One year ago today, I drove Matt to therapy. Two hours of physical and cognitive therapy, after which he went home to rest and I left to meet a friend for lunch. I remember struggling with the decision. Whether it was safe to leave Matt alone after therapy? Whether it was selfish to meet a friend? How could I even consider something so normal at a time like this? A year later, though I know this thought process is not unusual for caregivers, I can’t help the guilt that floods in at the thought of Matt alone for the hour I was at lunch.
One year before that, Matt went to work and made plans with a friend, all while we counted down the days to his first real post-radiation MRI. The date loomed over us, but we didn’t discuss what if. We didn’t allow what if to be an option.
Six years before that (2011), we were living in a hotel and counting down the days until baby H was born. Given G’s traumatic birth, the doctor asked family to donate blood to be available in the delivery room. Just in case.
Seven years before that (2010), I emailed Matt to ask what time he was coming home. In truth, back then, I was in the throes of Manhattan-living withdrawal and I emailed him almost every day at 5:00 to ask if he was on his way home yet. (Matt liked to tell people that I had a harder time adjusting to suburban living than I had to becoming a mom.) But this email was different. G was sick and I was worried—if there’s anything I’ve proven in the last 224 posts, it’s that I’m capable of endless worrying. I had taken her to the pediatrician, but she seemed to be getting worse rather than better. I emailed Matt and asked if I was crazy to go again. He wrote back with a line I’d heard him use all too many times during our Year of Hope: I will never tell you not to call the doctor.
We ended up with a trip to the emergency room. G was diagnosed with pneumonia, given fluids, an antibiotic, and sent home.
Today marks nine months in Post Hope and I am still largely bewildered by this truth. G and H are just coming to terms with the fact that they will not be able to share their stories—their triumphs and heartbreaks—with Daddy. They, like me, are beginning to realize this Post Hope life is permanent. They, like me, are constantly looking for ways to find him in sunsets and rainbows and songs on the radio.
As I consider all these seemingly unrelated stories from November 3rd, one main point sticks out to me. There will always be the next thing to worry about, the next event to count down. Maybe that’s bleak. But maybe it’s only bleak if you approach without hope. Maybe it’s only bleak if you forget this truth: hope is nothing more than stepping forward toward that next moment when it would be easier to stand still.