This morning started late and grey. Leo taught Judah how to dance. Judah taught Leo how to jam. The rain has cooled us off and fall is on the way. Our summer seemed to hold its breath until we were well past it and now with Peter and Johanna in school, the football season begun in earnest, and life begun in our new home, we have one more thing left to leave behind.
Today was our last time to come into the clinic to get a shot in the leg for Leo. They are awful. I mean, he can get stuck in the hand without a tear, and they can access his chest port with the greatest of ease with just a whimper. But he screams when they jab him in the leg. It hurts and it’s bad.
And it’s done.
Today brings the progress we have been looking forward to for nearly eight months.
Today we exit the intense treatment and enter into the three year process of “maintenance.”
Today we say goodbye to weekly visits and begin to breathe a little more normally. We will begin to have more time in public with other people and attend church as a whole family again.
Leo will return to the hospital once a month to be sedated, get a booster shot of chemo into his spine and then take daily chemo pills.
That will be the next three years.
They need to keep his blood counts in a specific range to guarantee that the factory that produced the leukemia cells doesn’t have the opportunity to restart its processes. It eradicates and destroys the disease.
And in the meantime, he will continue to do physical therapy (which he loves) and begin to prepare himself socially for kindergarten to begin next year. His hair will begin to come back. He will sleep the whole night through without horrifying nightmares. He will restart his development of independence.
We walk out of this place today, our heads wherever they are, high from achievement or low with exhaustion. We finish this phase held, loved, and known. Thank you for walking this road with us. We truly cannot have survived without family and friends closing the gaps in our lives and helping us not just to survive, but to live, see, and pursue the next breath.
Thank you for praying for us when we were weak and scared.
Thank you for sitting with us when we needed company and felt alone.
Thank you for cooking for us when we couldn’t find the strength to stand.
Thank you for being family.
Thank you, God. We’re coming home.