I started the post for June 11, 2017 the same way I start almost every post: by scrolling through emails and text messages and pictures and trying to find some meaning in the events of the day. Some nights I sit down and panic because I can’t think of one worthwhile thing to say. Some days I sit down to write and the story takes me away from 2017, like it has the last eight posts, to days that may always feel razor sharp in my memory. But then there are days like June 11, when, for whatever reason, I have a record of emails and texts going back eleven years and I can’t decide which topic resonates with me the most.
There’s June 11, 2007, the day after Matt and I bought a dog on a whim because we came across a PetSmart flyer in the mail and we were bored. The lesson we learned: don’t buy a dog without any forethought. Probably always a valuable lesson to share, but I wanted to write about it because one day I think G and H will read this and note how that was our version of a trial run at making our own family (and maybe laugh at their parents’ foolishness.)
Or, June 11, 2014, the day after I finished my very first manuscript—without regard or any real knowledge of pacing, plotting, or character development—and Matt was so proud he bound it, printed it, and encouraged me to send it to everyone, everywhere. When my first agent rejection came 16 days later, Matt pieced together my shattered pride and told me to keep trying because he knew I could succeed. That story is relevant today because, just a few days ago, I received two rejections on a manuscript that I haven’t worked on since before February 3rd. The rejection not only shattered my pride (again), but triggered my grief. Because Matt wasn’t there to pick up the pieces. And because I haven’t kept trying. I have three stories sitting in a file on my desktop (one to edit, one to second draft, one to finish) and I haven’t reached for them, haven’t submitted to agents, because the thought of failing is scarier than ever in post-hope.
Or, June 11, 2016, Matt’s first full day home from the hospital, when I’d promised to take G to a 5K Color Run with her friends. Despite all the stress and uncertainty at home, I couldn’t bring myself to disappoint her, so we went. I remember being in a crowd of smiling, joyful runners splashed with neon pinks and yellows and blues and thinking G and I didn’t belong here. Our world was darker, dimmer, flecked with hope but not bursting with it the way it seemed everyone else’s did. I remember wondering if anyone who didn’t know us would notice that we didn’t fit in. Given the sad news this week, how could the takeaway be anything but we never know the battle a stranger is fighting; we can never know when our neighbor might need an extra ounce of kindness.
Or, June 11, 2017, H’s epic temper tantrum at kiddie tennis, one I doubt anyone who witnessed will soon forget. Whether he blew up (or melted down) because of what he’d witnessed over the last year, or because he was nearing the end of his preschool career and anxious about kindergarten, or because he’s H and he’s always been a handful, I can’t know. I still haven’t figured him out, and everyday I’m struggling to learn patience and compassion and striving to find a way to help him learn to control that anger.
When I started this project, I had no plan other than to start writing, to get the story of what we’d been through out of my head. I knew simply that I could not re-live the story everyday on my own. So, at first glance, today’s post seems off-topic. I didn’t mention brain cancer or Avastin (returning tomorrow!) or Polio. But, I think today’s post is relevant to what this project has become: a way to do a little good with all the bad we’ve been through, a reminder to myself, and hopefully a few others, that there’s always hope to be found. Because in each of these seemingly unrelated days, there’s a thread of hope woven through: hope for a future family, hope for a dream to come true, hope for kindness, and hope that the kids will be okay. And ultimately that is the story I want to share. Our story of hope.