in december, we went out to dinner.
lee’s five year was coming up and we needed a brainstorm
to figure out where to have it.
so we sat in a little booth at this restaurant not too far from our house
where they make their own pasta, and thought and thought.
“how about here?” lee said.
the restaurant had changed. it was now split into a smaller restaurant and a bar
but we realized that we were sitting in the same physical spot
that we had been sitting at almost five years earlier…
the night after lee had found out she had cancer, but the night before
her big scan when we found out it was everywhere.
it was in that spot that we made a decision, in theory,
about the baby…about trying
to keep it or not, and a nice waiter who i had played
basketball with when i was in graduate school
had let us sit as long as we wanted, had brought our food out
the morning of the five year,
she cut her hair
after five years of growing it out
for the past five years
and donated it.
i cut my hair (what little of it i had left) too.
even the little boy, noah, who had shaved his head when leanne’s hair fell out,
took a day off school and shaved it all off again.
and that night we all (lee, lydia and i)
read thank yous to everyone…
and by everyone, i want to include any of you who are still left.
for you were there too.
For the food on the doorstep.
For the prayers in a church in Chicago.
For the hat that says “fuck cancer”.
For the fairy house for Lydia.
For the bag of groceries.
For the foot massages.
For the basketball in the snow.
For the wife who refused to die.
For the park who gave her a place to walk every day.
For the woman who held Lydia when Leanne was too broken to take her home.
For the frost on our windows in the morning.
For the sound of the elevator dinging dinging up to the 12th floor.
For the views from the windows up there, that only the sick get to see.
For the nurse who took her lunch break off so that Leanne wouldn’t be alone.
For the doctor who listened instead of talking more.
For the pictures that someone took when we were too scared to see ourselves.
For the nights that wouldn’t let us sleep and the pills that told the night who was boss.
For the daughter who danced through it all, saying “if you die, you die”.
For the bosses and co-workers who picked up pieces of us.
For the woman in the line at the airport who hugged me.
For the two old ladies on the airplane home who fed me cheese and crackers and bad red wine and stories to sustain me.
For the father in law who got home before I did.
For not being silent, when silence was the easiest thing to do.
For the girl Leanne used to babysit who came out to babysit her right back.
For the friend who opened her door and offered a chest for me to cry on, after driving in the icy ruts.
For the neighbors who are experts in things we are not.
For the scientists who gave us a trial drug.
For the people who run and cycle and swim so that we could
For a restaurant who gave us a table and the waiter who left us alone at just theright time.
For the quilters.
For the sun that reminded us to keep getting up.
For the smudge sticks to cleanse the house of badness.
For the strangers on the blog who helped me not feel alone.
For the boy who cut his hair – twice – when he was five years old and today when he was 10, so that Leanne wouldn’t be the only one.
For the soundtrack of that time written by friends.
For the ruts of ice in the streets that almost never went away.
For the tumors that did.
For the baby girl that died so that Leanne could live.
For the anesthesiologists who heard me whisper – please, no pain.
For the woman who gave us her baby and the aunts who convinced her to do it.
For redemption, of sorts.
For stories that go and go.
For hanging on.
And for love.