May 16, 2017 was relatively uneventful. Matt had another early morning so he didn’t see the kids before he left. Duke decreased the steroid by another .5mg. H had soccer (or t-ball, it’s hard to tell in the picture what exactly he’s doing) and G spent her afternoon practicing cartwheels on the sidelines. By all accounts, it was an easy day.
On days when I have less to write about, I tend to spend more time cycling back through emails, falling into a black hole of old inside jokes and past troubles that now seem trivial. But no matter how many hours I spend in the past, two life-changing, mid-May conversations remain lost. I can’t find any electronic record of the exact date that they occurred or even evidence that they occurred at all. I have only my imperfect memory to remind me of the two starkly different talks, separated by eleven years, a mortgage, and two babies.
The first lost conversation: mid-May 2005, when I casually…awkwardly…asked Matt if he would introduce me as his girlfriend to his friends if we ran into someone on the street. He laughed, teased me for being so awkward, and said, sure. I mentioned back in early April that it took Matt about a year to admit he had feelings for me. I also warned that our story was not a sweeping love story and noted that I was now the sole keeper of that quirky story. Turns out, neither of those statements was exactly true. Shortly after that post, a friend of Matt’s sister shared a few of her favorite Matt memories and one of them was Matt’s “futile resistance to falling in love with Elaine.” For a reason I can’t pin down, that line makes me endlessly happy (and sad, because as G put it so eloquently the other day, “I’m always happy and sad at the same time.”). It makes me think there was something sweeping about our story, something inevitable and meant-to-be and bigger than us.
Eleven years later in mid-May 2016, on the same couch, in a different state, with two toddlers sleeping upstairs and a dog we couldn’t train sleeping by our feet, we had another conversation. Our usual banter had been off. We were short-fused and on edge with each other. We weren’t us. On a night in mid-May, weeks before Matt was diagnosed with a fist-sized tumor in the personality sector of his brain, I sat Matt down and told him something was wrong with us. He agreed and said he didn’t know why he felt so off lately. I told him I would do whatever I could to fix us. I told him that I was “in this, no matter what.”
It’s only in writing today’s post that I realize I was both wrong and right back then. Wrong, because the reason we weren’t “us” wasn’t because our relationship had hit bumps in the road. And right, because I was in this, no matter what.
In mid-May 2005, I wasn’t sure if Matt wanted to define our relationship, but I had hope. In mid-May 2016, I wasn’t sure we could save our relationship, but I had hope. In mid-May 2017, I just had hope.