The last time we went to Disney was in 2009. It was December. Lisa had been diagnosed and was between her radiation treatments and surgery. The day we returned to Raleigh we had a pre-op appointment. It was an abrupt change – Mickey Mouse to Dr. Tyler. Happy – Fear. Bright – Gray. Warm – Cold.
We went again two weeks ago – Lisa’s family sort of has a tradition that all 5 year olds must experience Disney. It’s like being a 19-year-old, male, Morman. You turn 19, you take the pilgrimage.
Lisa went with her grandparents when she was 5; her sister Sallie did the same. I assume Jesse also went as a kid.
This year, we had to take my nephew Sam, for he turned 5.
We booked our meals in advance and one night agreed to eat at the Japanese Steak House at Epcot. As usual, about half way through dinner, I had to go to the bathroom.
I walked in and it looked very familiar. I’ve been here before.
Yeah, I had been there. I peed in that bathroom in 2009 when Lisa was fighting for her life.
I looked at the red walls, and it hit me. I remembered that the last time I was there I thought to myself, I wonder if she’ll be alive the next time I’m in this bathroom.
It took four years, but I had my answer.
Because she had been so sick and because her cancer was advanced, I had the wherewithal to consider the possibility of returning to this special place without her. It made me want to make the most out of that week. To run out of the bathroom and sit by her. To snuggle up next to her when we got back to our hotel room. To be the one to sit by her on The Tower of Terror – to experience her scream for perhaps the very last time.
I don’t think I want to wonder on a regular basis whether I’ll return to a particular venue with or without a particular family member. That would not be healthy.
What I would like to do is to spent my time here in Raleigh the same way I did at Disney in 2009. Savoring a dinner with a friend. Scratching the back of my kid who is awaiting my touch. Hanging on to my 5 foot mom a little longer when she gives me a hug.
We just don’t know if we’ll be returning – to anything. Maximize today.
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