How Far We’ve Come

The Next Family

By: Stacie Lewis

By “how far we’ve come,” I don’t mean London via Detroit, Chicago, and Amsterdam -utilizing both trains and planes -like I did when traveling back home to the States this past year. That is the literal definition.

No, what I mean is: “Isn’t it incredible how far we’ve come since May was first diagnosed?”

Back when May was still in the hospital, my mother asked me to come visit her in California. She lives in Palm Desert, an oasis of peace, sun, mountains, and home-cooked meals. Not to mention cocktails at Mexican restaurants. Yum.

My blunt response: “No way Mom. It’s not going to happen.”

I felt the radar of Jewish guilt strike me, “Well, you know we’d love to have you. All I want is to take care of you.”

Me: “No.” That’s how I try to deflect such conversations, with no nonsense answers.

Her: “Oh, I’ll let you think about it. It could happen. In a few months…”

Me: “No, Mom. It’s not.”

I was unable to conceive of a time when May would be out of the hospital. I wouldn’t allow myself to imagine a future where I would have the freedom and ability to travel with May. That was difficult to come to terms with, let alone articulate.

When something so catastrophic happens, it doesn’t just affect your immediate situation and physicality, it seeps with slimy misery into all aspects of your life.

When my friend’s husband was struck down with cancer, she said one of the worst things was the inability to plan for the future. Dinner out next week? Not sure. A holiday next year? No chance.

It devastated me to think I would not travel to visit my family. I also felt horribly guilty after I snapped at my mother that way. (Proof that Jewish guilt does work!)

But, look how far we’ve come: several visits to Wales; a weekend with friends in Salisbury; five long-haul flights to the States; a glorious train journey through the autumnal countryside between Detroit and Chicago. And, even, California.

All with May the brain-damaged world traveler! And, she was an easy traveler. She loves planes and trains – anywhere there is a soothing vibration and lots of people to coo over her.

There is nothing more freeing than achieving what I originally thought impossible. Look how far we’ve come!

Stacie Lewis blogs at

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