When I was a kid I used to read those Choose Your Own Adventure books. You know, the ones where you read a page and make a decision about which way to go at the bottom and it directs you on to the next part of that story. In theory, every time you read it you can create a different story just by changing one of your choices. I never worked it out statistically, how many different stories were possible. I just remember being as fascinated by choosing my way to the "happy ending" as I was by my choices leading me to the abrupt "too bad, you're done" ending.
In actual fact, what I liked about those books is what you don't get with real life: the option to flip back to the front and start again if your story is not going how you want it to go. Real life is marked by choices, and those choices do influence our story for sure, but we still start every day exactly where we left off before we went to sleep. We don't go back, we don't start again. I can be as different tomorrow as I want to be, but I still take all I've "read" so far along with me.
I started thinking about all this last Friday, when I was talking to our neighbour whose father recently died after battling with cancer. She was teary and fragile, but equally pleased that in the last few weeks before her father's death they had done a lot together, made the most of their time. She had no regrets about the end of his life.
I of course started thinking about Adam, and more clearly about how we are spending our time together. I don't know anything about the future for Adam, only that right now, in this moment, I have the choice to spend time with him meaningfully, to live well so that no matter what, ten years down the line I have no regrets. I want this as much for myself as for Caleb and Agnes, who won't be thinking about the future now (blessedly!) and yet will still have memories of this time in our family's life, maybe more so for Caleb than Agnes. I want Caleb to think back and remember that we did some fun things as well as the "boring" old hospital visits. I want him to remember Adam laughing as well as shouting, crying and laying on a hospital bed.
I wasn't trying to be morbid, only to shake myself out of a little rut I'd gotten into, of getting through days rather than living them. So we took the bus and went tubing down the dry ski slope on Saturday, had fish and chips and ice cream and then Adam and I, keen to keep the party going, took the bus to a playground and hung out on the swings while watching huge black clouds bearing down on us (mercifully staying dry!) I had to carry him much of the day, as he was tired. I had to wash his hands lots and keep putting his coat on when he got cold. But we had fun.
Sunday we went to church, watched Alice in Wonderland together while the baby slept, then went for a coffee and a walk in the forest nearby. Adam rode in the buggy most of the time, holding on to rocks and throwing them into the puddles we passed. Brian raced Caleb on this mountain bike course we like, hurtling Adam at breakneck speed along the "loop-de-loops" (don't worry, he was strapped in!) They stopped now and again and waited for momma and baby, and were off like a shot once we caught up--I shouted the obligatory "be careful!" and smiled to see Adam's wings and his smile, thoroughly enjoying the ride.
So we chose our adventure this weekend, we spent loads of money and tired ourselves out and it was good. I for one will look back someday, from whatever vantage point, and say that was time and money well spent. And whether or not this weekend is as flashy, I'm grateful for the reminder that I can choose to spend it well.
p.s. here are pics to prove that we survived!
sweaty family post-tubing
she does love her front pack walks!
p.p.s: just so you don't think I'm all romantic and stuff now...two days after our epic weekend I got a call from one of the nurses at the hospital who asked how Adam was doing. Fine, I said. Why? Well, it's just that his haemoglobin (red blood cells) is 58, so we wondered if he's ok. I didn't tell her about the tubing, and I definitely didn't mention the buggy racing either!!