Guilty, Lucky, and Thankful

October 7, 2009

Friends, I’m feeling a little guilty.  And lucky.  And thankful.

I’m heading to New York on the red-eye flight tonight.  I’m meeting my husband who is there (again) for work.  I am leaving my sweet boys in the care of our most trusted and loved babysitter Erika.  When Randy took this most recent job, he thought that the travel would be minimal when it fact it has been maximal.  (I know that’s not a word, but shouldn’t it be?)  As the trips began piling up in the calendar, he asked me when I would like to go to New York with him.  He knows I love it there and I haven’t been in six years.  My favorite time of year anywhere is the fall, so we settled on October.

I am reminded that six years ago, Randy and I were just settling in to our year in London.  His sister planned an October wedding in Richmond, VA and we were scheduled to fly in for it.  She was kind enough to invite my parents and we decided to meet up first in New York so that I could have a little more time with them instead of just the wedding weekend.  My parents are both from New York – Dad from the Lower East Side and Mom from Long Island – so I have lots of memories of time spent in the City with them.

Just a month before we were set to meet, I got an unthinkable phone call from my dad.  He was having some strange symptoms and when he went to get checked out, they found that he had a tumor on his bladder.  Subsequent appointments showed that it would not be possible to remove the tumor safely and they would have to actually remove his bladder, hope that they got all the cancer, and construct a new bladder for him out of a part of his own intestine.  He decided to schedule the surgery for after the trip to the East coast – he was so looking forward to the trip and his doctors didn’t think waiting a few weeks would matter.  I made the decision to return to Seattle for a few weeks after the wedding to help him and my mom out.

Those days we spent in New York were wonderful.  The weather was perfect, we ate well, we shopped, we walked, we sat in the park, we saw a show.  We could forget for moments the scary thing that awaited all of us after the fun was over.  It was the most bittersweet vacation of my life.  As we traveled south to Richmond and the surgery loomed closer, it was harder to pretend that we weren’t nervous.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that this story has a happy ending.  My dad had a rough recovery initially but recover he did, and he has been cancer free these six years.  He is as incredibly active as he was before the surgery and has continued to work as an oncologist helping people with their own cancer diagnoses and treatments in the warmest and most human way possible.

Ironically, as I am about to get on a plane to New York, I got word that my college roommate and friend Victoria has just had surgery for invasive breast cancer.  I haven’t seen her in years and have only been in touch with her via Facebook.  She lives in New York and she has a baby girl and she has an unfathomably tough road ahead of her.  The first thing I did when I talked to her yesterday (after telling her how sorry I am) was to offer up a conversation with my dad.  He has walked along the breast cancer road with countless patients, some even younger than the 39 years of my dear friend, and I so hope that he can be a resource, or even just a comfort to her.  I hope that I can see her and hug her and meet her baby.  I wish I could cook for her.

So, I’m feeling guilty.  Guilty that less than two weeks ago I was in San Francisco and tonight I head off to another world class city.  I’m feeling lucky that I live a life where travel like this is possible.  I feel thankful for my health, my family, my family’s health, and all the other things that make my life blessed.


  1. I have a husband that is gone weeks at a time also. So nice when you can go with him. Have a wonderful trip in NY.

    Comment by Hélène — October 7, 2009 @ 11:20 pm

  2. Have so much fun! How blessed to have a trusty babysitter you can leave your children with. I would love to have some alone time with my hubby. I hope we get to see beautiful pictures of NY when you are back. :)

    Comment by Katie @ goodLife {eats} — October 8, 2009 @ 12:31 am

  3. Dana – when you write posts like this it just reminds me of how glad I am that we met and how much I wish we lived closer. Have a wonderful trip and I’ll keep your friend in my thoughts.

    Comment by Kristina — October 8, 2009 @ 1:31 am

  4. Please don’t feel guilty, Dana. You are blessed to be able to travel and you take that blessing and all the others you have and put them together in this lovely blog that inspires the lives of so many of us on a regular basis. That is using the gifts you have been given and giving them back to others – many of whom you don’t know. I am new to your blog and appreciate every entry!

    Comment by Penny — October 8, 2009 @ 2:44 am

  5. Dana,

    Looking forward to our lunch in the city on Friday.
    Have a good trip, and no need to feel guilty.
    You are a good friend and daughter (wife and mother too!).

    Health is wealth.
    See you soon!

    Comment by Stacey Snacks — October 8, 2009 @ 2:48 am

  6. Cancer is such an ugly disease. My Dad has been battling lymphoma off and on for 10 years now. Just went through another bought of chemo this summer is is cancer free for now. He’s a tough booger and doesn’t give up! It really makes you realize how precious life is and to value relationships.

    Comment by The Cooking Bride — October 8, 2009 @ 3:54 am

  7. Oh Dana, so sorry again to hear about your friend. I know how the guilty, lucky feeling goes. Sometimes I realize how absurd my problems are when so many people have it so much worse.

    I hope NY is just how you remember it, and you have an amazing trip. Next time your husband goes away, grab the boys and come visit us, we’d love to have you!

    Comment by Allison Arevalo — October 8, 2009 @ 5:05 am

  8. What a nice reflection. It is evident what a caring person you are. Have a wonderful time! Next time you need to take a quick train up to Boston :)

    Comment by fresh365 — October 8, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  9. Hi Dana, I’m one of your blog subscribers from the Caribbean. Wishing you a wonderful time in NY. And by the way: Maximal is indeed a word. Keep up the good work of treating us to your food, thoughts and feelings. Much love.

    Comment by Marsha — October 8, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

  10. Beautiful. Bittersweet, but beautifully written. So happy to know of the happy ending for your father…and wishing the best for your friend.

    Have a wonderful time in NYC. Try visiting Jacques Torres–he has a shop off of 74th St in the Upper West Side (Levain Bakery is around the corner too!). And I’m so jealous you’ll be trying WD-50! You’ll have a blast.

    Comment by HappyTummy — October 11, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  11. Hope you’re taking notes–I’m going there for the first time in 3 weeks!

    Comment by The Leftoverist — October 11, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

  12. Don’t feel guilty. Just feel blessed and lucky that you have opportunities. Nothing wrong with that. And I think you ‘pay-it-forward.’ Enjoy.

    Comment by Chef Gwen — October 13, 2009 @ 2:48 am

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