It’s Sunday afternoon. We’re out running errands before our upcoming summer vacation. And I am smiling - smiling at the day, smiling at the future, smiling.

A sense of normal has returned. Cancer is a nightmare that I just may live through. Arthritis is a misfortune that will fluctuate in degree of disturbance. I will live, and live in happiness. (Or, at least for now.)

I’m walking down the sidewalk holding my little boy’s hand. He’s wearing an unbecoming outfit, born partly of the majority of his clothes being packed for our trip and partly of my granting him autonomy in the selection process this morning. The strange-fitting jeans, outdated hand-me-down loafers, and ugly red and green toolbox sweater do not diminish his handsome little face. 

In the time we walk from one block corner to the next, he manages to get in a steady stream of questions that includes, “Is coffee healthy? Why do we have to go to bed every day? Where is a bee's stinger?”
I laugh softly at his constant stream of words. As I look down at his little body next to mine, I hear my mother-in-law telling me how his daddy too was a jabber-box, and then one day, right around puberty, just stopped talking near bouts altogether. I know that day will likely come with Little H too. He’ll reach an age when he wants independence from us, where he’s not interested in sharing his thoughts or questions with Mom or Dad. He’ll go into his room a growing boy, who raids the refrigerator with regularity and who cares deeply about his friends’ opinions, and then he’ll come out a young man. With a deep voice and a broadening interest in his girlfriend, he’ll emerge and turn into the person he’s going to be. Oh, that I long to be there to see it. 
While I often ache over the possibility of missing his life, a part of me has begun to accept that he will be okay even without me - he and my daughter. My husband is a man of utmost character, and he is an excellent father; he would raise my children into beautiful people even without my help. And the love and support that our families would surround them with would help him along and keep them afloat.  

I squeeze Little H’s hand. I want to tell him I will be here to keep answering his questions, to clip his fingernails and hold him when he cries. I want to tell him that I will still be here to fill the fridge for him as he grows, to drop him off at the movie theater a block away, safely out of sight of his friends, to cheer on the sidelines of his sports games, to meet his girlfriend, to wait outside the door when he shuts himself inside. I am proud of you already Little H; I believe you have what it takes to become a great man.

“What are snails made out of?” he asks. I kneel down next to him to tie the lace of his ugly, brown shoe. His huge hazel eyes with long, curled eyelashes that make me jealous, stare expectantly at me. “Snails are slugs inside a shell,” I answer. And then, “I love you so much, son.” 
“I love you too Mommy,” he replies easily, "up to the moon and back." 

As I’m standing back up, I feel my baby girl kick hard inside me, as she frequently does. She is strong and healthy.
The world is right.

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