My youngest, Sam, is now 20. Wow…where did the time go? He was born when I was 40 and no, he was not an “accident”. Mature but still active hormone production was partly the cause for a two-year effort but I also miscarried (1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage and I fit that statistic) and he actually was conceived one month after the D&C. I suggested to my OB-GYN that perhaps older women have more “gunk” (no, not a medical term) inside and maybe zygotes have more trouble attaching to the uterine wall. She thought it an interesting concept and was planning to review the literature.
Anyway, life with a baby and toddler and young munchkin can be full of excitement but when Sam’s dad, Dave, was diagnosed with brain cancer before Sam’s 2nd birthday, that additional factor added a new dimension. Dave swore to my mom he would live long enough so the baby would remember him. And he told me to keep life as “normal” as possible, so there was Cub Scouts, and family trips, and singing with the Nashville Boy Choir, and so much more.
What was a 3-5 year life expectancy crashed 10 years later. Dave died in his sleep the night after Sam’s 11th birthday. My daughter Lisa demonstrated some wisdom telling Sam how my father had died the day after her 14th birthday. She said she believed he had waited until she was old enough to understand it was his time to go and while she would miss him, she would carry him in her heart forever. While Sam did not find complete solace in her words, they struck a chord and helped.
A year later my mom’s struggle with post-surgery complications ended three days after Sam’s birthday. (Doctor, the surgery was a success but the patient died.) And a year after that, two days before Sam’s birthday, Dave’s older brother also ended his fight against cancer.
This one week in October is powerful. At the time of Dave’s death I was very careful to help Sam see that his birthday was not ruined at all. In fact, the timing helps us remember and memorialize these special people. We light a yahrzeit candle and spend a few minutes sharing memories….celebrating life in its best continued form.
We chose this pathway instead of focusing on the pain of the losses. After all, in many ways, they are still with us.