Matt spent the day in the city on May 15, 2017, at a long, all day business meeting that didn’t wrap up until well after the kids’ bedtime. He didn’t see G and H before he left for work, and he wasn’t thrilled about missing a night with them (although he didn’t mind eating sushi in the city as opposed to Mother’s Day leftovers for dinner). But he couldn’t miss this crucial meeting, and explaining why leads me to introduce a topic I haven’t touched on too much just yet.
In any good novel, there’s a main plot and a handful of subplots. If the story is told well, the themes from the subplots enhance the main plot. If the story is told really well, the subplots are wrapped into the main plot by the end.
The main plot of our story was our battle against Glioblastoma, but weaved into our days, both good and bad, other story lines unfolded. The bathroom window blinds (still not installed), for one. How G and H responded and reacted to all the ups and downs, for another. And this one: the sale of the company that had been in Matt’s family for three generations.
When I met Matt on February 5, 2005 at a club called Glo in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, he handed me a card and told me he owned his own company. He was in the glamorous business of selling toilet seats. (Toilet seats with hands free automatic sanitary covers, to be exact.) On our first date I learned that he decided to start his own business after he graduated college. He’d turned to his dad for a job and promptly got rejected because his dad didn’t hire college graduates with no experience. (That may be a nearly direct quote…twisted probably by Matt’s memory.)
A few months after we started dating, and with a few years of business and entrepreneurial experience under his belt, Matt did join the family business. As he climbed the corporate ranks, I watched his passion for the company grow. He’d come home from work charged up, excited about a new idea or a new employee or a new project. His dreams for the family business were limitless.
A while ago I mentioned that Matt worked long hours pre-cancer diagnosis. What I didn’t say was that he worked those hours to grow a company that was a part of his heart and soul.
When Matt was diagnosed, when the dust settled and the horror of his disease came into full view, Matt and his father made a decision based on hard facts rather than ambiguous hopes. They thought about who would run the company if…. They were practical in a way I never could be, and how they found the strength to look at the stark truth, I don’t know. They decided to sell.
But then, Matt handled the first treatment well and his genetic markers were so promising. He got into the polio virus trial and the nurses and assistants congratulated him. The doctors said he’d see his kids graduate high school. When buyers came into the picture, Matt could see a future for himself at the company, one in which he could work with some of the brightest business minds he’d ever met to turn his vision for the family business into a reality.
Let me emphasize the most important part of what I just said because it may have gotten lost in this long post: Matt could see a future for himself. That’s hope. That’s that unwavering belief of his that never, not once, faltered.
The meeting on May 15, 2017 was just a first step, and for purposes of reconstructing this year, an introduction to this subplot. A subplot that, like the main plot, is intricately stitched with hope.