That final post sat on my hard drive for a month in a mangled draft form. It was so hard to find the capacity to give this blog any attention this winter. I burned several years worth of creative energy last year. But for the sake of closure, I need to wrap it up and publish it.
That time has come. Here are a few final thoughts and some of my favorite pictures.
Tomorrow we head to Peru for a two week journey. Being back on the road doing adventure travel marks a full return to the life we left a year ago, when, having just returned from Italy on spring break, she was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer for the second time
And they will have enough skin to put on the artificial nipples that make the breasts look more natural, which is great. Looking at smooth dome breasts is weird.
Emma is going to middle school next year and is excited about picking classes. More thrilling is that she is getting a mobile phone. It’s so exciting to her, that she carries my old one around with no sim card and pretends she’s texting. Lily has become more responsible and has grown out of the difficult phases (like shoplifting) she was going through last year.
So life is nearly normal again, whatever that means. I made my first post about Trish’s cancer about 11 months ago and overwhelmed with grief, I cried and cried. Second-time cancer for a mom with 2 young girls is a thousand times more frightening than the first.
So we made Cancerpalooza to distract us, and remind us of our inner strength while she did the chemotherapy and we all awaited the final diagnosis.
But the unexpected gift of Cancer, was I discovered that I had unconditional love for Trish.
The extraordinary energy, courage, willpower, and effort to take care of my wife (and our daughters) didn’t come from a romantic or emotional place. Trish and I, like most of you who are married, have a rewarding, but challenged relationship. We are far past the drippy, romantic stage in our life.
I can see why it happens though. It’s fucking hard to be the caregiver, especially with young kids. It’s really hard to stay focused and care. At many points your instinct for self-preservation kicks in, and it feels like you should abandon the whole thing.
The way I took care of myself was to go back to talk therapy and get to the gym 3 times a week. (I’m also in better physical shape than I’ve ever been.) But I could have just as easily turned to drugs or alcohol, to which I was formerly addicted. There was a lot of emotion I sought to avoid, and lot despair that I deserved, but didn’t indulge.
The crisis has left me grateful, but mystified, that I found the constitution and wisdom to respond maturely. I can’t say it came naturally or easily or that I’ve been like that all my life. It came from somewhere deep inside of me that I didn’t know I had. This has changed me.
This experience has deepened my understanding of life and the relationships we make. It has made me appreciate the rest of life so much more.
Like any difficult, foreign destination, the reward is the story you tell afterward. And I have a lot of stories to tell of this journey. I blogged them here so I don’t forget, but I’m glad it’s over. This better be the last cancer post I write.
We could never repay you except to know that we will do the same for you or a loved one of yours because we love you too.
And to those of you that are still supporting someone, or did but lost them, my heart goes out to you. Many of you had it way harder than me.