Sunday, August 29, 2010

Road to Houston and back

Cooper, Katie and I are home from a quick weekend trip to Houston. The Webelos from Cooper's Scout pack spent Saturday night at NASA's Space Center.

We drove south after school Friday and returned this afternoon.

I must admit that I don't have the best attitude about Houston and the journey to and from. There are too many memories that get in the way.

When Steve and I were dating, he lived in Brenham and I lived in Carrollton. Most weekends he would drive up here to visit; a few times I would go to Brenham, and we'd sometimes visit Houston.

So when I think of our earliest years together, I remember my first-ever trip to Ikea and ice skating at the Galleria and the night Steve surprised me with a new car at a Saturn dealership when we were allegedly there just to look around.

Fast forward to 2008. We had chosen to seek advice from M.D. Anderson about what exactly had taken residence in Steve's brain stem.

We were thankful to have such a prestigious cancer center so close -- and Uncle Jim and dear friends who lived right there and were instantly available. But Houston lost its romantic allure.

On Jan. 16, we were at M.D. Anderson for an MRI and clinic visit. We expected to fly back to Dallas that night. Instead, we learned that Steve would require a risky biopsy the very next morning.

I left Steve in Jim's care and flew home by myself. A few hours later, Liz and I drove my Ford Escape south on Interstate 45. We drank coffee, ate chocolate and talked nonstop.

On Jan. 20, I drove Steve home with the help of Jayshree, who kept us company and kept us laughing despite preliminary biopsy results that identified the mass as a malignant, inoperable tumor.

Road trips to and from Houston will never be the same.

I miss my best friend, who long ago had agreed to always be my driver on road trips. I miss listening to him sing and tell stories about growing up in Spring. I miss reminiscing with him and planning our future together.

I'm not quitting Houston. I'm hopeful that with time those awful memories will fade (though not disappear) and those sweet early memories plus new ones will sharpen.

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