You’re going to Michigan? Me too!

My Previous Blog > "PHOTOS: Atia's Celebration of Life Party"

It seems that every time I turn around someone is talking about either going to Michigan or just getting back from Michigan. It’s the hot spot for Chicagoans to vacation. It makes sense; it’s close, beautiful and on the water. Most seem to either rent a lake house or go camping near the sand dunes. Either way, it’s a great, quick getaway for the summer.

Though we didn’t get the chance to go this year, we did go in 2009 & 2010. Last year was great! We joined our friends at their lake house for our 2nd annual Friends’ Getaway Weekend with the kids.

Arnie and Laila have a place that’s been in their family for generations. We adore the history – it’s where Laila played when she was a kid – and the casual, jump in the lake if your hot vibe makes for the perfect summertime retreat.

We’re a pretty big group – a total of 19 people – 12 adults and 7 kids ranging in age from 10 months old to 7 years old. Thank goodness the adults outnumber the kids; it’s the only reason this little getaway works.

We all couldn’t stay at the lake house, so some of us bunked at a local B & B.

Though, we spent all day together. It was so relaxing to sit back and watch the kids splash around having fun, but what touched me deeply was watching the heart of the group - Steve and his old high school friends, who have spent the last 20+ years of their lives together – seamlessly slip back and forth between the past and the present.

They enjoyed a cold beer or glass of wine and reminisced about the good ol’ days while tending to their kids underfoot. The contrast was endearing; these people who were just kids themselves when they met were now parents raising their own children.

The food situation was well orchestrated. Every family was responsible for a portion of the meals – lunch or dinner – and all the fixings that go along with it.

Of course, during Atia's cancer treatement,  time away from Chicago wouldn’t be the same without some type of medical crisis. In 2009 we almost couldn’t go because we were dealing with a mysterious pain in Atia's abdomen which we later discovered was caused by her inflamed liver, and our 2010 trip was no exception. Out of nowhere, the last night of our vacation, Atia got a nose bleed, but it wasn’t any old nose bleed…

It was the mother of all nose bleeds. The blood started and we couldn’t stop it. Panic ensued. Our friends were well versed on Atia’s compromised immune system and everyone got very nervous. Atia was crying and screaming, and we were destroying one wash cloth after another trying to stop the uncontrollable eruption. The moms in the group corralled the children and removed them from the scene, including Asher; it was too scary to be around.

Those of us who stayed with Atia attempted to distract her in whatever way we could; there was incessant singing, question asking, shushing, consoling and strategizing. As the blood continued to flow, Steve and I began inquiring about the closest hospital. We were told it was small and there was probably no pediatric oncology department.

Terrified, we considering a drive back to Chicago and bee lining it to Comer Children’s Hospital’s ER. How long would that take? How were we going to minimize the blood loss until then? How would we get our stuff from the B & B? There was no way we were going back to pack up.

And then, as if the faucet was turned off, the nosebleed came to an abrupt hault. Atia’s sobs turned to gasping breath, as she struggled to recover from the trauma of the situation. Steve and I began to loosen our jaws and release the tension in our shoulders. Between sighs of relief, our friends began sipping their beers again.

The kids were ushered back into the house and we attempted to resume the regularly scheduled activities, but the events of that night couldn’t be forgotten and the overall mood changed. Once again our reality, which we were so desperately trying to escape, weaseled its way back in.

The next morning we packed up the car and headed home.

My Next Blog > "The Picnic and Flashes of Hope"

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