I recently decided to take my kids out of school and go on a camping trip–one week after school started. I grabbed my kids, packed up the camper, and explained to their teachers that this was necessary, and truth be told, it was.
Five years ago–one month before my daughter’s 1st birthday–I was diagnosed with Leukemia and later Lymphoma. My life became a roller coaster of doctor visits and horrific cancer treatments that I do not wish on my worst enemy.
Miraculously, three years ago, my body healed, and I went into the remission that we were all praying for. Little did I know what remission really means. For some reason, I thought the concept of surviving cancer would be similar to a Lifetime after-school special. Once the cancer left the building, everything would go back to rainbows and sunshine.
Unfortunately, those hour-long after school specials forget to mention that once the cancer has left, it has also left your body ravaged and run down. Don’t even get me started on what chemo does to your body. Any new infection can take a huge toll on your weak immune system.
Anyway, back to the camping trip. Every summer our family takes a summer beach camping trip. It is the highlight of our summer. Last year, we bought an old vintage pop-up camper that we refurbished and restored. We love these camping trips, especially me.
This year on the day we were supposed to leave for Assateague Island–a beautiful beach camping island about three hours from Baltimore–I started to feel very ill. Like really, really ill. Like we need to go to the hospital kind of ill. Needless to say, I was ill, and instead of running our toes through the white sands, we spent long hours squished in a hospital room. My kids cried, I cried, we all moped around. Once again my post-cancer body had let us down, but I quickly healed and we planned our trip for a later date.
Unfortunately the next available date my husband could take off of work was mid-September, and a week after school started, but we scheduled it anyway.
I worried about this trip on so many levels: Would it be too cold to be by the beach? Would my kids miss the school adjustment period if we leave? Was I being selfish?
I explained to everyone why we needed this trip to happen, and my kids’ school understood. My kids weren’t adjusting well to the first week of school, anyway. I blame that one on seeing their mom once again in a hospital bed.
What can I say? The trip was amazing, and just what this family needed. The weather was perfect. It was so perfect it was almost weird. Usually it’s pretty hot, even at night, but since we postponed our trip to September it was perfectly warm during the day and refreshingly cool at night. Usually we fight the mosquitos, but this late in the season there were no bugs, not one. We saw an exceptional amount of dolphins swimming by. I have never seen that many dolphins on our trips in the past; again I blame the late-in-the-season timing. We also found an unbelievable amount of seashells, including a conch shell, the kind you would buy in the store. We have been going to Assateque for over five years now and we have never seen a shell spectacle like we did on this trip.
In the evening since the weather cooled, we wore sweatshirts and sat by the fire. We snuggled in under blankets in the camper and slept to the sound of the waves. I wore long flowing paisley maxi dresses and cotton Israeli tichels. I fed my kids fresh avocado and scrambled eggs for breakfast, and I don’t think I ever put shoes on. I tried to convince my husband to take a year off work so we could travel the country as Hasidic bohemians in our rustic camper teaching our kids by the land and from life. My husband explained to me that bills need to be paid and he has to go to work for that. Ba humbug, I say.
This was a true-life lesson, one that I often need reminding of. We plan great things in this world like summer camping, and for whatever reason, those trips don’t work out. Instead you go fall camping and discover secrets that you would have never known if you went earlier that season as planned.
This is a hard lesson in emunah, faith, that every one of us is challenged in every single day. I am thankful to God that I had this miraculous trip with my family. I wish it were without sickness and without hospital visits, but truth be told I would give another week in the hospital for a few more days of our perfect beach camping trip.