June 1, 2013
6 Months. I’m really there. In just a few days it will be 6 months since Reno. 6 months since “I’ll see you later.” 6 months since life as I knew it shattered. I guess its some sort of milestone. I thought maybe it would mean something. Or that I’d feel different. I guess even the old grizzled mind I feel like on the inside can have the naivete to think that somehow at 6 months out the “all better” switch gets thrown. But there is no such thing. The switch or the all better. But as a friend pointed out to me the other day, there’s no such thing as a normal life. There’s just life. What do you do with that? You live. But live intensely. Take in the moments. Don’t take a summer breeze or a laugh with a friend for granted. Most of all don’t hide from life.
I haven’t posted much since I got back from Florida. Truth is I needed a break. Something about that trip shook me loose and I realized I need to work on me. I need to start learning who I am and who Im going to be in life 2.0. That’s no small task. But im doing the work. I also just needed to finish out the school year and get to now. The start of this summer has been on my radar for a while. Maybe that’s why 6 months means so much to me. Winter is over. And it was a long winter. Maybe my winter is ending too. Maybe, despite the challenges of this new life and the knowledge that the road is long and most of it lies ahead, I can begin to hope…maybe. Hope is a funny thing. Hope for tomorrow, for a future, for joy. I can hope that I might just be ok. I am bad at just letting things be. I need to know what is next. Where does life go from here? But that’s the thing. What’s next is now. And before anything, I need to learn to live now. Those cancer years were spent navigating dangerous waters. Where would the iceberg be? The idea that I can just sail now is scary. It seems not possible and it also fills me with guilt. Steph never got to just sail…why should I? This is also the point where she’d tell me to stop thinking like that….what is it getting me? And she’d be right.
It is more than fitting that this 6 month mark takes me down to Florida with my family and then on to Houston to see friends and of course visit with Dr. B. See my parents kind of know this but Ill say it here. I am eternally grateful to them. Not just for raising me and not screwing that up, but for the vacation they always gave us. See thanks to them for one week each year, I step out of the 24/7 role of life as a band director and my life is basically a Jimmy Buffett song. It’s the ultimate battery recharge. Last summer they did more than they may know. It was Stephanie’s last vacation, although none of us knew that to be fact, though storm clouds were certainly building. But it was the perfect vacation. Everything Steph needed to enjoy the beach in her chemo-fied state was there. She loved it. And the whole family was able to go. We got not only a great picture of every one but it is where it took “the picture”. Many of you have seen it. I took it on a whim trying to get a candid shot. What I got was Steph, sitting in a lounge chair looking more reflective than I had seen in a long time. In the background the sun was setting over the Gulf through the clouds in such a way it looked like the light was exploding through the clouds. It was a beautiful serene moment. It was also a moment where deep inside I started to know what was coming…on some level. But that picture carried so much peace and calm….it was a picture that said “its all going to be ok.” That trip was a wonderful week. Going back brings some trepidation as the first return to Houston did. Im retracing our footsteps in some ways. I imagine ill have the same reactions. Really though, I’m learning she is always with me. Her footprints are there wherever I am and as I’ve said time and time again, I can’t help but know she’s smiling.