July 31, 2012

My Little Unicorns

My Little Unicorns
My children have become very picky eaters.

This is absolutely my fault.  For the last year- a third of their lives- I've been trying to take it easy on myself.  That meant that while I was going to school and M was going to school and I was pregnant, I didn't do a lot of cooking.

Now, I love to cook.  But when you've got to choose between doing your homework or making a healthy meal, I chose the homework.  And for that matter, if you have to choose between getting your kids to eat their food quickly or getting them to try new things, I was going to opt for quickly.

By the time RH was born, the girls only ate a small list of foods.

Beans, corn, avocados, mangoes, PB&J, grilled cheese, string cheese, pizza, melons, berries, grapes, peas, french fries, and tortilla chips.  Oh- and breakfast.  For breakfast, they're always pretty much awesome.

I think that's it.

So, that was a problem.

As soon as my post-surgical swellings and whatnot started going down, I decided to take control of the situation and get my kids back to eating all sorts of food.

How was I going to accomplish this feat?

Phase One
It came to me in a flash.  Grandma had made macaroni and cheese with wheel shaped noodles.  With peas mixed in.

Now, my picky eaters only occasionally eat mac n' cheese.  And when they do, they only accept elbow macaroni.

And they absolutely refuse to "mix" foods.  It's a common toddler fixation- each food must be separate.

I saw the effort she'd put into the meal, and my heart dropped a little.  My picky eaters were not going to eat that food.


As we got ready for dinner, DD began to tell me that she wanted to be a unicorn.  "Me too!" piped up SI.  And thus was my brilliant idea born.

"You CAN be unicorns!"  I said, "All you have to do is eat unicorn food!"

"What is unicorn food?" they asked me.

"Circles," I said, "Unicorns eat circle foods.  Like apples, and peas, and unicorn noodles.  And guess what?  Grandma made us unicorn noodles for dinner!"

You would have thought I told them that I had a real life unicorn in the kitchen.

Phase Two
They actually ate their circle foods pretty well.  I had told them, that if they ate their unicorn food all up, they would start to turn into unicorns.  So after dinner, while they ate a few last unicorn noodles, I hopped into my studio and whipped up a couple of horns for them.

It was simple enough- two colors of colored pencil, a bit of watercolor paper, and a ribbon turned into each unicorn horn.  They were thrilled.

The next day, we tried more circle unicorn foods.  It was easy- all you had to do what cut the food into a circle shape, and it was unicorn food.  And if it was unicorn food, my kids would try it.

Within twenty four hours, it was time for my unicorns to grow tails.  I used some rainbow yarn I had lying around, and made them simple tassles they could tie around their waists.

By the end of the week, we'd had a wide variety of circular foods.  Fruits, vegetables, tiny unicorn blueberry pancakes (they previously wouldn't eat pancakes with fruit in them), anything I could think of.  And my little unicorns had earned their hooves.

Phase Three
Although I haven't figured out what to turn them into next (SI wants me to turn her into a zebra, but DD wants me to turn her into a MAGIC unicorn), but the long term effects have started.  Already, they are much more willing to try new things- circular or not.  It's not perfect- but it's something.

I'm thinking that the next time they turn into another creature, it will be through eating orange foods.  Oranges (why won't they eat them???), sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe (DD's favorite anyway), cheese...  Maybe orange foods will turn them into robots?  I don't know.

And after orange foods...


And then?  Then I might just be done with having picky eaters.

July 30, 2012

End of the Month Controversy: Nursing In Public

Feeding the baby
When my twins were infants, I didn't go out much.  Feeding them outside the home was just too much work.  Tandem nursing requires a fair amount of space, it's anything but inconspicuous, and then there was the added complication that we were also supplementing with a bottle.  And pumping.

Preemies take a little extra work, sometimes.

Each feeding involved first changing two diapers, then latching on two babies, then nursing two babies, then bottle feeding two babies who were too tired out to finish a meal, and then pumping both breasts.

So we stayed at home.

Now, we have one baby, and she's a fine nurser*.  So I get to leave the house whenever two toddler, time, and other assorted demands allow.  Or if it's otherwise required.  And wherever I go, my breasts come with me... so I can feed the baby any time, any place.

The thing is, there are a lot of people in this country who are really opposed to public nursing.  They think that breast feeding is weird, obscene, or just plain gross.  They don't want to be exposed to it.  They don't want their children exposed to it.

This is a very American hangup.

This is not done discreetly
In the United States, there is the sense that skin means only one thing- sex.  If you see a lot of skin, what you're seeing is some sort of invitation or reminder for sex.  And on top of all that, we tend to view sex as a fundamentally bad thing.  Bad, but acceptable.

So exposed skin being used for a non-sex purpose must still be sexual, and must be somehow perverse. It's a deviation from the unspoken rule that skin should only be exposed when hunting for sex or going to the beach.

If you're nursing in public, you are inviting sex while holding a baby.  And that's a pretty mixed message, isn't it?

Now, I don't believe a word of that, personally.  I think that the human body is neither shameful nor entirely sexual.  I believe that it has a million and one uses, a few of which are sexual, and that sex is awesome.  I think that breastfeeding is entirely natural (as is sex), that it is utterly banal, and that there is nothing scandalous or offensive in feeding a hungry baby using the organs that nature provided you for doing so.

Fact is, breasts make milk.

Fact is, baby mammals survive on milk.

Fact is, human beings are mammals.

One of many places I'm guilty of nursing in public
I make every effort to be discreet when it comes to showing a lot of breast while nursing in public, but I make no effort to hide what I'm doing.  I don't use a nursing cover that completely obscures the baby from view, I like to be able to see my baby when she's nursing.  That way I know if she's uncomfortable, if she's getting ready to drop a latch, or if she's falling asleep.  And I like to be able to look her in the eye.  That eye contact while nursing is positively lovely.

And of course, she likes looking at the world around her.

I've been lucky.  The only times I've been even glared at were when I was nursing the baby in the parked car, which I have had to do now on three occasions... each of which involved very unhappy spectators... particularly odd seeing as how technically, the interior of your car IS private- not a public space.  And, also notable, the only negative responses have been from men.

I'm going to keep feeding the baby when she's hungry, regardless of the place.  But we as a culture need to reevaluate why we object to seeing breasts at all.

Breasts are not sexual organs, they're here to feed babies.

American public- please stop freaking out.  It's only baby food.

*Yes, we are through our nursing hell.  She still latches weirdly on the right side about half the time, but for the most part... she's an eating angel.  Thank you all so much for your support!

July 19, 2012

Good News for People Who Love Good News

Hello lovely readers!

I wanted to share some good news, even if it's not my own good news.

Because this is the new millennium and all, my friends are bringing you this news in film and music.  Isn't technology great?

D has been amazing through this whole thing.  She kept a blog, chronicling their struggle to stay positive through infertility.  She decided to make the most of her opportunities without a baby- going through this process, she has played paintball, eaten all sorts of strange foods, toured wineries... all sorts of things that are unsafe or impossible when pregnant or with a newborn.

It's been inspiring.  And occasionally heartbreaking.

And now C and D are preparing to welcome a new baby into their family this winter.

C and D at the races, back before their baby story began
I am so, so happy for them.  And I just want to share their happiness with the rest of the world.


July 18, 2012


Let's face it, babies are nice.

The confirmed DINKs of the world (that's "dual income no kids," for those of you who don't know any of them) are quick to pass judgement on babies.  They scream, they poop, they're expensive, they make outrageous demands on you, and they are a commitment.  You don't just have a baby for a year or two to see if it works out.  There's no going back from having one.

And so those no-baby folks have plenty of reasons to fall back on for why they will never have kids.

And all of those reasons are valid.

But aside from that?  Babies?  They're nice.  

There's nothing quite like holding a sleeping baby.  And there's nothing quite like being the reason that the baby is asleep.

The act of comforting an infant is profoundly empowering.  And there are so few things in life that are simultaneously empowering and pleasant.  Usually, empowering activities come with an element of danger.  Climbing a mountain is empowering.  Firing a gun is empowering.

Gently rocking a baby to sleep?

You feel like a freakin' rock star.  Like a God.  You are all that is great in humanity.

And all that you did was make the baby sleep.  Or keep the baby asleep.

When you're holding a sleeping baby, you are the embodiment of human goodness.  You are more than that, you are the embodiment of potential.  What you look like, where you came from, any conglomeration of details about who you are... they are meaningless.  You're just a safe, friendly, and somehow beloved creature.

For this reason, babies are addictive.

Really, really addictive.

Which means that baby fever is a disease.  Those who suffer from it are victims of an addiction- and may in fact require help.

And no victims of this affliction are more pitiable than new mothers.

Today I can stand before you and I can say...

"Hello.  My name is Lea, and I have baby fever."

I am one month into my renewed adventures in motherhood, and I can admit it.

Here I am, having slept maybe a scattered six hours in the last twenty four (hooray growth spurt!), roasting in my post-surgical garments in the 90 plus temps, still half brain dead from being pregnant, and with my hips slowly returning to their pre-pregnancy and painless alignment (I hope), and I can tell you this...

I am so not done with babies.

This baby?  She's a month old today.  She's bright eyed and beautiful, on the verge of smiling (she gets her lips to twitch smile-ishly, and you can see in her eyes how much she likes you), she likes nothing more than watching her big sisters play.  Well, except eating.

I've got nine pounds of cute and cuddly that routinely screams at me and requires me to clean up its feces.  And having two nearly-three-year-olds, I know that this keeps going.  For a long time.  Forever.

And yet?

I look at her sleeping, her long torso and her little froggy legs, her tiny fingers curled around mine...

And I want more babies.

Not today.  Not while this one is so pleasantly baby-ish.  Not while all she wants is to be snuggled and held and carried around our suddenly fascinating home.

But the fever...

...it has begun.

Perhaps it's made worse by knowing that now this baby factory has shut its doors.  Perhaps it's compounded by how much the big sisters like their new baby sister.  Perhaps it's due entirely to the fact that I've had round the clock help for this entire month.

Really, this should be enough for anyone.
Whatever the reason, it's there.

The burning urge to get more babies into my clutches.

Oh, I can wait.  I can wait.  But it's always going to be there.

Even if you haven't had a drink in ten years, you're still an alcoholic.

And if you haven't had a baby in a decade...

The sickness may still remain.

Waiting to strike.

My name is Lea, and I have baby fever.

May God have mercy on my soul.

July 16, 2012

Always Wear Your Helmet

Hello, lovely readers.

I don't often do this- but I am writing to ask for your help.

I have a dear friend by the name of C.S.E. (Claire) Cooney.  You may know her from her stories and poetry, you may know her from her blog, or you may know her through me personally... she officiated at my wedding.
This is Claire helping M out with his wedding vows.
At any rate, a few months ago her brother Declan was in a terrible motorcycle accident.  He was run over by both the front and back wheels of a Porche on the freeway.  His humerus was completely shattered.  Miraculously, he's going to be okay.

He was incredibly lucky- directly behind the Porshe that hit him was a military medic and EMT, and he was followed shortly thereafter by an off duty nurse, both of whom stopped and helped Declan until an ambulance arrived.

Declan is 21 years old, and has now left the hospital saddled with an outrageous amount of debt due to his medical bills.

He is, however, anxious to get back onto his motorcycle.

If you can, the family has set up a fund to help him pay for his treatment.


If you have the means to help out my friend's brother, please spare a few dollars.

And thank you.

July 15, 2012

Sunday Blogaround 7.15.2012

Hello, and welcome to the return of the Blogaround!

As you know, the last few weeks didn't happen because... well... when your days exist in the realm of three hour units that revolve around breastfeeding, the days cease to have meaning.  I only knew it was a weekend if M was around during some chunk of daylight.  And even then, I've been kind of oblivious.

New babies are exhausting.  But nice.  :)

And now...

"What We're Watching: Brave" - Daddy Knows Less
We took the girls to see Brave- their first Big Movie!- on the Fourth of July.  It was wonderful, and I've been really eager to write to you about it... but... as I mentioned above...  I'm sure I'll get there.  In the meantime, DKL does a great job of giving you the deets without any spoilers.

"What To Expect When Grocery Shopping With A Spirited Child" - 649.133
Yup.  It's often just like that.  And ditto on #9.

"Braaaaains!" - Fall of James
Seriously.  Cutest little undead monster ever.

"Old Dogs and Overachievers" - The Spin Cycle
It is my goal to be one of those moms someday.  Maybe.  I dunno.  At any rate, it's a freakin' brilliant idea for a party, sounds super fun, and holy crap am I impressed by those strawberry shots.  And suddenly very thirsty.  And desirous of being drunk.

"See the Pretty Girl in the Mirror There" - Our Simple Lives...
This dad relates beauty tips from his only daughter.  Really, it's one of the sweetest father-to-daughter love letters I've ever read.

"Breastfeeding moms deserve privacy, even in a crowd" - Los Angeles Times
I know, not really a blog post.  But a very good point, and not exactly news.  But totally relevant for those of us with breasts, those of us who nurse babies, and those of us who must venture out in public.  Plus, it comes with a fabulous little comic.

July 11, 2012

There can be only one...

Can you tell how much attitude that child has?
The last week has been very difficult around here.

No, not because it's our third week with little RH.  It's because SI has become... kind of terrible.

I heard a lot of rumors that "three is worse than two," that two year old tantrums have nothing on three year old tantrums.

Oh, how true it is.

I'm not sure exactly what caused it... it might have been the horrific heat, it might have been the sudden addition of a baby sister, and it might be the constant presence of grandparents who desperately don't want to discipline my kids...

SI is in rare form.  She has reached a level of extreme and sophistication in her tantrum throwing that I have never before seen.

And frankly...

Her tantrums have had some incredibly hilarious outtakes.

For example, Grandma went in to get her up from her nap.  I would have done it, but I was attached to a boob lamprey.  The story of my life, lately.

At any rate, Grandma went in there, and SI freaked her geek out.  After a few moments of this, Grandma said,

"Boy, you're crabby, aren't you?"

SI was livid.

"I not crabby!  I SI!  Crabby in the little mermaid!"

...fair point.

July 10, 2012


The whole SuperMommy clan
Hello, lovely readers.

As you've probably noticed, posts have been a bit scarce since RH made her appearance.  There's a good reason for that.

...I am busy.  And TIRED.

You'd think that, what with the constant assistance of Grandmommy or Grandma (or, you know, M), I might be kind of on top of things.

You would be wrong.

First of all, there's the recovery element.  A second c-section is just plain no picnic.  It took two weeks for the anesthesia to finally wear off from my legs, another several days for my feet to begin to resemble feet (they looked like Ugg boots with toes), and I'm still occasionally crippled with abdominal pain for a few minutes at a time.

Then there's the toddler things.  They still need to be fed and cleaned and entertained, but they also need me to make extra time for them so that they know that I still love them, that they're still special to me.  Because so much of their time is wave after wave of distractions from me by other people.  For which I am grateful.  But mostly they only get me all to themselves when they're making bad choices.

And last but not least... there's the baby.

Don't get me wrong, she's a good baby, but babies are hard.  Back before DD and SI were born, I used to tell people that I dreaded the first six months.  I've amended that- now it's just the first four months.  Once they're smiling and interactive and awake for long stretches... I like four month old babies.  And five month old babies.  And six month old babies.  And so on.  I like them all the way up to about puberty, when they become temporarily intolerable.  But newborn babies aren't exactly fun.  They're cute, and they're snuggly, but they don't really *do* anything.  They poop, sleep, cry, and eat.

And this baby?  She requires me for almost all of those things.

If she needs to poop, she latches on an sucks for a few minutes.  It's her version of the crossword puzzle.

If she needs to burp, she latches on and sucks for a few minutes.  It's her version of a seltzer.

Once she's asleep, she's happy to sleep on or near anyone or anything.  But the only way I know to get her to sleep is to latch her on and let her suck until she passes out.

...so I'm pretty much always connected to the baby at the chest.  24/7.

And it's exhausting.

I didn't nurse DD and SI exclusively for the first couple of months- as preemies, we were supplementing them with formula, and then what with there being two of them and all, they kept growing to outpace my milk supply.

This time, I have plenty of milk to spare.  The constant suckling has seen to that.

This, plus a laptop, is me right now.
...and making milk?  Not easy.  Cows must be zen masters.  After every letdown, I just get... tired.

And then DD and SI want me to help them with a puzzle.  Or paint their nails.  Or dress them up like unicorns (that post is coming, I promise).

And so... not a lot of posting.

And I'm sorry.

I have half a dozen posts half written in my head.  Unicorns, SI's Terrible Threes starting in force, a rant about internet "nursing experts" that I think are insulting, how much better (although still not totally fixed) nursing RH has become...

Lots of stuff.


I'm going to take a nap with this cuddly baby laying on my chest.

July 5, 2012

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of July

Photo taken July 1st, 2007 by C. Lemanski
Today is a very important day in our family.

You see, yesterday was Independence Day.  And, just as it was five years ago, it fell on a Wednesday.

Five years ago, yesterday, we woke up late.  We lounged in bed for hours.  We got up and, in our pajamas, I made us an epic brunch of California Benedict.  We ate a dozen eggs.  We went back to bed, laughing and full.  We napped lightly, and then showered and got dressed.

Five years ago yesterday, M and I enjoyed our mid-week day off by heading to a friend's rooftop and backyard barbecue, drinking some Shandy, and sweating and smiling in the absurd Chicago heat.

We walked through Pilsen, where we lived, as though through a different world.  Every other block was blocked off, many illegally, for parties and concerts and fireworks.  There were music and colorful explosions everywhere.

I remember one moment in particular.  We were drinking beers at the party, and I caught M pointing and me and grinning.  His friend Bradley gave him a high five.  I had no idea what they were talking about.

It turns out, M was telling Bradley that he was going to ask me to marry him.

You see, M had this grand master plan.  On Friday, M was going to take the day off, and we were going to go up to Guppy Lake.  We were going to spend an entire week up there, TWO weekends even.  M was going to bring a bottle of champagne and a ring, and take me to my favorite picnic spot, and propose to me.

But on the Fourth of July, five years ago, he couldn't wait.  We walked home from the party just after dusk, completely surrounded by fireworks.  In the air, on the ground, shooting out of windows... everywhere.  We laughed, we held hands, and we went back to our incredibly cool and comfortable basement apartment.

And M asked me to marry him.  No ring, no pretense, just the colorful showers of light filtering through the curtains.

And I said yes.

We had one wonderful night.  We both went to work the next day.  At lunch, we met up and picked out a ring.  And then I went home after work, while M went to play in his company softball game.

I got in my pajamas, and read through an inbox filled with congratulations from friends and family.  And then the phone rang.

It was my future MIL.  She was in a panic.  A coworker of M's had called her, he was being taken to the hospital in an ambulance.  By the time the coworker called me, I already had my shoes on.  With my pajamas.

It took me less than fifteen minutes to take the usual half hour drive to the hospital- at rush hour, during the infamous congestion of the Taste of Chicago.

I cried most of the way.  I got lost for a harrowing moment on lower Wacker Drive.

Filmed on Lower Wacker Drive.  It is one of Dante's circles of Hell.

Horrifically, this song came on in the car:

I nearly crashed the car I was crying so hard.

The first time that, outloud, I called M my fiance was when I was looking for him in the ER.  A very nice, older doctor told me to calm down.  That he would be fine.

I didn't know then that that would be my mantra.

On the Fifth of July, five years ago, M had a gran mal seizure and strokelike symptoms.  He awoke in the ambulance.  He had several CAT scans.

They showed several masses in his brain.

I spent the latter half of the Fifth of July, five years ago, shivering in the hospital in my pajamas, joking with M about the copious amounts of dirt that just kept coming off of him.  He got three sheet changes while he was moved from gurney to gurney.  They were all completely full of ballpark sand.

When we finally left the hospital, there was already a new plan.  We weren't going to Guppy Lake.  We were going to spend the weekend with both sets of our parents, who up until then had never met, getting ready for M's exploratory surgery the following Tuesday- the Tenth of July.

On Tuesday, we went in early in the morning for M's surgery.  My parents, M's parents, my sister, two sets of M's ants and uncles, and M's grandfather and his wife were there.

M was so brave.  He didn't show a moment of hesitation.  We were going to do this brain surgery thing.

I have never experienced a longer day in my life, sitting in that private waiting room, next to the phone that was bolted to the table which might ring with information about the surgery.  Across from the clock that was bolted to the wall.  Cruel room design.

It took all day.

Finally, M's surgeon came into the room, told us that M's surgery went well and that a few of us could go see him in the recovery room soon.  But first he wanted to talk to "the parents and fiancee."

He took us to a tiny little consultation room.  Tiny.  And in that room he told us what he had found in surgery.

The masses were cancerous.  They were worse than cancerous, they were stage four of an incredibly malignant brain cancer called astrocytoma.

They were inoperable.

He kept using the phrase, "extremely aggressive" to describe the cancer.  Not the treatment, but the cancer itself.

And then, bravely, my future father in law asked about the prognosis.

Sometimes, the doctor said, you see patients surviving five or ten years out.  Sometimes.

Not often.

He told us that we shouldn't expect it.

He told us that, with the advanced stage of the cancer, with its placement... most of the time patients only have about two years.  Maybe less.

But, he added, M was young.  He was healthy, otherwise.  Who knew?

It was like a dream.  I didn't cry.  Well, I cried a little, but mostly because I just didn't know what else to do.  I followed my future in-laws back to our private waiting room, where almost a dozen people were waiting for the news we would have to deliver.

Everyone wept.

M's grandfather, the pastor, prayed.

I did nothing.  I stared at nothing, I thought nothing, I felt nothing.

And as my family, and M's family, began hugging me and weeping, I heard myself telling them that everything was going to be just fine.

I told my future in-laws, M will be just fine.  He's going to beat this.  He's going to be okay.  Everything is going to be fine.

I said it over and over and over again.  I said it and I willed myself to believe it, because believing absolutely anything else was going to destroy my entire world.

Over and over and over.

From our "Save the Date" shoot- M newly hair-free
He's going to be fine.  He's going to be fine.  He's going to be just fine.

And nobody contradicted me.

I saw him in recovery, and he was groggy and in pain and confused.  But he told me to go home.  To sleep.  To come back in the morning.

I wouldn't have, if I had the emotional energy to argue with my parents and in-laws and sister.

I slept on the couch that night.  My future in-laws slept in our guest bed, and my parents slept in our bed, and I pulled out a blanket and curled up on the couch.  As I lay there, too conflicted to rest, my father came up and sat down next to me.  And while he sat there, and hugged me, I wept.

I wept like I have never wept before, or since.

I cried and cried and cried, because I had been happy.  I had been so happy.  I had absolutely all that I wanted from life- I had everything.  And after only sixteen hours... it was gone.  My life was gone.  I wasn't newly engaged and in love and ready to start out... I was preparing for widowhood.

I let myself mourn.

And in the morning, I started telling myself again, he's going to be just fine.

We went to the hospital, where he was slightly less groggy.  And we prepared to introduce him to the news. To tell him that he had terminal brain cancer.

But we didn't.  We couldn't.  Nobody did.  We told him what kind of cancer, what stage, and that it was very aggressive.  But we didn't give him the prognosis.  He said he didn't want to know.

I thought he was so brave.  And I knew I was right- he was going to be just fine.

We spent the next ten days getting him into a clinical trial for an additional treatment.  Banking sperm.  Fighting with his HMO.

And I kept telling everyone, he was going to be just fine.

Three days before our wedding, Ted Kennedy was taken to the hospital by ambulance.  It was big news.  It turned out that he had seizure.

Of course, M kept up on the developments of that news.

...and then the news came that Ted Kennedy had the same kind of cancer that M had.

...and along with that news, the reporters did their job of giving the whole story.  The entire story.  Including the prognosis.

M learned that Ted Kennedy probably had eighteen months to live.

That was three days before our wedding.

Nine months after his diagnosis.

He was halfway there.

And I told him, he was going to be just fine.

M's speech at our wedding,
"Thank you for your thoughts
and prayers.  We heard every one."
Five years ago, today.

Five years ago, and he has had no new growth, no new symptoms.

Five years, and his MRIs are clearer and clearer, less and less frequent.

Five years, and my husband is just fine.  His cholesterol is his biggest health problem.

Five years.

Every Independence Day, we celebrate our engagement.  And we celebrate the one incredibly happy day we shared.  Most years, I make California Benedict for breakfast.  Each fireworks display reminds us of one of the happiest days we will ever have.

I love my husband more than I can possibly say.  The last five years have been more than wonderful, they have been a gift.  While I can't claim to have cherished every day, I can promise you that I have never once gone to bed feeling bad about the course our lives have taken.  No matter how hopeless it seemed during the year of M's unemployment, with two new babies... no matter how exhausting it was with M working insane hours, with both of us in school, with me pregnant and with the girls at home... no matter how frustrating it has been to live our lives together, we have been unfathomably fortunate.

My husband is alive and well.  He is just fine.  Five years later.

His medical team doesn't talk about his prognosis.  They talk about the weather, our children, their children, even politics.

M?  He's just fine.  We're just old friends with the neuro-oncology department now.  Bitter enemies of our old pharmacy technicians.

The Fifth of July is always an odd day for us.  On the one hand, it is full of bad memories.  Memories of fear and confusion and pain.  On the other hand, it is a victory.  It's another Fifth of July that we can spend together.

Five years.  And no sign that there is an end in sight.

Shortly before our wedding, M told me it was his goal to have spent more of his life married to me than not.

Five years down, twenty to go.

I am so glad to spend every minute of them with my husband.  I am so grateful to have him with me, not folding laundry and forgetting to take out the trash.

There is nobody on this earth I would rather spend the next twenty years with.

Or the twenty after that.

Or the twenty after that.

Five years is a long time.  But not nearly long enough.

Here's to the rest of our lives- the long and open-ended ideal we all mean when we say "for the rest of our lives."  Not "eighteen to twenty four months."  Not, "for as long as we have."  Not for, "as long as you're mine."

Forever.  Until we are old and gray, and our children and grandchildren are grown, and death comes to us as the natural end to a life well and thoroughly lived.

Here's to every five years.

Here's to the Fifth of July.

...and to the Twenty Third of May

Here's to every single day.

Our family, nearly five years later.
Here's to M.  The love of my life.


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