymphoma, Lipoma – close? Not really. When I later told Devin this story, (to which he thought was hilarious), his response was, “it’s the extra letters that will kill you”. Easy to laugh about it later. To finish this thread, he did have an ultrasound to confirm the lipoma diagnosis and was told it will likely go away on it’s own.

Yol’s decided to stay a bit longer in India to be there for the first chemo and make sure all of the help that they had set up was working out as desired. Back on our end, one of her oldest friends from childhood who resides with her hubby and two kids in Chicago, had planned to come out to see them all before the move to Korea. She was bringing the family with her and had been warned that by the time they arrived, there would be very little furniture left as the movers would already have come and taken away most of the household. Luckily for the rest of us, they had been able to push the movers out a week, so that most of our time there was still in a well stocked and furnished home -albeit a bit disheveled from all the sorting. Malika and family were not as lucky as us.

I had wondered about the wisdom of Malika and family still coming with all that was happening, but in the end, it was really nice for all of us. Yes, there was some sleeping on the floors, but I for one, got the chance to hear stories of childhood in India that I had not heard prior and while I have gotten to know many of their friends over the years, it was really good to go deeper into the well of friends and get another sip of the long history. We hung out in a cavernous house, where it actually gave the kids tons of room to just run and do anything. We also went to the beach and shared in good times together.

Lara flew back to San Francisco to complete necessary tasks and work out the logistics with her job for her to get to India as quickly as possible. The plan between the girls was that they would do all that they could to make sure one of them was in India for support as much as possible. As Lara was no longer going to be in San Fran as much for the foreseeable future, I floated the idea that I should just take the extra car to Colorado until it was needed for longer term in California. Everyone agreed that the idea made sense, and now it was just a matter of deciding if I would still take it first to SF to unload the boxes that had been set aside as belongings to be available for future visits or just take the car and contents to CO.

I had purchased a cold weather sleeping bag and a single burner stove figuring that any route I chose to take home would likely be a multi-day excursion and I could simply camp in the car no matter the route taken.

Yols returned to a near empty house, a list of last minute duties to be completed before they left the country and children overjoyed to have their Mom back in their space. I packed up the items to be stored either in the car or in SF and my things and left the following morning.

Read about the next part of the journey in part 2.

Sally