Mar 14, 2016 (Sara)

It’s a strange feeling to pack for Oakland tonight. The last time we packed our future was so nebulous. On that crazy Friday afternoon…at 12:30pm Dr. Papez said we had to go. So we went. She said soon. We were heading north of Carson 40 minutes after she called.

We would have left sooner but it took me 10 minutes to breathe again. It took me 10 minutes to peel myself from my kitchen floor. 10 minutes for me to snap back into reality enough to call my husband…to remember that he was about to walk into a meeting. A meeting where he may or may not look to his phone for the next hour. 10 minutes felt like a life time…and Dr. Papez saved my life. At least it felt like it. She took those 10 minutes to be with me. She might not have been sitting In front of me or physically holding my hand. But she was with me. And she was holding me. I felt it. I can still feel it.

She had to tell me news that no doctor ever wants to tell a patient. No person ever wants to tell anyone ever. And really no mother ever fathoms to tell another mother…or even imagines how to tell them. But she had to. And she cried as she did. She cried with me. She hurt with me. Over the phone she held me. She listened to me cry. Sob. Moan. Lose my breath. Almost vomit. Lose my faith. Find my faith. Catch my breath again. She was there. As painful as it was for me to hear…she shared some burden in having to disseminate the information. One day I hope to hear her side of the story.

I think of Dr. Papez many times a day because I will be grateful for her for my lifetime. She got Maya to Oakland in plenty of time. Tonight I reminisce of that day since here we are packing again. Tonight it will take me way more than those 40 minutes to pack. I will over think things and imagine what we “might need” for the 36 to 48 hours we’ll be in Oakland. I will also likely have as many appropriate outfits as I did the first trip…of two weeks.

For the first trip, I had a bag packed. Oh I sure did! It was full of 5 work outfits. I think I had a more prepared bag for my kid getting cancer than I did when my water broke before she was born. My bag was full of perfect outfits…for work. Slacks. A dress. Chiffon shirts. No panties. No bras. No socks. Why? Well…we were moving. I had just started packing my closet the day before. So I thought it would be appropriate that I pack a bunch of work clothes…I mean we were gone move that weekend so I wasn’t gonna be far from my lounge clothes. I was so thankful my mom found a target so I had panties and Amy brought me some tank tops. Also…I was thankful that non-stressed Sara had packed a pair of yoga pants. I was the best dressed hot mess of a mommy shit show that hospital had ever seen. At least until I found the yoga pants…

Packing for this trip is different. It feels so much more…almost luxurious in comparison. We know where we are staying. The Family House personally called me tonight to ensure us they are saving a room for us- so kind and they didn’t have to do that. I owe it to my parents since they both built such wonderful rapport with the staff there last time. We know what procedures Maya will have. She will get a bone marrow aspiration and lumbar puncture with some chemo. We sort of know timing. We check in at 9 am Tuesday…gotta play the rest by ear. But more that all of that…we know we will be driving home with our baby girl. Not something we were certain of the first trip over the mountain.

On February 12th…we had strength but couldn’t feel it. We were supported but it was hard to know how to accept it since we were blinded with fear. On that day we embarked on a journey as foreign as Dante’s. But here we are. Tomorrow we will set sail but this time with a secure destination. We have hope, love, strength, and most importantly … We have fire. Maya’s fire.

3 more does of Decadron. Things will be different. She’ll continue to lose her hair. She’ll have other side effects. But she will be our Maya again. I hate to say…but sometimes I can’t even recognize her. She’s in there though. I can always…and will always see those fiery eyes she has blessed this Earth with.

Love is Life.