Falling back into normal, into our old routines and old roles, on May 4, 2017 was absurdly easy. It was as if everything we’d just been through hadn’t happened. I went back to texting Matt to ask if he took his Dex and he went back to trying to get those blinds for the bathroom installed.
For Matt, he didn’t necessarily remember or realize how much his brain had betrayed him. When I asked him what he recalled from those darkest days in April, he answered that he remembered basically nothing. He never really asked (me, at least) what had gone on during those days he’d been lost to the swelling. He didn’t want a rundown of his symptoms or all the times his cognition had failed him, and I didn’t offer to tell him. What would be the point?
Unlike Matt, I couldn’t claim memory loss. My memory was branded with those moments that I’ve now shared here. Moving on from our awful April required a more purposeful effort, an almost physical mental act, if that makes sense. It was a matter of hauling up all the bad days and dropping them off to the side where eventually they’d vanish into the aether. It was a choice to not be swallowed up by what had been and what could be again.
May 2017 was marked by choices: choice of doctor, choice of treatment plan, even choice of lifestyle (all of which I’ll go over as the month goes on). No choice was easy, but when I think back about the decisions we made, there was something inevitable about the path we went down. We chose the road that offered the most hope. Every time. Yes, when everything fell apart I questioned every single one of our May decisions. And then I made a another choice, to stop questioning them. Because then and now, it’s a choice to not be swallowed up by what had been and what could have been.
In this one way, May 4, 2017 and May 4, 2018 are not that different from each other. This morning, like all the mornings since Matt was diagnosed is a choice. A choice to wake up and find a reason to smile despite the memories that keep clawing back into my thoughts. A choice to keep looking for hope, even if sometimes that search comes from behind oversized sunglasses while our wedding song plays on repeat.
Yesterday, on the day that marked three months, the kids and I saw two rainbows. One in the car after we left dinner, and a second, standing barefoot on our driveway in the rain. Rainbows followed us throughout Matt’s cancer battle, always appearing when we most needed hope. But it was up to us to make the choice to look up.