Monday, January 19, 2015


Five years ago this was the week that changed my life. I put Domani to sleep last night and talked with him about that MLK Day 5 years ago when his dad and I found out he was on the way. I told him how nine months after that he was born and how incredibly happy I am to have him in my life. Without prompting, we both looked up towards the picture that hangs framed above his bed.

He told me that he loves it because it's beautiful. I told him I love it because it has all three of us in it - me, his daddy, and him - to which he responded, "that is why I think it's beautiful". 

Some day I will tell him the story of the rest of the week. About how two days later I got an unbelievable call from Joe that he was in the emergency room and and how two days after that we listened in a fog to news about his stage 4 cancer. This week in January will never quite be the same for me. I will always remember.

I realized last night though as I was reading through Anne Lamott's newest book, Small Victories, that this remembering is a helpful thing for my spirit. Not only does it help me keep close those parts of Joe which I know are important to carry with me, but it is helpful for my well being to remember the ways that I have been brought through difficult circumstances.

In her book, Lamott talks about the death of her best friend Pammy (also to cancer). The following passages struck me because they are so close to my own experience:

"All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly and as privately as possible. But what I've discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness but time alone, without the direct experience of grief will not heal it...I'm pretty sure that only by experiencing that ocean of sadness in a naked and immediate way do we come to be healed - which is to say, we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace."

"I felt very lonely. I thought maybe I wouldn't feel so bad if I didn't have such big pieces of Pammy still inside me, but then I thought, I want those pieces in me for the rest of my life, whatever it costs me."

I do want to remember. And to feel. It's how we truly live. 

My 34-year-old husband was diagnosed with cancer the same week we found out we were pregnant with our first child and WE GOT THROUGH THAT WEEK. Not only did we get through it, but we lived some fabulous moments together in the time that followed and today, 5 years later, I have an a amazing kid cuddling up with me on this MLK Day. An abundance of memories and an abundance of now.

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