While I waited for a plumber (yes, again—this time to help dislodge the knife in the garbage disposal), Matt’s mom drove Matt into the city for whole brain radiation. I don’t know how easy conversation was or wasn’t for them. I don’t know whether traffic was light or the appointment was on time. For hours on December 7, 2017, I didn’t hear from him. And I spent the morning and early afternoon wading through guilt.
I’ve written previously how back in the time before brain cancer, Matt would have texted or called or emailed me throughout his day. I’ve noted that even after he was diagnosed with brain cancer—after that initial recovery from his first surgery—he’d email me to let me know what he ate for lunch and what exercise or wellness activity he planned to do after work. He didn’t do any of that on December 7, 2017. Maybe because communication was difficult. Maybe because remembering to communicate was difficult—so much of his focus had turned inward, by necessity. Or maybe he was simply angry with me.
Before he left for his appointment, he’d gotten angry with me—another warped reality issue. Instead of simply nodding, I tried to point out the flaw in his reasoning. Instead of diffusing his anger, I let frustration take over. I wanted him to think the way he’d always thought. I wanted him to see how distorted his reality had become. I wanted him to do the impossible and be Matt, despite a tumor that had infiltrated nearly every part of his brain. I couldn’t accept less. Those high expectations.
Which wasn’t fair. It was too great a demand. But even in retrospect, in knowing how little time is left, I don’t know that I would be able to ask less of him. I couldn’t stop hoping that somehow, the right mix of words, might get Matt back.
When I did speak to him, he seemed fine. He didn’t mention the argument or the angry way he’d left the house. Maybe he’d forgotten our morning or had decided it didn’t matter.
In looking back, I can see that while Matt was plummeting, I was plummeting, too. I was becoming someone I couldn’t recognize, someone so desperate for the reality I wanted, I failed to appreciate the reality I had.
I can’t help but feel a niggling regret for not simply being grateful that Matt was with us, for letting frustration and despair get the better of me even once (more than once in December). But regret is a dangerous emotion. Regret slices you open and consumes your thoughts, and then does nothing to change the past, anyway. So in the same way that I chose hope so many times during our Year of Hope, I’m choosing to push away regret in this Post Hope year.
I’m choosing to remember that though every moment wasn’t perfect, every moment was steeped in love and hope and the belief that the man I married could defy every odd. I can’t regret that.
(Fun fact: the plumber was at my house yesterday, too. I’m noticing a trend.)