She is a neat freak. So she will develop a facial tic about the fact that I absolutely trash the interior of my car with candy wrappers and Motown compact discs. She will be honked off that, between every four-mile marker, I have to pull off the interstate for a pee break. But I can’t help the fact that menopause shrunk my bladder to the size of a marble.
At first she will be amused that I always pack a cooler for long trips. But she won’t do a happy dance when she discovers that the cooler leaks. And when I insist on getting ice for my poor old cooler every time I stop to pee, I’m pretty sure that won’t help the situation.
I won’t be the least bit happy with her, either. I know Elaine will attempt to alphabetize and organize my big fat mess in the backseat. She will get on my nerve by quizzing me about silly little details, such as whether I have directions for the trip. And like a mother hen, she will scold me about my lead foot. She might even shame me a little bit with the nasty reminder that I’ve already been sent to driving school once, due to my problem with speeding tickets.
If we are extremely lucky, Elaine and I will still be friends by the time we reach Indiana.
It doesn’t really matter to me how much we stomp on each other’s nerve endings during this 20-something hour drive. She knows I love her, no matter what. And I know that no one in their right mind would ever be stuck with me for 20-plus hours if they didn’t really care about me.
But also, I have my eye on the prize. And the prize is the face of my sweet and only child.
By the time I put my arms around him and breathe him in again, it will be 13 months of separation.
Four days before I was set to fly to Indiana last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So my visit was canceled, and my life was officially put on hold. I did not want my son to see the shape I was in after undergoing bilateral mastectomy, so I stalled his requests to visit. I didn’t plan, of course, on having complications that greatly slowed my recovery.
Before I knew it, a year had gone by.
An entire year and a month since I have kissed my baby boy’s face.
An entire year and a month since I have laughed hysterically with my adorable daughter-in-law.
A year and a month.
Unbelievable to me, that breast cancer came knocking on my chest and required all these months, just to survive it. Just to get stronger in spite of it. And just to realize what is more important to me than air ... my baby’s face.
That’s what will keep me moving right along on that endless, boring interstate. I can’t possibly get there fast enough. I can’t possibly hold on long enough to the other half of my soul. He might be grown and married and so successful in his career, but when I get to see my baby again, I will know with my whole heart that everything I have been through during these 13 months was worth it.
I would go through all of it over and over again, just to know that at the end, I would hold my son against me.
A former Southsider and an award-winning journalist and humor writer, Sherri Coner resides in southwest Florida. To learn about her books for women and to join her on Facebook, visit www.sherriconer.com. She also speaks to women’s groups.