Thursday, June 27, 2013

Up then down

My morning routine goes a little something like this:

Feed the baby.

Put the baby on her play mat, enjoy a gummy smile or two.

Put a few toys in front of her and pop two pieces of toast into the toaster.


Fire up the iPad, crack open a Mountain Dew and read through the obituaries.

Because that's normal (the daily reading of the obituaries part).

I think we all know I bid normal adieu 15 months and 1 day ago. Read more about that hereherehere,  and here.

Today when I reached for the iPad something was different.

I picked it up and staring back at me was this beautiful picture of Addie.

Certainly this must be a sign from my sweet, little girl (because looking for signs from your child is totally normal too). We pick up pennies on the street. We pay special attention to the skies. We relish the dreams featuring our children front and center because for that half-second we can see them, hear them, touch them again. For one brief moment, they are ours.

But I didn't intend this post to be about signs.

It's more about how something as sweet and beautiful as a picture of your child can make your heart soar and crumble at the same time.

Because that picture quickly faded to this one.

And then this one.

That's when I realized the slide show was rolling through picture by picture. In chronological order.

We received the iPad as a Christmas gift in December 2011. Addie died in March 2012. For three months there's no arguing it, that iPad was basically Addie's.

And I get reminders in the form of iPad updates all the time.

Scarlett misses you.

Scarlett is Addie's virtual horse, "purchased" the week before diagnosis.

Still listening? Pandora doesn't like playing to an empty room.

The last time we listened to Pandora was in Addie's hospital room the day before she died. According to Pandora, that was 458 days ago. Thanks. Like I needed the reminder.

But this slide show, this chronological record of events that comprised the last three months of my 9-year-old's life, really, really cut deep.

Because there we were - mugging for the camera, cracking ourselves up with the distorted pictures of ourselves, and loving every minute of it.

There was Addie on the couch. Addie by the door. Addie with Bailey. Addie with my mom. Addie with Virginia. Addie with a friend - the day before I took her to the ER.

I looked at each of those last frames carefully, searching for some trace of the monster that came in and took our daughter from us.

There was nothing.

Yet I couldn't help but look beyond the goofy smiles and think about the cancer coursing through her veins, tricking her little body to turn on itself. While oncologists can't pinpoint exactly when this seemingly perfect little girl's cells began their mutation (there is no Stage I, Stage II, Stage III, Stage IV with AML), I have to think that on that afternoon - an afternoon where two girls rode their bikes to a friend's house, lounged lazily on the grass, and returned to our house to dink around on the iPad - the cancer was there.

And that makes me sick.

So while we continued on just like everyone else, enjoying unseasonably warm weather, sorting through the past year's summer clothes, and trying on Easter outfits, we were deliciously unaware that the world that turns so slowly we can't hardly feel it, was going to turn completely upside down (for us anyway).

And sad to say, the iPad is a reminder of just how far our world has tilted.

Because Addie isn't the only one whose pictures are on it.

I see Tripp and Isaac in their brand new superhero costumes, compliments of Santa Claus the same Christmas we received the iPad. Today, Isaac's Spiderman costume is literally hanging on by a thread and Tripp's Captain America costume actually fits. The pants were at least a half-foot too long in 2011, a gross reminder that time has passed and life, no matter how painful, has continued. Kids are growing up, growing out of their clothes.

I see Tripp and Isaac recording messages to Addie in the hospital; Isaac telling her he was going to get her a pretty dinosaur for her birthday, Tripp simply saying, "I love you, Addie."

I see me in the background of those recordings with a smile on my face and hope in my heart.

I remember playing those messages back to her, hoping so desperately that she would hear them and maybe, just maybe.

I realize today I don't hardly recognize the person I once was.

That person is gone and selfish as it may seem I mourn that loss too.

Don't get me wrong. The person left in her place has good days.

There are smiles. Laughs. Superheroes.

And there are days like today.

Where my heart soars and crumbles at the same time.

Just Fore Fun

How I ended up playing in a two-person golf scramble on Tuesday night is beyond me. It started with a text that went a little something like this:

"Hey, just checking to see if you want to tag along at golf tonight. Ride in the cart. Maybe swing a few. Or meet up later."

It ended with me toting around my husband's clubs and tossing around terms like eagle, bogey, and, regrettably, slice.

I sliced a lot.

And I laughed a lot too.

Which is good for the soul (and particularly good for a battered one).

So I want to thank those who encouraged me to take up this new sport.

And let my husband know that I totally get it now.

Not golf. I'm not sure I'll ever get that - or what the deal is with all the clubs. Seems a little excessive (as I opted to only use three, maybe four of them).

But I do understand that spending time on the golf course helps him deal.

And it really is peaceful.

Until someone yells, "Fore!"

Which, by the way, I never had to do.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dear Landry,

I look at you and see nothing but innocence.


And love.

You're oblivious to the sadness that often surrounds our family.

You don't realize that our world is askew; our compass, lost. And, when you look back at me with those big blue eyes, it's apparent that you have no idea what you've walked into.

No idea that this used to be a perfectly good family.

Perfectly good; not perfect.

There's a difference.

We fought over things like money and how little it seemed we had.

We took things for granted. 

There were tears over toys.

Addie and Isaac and Tripp didn't always get what they wanted, but I'd like to think they got what they needed.

And I'd like to think they knew the difference.

Our house was in a perpetual state of disarray and dinners usually came from a box (sometimes a cereal box even).

So things weren't exactly perfect.

But they were perfectly good.

Only we didn't realize it.
And here you are.



I asked for a good one.

And I asked Addie to pick one out (not sure she had much say in the matter, but I did ask). On my runs last summer.

I'd get about a half-mile away from home - far enough away so the neighbors couldn't hear the crazy - and I'd yell and scream and ask why, why, why.

And then I'd turn my focus to Addie and I'd say, "Pick out a good one."

A good girl.

Because I just knew.

And here you are.

I promised your sister that I'd tell you just how special she was if she promised to tell you just how special we were (to sweeten the deal, I guess).

And she was.



And, all things considered, we aren't too bad either.

Not perfect.

Perfectly good.

Like you.