I’ll be heading out in a few short minutes to O’Hare Airport, where, for the first time in about six weeks, Dunreith will return here to Evanston.
A lot has happened since mid-May, when she arrived at her mother’s house planning to go to Rockport for a week’s vacation, but ended up tending to her mother in the hospital for two weeks after Helen had a seizure in front of her.
Aidan’s gone to his prom, graduated, attended Bonnaroo and completed six weeks as a camp counselor.
Dunreith has spent almost all of the time in Western Massachusetts with Helen, who on Monday will finish the radiation and chemotherapy stage of her treatment.
We all know that at some point our lives will end, and Helen and our family has had to confront that unwelcome reality with more urgency since she received her diagnosis toward the end of her hospital stay.
In all, we’ve managed quite well.
Aidan has taken care of himself just fine, as befits his status as a ready-to-leave-the-nest-any-minute young man.
I know I’ve written this before, and I’ll say again how proud I am of Dunreith for what she has done and how she has carried herself during this time. Although it’s been hard, she has managed to keep things going at Facing History, the leadership of which has been enormously supportive of Helen and her, while also dealing with the myriad details associated with caring for an ailing parent who is aware of what she is losing, yet is understandably resistant to relinquishing hold of the actions that have given her days structure, routine and even meaning.
I’m talking about doing the dishes.
Sweeping the floors.
Paying the bills.
Despite the difficulty and inevitable sadness at Dunreith’s departure, there have been many moments of joy, profound connection and gratitude at the shared experiences.
One of these will be tonight, when I pick her up at O’Hare, retrieve Aidan, have some dinner and a walk, and generally soak in the pleasure of each other’s company.
The irony of this summer is that we are entering a stretch when I will be away all but one of the next five weekends.
This means that, just 18 hours after Dunreith lands, I’ll be flying west to Los Angeles.
The timing of course is unfortunate, and the good news is that we’ve got tonight and we’ve got each other.
In a very real sense, the present is all we ever actually have.
Plane lands in 46 minutes.