It came early this year. Generally, it’s two weeks out – like clockwork. I begin to well up when certain songs come on the radio. I get a pit in my stomach when I look at family photographs. I long for what could have been.
I think the anticipation of the anniversary of Lisa’s death has been magnified this year.
Last fall I found some old pictures on my computer that I thought we had lost. They captured the Tanner family from 2005 – 2006, four years before she became sick. I recently uploaded them to Shutterfly and have been working to order prints and create one of their memory books. It’s a task you should only have to do as punishment for a terrible crime.
Keeping up with family pics was not my job – until 2010. Lisa held that responsibility, along with most of the other things I currently do that are unrelated to my work, tickling kids or putting them to bed.
I’ve dug through these pictures for two weeks, there were over 1,000: beach trips, Disney World, The Grand Canyon, birthdays, Halloween, huge smiles at Christmas, a shot of the two of us dressed up for a night out. I keep thinking, we had no idea… absolutely no idea that cancer was about to kick our asses. If we would have known…
If we would have known, what? What could we have done?
Ab-so-lutely NOTHING. We could not have done anything except lived those last few years in fear.
This past fall I was told by someone that I hadn’t written a new chapter in my life. That I had to put the past behind me. I thought that was a ridiculous statement, proud of what I’ve accomplished – astonished at my fairly happy demeanor, blown away by my three daughters’ blossoming, excited about the new things in my life. But maybe, in a way, this friend was right. Or maybe, you do move on but in a different sort of way.
I will never, ever, be the same. I will never fully get over my loss. Perhaps those who have not experienced what I have aren’t able to fully comprehend my inability to slide through February unscathed even after significant time.
Yet, only I can ensure that I’m not stuck, unable to move forward with new relationships and experiences with real joy in my heart.
Occasionally I teeter between thriving and shriveling up. Weird, these incongruent worlds. Ninety-five percent of the time I’m ready to tackle the world, completely pleased with how I’ve grown, excited about today and the future. Five percent of the time I’d like to curl up in the corner of the closet. The wound fresh again.
It’s been nearly six years. I am grateful for the 95%. It’s been nearly six years, why isn’t it 100?