It’s been a year since the culmination of 2 pretty bad things played out in my life. It feels weird to say that I don’t mind recalling that time, and there may even be some fondness in my recollection. I don’t mean to be disrespectful to my dad, whom I lost very quickly and in the midst of my own health issues, but looking back on that time is not just a reminder of loss, but also one of love and coming together of people who loved and supported me through it all. How can I not think about that outpouring of love and not be moved to tears? I want to always remember all the good and the bad and the weird about that time.
I want to remember how my sister would begin emails that contained updates about my dad's failing health with pictures of puppies and kittens being adorable and non-stressful.
I want to remember the crazy/fun trip we took to Chicago with McLaine and Andrew and Andrea and Phil for Mer's birthday party after I’d finally discovered the cause of my health issues was a giant cyst on my ovary, but didn’t know what would happen next. How we rented the van; the amazing generosity of Ryan and the food and drinks; being saved by Aubrey; Joy showing us around her ‘hood; carrying a giant cake through the Chicago night life.
I want to remember the vacation Matt and I and his mom and sister took to California the week before it all went down. How we stayed with family we’d never met who turned out to be awesome and fun and so generous and kind; reconnecting with old friends; finding out about the local earthquake from CTAY across the country.
I want to remember how I didn’t have time to dread or fear or overthink or overplan the surgery because the surgeon had an opening for the very next day. I want to remember how we went out to Zingerman’s Roadhouse the night before and had whiskey because we hadn’t fully read the pre-surgery paperwork yet that said not to have any alcohol the day before.
I want to remember how my sister drove and drove and drove back and forth across the Midwest to be with the people she loved when they needed her most.
I want to remember waking up after surgery feeling I must be okay even if I was missing an unknown number of organs (and finding out it was only one organ of consequence by overhearing a nurse whisper it to another nurse when they changed shifts). I want to remember how I finally regain enough consciousness to realize my glasses were resting on my chest so I could put them on when I woke up.
I want to remember the first time I stood up again after my surgery and felt like I was a chest and some legs attached by only the most tenuous connection in between, as if my whole abdomen had been scooped out of my body. I want to remember how thankful I was that my family took me home to care for me (to measure out my meds, and help me get out of bed, and bring me food, and do my dishes) because I felt truly helpless on my own.
I want to remember how my sister loaned me her iPad to play Threes, and how I was playing it when she got the call that she needed to go back to Allegan immediately. I want to remember how my heart raced knowing my dad had reached the end of his fight. And I want to remember how my heart ached for my sister who had driven so much in so few days, and had to travel alone again, because I was too weak to make the trip with her.
I want to remember how my mom told me the next morning, in the gentlest way she could, that my dad had died. I want to remember how I couldn’t let myself cry because it hurt my mending insides too damn much.
I want to remember the first time the doorbell rang and it was flowers for me, and then the second and the third and the fourth… I had no idea people would send me flowers and I felt so awed by their thoughtfulness. I want to remember all the wonderful people who told me they loved me in cards and gifts and texts and visits.
I want to remember how my sister drove back to me before finally heading home. I want to remember how Jen brought her a care package before she left, because she could see that my sister needed just as much care as me.
I want to remember how CTAY texted me almost every day to see how I was doing.
I want to remember how Matt cared for me for days without complaining, tracking my my meds, handing me stuff, and letting me feel however I needed to feel. And how he trusted me home alone with the internet and the credit cards when I started to get better but was still housebound.
I want to remember how people made us food, and sent us food, and had food delivered, and drove through football traffic to bring us food, and came over at lunch to eat with me, and made me laugh even though they knew they shouldn’t.
I want to remember how Kezia visited me and helped me read through leave of absence paperwork and built me a spreadsheet to calculate time off.
I want to remember how I didn’t have the focus to read anything so I binged on Netflix and John Oliver while I plotted and executed the most elaborate Halloween costume I’d ever devised.
I want to remember how I picked out some mums for my dad’s grave, and how I was brave and shoveled dirt onto it.
I want to remember how my sister persevered even though nobody would have blamed her for flipping out at any point across August through October when she had to be everywhere and handle everything and take on other people’s stress and make decisions and deal with things going wrong and watch helplessly as people she loved were broken and lost.
I want to remember all those things so I don’t forget why I’m a different person than I used to be. So that when someone else is going through something hard, I can reach out and share love with them, so they too will be able to look back and remember their trials with a bittersweet fondness despite the pain, knowing they were supported and not alone.
If you prayed for me, or cared for me, or spent even a passing thought on me last year, Thank You. I could not have gotten here without you. If you prayed that I would come through my hard times knowing I was loved and not alone, your prayers were answered, and I never want to forget.