Evening is falling. It has been a good weekend here....a hard one in some ways, but one I would live over and over again if I could. Joe and I painted the entryway this morning and he worked some on the fence this afternoon while I ran errands with Nick and Alex. They have taken to riding their bikes down to the park nearby. They were told to be back at twilight, which it is now, and I am anxiously trying not to appear to anxious as I wait for the sound of their voices in the garage putting away their bikes. We had a big Sunday night dinner tonight...a medium rare roast beef, roasted potatoes, roasted garlic bread, spinach salad. The kids adore our family dinners together and practically trip over one another in their eagerness to talk about their days, time with their dad, things they have done while apart from us for a while. One of my greatest regrets through Joseph's illness...the demise of family traditions and how starving these two obviously were for the serenity and security such traditions provide. We are having to re-train them on basic table manners but they don't seem to mind. They are eager to learn, eager to please, eager to talk, eager to share. Nick even ate spinach tonight. Anyone who knows that kid knows if it doesn't contain sugar or transfats it usually doesn't appeal to him. We are all growing, branching out, finding the courage within the differentness. I am proud of them every day.
I sometimes quiz myself on what I am learning from Joseph's illness and subsequent death. Sometimes good things, sometimes not so good. I often wonder how long I will linger here. Suddenly a lifetime seems so very long. I find myself too watching those I love, savoring, worrying. Alex has an MRI tomorrow....he gets one every six months to check for regrowth of his brain tumor. I will be glad when that is done and negative. I beg God for it to be negative. It has to be. I find myself listening as I curl my body around Joe's at night, my cheek tucked to the rise and fall of his chest, his arm heavy and protective around me...listening to the sound of air filling his lungs and being expelled, the sound of his heartbeat. I concentrate on the warmth that is him, the slight humidity where our skins seem to fuse, the energy of his life flowing in and around my own. And I fear. I savor. But I fear. I know too well any one given day could take any one of them from me. It is no longer a foreign idea far off. It is imminent. It is a threat and it is powerful. It makes me tremble as I smooth Nick's red hair and watch him growing like a weed, almost as tall as me now, as I marvel anew at the engaging whimsy of Alexander's dimples. I can no longer believe that it cannot happen.
There now...they are home. I can breathe again, this time, for now.
There was a television ad for some news program showing tomorrow, talking about the potential life saving properties of umbilical cord blood. It was a normal Sunday morning. I was making sausage and bringing Joe coffee; he was watching his Sunday morning show. It slipped in with such stealth and cunning. No warning at all. Just suddenly this commercial, speaking of things I know all too well...and the shocking engagement of fury in my breast, the sting of tears that well from a place further up near my chest than what used to come. I was livid. He had umbilical cord blood. His cancer was gone. Getting rid of it, making room for that transplant killed him. He is dead. I know no respite from that boiling rage. We did everything possible and I would not change having done it. But it was not enough. I am getting easier with my grief, better at letting it wash over me, better at not trying to hide it from Joe. It doesn't seem to trouble him, these waves of unexpected tears and rage. He holds me and simply says "I am here". And strangely, thankfully, like a child I can curl there....until the wave has passed and released me once more from its grip. It makes me less afraid of the violence inside me, knowing he has a strong heart for me to curl within and take refuge. All he can do is bear witness. And this he does with love. It surprises me sometimes how badly I can feel inside, and yet still all my body will release are hot, silent tears. It ought to be a destructive force, but all I can manage is a whimper.
I see many blessings in my life, many hard battles ahead. Tonight I am glad for the blessings.