photo by Sheri Dixon

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

...It's Merely Routine

Routines can be comforting things.

They bring stability to life even when everything else seems out of control, even when everything else seems off-kilter, the smallest routine- making coffee, doing chores, taking the trash to the road because it's Wednesday- all those little things add up to center and ground a soul being tossed hither and yon by the winds of life.

Daily routines straighten and strengthen the backbone of a body when everything else is "to be determined" depending on a million other variables.

Other routines are more ritual in essence.

Attending church. I did that at one time- for years. It was comforting to sit in the same pew and repeat the same litany holding the same old worn hymnal- not needing it because everyone knew the Apostles' Creed and the call and response between pastor and congregation by heart. Those things had never been learned, they'd soaked in like the very tears of Jesus straight through our skins by osmosis sitting in that same pew when we were 1, and 10, and 20- surrounded by relatives who were 40, and 60, and 80. At the end of service the organist played the same recessional as we filed out...knowing right then and there that THIS was where last week ended and a new one began.

Taking out holiday decorations from my grandmother's nativity scene to the Chrismouse advent calendar...routine. No matter what the calendar on the wall says Christmas season starts when the tree gets plugged in and the Protective Elf is set next to the Baby Jesus- not a second before.

Planning vacations- from conception to map-questing to reservations to packing- all a set routine even though the destinations are ever-changing. Every step executed as carefully as a recipe, and STILL the boys know within an hour of leaving the house they'll hear "OH SHIT!" from me and wonder what I've forgotten...this time.

Today's routine is well-known but not well-loved, and has actually been preceded with another routine- about a week ago all three of us ceased sleeping well. We've been uneasy and tense and terse. There's a floating possibly foreboding atmosphere in our normally happy yet chaotic home.

In May of 2006 we headed our new (to us) car towards Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Hospital- we'd been referred there by Ward's plastic surgeon here in Tyler. We are entering our 2nd decade as a Cancer Family- they'd mucked around with it for 4 years here in Tyler not knowing the type he had is all to often mis-diagnosed and under-excised because the cells still look suspiciously normal- its very name being "morpheoform".

I don't know how many trips we've made there and back by now. I do know our car had under 50,000 miles on it when we bought it and now has just shy of 173,000.

I do know the hotel staff knows my voice on the phone.

I do know the way there and back without a map, by heart, with my eyes closed.

I do know we're so very grateful for the staff at MD Anderson, who attempt to do the impossible within the confines of an enormously cumbersome institution.

I do know that we're so very grateful for our family and friends who take up the slack- monetarily and physically- when we have to be gone whether it's several days or many weeks.

I do know that I so appreciate my employers and my employees who literally support me when I need to be gone- allowing much to be done via phone and computer and being my eyes and my feet when I'm not there.

I do know that after I finish writing this (drinking my morning coffee), I'll make our toast and we'll go feed the critters.

I know that I'll cherish every moment and sight and sound of what we do every single day- just as we do every day. We'll finish up as always on the bridge over the creek where I'll turn and say "Hey, Gomez- guess what?" and Ward will patiently and obediently ask "What?" and I'll look up at him and say "We live here now". Because for so many years it seemed as though that would never happen, my routine is to reaffirm that every single day.

And I know that after that, we'll be taking out the suitcases and packing them with things we know by heart- so many changes of clothes, bathroom items, medicines, books and computers. The car will get packed in the same arrangement as always- suitcases in the back and snacks next to Alec, who has his own way he arranges his domain in the back seat.

And we'll point the car towards Houston, where tomorrow Ward has tests and scans and Friday he has appointments with the dermatologist, and the pain management doctor, and the very important one with the cancer doctor who WILL perform the most important step of this particular routine- where he says "Mr. Dixon- I am happy to report that there is nothing of note in your head".

And we'll all laugh and he'll say "See you in about 6 months", shake our hands and we'll come home.

He will. He has to. I so decree.


  1. Amen and so be it! (From the bottom of my heart)

  2. I too decree! Best wishes and travel safe y'all.

  3. Yes, best's to another six months of empty-headedness!