April 28, 2017: Good Is Relative

Yesterday, I said April 27, 2017 nearly broke me. Here’s why it didn’t completely.

The morning of April 28, 2017, we woke up in a house we’d rented with my mother, my sister and her family, and my brother and his family. For the first time in days, some of the pressure that had been making it impossible to breathe was lifted.

Matt’s symptoms hadn’t improved. If anything, being away from his familiar environment highlighted all the pieces of him that had disappeared. On vacations, Matt was the guy who chatted up the concierge, cracked jokes with the waitress, and talked his way into the upgraded room package. But this time, all that Matt-ness was missing. He was  almost unrecognizable from the man I married, the one who would never miss an opportunity to dominate in a game of Scattegories. Around this day, I learned I could miss him, even while he stood right in front of me.

And yet, the text I sent that day to a friend who’d asked how we were doing read: we are good!!

Partly, because I wanted it to be true. Partly because I’d apparently become quite the liar in the last few days. And partly because good is a relative term; we were good compared to the day before.

The day before had been bleak. We’d been alone and had fallen so far into the depths that we couldn’t see beyond the hopelessness obscuring all the reasons we had left to hope. But then we woke up in a rented house, beaten down and nearly broken, and we stepped into a kitchen full of family and a reminder that we weren’t alone. Someone took the kids to the park. My brother and brother-in-law took Matt to do whatever guys do. It wasn’t just me anymore.

Suddenly it didn’t feel as if I was suffocating. And once I could breathe, I could see past yesterday and remember all the reasons we had to hope that these hard days were nothing more than bumps in the road: Duke wasn’t worried, the polio virus vaccine had cured people, Matt had all the favorable genetic mutations, we had an unbreakable support system. Everything could still be okay.

So instead of breaking, we raced (and crashed) Go-Karts, high-fived a few mascots, and clung back onto hope, remembering we didn’t have to do it alone.


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