Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Our Trip Home

Yesterday, Friday November 14th, Steven had his last radiation treatment. The radiation oncology staff at St. Jude's gave him balloons and a present, gave him his radiation mask to take home, and posed for pictures with Steven.

We rushed back to the Ronald McDonald House to finish packing. I had stayed up packing the night before until 2 am, but there was still lots left to do. I remember reading once that safety pins are actually living creatures that can transform themselves into paper clips, and after they turn into paper clips, the reproduce like rabbits. This was the conclusion drawn by a woman who kept purchasing safety pins and despite the fact that she never purchased any paper clips, could never find any safety pins when she needed them, only paper clips.

Similarly, I can't understand what happened while we were in Memphis. We came with one large suitcase and one carry-on for each of us, and we left with two extra suitcases over and above what we came with, we shipped back four large boxes of books and other stuff, and I took an entire trunkful of stuff over to the home of a woman I know in Memphis, the St. Jude school kept some stuff for us there, and it was all we could do to pack what we had into the luggage we had. I am of the opinion that our clothes and books are busy at night reproducing while we are asleep. I absolutely know that I didn't pack 16 pairs of socks for Steven.

Before getting our bags checked , they opened the two largest bags and inspected all 16 pairs of Steven's socks, our clothes, the books, Steven's hat collection, and the other mishmash of personal items we had crammed in there. Then they put a tag on our suitcases and sent us off to wait in the line where they actually x-ray and check the bags.

When we got to the airport security gate, they decided once again (it happened on the way to Memphis also) that I presented a special security risk. After all, my tickets were purchased by St. Jude's, I was accompanying a bald child with a St. Jude's hospital bracelet, and I had way more luggage than any normal person should travel with.

They took my watch, my purse, my backpack, my laptop, my sweatshirt jacket and emptied out every last one of the contents, opened the computer. I removed my shoes so they could remove the insoles and scan every last millimeter, much more than the cursory inspection my shoes received on the way to Memphis.

I was very thoroughly wanded while they asked me about the metal they discovered in my braa hooks. Then they had the same experience I had of actually trying to fit all the stuff I brought back into the bags. When Steven and I tried to leave the security area after all the scanning, they stopped me again and waited for some manager to come out and give the OK for me to continue. Despite the fact that we arrived 90 minutes early to the airport, we arrived at the gate 8 minutes before the plane took off.

I'm glad to know our tax dollars are at work protecting US citizens from terrorists like myself.

When we arrived in Los Angeles, the pilot invited Steven to sit in the cockpit with his hands on the controls and wear his hat, an interesting thing given the extra security considerations they were taking with us.

In spite of all our adventures, Steven and I had tears streaming down our cheeks as we descended into Los Angeles. My parents picked us up, and Doug and Sean came to get us in Orange County to take us back to San Diego.

We are so incredibly thankful to be home.

- Kathleen

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