Friday, June 26, 2015

The Little Things ARE the Big Things

  While on vacation in Disney World I had many opportunities to notice the differences between this year's trip and last year's, when I was on oxygen 24/7 and rode a scooter nearly everywhere I went.  Some of these moments were big and obvious and amazing, while many others were small, revealing themselves quietly or only dawning on me after the fact.  And is is these moments which we all too often overlook, only appreciating once we've lost them.  As such, I relish being able to reflect on them now.

     While I've already talked about swimming with my son, another pool moment which happened a few days after my first swim in three years embodied how wonderful my life as a father is post-transplant.  While last year my time near the pool was spent on a chair or dipping my feet in the water, this time I could fully immerse myself in the experience, both literally and figuratively.  A little guy about eight or nine years old asked my son and I if he could play with the beach ball we'd brought, suggesting the obvious game of "monkey in the middle."  That feeling of being able to say yes, to be so active with my son is one I can not properly express.  I wasn't wallowing in misery last year watching my son play in the pool, but I can understand why someone in my situation would have felt that way.  The highs are only noticeable due to the lows, and as I chased the beach ball around the pool, threw it over my son's head, and deliberately let him get his hands on it after touching it so he wouldn't be the "monkey" the whole game, I was near the peak of fatherly joy.  

     Before shifting to tossing the ball to my son and his new pool friend, the little guy asked me my name.  "Evin," I said.
     "No, Evin."
     "Oh, Everett.  Okay."
      I let it go.  I've certainly been called worse.

     One thing I realized I felt last year during the trip, but tried to push away, was the guilt of affecting other people's vacations because I needed to use a scooter.  It's a less than five minute process to get a scooter on a bus and secured (if the driver is quick about it) but that's five more minutes everyone else spends in the hot sun, five minutes less spent at the park, and three fewer seats for other passengers on a crowded bus (the scooter goes in a spot where three seats fold up.)  Both then and know, I realize that my experience at Disney World is no more or less important than anyone else's, so accommodations for any disabled traveler are just part of the reality.  But this year, in particular when we fit on a standing room only bus at the end of our first full day, I appreciated fact that my health's impact on the vacation of my family and the strangers around me was nonexistent.

     The last of these little / big moments was also the most primitive.  It occurred when I walked to our hotel's cafeteria area and brought back a tray full of food for my me and my family.  As I walked, completely capable of carrying something somewhat heavy, with no worries about needing to stop to catch my breath, despite the two flights of stairs at the end of the journey, I actually felt proud.  It must have been similar to how early man felt, after killing a large beast and hauling it home to his woman, who had spent the entire day searching for berries and keeping the fire burning.  I was a provider, if not a full blown hunter.  But that pride was also borne out of the guilt I felt during my entire time on oxygen, when the list of household chores I could withered drastically.

     I don't think many people look back fondly on carrying a tray of hamburgers and french fries.  On a Disney vacation, such an activity is merely a blip, overshadowed by a hundred fun things which rightly take precedence over the transportation of food.  And I wouldn't want them to, because what I had to go through to earn this appreciative lens was physically rough and emotionally draining.  But also worth every fear, question, and challenge my family and I faced along the way.

Bonus:  Me wearing a backpack to carry something other than an oxygen concentrator!


  1. Having some difficulty posting. LOL
    I must say, a very interesting comparison going so far back to primitive days carrying that tray! I hope you don't start hauling Kayla around by her hair one day just because you can now!!!!!!!!!

  2. Ha ha! I think she'd feed me to a saber-tooth cat if I tried something like that!