Round two – Home

“There is no place like home. There is no place like home”

 A month passed and in that time Szymon mostly stayed inside, with rare occasions when we could go outside and visit nearby forest or playground located next to the building.  During our first month we had one exception, which happened just before starting second round, where we had a chance to visit home for few hours. Something that you would not even consider in any other circumstances to be a reason for worry, here generated thoughts and emotions that we needed somehow to bear with. How he will react to his first home visit after spending so much time in CSD? Will he want to come back to the facility? Will he cry wanting to stay home? All of those question brought back fear into our hearts. Something that is so much needed by us, small break from those walls and corridors, may cause more issues than intended.

 Road home was full of those questions and the hardest part was, that since it was first time we were put in this kind of situation, we did not know what to do. It was impossible to predict what will be his reaction seeing his room again. Based on the talk with CSD psychologist, we were advised to emphasize the fact, that this is just a small break, that we are coming home only to pick up more toys, and need to come back to the facility. We had already scenarios in our heads how to facilitate the discussion.  Ensure that the suffering, of him needing to come back to the Center, will be minimized. As proven also later, the youngest one is the most mature in the family, he was the first one to say that we need to come back after we rest a bit and pick up the toys. That there are new friends there, other cadets, and day-room where he have even more toys. He was young at that time, barely talking, but in his heart he knew already, that there are things you need to be do and the best way would be to find some positives in them.

 Second round consisted of 24 hour chemo injection and 24 hour rinsing. Thought of whole day watching our Son, to ensure nothing wrong will happen, brought additional stress. We envisioned that during the night he will turn stretching the tubing, forcing the needle to come out and chemo will burn his body. That something else may happen, which we cannot even think of now, as all is new to us. This was even more stressful to M, as she was the one who would need to stay up all night and watch if all is fine. Luckily nothing bad has happened and time flew very quickly. After those two days we finally heard some good news.

“Unfortunately due to good blood results, we need to take a short break before third round. This means you can go home for couple of days. Your son is in better condition that we initially expected. Nevertheless if you see any worrying signs please come back. Otherwise we will see you in few days for the third round” Said Captain Blind before giving us pass to go home.

 At first we did not believed what we were hearing. First of all, we did not thought that he will take the chemo so well, and second we were told that we will not leave the premises for next three months, and here we are being told different. Once the information reached our consciousness we were fulfilled with euphoria. It is really hard to explain, but I can imagine that it can be somehow compared to what a prisoner may feel when he is about to leave jail after serving his sentence. You finally have a break from those walls, corridors, break from having a need to use common bathroom, kitchen, and finally can have some privacy. You finally can feel your home again. I know that this was mostly felt by M, as she was the one spending all her time in CSD, for me it was more a feeling that my family is back home. Three of us can lay in same bed, close our eyes, and for a second forget about this whole nightmare.  We knew, that it will be just split of a second, soon to be forgotten, that we have to come back to the next round, but we put that thought somewhere deep in our minds. Deep enough not find it quickly, and just enjoy the moment.

 When I was young I treated my house a bit like that prison, trying to spend there as little time as possible. I felt that the world is waiting for me. Therefore either with my friends or alone, I preferred to be outside. Exploring the streets of my home town or open field where my grandparents lived. From dawn to dusk, any weather would be fine, just to leave the house.  This changed a little when I started to work, and home was a place where I wanted to rest after work, but still weekends I chose to be out in the world looking for adventures. Time passed and having recent experience, now I see it more, as a sanctuary, place of return, place where you can hide from the world, from all that is troubling you, and for a short moment in time you can pretend that your life is different, your life is normal.

“Ready for the next round?” Captain Blind looked at us hoping to see some kind of confirmation. We were still terrified and not willing to cope freely, hoping that this is just bad dream and with just one blink of an eye we will wake up from it. And that we don’t need to agree to anything as it is not really happening. Reality, as always, was differed. Expecting from us to be part of this process. Forcing us, sooner or later, to be ready for what is about to come. But can you really be ready for it? Can you really prepare yourself for what is inevitable? Thing, which you try to push away from your consciousness as much as possible. And only moments like those reminds you, that this world is not your home… this is just a place where we are for a short period of time, hoping that once we leave it, we finally rest in peace. Rest in a place where we would want to stay forever, place where we will not pretend to be happy as happiness will be our new home.

Captain’s helping hand

 ”Come quick! We need to talk” Captain Alexandra nervously whispered to me and pulled me out of the room. “There is not much time.”

“What’s going on?”  I asked, confused about this whole situation. We entered small room, next to the command center, where we could talk in private. This was the room when we heard all those bad news, room where we could have a bit of intimacy, when you could not stop your tears from falling. This time I was about to hear something different.

“I tried my best to sabotage your mission” She started.” But I got caught by the Major and they removed me from training your Son. Once the briefing will be over, you will be informed by Major that Captain M aka Blind will take you over. She is very ambitious and will do all she can to shorten your Son’s training.”

 After hearing those words I was even more puzzled, as the last person I would expect to get some help from would be the captain. It would explain this strange feeling I had when we first met. When she was telling us about the test results and the fact that we are qualified, I sensed sadness in her eyes. Like there was a part of her sympathizing with us.

“Why did you do it? Why did you try to help us?” I was curious to know.

“Do you believe in coincidences?” She asked with much calmer voice.

“Not, really. In those discussions I am more on the destiny side.”

“Well, I am not really fan of those destiny stories, but when I saw, that your son was born on the same day as my child, and fact that you lived in the same apartment as me when I was a kid, but couple of floors below, it seemed very strange to me. I took it as a sign. A sign telling me “take this case and help them”. Everybody knows, that even though heaven is a place to be, flight should happen much later in your life. When you are old and lived a life, but not when you are young. Not when you just entered this world and did not really had a chance to taste it. Not when you are a gift to your parents, most precious thing they ever received, love of their life, and you are about to leave them. Fly off without even giving them a chance to enjoy time spent together. No child should be allowed to fly! That said, problem is different. With each year spent here on Earth it is getting harder and harder to get to heaven. You must put more effort to fly there and at the end there is no guarantee you will make it. This is why they list children, here is no doubt that the flight will be successful, hence reason why your son was picked. Coming back to your Son. Unfortunately I was not careful enough in sabotaging his flight and got caught. Due to that I am being moved to day care for some time to ensure I will not jeopardize it anymore.” She passed for a second and the only thing I could say was. “Thank you.”

“Good luck and I hope you will succeed in taking back your son.” We left the room as it got noisier on the corridor and we knew that captain’s round is coming.

Throughout the whole training there were many moments where I felt it would be easier for me to hit bull’s eye with closed eyes standing in the middle of the forest, rather than have all of those factors meet and succeed. But for some strange reason this is what happened. I always like to think that these are those small signs telling us that we are not alone in this battle. That someone is looking over us, making sure that at the end everything will be fine. The point is that I don’t know what His plans are and I am left with nothing else but trust.

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.