Everybody's back home again, but things aren't quite back to normal yet.
For starters, I'm still something of a pariah, even in my own family. I can talk with them and eat meals with them, but I can't hold my children in my lap, can't snuggle with them over a bedtime story, and can't bury them in that inescapable hug that every father has for his children after they've been away. Arm's length for four days; limited close personal contact for ten days.
This is the worst part of the cancer treatment, worse even than the final stretch before I could take thyroid hormone again, when I slept fifteen hours in a single day and could have slept more.
Patience, I tell myself. All will soon be made right. But in the meantime, it stinks.
The girls had a good time seeing their cousins in New York. I asked Evangeline what her favorite part was, and she said, "My favorite favorite part was playing with them in the park. My favorite part was the whole thing."
My brother fixed the flat tire on Evangeline's bike, and she had a good time riding her bike to the park with her cousins. She didn't even mind that Rachel had inherited her tricycle, although Rachel had a hard time reaching the pedals and pushing them anywhere.
The four cousins apparently had a blast together, all things considered. There were a few bumps and bruises, including one black eye from a bump on the slide, but the amusements far outweighed the downsides. Megan cried on Friday because Rachel and Evangeline were playing without her -- they weren't really, they're just used to playing together -- but she had a blast having girls around to play with all weekend, and that made a new experience for her. Ben liked having someone new to play with, and even got into a toy sword fight with Evangeline, which he proceeded to lose when she pressed her advantage and he backed up, and rolled down the hill. And Megan liked her cousins, but couldn't remember their names, so they became "her" and "her" or "my cousin with the dark hair" and "my cousin with the light hair."
Everyone was wide awake when they returned home Sunday night. I bundled Evangeline off to bed with a story, and woke her up early the next morning so she could take a shower before school -- fortunately, that's a skill she's been learning for a while. Natasha slept until nine o'clock, because Rachel had napped in the car and was wide awake until one that morning, and then she and Rachel rushed to the office so she could complete her payroll duties.
So I sit around the house, still quarantined from my own family, and watch as the shadows grow long, and wait for the safety period to pass so I can fully be with my children and wife again. I've continued to work on the piano and some some art, and tonight I hope to rework a section of the novel.
Everyone's home again. I just wish I could spend time with them.