By this point in our Year of Hope, our battle was three pronged. There was the therapy prong—cognitive and physical therapy which was meant to train Matt’s body and mind to move and think as it had before all the trauma he’d undergone. There was the tumor in the left parietal lobe prong (arguably the most important)—which would need surgery, or some treatment, soon. And then there was the sclerotic lesion-thyroid nodule prong, which had been discovered more than a month earlier.
After the prior week’s troublesome test results, which left me with a vague sense of confusion that I couldn’t pin down, the Columbia doctor wanted to run more tests to understand why Matt’s spine and thyroid glowed yellow on the PET scan.
On November 2, 2017, Matt and I drove to a satellite Columbia medical center in Tarrytown, NY, for a fine needle aspiration, or, as I understood it, a thyroid biopsy. Aside from an extended and exhausting hour and a half delay—particularly tough for Matt who couldn’t easily read articles on his phone or text with his friends to keep busy—, the procedure was a success. As far as I remember, Matt felt little to no pain and was out of the surgical room and ready to go home in almost no time at all. The doctor shook Matt’s hand and told him he should have the results in three to five business days. We thanked the doctor and headed home, not particularly worried about what the doctor would find. Because, as I said before, Matt couldn’t have a secondary cancer. We needed to check the boxes, ask the questions and run the tests, but only for purposes of crossing out all those outlier possibilities.
Seven years ago today, I was thirty-six weeks pregnant with H and we’d been out of power in our home for three days. This was the year of the freak October snow storm.
I remember calling the power company, telling the operator who answered that I had a toddler and a baby that was likely to come at any moment. I remember the operator telling me that, though she was sympathetic to my plight, there was nothing she could do; she couldn’t even guarantee a day that power would be restored.
I remember Matt taking charge of the situation—finding a hotel, booking a reservation, driving us down local streets, half of which were closed due to downed tree limbs and the other half of which required us to drive under branches weighed down by unshed leaves and heavy, packed snow.
When we arrived at the hotel, grateful to have arrived safely, G was melting down and ready to nap. But the hotel was swamped with guests whose situation was identical to ours. I walked G up and down the hallway to keep her quiet while Matt pointed to me and then to G. Somehow, out of the dozens of families waiting for rooms, Matt got us our room. Maybe we cut the line. Maybe that wasn’t fair. But in the moment…thirty-six weeks pregnant with a cranky toddler…I was simply relieved and thankful for Matt’s ability to sell and charm.
A few years ago, I read a book called The Girl With All The Gifts. I don’t know how it got on my radar and I don’t know why I started reading it without knowing what to expect, but the book turned out to be about a zombie apocalypse. (My first and last zombie apocalypse book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.) I remember while reading I had this (somewhat insane) thought: If a zombie apocalypse were to happen, Matt would save us; we’d be among the survivors. I was sure that no matter what came our way, Matt would find a way out of it. I believed Matt, and by extension, we, were invincible.
In Post Hope, I miss feeling invincible, however impractical it may have been to begin with.
The more I think about our Year of Hope, the more I consider the way we ignored the statistics and the troublesome test results, the more I realize how much of our—my—hope came from this singular zombie apocalypse inspired premise.