Sometimes life is one big inhale. Sucking in air. Holding it. Waiting to exhale. To ventilate. That is the hard part. I have three very full days ahead including spending the night with Dave’s ex-stepmother, Susan’s, in San Clemente, in preparation for speaking in Laguna Hills on Thursday and then catching a plane to Portland where Dave and I will have dinner with Jess and Jojo (YEAH!) and then participate on the parent panel of an End Of Life Nurse Education Consortium meeting. Home on Friday night and then Saturday, attend the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk and Jacob’s 13th birthday celebration. He is turning 13, on the 13th. Just writing it down makes me tired. Where normally, I am excited about such a line up, today I am fatigued. I have been heavy hearted all week. I know it is because Jacob has a cold. His stuffy nose, body aches and fatigue began Sunday night. I went to City of Hope on Monday, to visit with researchers working on incredibly valuable leukemia and lymphoma projects. I made a point to visit with Justin’s oncologist, who I haven’t seen in ten years or so. She looks well. Smaller than I remember, a cancer survivor herself now, she seemed softer. Maybe if I didn’t know that she had cancer too, she would look the same? When Jacob is sick, my soul is sick. I can’t help it. I don’t express it but I feel it. I don’t feel it much on the first day, but by the third day, I’m exhausted. I got him up at 6:15 today to shower in an attempt to go to school. His sunken eyes, stuffy nose, shriveled lips were the first indication that the chances of making it to school were slim. He literally rolled out of bed on to the 8 pillow pile which he uses to barricade himself when he sleeps and which I knock over on to the floor every morning in order to get to him. I rubbed his feet and back with frankincense, oregano, and a blend called Breathe, all therapeutic oils, I use when he has a cold. I play Dark Knight Radio on Pandora loudly, his favorite. He opened his swollen eyes; I lifted him up and helped him to the shower. Nothing like a hot steam to clear the sinuses and get the juices flowing, maybe this will wake him up. I went to the kitchen, made his PB& J sandwich, poured his orange juice, added extra vitamin C powder and proceeded to load the dishwasher with last nights dishes. I looked up and there was Jacob, wrapped in a thick white towel, Poochini licking his wet ankles. “I’m tired, Mom.” “You don’t feel any better? Do you think you can make it to school?” “I like going to school when I feel good. I don’t feel good.” Exhale. There’s the answer. He doesn’t feel good. How do you force a kid to go to school with a history of leukemia, attending the same school his brother attended, who relapsed and died a year after this year? I can’t do it. “Go back to bed son,” I say wrapping my arms around him. He curls into my arms, “You really like to cuddle don’t you?” “What?” he looks up, then lowers his head, “Yah, I like to cuddle,” he purrs. I follow him to his room; rub more oil on his chest to help him breathe, curl up next to him. Poochini jumps up and joins us. Jacob’s warm clean body on my right, Pooch’s soft white canine fluffiness at my back. I am sandwiched between two boys and decide to let go of the worry and let myself feel the love. No school today. Maybe tomorrow.