Last weekend, lost weekend.

This is the last weekend my son will be living with me, probably ever. It was out of necessity that he moved home from Raleigh ten months after losing his job and being unable to find another in 2012. He has had an apartment and then a townhome that he owned since then, but he has remained local. He never really wanted to come back to Maryland. He doesn’t love it as much as I do. He sold his townhome in 2019 with the intention of staying with me briefly then heading back to North Carolina. He was born there, in Jacksonville, near the Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. Financially and work wise, it wasn’t feasible for him to move just yet, so we settled into my house while he looked for a place (and a job, because it was unclear if his company would let him work remotely full-time), Then cancer hit, and he stayed.

Ours has been the steadiest relationship of my entire life. We have been nearly 100% compatible, personality-wise, since he was born. Sure, he went through a couple of phases where he got mouthy, but by and large, he is the kindest, gentlest 6’5″ guy I’ve ever known. He doesn’t throw his weight around. He is one of those rare people who is so diplomatic and easy on you that you calm down without even thinking about it. (Kinda like Jasper in the Twilight series….he chills out the room.)

My life is about to change in profound ways. Yes, he’s going to be 34 this year, and it’s high time he got on with his life. But he is in no hurry about anything. He told me a few months ago, before the move was settled, that he felt like he completely missed his 20s. He was just 21 when his sister died, and he has no other siblings. Some of his friends moved on and married and stopped keeping in touch. Others became religious, right-wing nuts who told him his mother was going to hell. He kicked them to the curb. He has a few local friends he games with. They took him out to dinner at Outback last night, which I thought was amazingly sweet. He was surprised, because he never thinks people like him very much. What’s not to like?

I don’t just say that because he’s my kid. I say it because it’s true. I don’t know anyone (save for a person my ex used to be friends with) who has ever had an unkind word to say to him, at least in adulthood. He was mercilessly picked on in elementary and middle school – which is why I homeschooled my kids for a few years – but then when he got bigger than everyone else, they left him alone.

Now he is purchasing a home (closing on Thursday) in a small town between Charlotte and Asheville. He has a dozen friends down there he used to LARP with when he was living in Raleigh. I’m happy for him. He might even meet someone he wants to marry. Who knows. Like I said, he’s never in a rush. But I hope he finds the fun he missed in his 20s.

As a friend recommended to me, I’m starting to make plans for myself so that I don’t feel quite so lonely. Cancer treatment is over, and I am sloooooowly starting to get a little strength back. On Monday, they took out the port. I was a little sore for a couple of days and then got hit with a migraine (maybe a reaction to the stress or medication), but I’m so thankful that it’s out. Now I just have to heal.

I traded my middle-of-the-road, Mom car (Camry) in the middle of the week for a sweet, blue Honda Accord Sport. It really suits me better than the Camry ever did. I love it. It’s my post-cancer gift to myself. I’m hoping cancer never comes back but that this car lasts me for a good long time. (I actually looked at trucks, too, because of my hope that eventually I’ll get an RV trailer – but damn! Trucks are ridiculously expensive right now! I’m not paying $38-45K for a maybe.)

July 11, I’m going to a game day. I haven’t done that for maybe 3 years? I’m looking forward to it. Tonight, my ex-wife and I are taking Sean out to dinner. We used to be a family, so that will be nice. Tomorrow, Sean’s dad is coming to take him to dinner. It’s celebratory for Sean but my heart is aching. I know that in just a few days I have to say goodbye for awhile. The plan is for me to go see him for his birthday in late August. Hopefully he can make it up for the holidays – at least for Christmas. We’ll be on lots of Zoom calls.

I have been crying lately, which is not typical for me. Usually, I’m pretty chill and not prone to tears. I cried only a few times during the cancer battle, and only in times of uncertainty or fear. But I spent last Saturday crying off and on all day. Sean wasn’t here, and the gravity of everything was right there in my chest.

Fear gets to me now and then, even though I learned during treatment that I am far happier when I live in the moment. But during treatment, I knew that I had to stay in that moment or that day, because to think ahead took more energy than I had and was simply impossible. I lost a dear friend last August. He was undergoing treatment for lymphoma, and he was doing so well otherwise. We helped each other through the rough days. We were each other’s chemo buddy. And then he spiked a fever after his third treatment. He went into septic shock and was suddenly gone. I’m seeing other women on the support groups who were doing well. They were multi-year survivors, but then the cancer came back, in the lungs, in the brain, in the other breast. It came back as stage IV. I cry for them. I cry for me. I’ve seen so many family members taken by this awful disease.

So I’m fighting to stay in the moment or at least in the day. I’m fighting to believe that the cancer won’t come back and won’t take my life. I’m fighting to believe that I’m going to be okay and will enjoy some alone time to write, to meditate, or simply to be. I’m stacking up the books that I intend to read (after I get my right eye fixed next month). I’m trying to relax about things. I’m trying to look forward to things.

I’m happy for my son – so happy! I want all good things for him. But once you have lost a child in a single crazy moment, you never quite trust the universe with your other children. You know how fast it can happen, and you know how it destroys you. Please God, do not take my son! I want to see him grow older, settle in, be happy. I want to go for visits and maybe someday live close to him again.

I’m looking forward to posting about the great things that are happening in his life – his and mine. I’m looking forward to having strength again. I’m looking forward to exploring and having fun. I’m looking forward to seeing more friends now that I’m vaccinated and the restrictions are easing up. And I’m looking forward to my big third act.

Namaste, Jude

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