Today was yet another milestone; we used the pool for the first time this summer. I had a few scenes running through my mind the whole time I was in it. I put off using the pool as long as I could because I knew it was going to be hard. I kept thinking of last year and how Asa had cried and sobbed for sissy to take him swimming. I will never, for the rest of my life, forget how she held him, both of them crying and she promised him that she would be able to take him swimming next summer. I hated hearing those words from her because of course we were not guaranteed anything about "next summer."
Once I finally got into the pool this afternoon a flood of memories came rushing back to me. Sissy wasn't able to use the pool at all last summer due to her pain and anti-nausea patches that were very sensitive to temperature. Summer of 2007 sissy wasn't able to use the pool much due to her broken toe :) I still smile when I think of how much she bitched about that damn broken toe. Mom later teased her that she complained more about her toe than she did with her cancer. But I wasn't able to smile the whole time. I remembered the countless days of her and I swimming, tanning, laughing, drinking and talking in the pool. All of these things were racing through my mind while I watched Valentina float in her boat.
Mom says that we will never be whole again and it's true. We will never again be a complete family. We also remembered how we never "gelled" with Trina's first husband even though they were married for 13 years. It was never "oh good, it's the 5 of us" or "cool, he's coming too." No, it was always "great! He's not going!" or we really felt whole when it was just the 4 of us. Then Norm came along and he became part of the family. Once Joshua arrived we solidified as a unit of six. The kids added an immeasurable amount of joy to our already full family. While we were waiting for Valentina to come home we all felt as if we were in some sort of holding pattern but when she finally came home that was it, we were finally a family of eight. The eight of us. Reservations for eight. Seating for eight. Tickets for eight. Food for eight. Our family was whole.
We are no longer whole. Mom and I were talking this evening how much sissy suffered those last eight months of her life. She fought with everything she had but cancer and chemo is never easy even when you are given a great prognosis. When you're told that you be undergoing chemo for the rest of your short life, just trying to buy as much time as possible, well, it was even harder. Mom and I both desperately miss her and wish she was here, healthy.
I've been watching "Boston Med" and am addicted to it. I remember a show like it that was on a year or two ago and I loved that one too. Anyway, I started watching one episode a couple of weeks ago with mom and we didn't get more than five minutes into it before mom collapsed into a weeping mess. I realized then that this was one show that we would not be watching together! Anyway, I've seen every episode and I think the most I've done is tear up a few times. I even watched the "Deadliest Catch" episodes where Phil had his stroke, etc.... and I cried a bit. But this past week's episode of "Boston Med" did me in. Marvin had just gotten on the heart transplant list and they were waiting but he didn't have much time. Watching that story line was like watching our lives the week of January 2-9, 2010. We went through everything they showed. I sobbed when the doctor stopped the other doctors from trying to get Marvin out of his cardiac arrest and said "let's stop. Let the family have a few moments with him." Seeing Marvin's wife walk to his bedside and talk to a very weak Marvin, not the Marvin she was used to having, hearing her say the exact same words I had to tell my sister, knowing exactly how she felt, seeing their kids stand behind because they couldn't really believe this was happening, having to say goodbye quickly before he faded into a coma and then die, well, it not only made me sob but it took everything I had to not vomit.
And how did tonight end? Asa excitedly went home with Joshua and mom, Norm, Papa and I watched Valentina dance outside. She had us all roaring with pure, honest laughter. Watching her flail her arms wildly, twisting her legs around and stamping the ground, dance all over the front porch area, over the hand and feet imprints of her and Asa dated 08/01/09, seeing her full of joy and life, well, it is for those moments that I live. It is for those two children that I get up in the morning. It is for Beya who I love more than anyone ,save for the kids, that I get through the day. It is for our now shattered, broken, NOT whole family that gets me through the day. There are days that I think "ok, I can do this" and then I have days that are "I can't do this, I'm fucking up, I'm not strong enough, it's too hard, I can't even get through the next five seconds." Friday was one of those latter days.
The other night I putting Asa to bed and he asked me what laughter was. I explained it was when you were happy and laughed. I took the moment to ask him if he had laughter in his day. He said yes yet it appeared as if he were trying to figure out how to say something else. I asked him if he had sadness in his life. He seemed to be relieved that I had somehow read his mind and he said "I have sadness because mom died." When asked if he had more laughter than sadness in his days he thought for a moment and came to conclusion that there was more laughter than sadness. I will strive to be like Asa and try to have more laughter than sadness in my days. I will try to laugh at the kids and all the funny little quirks they do. I will try to bring more laughter than sadness to my family, friends and my most important friends that I have chosen to be my family. I will try to make the laughter happen and accept that sadness will always be a part of my daily life but I don't have to let it run my life. It is just so damn difficult when the person who you spent more time with than anyone else except for your kids is gone. Millions, literally millions, of things died with sissy. Millions of conversations. Millions of disagreements. Millions of shopping trips. Millions of silent looks at each other where we knew what the other was thinking. Millions of inside jokes. Millions of lunches. So much is buried with her and can never be revived, but we are trying for the kids. Two weeks ago we even left town for the first time. We did it. In a few weeks we are going to the beach for a few days with the kids. Millions of things are gone, never to be had again, but I can also CREATE millions of good things for the kids. Millions of good memories. Millions of laughs. Millions of shopping trips. The most I can hope for is that our days contain more laughter than sadness and may the days where there is more sadness be fewer than the days where we have more laughter. That is my hope.
"I will not be licked by tragedy as life is a challenge and we must continue to work for the living as well as mourn for the dead."
- Rose Kennedy