Posted by Danny
Last Monday morning I nearly went into a panic. I received four emails from other moms (when I’m in this mode I consider myself one of them) about signing kids up for summer camp. I’m not sure why all of them emailed on the same morning. Is there a national Begin to Think About What You’re Doing with Your Kids All Summer day that I had missed? Do all mom’s just intrinsically know that the third Monday in January is THE kickoff for beginning your summer plans? Was there a mailing that I missed? Is it genetic? I don’t know. But I entered that date in my outlook calendar with an annual reminder. Next year I’m going to email them first.
I will say that without these four women and my other “girlfriends” my kids would be sitting in front of the television with their older sister eleven weeks in a row, June to August. They have saved my tail numerous times over the past 18 months.
Three days before Lisa died, we were sitting in our hospital room at Duke. I had written her a letter that I later read at her inurnment. In the letter, I had worked to capture the essence of Lisa and the essence of our relationship. I wanted to be sure that she understood how much I loved and admired her.
I had mentioned the letter multiple times that day. I knew she was very sick and although I had not accepted her fate, something inside was preparing me for the worst. I desperately wanted to share my thoughts with her. When she woke after a mid day nap, both of us in tears, I hung a handwritten “Do Not Disturb” sign on our door and crawled in the bed with her. I read the letter – it was difficult to get through.
She said, “Honey, that was beautiful. Put it in the bag with the notes I’ve written to the girls. Now, get out a piece of paper and a pen and come back over here.”
This was it. Lisa was going to share something incredible with me. Perhaps she was going to give me insights into what she thought about death. Maybe she was going to tell me how much I meant to her (later I discovered she had already written that – she left nothing to chance). Instead, she said, “List the children’s names down the left side of the paper. Now, get your calendar and list the weeks of the summer across the top of the page. Let’s go through the girls’ camp schedule – you’ll be able to use this as a guide for the next few years.”
With significant painkillers in her system and with a body being overtaken by cancer, my wife was not concerned with her fears. She wasn’t concerned with moving to ICU later that afternoon. No, she wanted to make sure that DJ, Stephanie and Michelle would be taken care of last summer and that they would be with their friends. And with me as her husband, she had right to be concerned.
“Week one the girls are going to the lake. You need to register for dance camp the next two weeks – tryouts are in March but Kirstie has assured me they’ll make it. You have Bible School for Annie T. the next week and Catherine can help with the carpool – y’all might share a sitter those afternoons. I have nothing for weeks 8 or 9 for Michelle but call Maura, she’ll find something for you.” She proceeded to tell me which friends would be with each girl for each week. The only thing we didn’t cover was the cost – which I later discovered would be the most painful part of the process.
I really don’t understand how women do it. My wife worked full-time and brought home a decent salary. She drove our kids all around the world from 3 – 6 pm and often had our plan for dinner at 7. She never missed a registration. She never missed a dance recital or signing up for a tryout. The camera bag was always packed and the battery charged. She kept snacks and bottles of water in her car in the event there was hunger, a hurricane or a bomb threat. In May, there were new bathing suits in the upstairs laundry basket; the beach towels were out and cleaned and the sunscreen packed in the pool bag. And, she looked like a million bucks whenever she climbed out of that minivan.
Lisa was a swan: beautiful on the top – no one exactly sure what was going on with those paddling feet underneath. I look like a whale that never learned how to swim. How’d she do all that?