happy anniversary

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.

of course.

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
real slow.


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.

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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.
For love.
For love.


Filed under anniversary, haircut

27 responses to “happy anniversary

  1. Phyllis Wickman

    This is a wonderful testament to love and community and courage and hope, but love above all. Five years- —- WOOOO HOOOOO!!!

    Cousin Phyllis

  2. Megan

    I am still here. Congratulations on 5 years! What a beautiful story.

  3. Pam Osborne

    So beautiful. Thanks for sharing and happy anniversary.

  4. Sandra

    Thank you. For everything. My husband was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2007 just days before our daughter was born. Your blog helped me feel more connected to the world when I felt like I was living in someone else’s body. He is approaching 4 years of NED. I’m smiling to know that your love is also well and that your family has evolved so beautifully. Thank you.

  5. sara

    Haven’t been by here in a few years. So happy to see you’re doing well. Much love.

  6. Judy

    What a beautiful essay and testament to your courage and family and love! Thank you.

  7. Melissa

    I’m still here too, and often wonder how you’re doing. What a lovely update.

  8. Marie Carianna

    Hooray for the love. And for you all. Still think about you, Daniel.

  9. keri

    What a wonderful update. I check in every so often. So glad you are doing well. Hugs to you all

  10. Joanna Smith

    Mazel tov!

  11. Jayne

    I check in every so often. So happy today that I did. Glad you are all doing well. Many hugs and cyber hugs.

  12. I’m so happy for you all!!

  13. Wow. I can’t believe it’s been five years. I’m so glad you are all doing well!!

  14. Laynie

    I’m still here as well. Happy Anniversary!

  15. hopesrising

    happy anniversary! I’m happy to see your words as well as the pictures. thanks so much for sharing them…its been a while think of you all often.

  16. Jen

    Thank you for the update. I had thought about you guys not too long ago, and I was glad to see this post appear in my feed reader (sorry it took this long for me to finally click through and respond). Congrats on the 5 years; it’s an amazing milestone. And if I haven’t said it before, thank you for sharing your powerful, beautiful story with all of us out here on the internet.

  17. Jenny

    I still pop by every so often and was delighted to see your post today, after so long with no updates! Congratulations to Leanne and your entire family. 5 years is huge, and what a special way to celebrate!
    My hubby has been cancer-free for 6 years, and we just welcomed our first child – a boy! – in January 2012. Little Jack is the most beautiful, wonderful baby, he is such a miracle and the best gift ever. Amazing – life goes on, and it gets better every day. Congrats again on 5 years of HEALTHY! Sending hugs and warm wishes from Washington, D.C…

  18. Happy 5 years, and many, many more.

  19. Allan J. Fromberg

    Thought of you guys today and decided to check in…..good news!

  20. J-L Laurendeau

    I can’t remember when I started reading your story but it grabbed me and reeled me in. For months I was checking to see if there were any new posts but there were none. I was thinking about your family today and found you again. Five years of health, truly a miracle. My mother in law has been diagnosed with cancer again (after a year of being cancer-free) and this time her chances don’t look so great. But we will fight this dreaded disease. Thanks for your inspiring story, you give me hope for what lies ahead.

    God Bless your family.


  21. Lori

    I still check in from time to time. Glad to see you are all doing well.

  22. Katie

    I followed your story and I occasionally think to myself, “I should go check.” And I hold my breath. So happy life is good for your family. I can’t believe it’s been almost six years! Blessings to you.

  23. Karen

    A follower, just checking in. I hope all is still well. Always thinking of you and your family. This was so beautiful. Please write another post soon to let us all know how things are going. Praying.

    • karen – thanks for even thinking of us.
      sometimes it feels like so long ago.
      sometimes it feels like right now.
      i should write another post soon.
      it’s time. not because there’s anything awful,
      but just because it’s always there….our past.
      it shows up in the strangest places….
      like in the daughter who was 2 1/2 when this all started and now is 11
      and can’t sleep.

      maybe not so strange.

      • Karen

        No, not so strange, really! :)

        I can only imagine how this has changed everyone’s life. Please do update when you can. Your posts have touched me to the core. I wish you and your family the best…

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