Sunday Post 163: Deja Vu

The last time we went to Disney was in 2009.  It was December.  Lisa had been diagnosed and was between her radiation treatments and surgery.  The day we returned to Raleigh we had a pre-op appointment.  It was an abrupt change – Mickey Mouse to Dr. Tyler.  Happy – Fear.  Bright – Gray.  Warm – Cold.

We went again two weeks ago – Lisa’s family sort of has a tradition that all 5 year olds must experience Disney.  It’s like being a 19-year-old, male, Morman.  You turn 19, you take the pilgrimage.

Lisa went with her grandparents when she was 5; her sister Sallie did the same.  I assume Jesse also went as a kid.

This year, we had to take my nephew Sam, for he turned 5.

We booked our meals in advance and one night agreed to eat at the Japanese Steak House at Epcot.  As usual, about half way through dinner, I had to go to the bathroom.

I walked in and it looked very familiar.  I’ve been here before.

Yeah, I had been there.  I peed in that bathroom in 2009 when Lisa was fighting for her life.

I looked at the red walls, and it hit me.  I remembered that the last time I was there I thought to myself, I wonder if she’ll be alive the next time I’m in this bathroom.

It took four years, but I had my answer.

Because she had been so sick and because her cancer was advanced, I had the wherewithal to consider the possibility of returning to this special place without her.  It made me want to make the most out of that week.  To run out of the bathroom and sit by her.  To snuggle up next to her when we got back to our hotel room.  To be the one to sit by her on The Tower of Terror – to experience her scream for perhaps the very last time.

I don’t think I want to wonder on a regular basis whether I’ll return to a particular venue with or without a particular family member.  That would not be healthy.

What I would like to do is to spent my time here in Raleigh the same way I did at Disney in 2009.  Savoring a dinner with a friend.  Scratching the back of my kid who is awaiting my touch.  Hanging on to my 5 foot mom a little longer when she gives me a hug.

We just don’t know if we’ll be returning – to anything.  Maximize today.


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  1. Mel Ham

     /  April 6, 2014

    my mind works the same way . This is poetic. Being placed in places that left a thought just makes that happen. Somewhere we place surroundings in a compartment in our mind I don’t know if we really thing about it. Is it divine that we work that way? Maybe it is so we can reflect later and appreciate things. Smells are the same way they can put me right back in a place, time and with a person. Love regardless Mel

  2. Claire

     /  April 6, 2014

    I get it, the wondering how long before I’m “here” alone. Darren’s illness lasted three years and sometimes it was a state of mind I would stay in all day. However, just like you did at Epcot in 2009, my mind would go there on the good days too, the vacations and family time when he was feeling good, but I learnt not to stay there. I forced myself back into the present. I held onto him and that moment. I learnt to appreciate life, love and good things. This is something that has stayed with me and I thank God for that because ultimately, isn’t this how we are all supposed to live? BTW, loved the video from last week. Funny stuff!

    • Danny Tanner

       /  April 10, 2014

      I think you’re right. Remember but don’t get stuck.

  3. Brought me to tears, such a great message, we have to embrace the life we have and those in it! My son and I were talking about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie (Have you seen what the Turtles look like?!?) and he mentioned “It’s a shame Uncle Lee won’t be here to watch it with us, he loved the Turtles”. And as much as I miss my little brother, it is so good to know that the older kids got time with him and will have the memories of him.

  4. My mom died from her cancer 25 years ago. She passed a week before Mother’s Day and about 5 weeks after the ACC tourney. Each year at tourney time and NCAA time I remember. It’s like that perpetual Groundhog Day movie. But it has been within the last year that I decided for my sake and moreover my own kids, I needed to look at this time of year as a time to celebrate. To move on.

  5. You never know when something or somewhere will trigger a memory…from your encounter, it once again shows me how much you loved Lisa. You always will! I know, we don’t like the statement “God only gives us what we can handle”… but maybe the thing to take away from Lisa’s passing is just as you said… “life is precious, live it EVERYDAY!”

  6. You are so right. When I met my husband I was wearing a Char-Grill t-shirt. The night before he was diagnosed, we ate at Char-Grill after a school event. It was all I could do to choke down a few bites of that burger and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to eat there again. I kept asking myself whether that was the last family dinner we’d have before our life changed forever. It was.

    Yesterday I lost my father. He’d been in failing health for a little while, but it doesn’t matter how old a girl is when she loses her dad, because on that day she’s 5 again and he is the greatest man in the world.

    I keep getting my grief for Adam mixed up with my grief for my dad. I think after all the hoopla calms down I’ll be able to sort it out but right now I’m confused. Sorry for writing so much.

  7. Amazing that such a loss has blessed you with such a gift.


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