I can take back April 5.
Take. It. Back.
In our family story, April 5 stands as one of the Quadrangle of Worst Days Ever that we had (right up there with Diagnosis Day and Possible Malignant Transformation Day, nearly tied with Progression After 5 Years Off Treatment Day…). The day haunts me. And Facebook keeps helpfully reminding me of how nervous we were before April 5, 2012, how desperately sort of hopeful we were, even though we knew G didn’t seem to be doing well.
5 years ago, April 5’s MRI obliterated our hope.
I know. That’s a long time ago.
Here is the problem: I am a History teacher. Remembering the past is my JOB. Literally I get dollars to dissect the past with nearly 70 students each day. The great irony of what prolonged stress does to memory is not lost on me. Thank God for Post-It notes. But the varied dates of medical smite that fill a decade and more of our family history—I can’t shake those memories, and trying to understand them, trying to gain some kind of perspective is the only way I know HOW to manage them.
Or denial/avoidance, but that is another story.
Our neuro-oncologist used to routinely ask me to “tell our story” to new medical students, knowing that it was my weird party trick, being able to recite a litany of dates/chemo fails/statistically improbable complications/more dates/random sarcastic jokes/things that only happened to our G/dates and dates. I can’t remember what I did yesterday, but the medical yikes—I remember.
So my drive time idea was pretty radical.
Take back the day.
Some days can’t be taken back. Diagnosis day is always going to be tough, it’s the center of our personal timeline of Before Tumors and After Tumors (we are now in the Year After Tumors 12.5). We remember it as a survivorversary, but it’s still a tough one to navigate each year. Progression Day is also tough. Restarting EVERYTHING with a teen who could understand things much more than a 6 year old could was brutal—especially since I had to be the one to tell her that we had to start up chemo again, after brain surgery the next day. I am not sure I know how to reframe that memory of the moment with my child in a waiting room.
But April 5—I can take that day back.
Because yes—it was horrible. It was a dark, miserable, son of an unprintable punctuation marks in a row kind of day. It was a day ONLY describable in 4 letter words that need to be spat out. BUT…
Today it doesn’t matter.
Unless docs talk about that trial in what seems to me to be a cavalier manner (*cough, which never, ever ends well), it doesn’t matter to our family.
Because 5 years later, G’s tumors look better than they have in years. Not that tumors really ever look good (“spring ’17, the tumors are wearing a subdued palette of less enhancement and maybe even slightly less mass effect! Stunning Detail!”)—but the horror of that day IS a memory. The next chemo shrunk that horrible, catastrophic growth. Nothing has been easy since then—G’s school challenges and ruptured appendix and whooping cough fest were all AFTER this day—but WE ARE STILL IN THE GAME.
And that merits taking back the day.
I am not exactly sure how to do it. Wednesday is our “nobody home for dinner” day, and somehow in my mind taking back a day always involves food. But even if I just try to remind myself all the day, Hey, WE ARE STILL IN THE GAME. G IS DOING GREAT. CADBURY IS IN THE CLOSET. WE HAVE A DOG. IT’S SPRING. I JUST GOT A SWEATSHIRT WITH HAPPY BIRDS ON IT. Pretty much anything to stay in the moment of today…
I consider that a win.
So we’ll see how it goes, this radical experiment of mine. Can I NOT wallow? Will I eat my 3rd bag of Cadbury? Does anyone else in my family even remember the day? Does that even matter?
But come hell or high water, I am going to try to take back April 5, to have it just be a springy day of promise and potential. And Cadbury, likely.
Taking back the day.
Let’s do it.
So I wrote this last night.
I woke up this morning. Birds are singing. Dog pooped right away (without needing to sniffle every blade of grass on our street). I only had to yell at 3rd born three times to get her out the door for school.
And you know what I realized? I am the only one here bound by that day. Nobody else in the house remembers. And as I walked the dog, and felt some of the old erghleyugh rising up, I looked at the trees, the birds, the spring flowers starting to bloom, and I know that old April 5 is just that. Old.
And FB reminded me this morning…yes, that day was awful. BUT—the rememberings are all posts by our friends and family who were hurting FOR us, praying for us, rallying hope and good will in our direction—usually marked with pictures of my smiling warrior. THAT is what today needs to be about. I know those folks will likely all get reminded about this today too—hey everyone. this is Kristin's sister Laura posting this for her: G's scan was not good... Thank you everyone for praying. We are going to Plan B and G is actually taking it remarkably well...we are trying to be super positive for her.
Thank you, friends and family. We love you all so much.
Today I WILL let myself off my Lenten car silence thing –there will be music. I will eat Cadbury. I will take this day back as the day our friends and family stood with us and held us up when we were falling.
We’ve had 5 April 5ths since that bad one. I claim those as a win.
NOW let’s break out some Cadbury and some Safety Dance and get this day going.