Having Been Here Before

As he told his new oncologist, who smiled, “I already have an incurable lymphoma, what’s one more?” Humor. It’s what Simmonses do. In times of happy and times of sad. We laugh.

I sat there idling in the fast food line, knowing I had felt this way before. I jetted over the guilt of ordering – and, in time, eating – this comfort food with my sister from the burger joint that has been here since our childhoods. Child’s play on the list of emotions I was trying to wrestle.

Strangely, I was feeling that things were settled for just a moment. I dug deeply, and, when I landed on where I had experienced this feeling before, I smiled.

My husband and I gave birth and raised only one child while we were growing and working in our separate small businesses. The days could be very long and very disjointed. I can remember days where, when all the dust had settled and I had crash landed in my bed near midnight and was thinking back over the day, I was stunned that something I thought had happened several days ago had been that very morning. All this while breastfeeding or pumping so that others could feed our dear son.

One of those long days so many years ago involved a night when our son just would not calm. He was fed, he was dry, he had been happy all day, he had no fever; he just wouldn’t go to sleep. It felt like something was brewing in his nearly perfect body, but, being an untrained mothering professional, I knew all I could do was wait because a diagnosis was impossible.

So we rocked, and rocked, and rocked in a rocker that now graces our living room. The rooms on our second floor were dark, my husband and dog quietly staying away. The street light pushed its way through thousands of maple leaves and landed on my back. And still we rocked. I sang; he cooed. I was silent; he stared up at me with huge eyes and spottingly fussed. We rocked some more.

Then he settled. I rocked. He fell asleep, and still I rocked. My instinct was to jump up, place him in the crib, skip going to the bathroom, run to my bed, and sleep the sleep of the dead. Yet, I rocked my full bladder and him until his breaths were deeply pulling from the center of his being and his body was limp from giving in.

I knew a storm was coming from him. An illness or a tooth or possibly colic or any of the other horrors mentioned in the parenting handbook I glanced over occasionally. With that would come disruption and side effects. Extra laundry and messy emotions.

Just like cancer, come to find out.

Idling in that line, I was just three hours off the butt-crack-of-dawn flight from Florida where I helped our father make the decision to take on another chemo therapy for yet another treatable – but not curable – cancer. As he told his new oncologist, who smiled, “I already have an incurable lymphoma, what’s one more?” Humor. It’s what Simmonses do. In times of happy and times of sad. We laugh.

Over the three days between diagnosis and landing on a treatment, my sister and I had spent hours on the phone getting caught up on all things work related and all things cancer related. We were, again, dividing and conquering. We laughed and cried. We were living with cancer.

Idling in that line, I knew our dad was settled. Not in a crib but in a treatment. I felt relief.

The storms will come and ravage our father. Chemo does that. His suffering will be our suffering. His successes he will willingly share with us.  And, thankfully, he will let us learn from the pain, and we will try our hardest to take some of it away with laughter.

Idling in that line, I knew there were days coming that would be long. And glorious. And hard. I was hungry and knew Casey would be, too.


p.s. Say what you will about “sheet meat” burgers, Winstead’s has changed little since Casey and I were children. Since we sat in those booths after dances, football games, and orchestra concerts. A double with everything plus cheese, tomato, and mayo will set you free and move cancer aside for a few minutes.

p.p.s. All photos are from Florida. The flowers all live in my Dad’s yard, and the beach lives just down the street where I found the little bit of magic seen below. Damn, life is beautiful.

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26 thoughts on “Having Been Here Before”

  1. Sloane, this is beautiful writing…the imagery, the heart, the sadness, the hopefulness. Life is messy, isn’t it? Carry on, carry on.

    1. Patti:

      Messy and wonderful.

      And I love every stinking minute of it.

      Thank you for reading our blogs, for your compliments, and for taking time to send a note. I am deeply appreciative.


      – sloane

    1. Ted:

      You have shared some amazing stories and photos with us! Storytelling rocks!

      Thank you for reading our blog and for taking even more time to send a note.

      You are so very kind.

      – sloane

  2. You are such a magical writer. How your mind connects moments and ideas is amazing. Thank you for sharing your story and your heart.

    1. Kristopher:

      You were sweet last week to listen to me ramble over drinks as my mind chewed on this issue. It had been one hell of a week.

      Your compliments are kind and I can never thank you enough for reading, listening, and sitting in silence with me when the time is right.

      Thank you.

      – sloane

    1. Rita:

      Thank you for taking time to read our blogs and for taking even MORE time to send such a lovely note. I am lucky.

      Your compliments are stunning and I have few words beyond the obligatory “thanks.”. Which I mean with my every fiber.

      All my love:

      – sloane

    1. Kathy:

      We can feel the sway of your love from exactly where you are! Your rocking is doing its job.

      Thank you for reading our words when we write them and for sending a note today. I am touched.


      – sloane

  3. So awesome…. prayers and healing energy coming your Dad’s way. I love your writing… a fun addition… two weeks ago I was flying to Las Vegas for a meeting.. my seat mate was Judy…. started working at Winsteads in 1964… still going strong…. such an interesting hard working women who had recently lost her husband. A friend was flying her to LV to see Donnie and Marie… such joy and gratitude I saw in Judy. Hugs all around to the Sisters and Dad☘️

    1. Peggy:

      Those men and women work HARD! I worked in food service for six months a long time ago and it is a butt kicker…

      Thank you for taking time to read our blogs and, even more so, for taking time to write a note. I am very appreciative.

      All my love:

      – sloane

    1. Landa:

      Best human? Dang.

      Thanks for sending such a great note and for taking time to read my blog. Life is long and wonderful and sad and hard. To have you along for my ride is a blessing.

      xoxoxoxo to infinty and beyond:

      – sloane

  4. Dang, what a horrid time for your family. You really have a way with words, conveying just what you want in a perfect way. I too live in a family with cancer- two of my daughters, one doing fine, the other just finishing 15 months of treatment for an incurable, very aggressive, brain tumor. Comfort comes where it will, in laughter, in food, and with each other.

    1. Liz:

      Two cancers and two daughters! Yikes. Please know that whatever love you send our way is returned to you upon the wings of hope.

      Thank for for taking time out of what must be a chock full life to read my blog AND send a response. I am deeply touched.

      All my wishes of healing for your family and for you.

      – sloane

    1. Carol:

      Thank you for taking time to send such a nice note and for taking time out of your life to read our blogs.

      Your comments about comfort are noted …

      – sloane

  5. i love this glowing reveal of your heart and mind and the enchanting place where you abide…
    all of you Simmonses.

    1. Rachelle:

      Thank you for always sending such gracious notes. To know that people take time out of busy lives to read what we write is humbling.

      That you take time to send your thoughts to us just makes the magic more magical.


      – sloane

  6. Sloane:

    Through the store you and Casey are a part of so many of our memories, through the gifts we give for the birth of a child, graduation of an adult friend from college and even gifts that say kick butt and take names we aren’t quitting now.

    Then you write a blog that gives us a peek into your memories and the challenges you face in life, the humanness of you that connects us all.

    1. Lisa:

      Your note makes me happy. Thank you for writing it.

      Life is long and fun and hard and also brilliantly short. Thank you for making us part of so many celebrations and for taking time to read our blogs and sending such notes full of grace.

      Be well and keep smiling.

      – sloane

  7. It’s what we do. In times of happy and sad. We laugh. It’s the best way, really. Love you, and your lovely family. So grateful to call you “friend.” Keeping your dad, your sweet momma, and all of you, in my prayers.


    1. Shelly:

      Thank you for reading our blog. For taking time to send a kind note tops all.

      Laughter saves me time and time again. The best is when you laugh so hard your body hurts and you have to pee!

      Love you, too, my friend. We are all in this together and having you along for the ride is mighty fine.

      – sloane

  8. With tears in my eyes, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate and love you. Sending lots of positive, healing light to you and your family from way too far away.

    1. Ramelle:

      You are a kind soul. Thank you for the nice note. I did not mean to make you cry.

      Thank you for reading our blogs and for taking time to send a kind note. It means a lot to me.


      – sloane

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