I wake up from a dream where I am about to go swimming, into the darkened hospital room. The constant rumble of the air conditioning background to my dream. The roar of windwaves, the incoming tide, the outgoing tide continue into my wakefulness becoming the rhythm of the CPAP machine as it pumps air into Jesi’s lungs.
Somewhere outside I know it is a sunny day, but inside it is the nurse whispering gently to me, telling me the doctors are about to ‘round’ on Jesi that rouses me into wakefulness, and the cool refreshing water, the swim, vanish.
Walden and swimming are part of who I am. I often head straight to the pond from the hospital in Boston where my daughter has recently undergone a bone marrow transplant. I often head straight to the hospital from the pond. And as my rotations between hospital and home occur on a 24 hour basis, if i am lucky, I swim every day.
Of course this does not always happen….but mostly I am ok with that.
This is the third of four summers since Jesi was twelve that she has spent a substantial amount of time in hospital. I remember the first summer when just after her diagnosis with leukemia on July 11 2010, I was walking through the crowded car park across the road from Walden watching the families gather picnic baskets together, the kids straggling behind with buckets and spades and beach chairs. How come they have strong bone marrow, I thought, when Jesi does not?
I guess that was my version of asking why.
Today, four years later, I have stopped asking why. But as the days drag on (now into our eighth week) in my routine of bouncing in and out of Childrens Hospital, I do look at summer and the activities that define ‘normal’…. picnics, swimming, outdoor concerts, and I miss the relaxed feeling that warmth and the sun has always given me.
My Australian Legacy I suppose.
But I’ve learnt to be grateful for the small things. The deep jade stillness of the pond on a windless day. The strength of my body, of my lungs. That I can still swim across on too little sleep. The fact I arrived before the car park closed due to capacity for the second time on a sunny Saturday.
Because Walden is my refuge. Has been my refuge through four years of being a cancer mum. And she is always there for me.