Last week Citygirl flew home from Walla Walla to visit her dad, who lives about a hundred miles from here. We decided to have dinner together on Monday night. Now, for most people, a two hundred-mile round trip would seem like a bit much just for dinner, but I haven't seen Citygirl since Christmas. Besides, we take two hundred mile long trips all the time, with less reward than that at the end!
Babygirl came along for the ride. She'd had a long day at school, had a headache, and slept the whole way there. We met up at a small tavern with some outside tables at the foot of a ski resort. Live band, US versus Ghana on the TV, excellent food, and a chance to catch up on each others' lives.
For the ride home Babygirl was much more lively. She chatted about school, friends, the book she's reading (her first Dean Koontz), the book she wants to buy next (another Chris Colfer) and life in general.
One of her favorite teachers died in January. We talked about him. Early in the year he had the kids do that project where you write your name vertically and then use a word that describes you starting with each of the letters. Babygirl has FOUR "A's". She was struggling a bit to come up with that many 'A' words that describe her when the teacher came up and began chatting with her. At the end, he said, "I don' know you very well, but maybe 'anxious' is a word you should consider."
It was and remains something of an "Aha" moment for her. She doesn't look anxious at home, although she is shy in group situations. But she recognized the underlying accuracy of the comment. We talked about the kinds of things she thinks about, worries about, dreams about. Family. Independence. Life.
I don't think there is a parent out there who has gotten through a kid's teen years without hearing, "I'd rather DIE than......wear that outfit......be seen with my brother......apologize to THAT JERK....." It's a thoughtless exaggeration, right up there next to, "I'll kill you!"
Babygirl has said to me before that she plans on dying at 50 (not 'expects to die'). She is counting on this kidney getting her there. And without a trace of self-pity or doubt in her voice she said, "I'd rather die than go back on dialysis." There was nothing thoughtless about it. She knows that when this kidney dies, if she refuses dialysis, that will be the end.
I know I've tried to convey how traumatic her dialysis start-up was. I've talked about how it hurt. Every. Single. Night. For months. And months. There wasn't a single thing I could think of that could successfully argue with that statement. Her suffering was real, and lasting, and horrible.
Eventually I found my voice and pointed out that peritoneal dialysis isn't the only kind of dialysis there is. And what if this kidney fails when she is say, twenty, and she hasn't had time to achieve all the dreams she was just talking about?
"I guess I'll have to think about it if it happens, Mom. But I'm going to keep taking my pills."
It's a gut punch.
I'm still having trouble breathing.