Finding Joy Riding Miles to Nowhere
May 23, 2017
Topics: Riley Kid Story
When our son was two years old, we joined a club for which we never registered – the “Riley family” club. Karson was diagnosed with leukemia, and our difficult journey began.
During Karson’s worst days of treatment, we did all we could to find and welcome joy. Joy can be found in times of waiting and wailing, and it can be welcomed into the pain. Granted, it may take effort to offer the hospitality, but inviting and making room for laughter, fun, and hope is always possible.
Our joy often arrived in the form of a large white monorail, or People Mover, found on the campus of IU Health where Riley Hospital for Children resides. The People Mover ran on a track connecting hospitals, labs, and medical offices. It stopped at three stations within the campus.
Karson’s love of trains, and his infatuation with the Thomas and Friends characters, led us to try a ride on the People Mover. Karson said, “I think we should name him Spencer!” Spencer was a character within the Thomas series, long and white and sleek, much like the People Mover. And so, we christened Spencer and he became a regular part of our lives.
After each appointment, we would walk the hallways of Riley to Spencer’s loading area. Karson’s feet would smack sloppily against the tile floors and the noise echoed through the hallways. (One of the chemotherapy drugs that he received, Vincristine, affected Karson’s walk, temporarily causing him to lose some control of his heel cords and coordination. Within a few hours, this side effect would wear off.) We’d board Spencer and ride for about twenty minutes through two stops along the IU campus before returning to our starting point. Doctors in lab coats boarded and exited and smiled at us.
One day, several family members, including my aunt and uncle, made the trip to Indianapolis with us. They stayed in a hotel and spent time with my parents, but while in town we all took time to ride Spencer. My dad created tickets on his computer that he printed for each person. They included Spencer’s name, the date and each person’s name. They also listed Karson Cabe as the conductor. We all presented him with our tickets before boarding.
We welcomed joy into our lives that day and many other days by riding miles to nowhere on a white monorail.
This essay is an excerpt from Christy Cabe’s newly published memoir: “Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels.”
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