July 1, 2017: Fighting for Memories

Today is the closest I’ve come to not writing a blog post. I opened up a new page last night to write about July 1, 2017 and stared at the blank screen, at the cursor blinking expectantly while waiting for a keystroke to give it direction. But the story of today didn’t come. I couldn’t find a way to relate Matt taking the kids to Home Depot for the monthly Kids’ DIY workshop to our story of hope and grief and brain cancer. More accurately, if I put aside the obvious angle—G and H asking who would now take them to Home Depot for these workshops—I was left with no way to connect the story of today with the main story.

The story of one year ago today is uninteresting, and honestly, I was too tired to write, to try and find the story or the hope. I was tired, but worse, I was drained, physically, mentally and emotionally. Because yesterday, G, H, and I drove two hours to tour summer camps in the one hundred degree heat. We (I) walked properties and tried to ask questions to make it look like I knew what I was talking about. We did all that without cell service, without GPS, and without Matt around to appreciate that I was making good on the promise I’d made to send our kids to summer camp. A promise I’d made before we were married. Possibly before we were even engaged. We joked Matt had written that promise into our marriage contract.

I was (am) not a camper, but it was important to him that G and H experienced summer camp. So, for Matt, I spent the whole day shoving aside the thoughts looping through my head–Matt should be here; I don’t know what I’m doing; why did I wear flip flops–and toured summer camps.

When the kids and I returned home (another two hour drive back), after I put G and H to bed, all I wanted to do was close my eyes. I almost gave in to the temptation to take a day off, but then I started thinking about the conversation I had in the car with G. Daddy was very much on her mind all day, too, and somehow, we got to talking about the difference between hospitals and hospice. I told her that in hospice, the doctors and nurses mostly know they can’t fix you anymore; they aren’t trying to make you better. She asked why didn’t they fix him before. I told her they, and we, tried. I told her (not for the first time) about this blog, and how one day she’ll read it all, day-by-day, and understand exactly how much we tried.

I think often about G and H reading these posts as adults. I wonder whether they will remember this last trip to the Home Depot Kids’ DIY workshop with their dad. And I wonder, even if they do remember the day, will they remember how determined Matt was to spend that morning with them? Because I do. With crisp clarity, I remember how fiercely Matt wanted to spend that time with them. Not because he had terminal cancer. I don’t believe his determination to spend time with G and H came as a result of making the best of his limited mornings. (Partly because we never believed his mornings were limited). I truly believe his intention was born simply out of the desire to make a memory.

So, despite the exhaustion, despite wanting to close my eyes for just a moment, for G, I started writing. Because for G and H, learning exactly how we tried to fight an incurable disease won’t always mean reading about the doctor appointments and treatments and waiting for the next step. Sometimes it’ll be simply reading about the days when Matt fought to make memories, when Matt believed he had one hundred more years of mornings ahead of him and chose to spend as many as he could building birdhouses with them.

Writing every day is a challenge. Writing about hope every day and not sounding like a broken record is even more of a challenge. So there’s no story of hope in this post. The story of July 1, 2017 is simply my effort to make sure G and H don’t lose the memory of that Home Depot trip, the one that Matt fought to make, the one that I can fight to save.


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