Lucky number 7

 Center of Space Diagnostics, our training facility, is located slightly outside of the city center. Surrounded by forest on one side and small houses on the other. In front of the main entrance, you can see nice helipad, where from time to time special case cadets are being flown to, as there is a last minute vacancy on the shuttle and they need to run some quick checks to determine whether he can qualify for the flight to heaven. Next to the main entrance there is a big parking lot, filled with cars from early morning to the afternoon. When you enter the main entrance you can see people walking from place to place, parents lost and looking for the way, people working here, visiting, or just wandering as they are trying to forget that they need to be here. CSD has 11 floors, where dependable on the cadets profile,one is being examine if he or she has the right predispositions to be part of the flying crew. There are floors where you come for a day or two and they let you go, saying that you are not the right fit, or floors where you spend weeks, months or even years. The facility has many corridors, where even corporals who work here for couple of years, still get lost, a canteen and a small chapel. In short, all what you need and all that you would want from a place like this.

 It takes me more less half an hour drive from our home to the CSD. Taking a bit more time in the morning, when there is heavy traffic, and slightly less at night, where roads are empty. Once I arrive in the morning, I need to let one or two elevators go, before I will be able to squeeze myself in, this get really difficult when we are moving in or going for a short break home, as we also have bags and camp-bed with us. Luckily it’s getting less and less people at night, when I am leaving the CSD, which gives me a little breath of air, not to say fresh but at least I don’t need to stare at peoples’ eye pretending that I am fine. Nevertheless each time I enter the elevator in the morning, where visitors or other parents are also trying to push their way in and I press number seven on the dashboard, suddenly from those, who I can sense are staying longer, I start to get this look of sympathy. They know well what cadets are trained on that floor. I sometimes smile back at them and say sarcastically. ” Lucky number seven.”

  Our floor, similar to others, has two main corridors going parallel to each other. One third of the way, once you pass captains rooms, we have command center where all the corporals are siting. This is 4 feet desk, which most parents see, as first thing, when they come here with their child. This is the place where you get your key to the locker and they assign your child to the room he will be staying in. This is the place when you come running when something bad happens to your child, as often corporals are the first to help you and right after them, when situation in most cases is already under control, you can see your captain charging in.

 Behind the command center desk there are rooms going from right to left, where you can see from 3 to 4 cadets laying in their beds and alongside those beds, their parents, who day and night are looking after them. At the end of those corridors you have shared kitchen and day room. A place where you and your child have an imitation of normal life. Place where there are some toys to play with and from time to time comes small road theater to perform, so for a second they will forget what they are going through.

 I try to come early in the morning, right after the rush hours, to be as close to my family as possible, and leave late night. Mostly when I go back home, lights are already dimmed, and in most of the rooms cadets are already sleeping. I always hope that they are being in better place, where there is less pain and suffering and smile is back on their faces all the time. I like those moments of peace, as sometimes I can see that this horrible place is gaining some magic. Those corridors, so crowded and noisy during the day, at night start to breathe their own air. I like to leave at night as those are the moments when I sense presence of Angels walking on those corridors and making sure that this night will not be one of those night when somebody unexpectedly flies to heaven.

 Lucky number 7, who was that bastard, with such a sarcastic mind, to put those kind of kids on that floor.

Plan

 If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. In most cases when we planned holidays, night out or sometimes even small, at the last moment something went wrong. In times when we left things to run its own course and just swam with the current, slightly adjusting to our needs, it went smoothly. Luckily this rule was still applicable for us in our current situation.

 After week of tests, where some of them we would not wish to our enemies, as you really need to bite hard on your lips not to shade a tear in front of your 2 years old Son, we finally met with our leading Captain to discuss the plan.

 “Please sit down, as what I am about to say may be too overwhelming for you. Based on all conducted tests, we received results confirming the initial theory, that he is highly qualified for the flight to heaven. His current state, 12 cm tumor and metastases found in bone marrow, many bones, lymph nodes and chest, gives him high success rate of 70%. This gives us good chance, that after completing the whole training, you will be proud and happy parents whose first born child flew to heaven.” We sat in front of her, with Szymon laying half-conscious on the bed, hoping that she will stop in the middle and say that she came to apologize but she mixed up the papers and this is not the right cadet she is talking about. Reality was different. Reality was like a bubble that just burst telling you that your fun time, happy parenthood is over. This plan was solid, build for success, and we were about to hear all its details. “Due to that high score your Son achieved, he has been classified for a European space program which consist of 5 stages. After each of those 5 stages we will run more tests to determine if anything changed in his current performance and reassess his participation in the program.

First stage: Code name Rapid Cojec. In this stage, which lasts for three months, we will build proper muscles. Get him in shape by providing with 8 rounds of special drugs, chemo, which will strengthen him, bring back proper appetite, minimize any vomiting caused by motion sickness, so that at the end of this stage he will be much stronger, faster and in better shape than ever. As in all of the stages, there is a chance he will be already flying to heaven without the need of participating in the rest of the training, but this is not likely to happen yet. In the unluckily event, of him not qualifying for the flight, we will begin the second stage.

Second stage: Code name-Surgery. Main purpose of this training is to make sure he has proper body mass to fit the space suite. As there is a facility that specializes in that type of training and it is located south west of here you will need to travel. Further details will be given later on, as it is classified. What I can say at this point is that, we will be cutting out all of the unnecessary organs to make sure that at the end of this training his body weight is just right for the suit. Same as in previous stage there is a chance that he might be trained enough after this course to fly to heaven but still it is unlikely event.

Third stage: Code name Isolation. To adopt to conditions, that he will face during the flight, in this training course you will be locked out for almost 2 month, without the access to outside world, and during that time your Son’s bone marrow will be cleaned. We will be wiping the old one and inserting a new, better one. This will ensure that none of the currently existing viruses and bacteria, that are present in his body, will travel with him into space. There are very special conditions in which you will spend those two months in but same as with other stages details will be provided in later timing.

Forth stage: Code name-Radiation. Although this is the shortest stage, as it only last 3 weeks, it will consist of training for the radioactive environment your son will encounter in space. We will teach him how to operate in tough conditions, to ensure that he will not lose it course, in case of encountering high radioactive space waves on the way to heaven.

Fifth stage: Code name-Mutant. Last stage will be the longest, as in this stage, we will be inserting human and mouse antibodies to his organism to enhance his performance.

 I know there is much information to digest at once therefore I propose to stop for now. If you have any questions I am happy to address them.” When she finished explaining the plan to us, on the piece of paper where she  was drawing it, she created a nice pentagram with five stages at the end of each wing and Szymon right in the middle. We felt that there are things that she is not telling us. Nevertheless we did not had any choice but to trust her, that whatever she is planning is good for him.” As you may suspect due to high confidentiality all the details will be shared with you at the beginning of each stage. Uniqueness of your son forces us to initiate first stage as soon as possible therefore I will leave you for now to slowly digest the plan but will come back later in the day to start the training.”

 When I look back at this moment, fear was the only feeling I had in me. Fear, that I have not much time to love him. Not much time to play and laugh with him and that in all there is nothing good ahead of us. Luckily as always even solid plans did not hold when you showed them to God.

New home new life

 When you think of new home in most cases you associate this with positive emotions. Change that you anticipated, as either dream came true or at least this is a relief from current worries. You think of how you will decorate it. What paint to put on the walls and how your life will be better in your new house. It’s not very often when you think of new place to live you fight off the idea as it would be just a beginning of nightmare that you wish quickly to wake up from…

 “My name is Captain Alexandra, I will be leading you through the training program. In the coming days we will be conducting some more tests, some will be easy and some painful nevertheless main purpose of those tests are to establish the best training course for your Son. In case of any questions feel free to ask me as I am available for you all time. I will leave you for now to get use to this idea that from now on this will be your new home. Please do not expect to leave our premises soon as your Son is very special and we need to monitor closely his progress.”  She was young and trying to keep her face serious but deep insight her eyes for some strange reason you could feel compassion.  A feeling you will not see often as people are more to avoid suffering in their life. And keep distant from situations that will remind them that life is not always full of smiles. A feeling that you will more often see in the eyes of those who you would never expected to see and not in those who you though are close to you. Once she left we looked at each other still not fully believed that this is happening to us. On one hand we felt that this is something very dramatic, horrible that we are facing but on the other our mind was telling us not to worry, this will be quickly over and you will be back to your old, boring lives. This strange phenomena was long with us and till this day from time to time we still hope that it is just a bad dream and we will wake up soon from it.

 After couple of minutes one of the corporals walked into our room and explained all the logistics. That we need to rent or buy a bed on which one of the parents will be sleeping at night. Where is shared kitchen, bathroom and shower, to which each night there is a queue of mothers waiting for her turn to have her 10 minutes of peace. Those ten minutes where you can cry, scream, do all you need to do in order to release some of that sadness from you. Sadness you don’t want your child to see as he is suffering enough and you don’t want to add more to him. When to expect food for your children, food that you would not give to your dog as it is too awful to eat. And all the other things you need to know in order to survive.

 Our initial impression was that those corporals treat you like an intruder, person not really welcomed, who is just disturbing them in their daily work. Impression that was one of most misleading ones. Later we saw that those serving marines were the ones that help us on the way. Mostly correcting some decisions made by higher ranked soldiers and providing you with energy that is essential in the battle against the successful finish of the program. But mostly helped in keeping your child still in your arms and not allowing to deport to heaven earlier than planned.

 The irony of your new home is that place that you hated at the beginning you start to miss when you change the locations as this is your rock, your sanctuary. Place, which after couple of months, you know so well that you started to feel safe there and would not like to leave to any other.

Night that I wish never happened

 You always want your kid to be special. To stand out from the crowd. Be smarter than his peers, faster, stronger or if this would not be a case you at least slightly above the average. You hope that someday he will became someone people will look up to.  I am not saying to be a president, but more somebody you will be proud of and not pretend that you don’t know what he is up to when asked by your friends or family.

 You hope he will be special in the good way, have a huge heart that helps those who are in need. And on the path of his maturity you are trying to push away all the bad thought of things that can potentially happen to him. As all you wish for him to have a good, long lasting life. Deep inside you know that you can not avoid suffering and pain in your life but try to minimize it so that it will not be present so much in his daily life.

 It was month before all started, when we began to worry. Constant fevers, that were gone for few days and back again, make us go to different doctors trying to find a reason behind them. We hoped that it is nothing more than just a flu, but the fact that they were coming back caused that somewhere in our minds a warning light started to glow, that maybe we are facing something serious. And it was on 17th of July when we heard that our son is special, very special in the way that you never wish hear.

 “Congratulation! Your Son has been classified to the newly lunched space program where at the end of his training he will have a unique privilege of being part of the group of those few individuals who will fly to heaven. Thanks to his 4, 7 inches (12 cm) tumor on his adrenal gland and numerous metastases found in bone marrow, many bones, lymph nodes and chest there is a high chance he will successfully pass all the stages of training finishing with the flight.”

 She looked at us as we should be proud of having such a special boy, but in our mind we had only one thought. It was screaming so loud that it would have wake the whole facility up if outspoken. “WHY!!!!!!!!”

 She left us for the night, a night that will begin our long journey of them, Captains, trying to help my son to fly to heaven and us doing all we can to spot it from happening. This is a story of our son, Szymon, and his battle with cancer.