July 4, 2009 was the most wonderful, happiest fourth of July I have had in many years.
This entire weekend was perfect. I spent most of each day outside, which is what I love doing. I ran 7 miles Friday, and then shopped and dined with a friend. I kayaked on the Charles Saturday morning, dined with more friends and walked to Harvard Square, sat on a bench on the banks of the river, let the river breeze soothe me to my core, and walked home. Then today, I ran 3.5 miles, dined with yet another friend and shopped some more.
I worried that I might be sad, once again, about that singular 4th of July back in 2004 when, despite the fact that Chris was experiencing horrid chemo side-effects, and I could do nothing to help him, the rest of the world celebrated with barbeques, beers and patriotism. I knew I was inside a bubble back then, that we two were not connected to the world the way we had been before the cancer came. Holidays, back then, always felt like nobody cared, because people who are not experiencing adversity of their own don’t want their own holiday ruined by the horrors of others. That’s just the way it is.
Case in point, on Christmas Day, 2004, when I called my family from the emergency ward at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where Chris and I spent the entire day after his abdominal pain became completely unbearable, I was invited by my father to come to dinner, anyway. I know he didn’t realize at the time that he was essentially asking me to leave Chris at the hospital and come to Christmas Dinner (by the way, we’re Jewish), but there is a certain level of denial that spreads to those who come into contact with the adversity of others. For fourteen months, I had to investigate and find out if anyone at our family gatherings was sick, because nobody understood that Chris’ chemo treatments weakened his immune system and posed a very real threat to his health. I know it’s a compliment that they wanted us there, but that type of compliment could have killed Chris long before his actual demise.
I feel better this year, than I have felt in all of the years that have passed since Chris’ death. I feel happy and I feel able.
I will always cry for my Chris. I will miss him always and I will love him always. I suspect that I will always shudder at thoughts of all of pain, fear and anger he endured and the injustice of cancer. The broken promises of a life snuffed out like a candle flame will always make me doubt love’s durability, even when a relationship is good. But all of that stuff now fits into a much smaller compartment within my mind and most of my mind is filled with optimism, as always.
And I continue to trek forward.