September 18, 2012


M and RH
It doesn't happen very often, but once in a while I find myself at a complete and total loss for words.

Not just words, but thoughts.  Sometimes something happens, and it's as though my brain just... shuts down.

I just can't process everything going through my head all at once.  And so I stop processing altogether.

I'm sure that many of you have experienced something similar.  You're just minding your own business, and BAM!  It happens.

That happened to me last week.  And I've been dwelling on it.

It's made me go back and think a lot about the last time it happened.  That was five years ago.

...if the phrase "five years ago" is familiar to you from recent posts, you're going to know immediately what this is about.

While M was going through his treatments at that time, while there was still so much fear and uncertainty, my family did all that they could to support me.  To keep me going.

Aunt Genocide was a rock for me.  She lived in Chicago at the time, albeit on the other side of town, and she was constantly letting me know she was there for me.  She came over for dinner, cooked for us, she volunteered to make our wedding cake for God's sake.  And that meant that every few weeks, we went to her place to taste a test cake.

Her coconut tres leches cake?  It's to die for.  But not a practical choice to sit out during a wedding reception.  M and I lived on Aunt Genocides cakes for a time.

Yeah, Aunt Genocide made this.
She was amazing.

At any rate, another one of the super nice things that she did for me was to keep me reading.  Not that it's ever been difficult, but she was the queen of the comic book shop.  She was always on top of the best new books, the worst new books... she knew exactly what I liked, and what I would like.  And with that in mind, she got me started on the books, "Strangers in Paradise."

She thought the timing was perfect.  The author had announced that there was an end to the story line coming up.  She hadn't read the last volume that had been published, and there would only be two trade paperbacks left.  She'd get me hooked, let me read everything up to date, I'd get to the penultimate book right after she did, and then we could wait for the series finale together.

See?  Super thoughtful.

So when she finished reading that penultimate book, I was waiting for it.  I had just gobbled up the previous seventeen books.


She brought it to my house, and then she started hedging.

"I don't think you want to read this," she said.

She wouldn't tell me why, she just strongly encouraged me to give up the series.  Like hell I was giving up the series!  I was LOVING the series!  I loved the characters, I loved the development, the maturity... I was really ROOTING for Francine and Katchoo!  I really wanted to know what would happen with David!

No matter what she said, and she refused to give plot points away (always dedicated to not spoiling things for anybody), I was adamant.  And Aunt Genocide loaned me the book.

And I read most of it.

David, who had been sort of missing, came back.  And in painstaking detail, told the other characters about his terminal brain tumor.

...his inoperable glioma.

The malignant astrocyte that invaded his white matter.

I knew what all that vocabulary meant.  Terry Moore, the author, had done his research.

There were these illustrations...

Images I was so familiar with.  I knew what they were.  They could have been M's MRIs.

I put the book down.

I didn't think.  I didn't talk.  I gave it back to Aunt Genocide, who cried and apologized, and who I assured had nothing to feel bad about.  How was she supposed to know?  How COULD she have known that the very thing she was attempting to engage me with to keep me going would take that kind of a turn?  That specific of a turn?

I didn't read the final installation of the story.  I don't know what happened to David.  I'm going to assume he died- Terry Moore was making it pretty clear that he didn't intend to let David survive.

Let me remind you- this was September of 2007.  Two months after M's diagnosis.

I happen to know that Aunt Genocide still feels horrible for this whole thing.

So last week (September again... why?), I was surfing around some of my favorite websites.  And I found...

This.  "He Took A Polaroid Every Day, Until the Day He Died."

Of course I clicked on that link.  The headline was too cool.  I had no idea what to expect, but I was completely won over by the idea.

I thought it might be a little sad, of course, but I didn't expect what I saw.

Here was this guy...

This fascinating guy...

And then there was the photo of him, in his hospital bed, recovering from brain surgery.

There was the picture of his stapled together skull, hair still on his head, just like M.

There was the picture of his chemo/radiation hair loss.

There was the picture of his hair growing back.

...there was the picture of the wedding ring.

...of the wedding.

This guy, he could have been M.  He loved music and baseball.  He had brain cancer.  And still, there he was, surviving.  Getting married.  Living his life.

And then there he was, in the hospital again.

And then he was dead.

Of course he was dead.

I had known from the minute I clicked the link that he was dead.

But it was not okay.  It is just NOT OKAY.  Because M is alive, and he is JUST FINE, THANK YOU.

But that story... that real, true story about another man...

Another beloved human being with friends and family, with ambitions and dreams ideas and a life...

That man is dead.  And that man could have been my husband.  In that wedding picture, there's even a glimpse at the chuppah.  There are so many little things, here and there, that connect me and my husband even closer to this man who has been dead for fifteen years and who's name I don't even know.

Just... living.
I don't really have a moral here.  I don't have a happy way to wrap all of this up like I usually do- to put a bow on it and show you how wonderful life is, and how lucky we are to experience it together, and how grateful I am.

Because shit like that?  It scares me.

I know M has to die someday.  We all have to die someday.

Me, my children, my parents... none of us are immortal.

When I learn about somebody's death, or illness.. I hold my family a little closer.  A little tighter.  I weep for those friends and family who have lost, and I silently say a prayer of thanks for what I have.

But when faced with the bleakness of what might have been...

When I'm blindsided like this...

I have nothing at all to say.  Nothing to think.

All I can do is cry.



  1. Oh girl. Lots of emotions swirling around. And the thought of what could have been.

    Sending you lots of love.

  2. I'm sorry I missed your call earlier, I was down arguing with my leasing office.

    The happy ending is that M DIDN'T die. Sure, he will someday. But he's married to the love of his life. He's got three amazing little girls. He's got friends, and family, and a psychotic cat. He laughs and sings and plays with his daughters. He gets to tell his wife how much he loves her. He gets to watch movies and make love and enjoy food and drink.

    He could have died. We were all terrified. None of us knew what to do. But he didn't die. Not only did he not die, but he looked death in the face and said "Off with you, I'm not done here" and he found a miracle of science and faith.

    I have a vague idea of what it was like for you. I know that some things that still bother me even when they shouldn't. Hell, I just found out my half brother may have finally given himself pancreatic cancer. Three decades of drug abuse will do that to you, I suppose.

    Not everyone survives cancer. Some of them could have been M, or M could have ended up like. It's fine to grieve, but remember. At the end of your grieving, you'll hug your very-much-ALIVE-AND-WELL-THANK-YOU husband. And your life will be beautiful.

    I love you.

  3. This stirs up a lot of emotion for me. . .

    My husband was diagnosed with a debilitating stomach disease three years ago and has spent a lot of time in the hospital because of it. . .

    The shutting down? I know that well. In some ways it has been the only way that I could cope with what was going on at the moment.

    Sending you love and hugs.

    {Stopping by from PYHO}

  4. Well all have those moments but it is how we get through them and become stronger as a result that says a lot about our character.

  5. Hugs to you and your whole family - what an amazing blessing that your husband is a survivor. I don't think you should feel guilty about that at all - life is such an unpredictable thing.

  6. When someone close to you suffers such a horrendous loss and you were so very close to losing the love of your life it hits you like a ton of bricks. Thinking of you.

  7. Visiting from Shell's page. This had me holding my breath. I like that you didn't wrap it up neatly. It's not neat. It's not done. You are all still alive, and the ending isn't here yet. So it's okay. For now, it's okay.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Vote for me!

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!