Thirteen years ago this time of year, I was spending much of my days bawling while bald, begging and bargaining with God for my life and to see my kids grow up. To get my youngest, who was five at the time, to adulthood, or at least to an age where she would for sure remember me.
It was a time marked by lousy trades and impossible questions, crazy things like: Just how much peace of mind is this body part worth to you? and, How much can you really care about long-term side effects when without the drugs causing them, you might not make it past the short term?
And one of the dirtiest deals I had to make was with a drug whose real name is Adriamycin and whose nickname is the “Red Devil” on account of its terrifying bright red color and hellish side effects, some of which follow you around for the rest of your life. Provided that you survive the whole thing, and are lucky enough to have one of those.
Like I said, the terms of the deals were not great.
Anyway, this week, the most amazing and unexpected thing happened, one that I had not really planned or pieced together beforehand, which is why it seemed so very like destiny when I finally did. And it was that I found myself celebrating the graduation of my youngest child (who had, along the way and without me really noticing, finished school and become an actual adult) in of all places, the Adriatic Sea, the very place where my old frenemy Adriamycin was discovered and got its name.
And it turns out that the waters of the Adriatic are the farthest thing in the world from hellish and red hot; they are cold and sparkling and the most heavenly shade of azure blue. They did not burn my skin but soothed it when I swam in them with my girl. Which I did even though I was a little afraid, because she asked me to, and because I came here to say yes, and because I could, and because by God, WE MADE IT.
And because I know a good deal when I see one.