This morning arrived with wild wind and spit-like rain. It was still dark as we loaded the van and climbed in with our coffees, headed for Nate’s first radiation treatment. Normally I would have been behind the wheel for the 108 mile trip, but Nelson wanted to share this experience with us and kindly took my place.
As we sped along, Nate riding shotgun and me in back, I observed father and son. They conversed steadily and even chuckled together, a sound that washed over me like a balm. There hasn’t been too much levity at our house recently.
Suddenly Nelson braked and pulled sharply onto the left shoulder. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Look behind us,” he said.
Pulling up close was a police car, bubble gum lights flashing. My heart sank, because I’d just told Nelson they’d raised the speed limit, which proved inaccurate for this section of highway. I wished I’d been driving and could have taken the ticket, despite his record being clean and mine being, uh, dirty.
After scowling and quizzing Nelson about his speed, the officer went to his car, eventually returning with license and ticket. “You have a total disregard for everything,” he said. “You’ve got to slow down. I’m giving you a warning.” And he was gone.
As we merged back onto the expressway, we were all chuckling about Nelson’s supposed “disregard” for not just traffic rules but for absolutely “everything”. And laughter turned to amazement when we talked about the gift of a warning instead of the penalty of a ticket. All of us saw it as one more touch of kindness from the Lord. “Whatever is good… comes down to us from God our Father.” (James 1:17a)
We arrived on time for radiation treatment #1, which was a breeze for Nate. No claustrophobic tube to slide into and no pain in the treatment process. Friendly techs announced, “Now we’re going to Grant Park,” as pictures of Chicago’s beautiful lake front came into view during his “zapping”.
He returned to the lobby saying, “So far, so good.”
Tomorrow we repeat the process. Maybe then he’ll get to “go” to Millennium Park or the Chicago River as the radiation does its work. In the next few days, doctors said, his skin will redden at the three radiation sites and then feel sunburned, possibly blistering after that. “But with our magic creams,” they assured us, “we’ll make it easy.” We trust them and hope they’re telling the full truth.
Driving home while eating Subway sandwiches, we watched for speed limit signs. Nate was tired but talkative, and as we rounded the bottom of the lake headed for home, all three of us agreed it had been a very good day.
“I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.” (Jeremiah 31:13)