One more chemo to go! The feeling is bittersweet (similar to what I wrote about in an earlier post), for there is so much more that will end along with the chemicals pumping through my body: Weekly visits with the nurses I have slowly come to know over the last almost-five months. Three hours of quiet quality time in the middle of the day with whomever brings me. My current routine. And the weekly delivery from dear friends-family, Maggie and Barry.
The first time I went to chemo, Maggie sent me with a bag of gifts, each one individually wrapped with a time taped to the front—my instruction for when to open it, one every 30 minutes for the duration of my infusion. A bright green blanket; a dozen paper hearts, decorated by the family (her and Barry; Owen and Henry) and strung on a piece of ribbon; lip balm; a clementine with a glitter-heart stuck to the peel; the coziest of socks. It was just the thing Maggie would do. The sort of thing we’ve been doing for each other for 20 years now.
A week later, another bag of gifts arrived (once again delivered by Barry on his way to work) and it dawned on me that she might try to do this every time I went to chemo. “Maggie,” I explained, “It’s too much!” After all, I had four and a half months and 15 infusions to go. (And she had a 60-hour-a-week teaching job, twin 5 year olds, a husband, a home, my Caring Bridge site to manage, chronic Lyme disease and friends other than me.) But chemo-day after chemo-day, Barry would arrive while those in my house were bustling about getting kids ready for school and me ready for my appointment, and he would deliver yet another bag of individually wrapped gifts, each one with a time taped to the front. Sweet-smelling hand-sanitizer for my purse; hot pink slippers; hand crafted book marks by each of their sons; a cheetah hat; a pair of sassy underwear; a deck of cards; a puzzle; a poem… the list truly goes on and on and on. (Here is a wee fraction of the seventy five or so gifts Maggie has bestowed upon me since I started chemo in November.)
Some weeks ago, about half way through my infusions, my mom passed me the next little package, and I realized just how much I’ve come to count on Maggie’s gifts. “I know I’ve been encouraging you to stop,” I told her later. “But now I don’t think you can.” I’ve come to depend on those packages over the last few months like I’ve come to depend on Maggie over the last two decades.
Even though I will be saying good-bye to the bag of goodies when I say good-bye to chemotherapy, thanks to the chemotherapy, it looks like I won’t have to say good-bye to Maggie anytime soon.