A monumental event is approaching in our lives, and for so many reasons, it’s hard to believe it’s looming on the horizon.
Seven years ago today, a day remarkably similar to today with clear blue skies, heat and humidity, I became a patient.
I was 32.
At 32 I quietly and privately resolved, against the grain of grim statistics, I would turn 40.
I would show this piece of shit what it was up against and I resolved to celebrate and embrace a milestone I’d be privileged to reach seven years later.
Seven years is a long time. It has been quite the journey with as many pitfalls as successes. As a family, we eventually accepted my stability as something we could accept and with some courage, lean upon with a little less fear. We came to accept that life is perilous and as quickly given, it is taken; so we better get moving to enjoy, take it in, celebrate and appreciate all of it.
Seven years ago today, I remember June 20, 2007 as if it was yesterday.
I remember clear blue skies, warm air and feeling carefree. I remember having no fear.
I remember the patients in the waiting room and the litany of questions from the PA as he looked at my scans. I remember feeling ambivalent and wondering why I needed to be there.
I remember the surgeon. I remember his white coat, large frame, facial hair and softly spoken words. I remember seeing the glowing white tumor on the MRI film clipped to the wall display as his words and subsequent silence set in. I remember feeling I had been used as a punching bag.
I remember what I was wearing and I remember exactly how the exam room was set up. I remember being alone. I remember the panic, shock and inability to form complete sentences. I remember the desperation and the knot in my stomach.
I remember the clutter in the nurses office as she called MD Anderson and set up a referral. I remember my shaking hands as I got off the elevator, trying to remain calm while asking for directions and walking to the hospital to get my scans on CD. I remember not knowing who to call and not being able to remember how to use my cell phone. I remember being alone.
I remember looking into people’s eyes wondering if they knew what I had just been told. I remember wondering if I had heard it all correctly and wondered if maybe I was wrong.
I remember calling Paul simply to tell him I didn’t have the best news and he needed to pick the kids up at preschool since I wouldn’t get there in time. I remember getting into my car and wondered how I would get home and how I would break the news to Paul.
I remember the guilt and I remember the dread of knowing I would have to tell my parents. I remember knowing how broken this news would leave them. I remember the guilt.
I remember where we stood in our house and I remember everything Paul said and I remember eventually laughing. I remember the laughter and I remember the hugs and I remember the love that cannot be measured in marriage until you’re tested. I remember feeling grateful and I remember feeling safe. I remember no longer feeling alone.
I remember the heart breaking phone calls made in the following days and I remember each and every reaction nearly word for word. I remember the emails, cards and voice mails and I remember the ones who never responded, never reached out and simply walked away. I remember feeling numb.
I remember the emotional roller coaster and the unknowns. I remember what it felt like to think about my mortality and I remember wondering how we would put our life back together.
I remember the struggles, the sadness, finding our way, making the rules up as we went along and eventually I remember finding peace.
I remember, seven years later, what could have been and what did become of our lives after June 20, 2007.
Good, bad, beautiful and ugly, every aspect of what’s become of our lives on this journey has been humbling, inspiring, gut wrenching, full of perspective, gratitude and appreciation.
I will remember today.
Remembering the moments that rock you and eventually forge the foundation of where you are today is as equally valuable as it is difficult. Remembering provides perspective and perspective is a gift.
Our family has grown during these seven years. In the days, weeks, months and years since June 20, 2007, we have found a deeper resolve. We are better for the entire journey and experience. We will always remember today, it will always be difficult and it will always be bittersweet.
We are more comfortable and more focused, more grateful and have gained a greater perspective. We are older and we are wiser; all of us. Getting older isn’t so bad when you’re living with eyes wide open and arms outstretched taking life in.
In celebration of a monumental birthday looming on the horizon in October, our team, Babes with Brains will be participating in our seventh year supporting the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation’s Race for Research on September 20, 2014. This time we are going 40 for 40.
$40,000 for 40 years!
Yes, it’s an ambitious goal, but we live this life once; so go big or go home.
On this anniversary of a humbling date in our lives, we remember and we celebrate. We hope you will support us!