summer nights

This was supposed to be the worst summer of our lives.

We spent most of May planning for what the best of the worst could be - surgery, leaving our kids alone, medications, mobility issues and rehab.

We tried not to think about what the worst of the worst could be.

It seems like every conversation we had with anyone was the same, "When is the surgery? What are the odds? How can we help?" and nearly always, it ended with the same question - "You're not still gonna do that show are you?"

I'd already started choreography in a hospital room of Mayo. I was working on it when Rico's doctor called and told me he thought the cancer had spread everywhere. He apologized for "dinking around" (his words - not mine). I went to auditions, but told the director that even in the best case, June would be unbearable - in the worst case - my life would be over.

It wasn't.

The doctor was wrong - and this girl was right:

Kooka and I were driving home from auditions when she asked how I was going to do it.
"I don't think I can." I told her.

She was pretty quiet. This wasn't her first rodeo, She knows what a huge undertaking summer musicals can be, so she was pretty thoughtful before she said, "Please do it with me.  It's gonna be hard, it's going to take all of our extra time" she said, "but I can help you. Saija and I can help you, it'll be OK. I don't want to do it without you."

I didn't say yes.
But I didn't say no.
Thankfully, neither did the director. He just said, "We'll figure it out as we go."
So we did.

Fast forward three months, and Kooka and I are making the same drive between home and the theater. "I was wrong," she said. "I thought it would suck up all of our time this summer, but really, we got so much more than we gave. I don't know what we would have done without it."

I do.

We would have cried more, laughed less, obsessed more, hugged less. We would have sat at home worrying, wondering, pacing, googling every fever, every cough. We would have wrapped ourselves in each other and "what-ifs?", instead of wrapping ourselves in the hugs of new friends and "what nexts?".

It's true that Tiny stayed up past her bedtime for three months straight. It's also true that we ate more frozen meals than we probably should, and topped it off with more late night ice-cream outings than the average family.

But Kooka was right - we got more than we gave.

Because while our hearts and minds were busy with new friends, new ideas, a new world - our lives got bigger than cancer, got better than cancer, and all of our summer nights felt right again.