October, 2007. We travel to Boston weekly, visiting with Dr. Walton for pressure checks for Owen. Owen was born with glaucoma, and his eye pressure must be monitored regularly; if pressure rises, this may damage his optic nerve and cause blindness. So far, Owen has had 2 surgeries on his right eye. He is 6 weeks old.
Driving to Boston becomes routine. We pack up the minivan, put Owen and Josie in their car seats, drive the Mass Pike for 174 miles, and have an appointment with Dr. Walton. If Owen's eye pressure is up, he is scheduled for surgery the next week. We keep a hotel reservation for several weeks in advance, just in case.
After each appointment we would typically go to the aquarium or walk along Charles Street to the park to goof off around the duck statues from Make Way for Ducklings. All the while, we wait until Owen needs another surgery. We hope he doesn't, but we know he will.
We have a new minivan, purchased just prior to Owen's birth. What luck - we got the one with an in-dash GPS system and a DVD player. We're not big TV and video people, but having the ability to play a Laurie Berkner DVD while driving 6 hours in a day is helpful.
I'll preface the next few paragraphs with this: I'm not the smartest guy. I've got a decent head on my shoulders, and I can get by. But sometimes, I'm completely lost.
So, we are driving to Boston one morning. It's beautiful - Autumn, with leaves changing, crisp air and the same deep blue that covered the skies the day I first saw Owen's eyes. Blue.
We pull into a rest area on the Mass Pike to nurse and check diapers. At this particular area, there is a farmers market. Great! I take Josie out to walk along the few tents, looking at apples and pumpkins and making small talk. Alecia stays in the car to nurse Owen.
Josie and I walk and talk, and we slowly make our way back to the car. I put her in the car seat and strap her in safely with her head rest and her little legs poking out in front of her. I tighten her straps and belts.
I smell something.
I look around. I'm standing outside of the van with my head poked in where Josie is sitting.
Something smells like shit. Literally.
Now, when you're a father of 2 little ones, it's not uncommon to smell bad things. There's poop, pee, farts, and general smelliness. But this smelled like shit, and I can't identify the source.
I lean my head in the van and smell the back of the driver's chair where the handle and pocket are.
Ew. This smells bad.
"Sweets," I say to my wife. "The back of this seat smells like crap."
I repeat, "The back of the van seat smells like crap."
She looks at me like I'm an idiot, because she knows me. She comes back to investigate. We're both standing outside the van door with our heads poked in. Josie is strapped into her car seat with her little legs kicked out in front towards the back of the driver's seat where, I believe, the crappy smell is eminating from.
"See. It smells like crap. This van seat smells like crap. Smell it."
My wife leans in and smells the back of the van seat. She then turns her head slightly and smells - and visually checks - Josie's little shoes that are on her feet at the end of her pokey little legs.
"Ok, Sears," she says. She shakes her head at me, or possibly at herself for marrying such a dolt. "It's not the van seat. It's your daughter's shoes. She stepped in dog crap."
While walking through the outdoor farmers market, we must have ventured into ground zero of dog crap, and Josie stepped in some poop, carrying with her the stinky remains of a dog's breakfast, smell and all. I just didn't realize it. I could smell something, so it naturally makes sense that the back of the van seat should smell like crap. It never occured to me that the odor could be coming from Josie's shoes.
Like I said. I am not the smartest guy. And that's how things go for us. Sure, we're running like mad to help save our son's vision. But there are moments of fun, and there are things that happen - tiny events that all families have hidden in their history - that make it all feel normal.