It’s easy to sit here in 2018 and look back on text messages and pictures from 2017. It’s not easy, even with the benefit of hindsight, to be sure what was the tumor (or treatment effects) and what was Matt.
When I look back at the text messages Matt and I exchanged on April 10, 2017, I remember how excited I was that the painter we’d hired was finally done painting the living room. It was a project six years in the making and the room looked amazing. I expected Matt to react with excitement, too. (Can’t wait to see! Send pics!) He didn’t. He was annoyed and agitated, with me for not doing a thorough check of the work (which in all honesty, I probably didn’t) and with the painter for rushing through the job (he did great work).
This spark of anger and obsession with perfection became a common theme over the next couple of weeks. It’s easy to blame whatever was going on in Matt’s brain for this reaction which was so different than the one I expected. After ten years of texting, hundreds of text messages a month, I could almost write Matt’s responses for him. Not this one, which stomped all over my excitement.
Even a year later, I can’t say for sure his reaction was caused by whatever was going on in his brain. I’d like to say it was, and that if he’d been himself he would have sent exclamation points and a wohoo and maybe even a bitmoji. But maybe he was having a bad day and I caught him at a bad time. Maybe I actually should have done a thorough walk-through and his anger was justified. Maybe people change and you can’t expect them to react to something the way they would have a decade earlier.
What I do know for sure is that the brain is unbelievable. It controls so much of who we are. All the invisible things that made Matt into Matt, his instincts and reactions, his humor and thoughts, and so much more, were under assault. Sometimes I couldn’t see Matt when I was looking at Matt. Sometimes I missed him even when he was right in front of me.