Monthly Archives: June 2014

A True Story

Three years ago I woke up in the morning and had one of those experiences that has stayed with me to this day. It was incredibly brief but at the same time very private.

Moments like that I hold so dear, but I also tend to keep them close to my chest.  But this was different. This was a moment I wanted to share … and it was the moment I first thought of starting this blog.

After it happened I went straight to the computer, typed up what follows and sent it to some family and friends.  I’m posting it here exactly as it was written then.  As the years went by and I played with the idea of a blog, it was always what I thought my first post would be.  And while it is in fact my ‘second’ and not my ‘first’, for me it is where the idea began to really take shape.  And let’s be honest, very few things in this life ever quite go as planned.  So be it first or be it second … here is where it all began for me.

True Story – June 21st 2006

  • After a worldwind night including bloodtests, transfusions, ambulance rides and countless nurses and doctors, we first hear the confirmation that our son Mark has cancer.  Four days later his specific cytogenetics will come back from the lab and we will learn the immeasurable weight that his particular rare high risk diagnosis really means and how much the numbers are not on his side. Our life has forever been changed – and I have little hope to hang on to. There will be high risk protocols, unfathomable amounts of chemotherapy for 3 1/2 years, seemingly unending painful procedures and the words ‘severe’ and ‘rare’ more times than I can count.

True Story – June 21st 2011

  • Five years later.  It’s 6:15 a.m. and I sneak into Mark’s room.  (Mark is a sleeper – this will not wake my son – of this I am sure)  I crawl into his bed and I marvel at how big he is. How truly long his legs and arms are. I marvel at how much we have overcome.  As I crawl under his covers he rolls over and puts his arm around me and keeps breathing in that deep way kids do when they sleep.
  • Now to understand the rest of the story you’d have to know that I whisper “thank you” to the universe like ALL the time.  I’ll be walking down the stairs and I’ll pause, close my eyes and whisper “thank you”.  It’s not particularly a prayer, or at huge moments or anything.  Sometimes I do it when I’m stopped a red light, or in my chair at work, or in the morning, or before bed – whenever.  I just pause, close my eyes and whisper thank you.
  • This morning as Mark’s arms were around me – on this anniversary day that is usually so difficult for me – I whispered in the smallest of voices – free of tears, or weight or gravity – “thank you”.  And in the smallest of voices my beautiful son very simply whispered “Your Welcome”, and continued that deep breathing.

It’s That Time of Year Again

I have just realized it’s that time of year again. The end of June.  It seems no matter what choices I make, this particular date always gobsmacks me right across the face.

There is a line from this song that goes “And no one talks about the truth that smacked heaven in the face and took hell for a spin – and in the midst of that world was a red- headed girl just trying to hold up her chin”.

That’s what “life” – every day – used to feel like for me. Every moment of every day – just taking hell for a spin and praying I could do it with grace and fortitude and optimism despite the reality we were given.  For a very very long time that was my life.

It doesn’t feel that way anymore for me of course.  Our life is filled with amazingly positive adjectives that have little to do with any c words.  But this weekend …. THIS weekend still does.  It always still feels like that. Like I can’t breathe again and I’m just doing everything I can just to get through the day.

And the thing is … I don’t understand why really.  I don’t understand how some date – some arbitrary number on a calendar – on a piece of paper – can take me back to that place so easily. I’ve read a lot about PTSD the past year and a half … so in truth I guess I CAN understand it.  My “mind” can understand it … but my heart and my soul is always amazed at the power that little number holds over me.

I have tried mightily to change it. I am – after all – a “glass half full girl” and always have been.  Even through the 6 years that were hell.  No – strike that – ESPECIALLY through those hellish six years.  And truth be told I’m the chick who not only sees the glass half full but who goes and gets her own water picture,  fills the damn glass up, slams it on the table and says “fuck your half glass” my family’s glass is “full” god damn it.

Yes – I’ve tried to change it.  Have tried to change the way I feel on this date.  I have gone camping with very good friends (and I ended up wanting to yell at the poor souls – don’t you know how lucky you are?!) I have tried to have just the four of us do something away from the world, I have tried big vacations and I have tried snuggling in.  Nothing “works”.

I thought this year would be different.  I thought last year I had “taken back June”. And last years experience WAS in fact more joyful than I ever imagined. A true, pure, authentic, freeing moment.  But it was just that – a moment.  And I look at 2014 and I have realized that here I am  – once again-  unconsciously trying to take my mind off the upcoming date.

I had planned for families to come over to the house for the whole weekend and go off on an adventure together. And when that fell through I hoped and tried for two different nights of laughter and fun – with families or couples – never ofcourse mentioning the real reason behind my desire for distraction because that would require me to be a reasonable-thinking human being at this time of year.

So no – none of those options worked out either. There were trips to Quebec and Cape Breton and Soccer Games and Camping Trips planned … and one couple I just never heard back from because life is just busy sometimes.  And that all sounds pretty normal doesn’t it?  It IS normal. It is ALL VERY normal.  That’s just an everyday weekend. That’s life.

But the fact is that for me this is NOT just another weekend.    And I’m beginning to realize it will probably never be … even after all this time. It IS a regular weekend for Megan and Mark  – the date itself has never really touched them.  They were so young. And Craig is a wonderful man – who is exactly that – a ‘man’ who deals very much in the present and not in the past. I am like that many other days of the year.  But not this one.

With only two exceptions  – one a pretty drastic “hair raising” one  for another time –  I have never been able to “fill that glass” on this date.  No matter how hard I have tried.

So here is what I have determined.  June 20th and 21st may ALWAYS affect me in this way.  As much as the inner most parts of me don’t understand how a date can do that.  Maybe its just a time that I have to allow myself to feel that weight and that fear all over again.  To just accept that I have to sit with it, feel it, and then let it go for another year.

That is difficult for me to give into. At my core I believe we make life what we want it to be – that we are always given choices and my choice doesn’t WANT to be sitting alone on this date reliving the unimaginable.  It’s a big weight with a lot of emotions and profoundly difficult memories.

But maybe what makes this year different than the other anniversaries,  is that they are just that  … memories. Memories to be acknowledged, felt, cried over and then put back in a box – where they belong – and where they will hopefully stay – with a little luck – and be just memories.

We ALL have moments in time that come back to haunt us.  Every single one of us have experienced  times of seemingly unthinkable sadness or tragedy or trauma.  Sometimes, like for me, those moments seem to return annually on a certain date. For others they may arise with certain places or seasons or people.  I think what I’m learning however is although letting myself “feel” these moments can be very painful and emotionally exhausting,  that in fact  trying to “avoid” them is simply a trial in futility, exhausting in-and-of-itself and ultimately disappointing  for me.  And my endless attempts at doing so can be difficult and unfair for those around me – who are trying to understand where the crazy lady is coming from who is trying to make all the plans that “have to happen” over the course of two days.

So although today was a tough one, and I suspect the next few may be too … there is something to be said perhaps about embracing that and not putting up walls to avoid it.

Whispering Thank you … for small realizations.