“We made it,” I thought as I watched my toddler grunt and struggle to pick up each tiny pumpkin and load it on to a cart. She’s a workhorse like her dad. She buzzes around taking on every task with as much gusto as her little body can possibly produce.
I’d watch Joe do the same work around the house. Wiping down the counters as if he was on the clock. Wrapping an old t-shirt around his long hair as he worked up a sweat cleaning the house. No job was too small to give 100%.
It’s one of the hardest things about a chronic, life taking disease like cancer. You watch your strong man slowly start to struggle to come up with the energy to do the smallest of jobs. Every single outing becomes a minute by minute decision if you’ll even make it out the door. It’s hard to make plans and your friends become all too familiar with your last minute cancellations.
We never made it to a pumpkin patch. It may seem silly but it hurts my heart to think about how many times we’d planned last year to load up our little family and take the pictures we see splashed across our Facebook pages.
Sometimes I re-read our last text messages saved in my phone and see a common theme from one year ago. Joe was just so, so tired. He couldn’t make it out of his recliner. I watched him slowly step upstairs as I pressed my hands on his lower back to keep him steady. We’d plan every night, Maybe tomorrow you’ll feel good and we can go? Maybe tonight will be a good night sleep?
My personal favorite:
Amanda: I wish you could sleep in bed with me. I’m watching maid in manhattan.
Joe: I wish I could lay in bed with you and watch J Lo movies all day.
That’s love ladies and gentlemen.
So while it wasn’t the way we’d pictured it, I took our little girl to see the pumpkins and the train.
I’m lucky enough to have a new friend who makes it ‘girls days’ and I don’t feel as weird as the only mom without a dad at an event.
Creating memories hurts. It’s hard to not have Mira’s dad watch her with the same admiration and biased love only a parent can have. But creating memories is what I’ll continue to do because I made a promise. I promised Joe I’d give her the very best life we had planned.
So, before you head to the pumpkin patch. I hope you’ll realize how lucky you are to get up and do whatever it is you want on a Saturday morning. I hope you’ll take a minute and think about all of the people in your life who are facing illness and can’t make plans as simple as sitting on the hay bails for a photo op. I hope you’ll remember the people who don’t have anyone to take a pictures with.
Our last family picture was the three of us all dressed up for Halloween. We barely got Joe to the porch to take this picture and yet there he sat in the stupid owl hat I made us wear.
Every holiday, every costume, every pumpkin, every time the wind hits my face, I’ll think of you and I’ll continue to say, “We made it”.