Making Peace with 2016
Today is the last day of 2016. It feels a little bittersweet to me, even though I’ve never been sentimental about New Years. Adam and I couldn’t have cared less about where we were when the clock struck midnight, as long as we were together.
Looking back on 2016, the first thing I thought about was all the love it had for us. Yes, there was pain but the pain is secondary to all the love and blessings we had. 2016 was intense, it was fierce, and it is a year which will never be forgotten. Adam will never be forgotten. Our love story will never be forgotten.
It held highs after the diagnoses when the surgeon felt confident he could operate on Adam. Followed quickly by the lows of Adam’s first surgery. They started the surgery, opened him up to clean the cancer out, and quickly closed him up as we learned his cancer was too aggressive and far spread for the surgeons at the U of M.
There was relief when we learned his cancer freight train had been stopped after five rounds of chemo. Hearing those words from Dr. Lou (otherwise known as the “Lou-Man” in our house) brought tears to my big husband’s eyes. I’ll never forget that day. Adam’s first sign of hope in months.
In the month following this appointment, we waited, and waited, and waited anxiously for Reginald to arrive. Anxious and uncomfortable were mutual feelings by Adam and I. During the month of April though, I took the trump card in the house for pain and being uncomfortable as little Reggie gave all 5’2″ of me a run for my money. The first six months of Adam’s diagnosis, our pregnancy gave us a nice distraction. While we worried about what the future would hold for our new baby, our new family of four, the one thing that remained constant is Adam wanted cancer to take a back seat to me, to baby Reggie, and to our little man Edward.
Adam was hard on himself during his diagnosis, never feeling he was doing enough as a father. This broke my heart because he was. He was always the best and gave everything he had, but he never felt this way because chemo dragged him down. Cancer and chemo were often more of a mental fight for him than a physical fight. I will always remember him being a kickass dad, an amazing husband, and pushing through on even the nastiest chemo weeks. I know Edward will remember this too and I will try my damnedest to make sure Reggie knows how brave his daddy was.
Adam never missed a day of work except for his infusion day at the clinic. In his last round of chemo, he had to leave work early one day because he was exhausted and overall felt terrible. He mowed the grass all summer until his surgery, chemo week or not. He did both boys baths, rarely missing a bath night. We tried to plan baths around the terrible chemo days because that was Daddy’s time.
The beginning of June, we learned it was time to revisit surgery again. With a newborn and toddler, I hit the ground running to try and find the cure for my husband from the best surgeons in the country. I researched, I talked to friends in my cancer groups, I pressed the doctors who they would go see if it were them.
In July, Adam was off of chemo so he could explore surgery options. Life felt almost like it was before cancer. But, unfortunately, we had the elephant in the room and we knew we couldn’t avoid Adam being off chemo for too long. We flew out to New York three times in July. We had a lot of fun the first two trips. Yes, fun mixed in with medical appointments in the Big Apple.
Even Adam’s pre-op appointment the day before surgery we found ways to have fun and laugh (enter Snapchat filters!) The last trip we flew out for his big surgery. I divide the last year into two sections-life pre-cancer and life pre-surgery. We left our three month baby and almost three year old home. Not an easy decision, a definite low in the year but at the same time we were filled with HOPE.
After surgery, life had a lot more lows then highs. We found a few in September, going to the Firefighters Hall and Museum. Adam rode on top of an old firetruck with Edward. When he came back, I thought for sure he soiled himself or was going to throw up. His eyes were so big and he told me, “whoa, I made it, that was a bumpy ride!” with a huge proud grin on his face.
Just like our last year, we made it, it was a bumpy ride. All the way up to our anniversary weekend and making it to our final Packers game. We created memories. We loved life and each other with no regrets all the way up until his last breath.
The other night, I was reading our entries from the past year. I could feel the love but I could also feel the pain, especially in the last four months of Adam’s life after his surgery. We had good moments sprinkled in those months. They were every day moments like watching football together. A rare day we ate supper together after his surgery. I remember a few times he even made supper or breakfast for us.
Reading as a family before bedtime became a huge moment because it meant Adam had enough strength left at the end of the day. At the end, it was downstairs on the couch where he spent most of his time and often we read every other page so he could finish the book. Yes, he was that weak. He didn’t want many people to really know how weak he was, but reading a book to the boys took a lot of energy.
I am heartbroken as I think 2017 will not hold a single new memory of Adam. It will be made up of new memories with my growing boys, our faithful family, friends, and the new friends I will make.
While I am sad to see 2016 go, I am excited to see what 2017 has in store for my young family. The new year will have plenty of adventure, there is no doubt in my mind about that.
Until next time and next year, be kind to one another. Happy New Year…And Go Pack Go!