"In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."
~T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
When we last left our heroes, there was a new year barely 3 months old and a world of change ahead.
Today, precisely, is 3 months before my 35 birthday. So much has taken my breath away since March of 2016. So many great gains. Such world-stopping changes, losses.
It has been 6 weeks since my Father passed away. Almost a full year since the surgery that removed his lung cancer and the following month+ of downturns, near-death ICU stay and slow, persistent, less-2.5-toes recovery. Watching my sister worry until she couldn't sleep, finally getting brave enough to travel to be with them and feeling relief as they all improved. Spending Thanksgiving with my Dad, and marveling at his determination. Fighting to find time to be with him around his birthday. And being with him in the last days, that no one knew were his last. Watching "The Magnificent Seven," and its remake. Watching "El Dorado." Talking about John Wayne. Holding him as he passed out in the living room. Trembling as I called my sister, feeling helpless for the first time in a medical situation because regardless of how much I understand about medicine, I couldn't make sense of what was going on. This was Dad - my Big Sister's best friend, and the man who cried when he dropped me off at college when I asked if I'd still always be his little girl. Bob, who adored my husband and checked on Jon more than I knew, particularly after Mom passed away. Mr. Invincible, whose stoic and bullish presence in my life kept me grounded, and I bit back every inch of my political ideas so that our time together could be happy. It was selfish, and small, but I wanted to just enjoy the time we had left together, however long that was. The only thing I would change would be to have my sister at our side when we held him before he passed. I was closer to my Mom, and I would have given anything and everything I have to let my sister hold my Father's hand to say goodbye just as I'd had the opportunity to hold Mom's. He loved us. Imperfectly, impossibly at times, but loved us just the same.
I've struggled with the pain of losing him. More than that I've felt mystified by my relief - a breath held I did not know I was holding - knowing that he wasn't alone, that he had loved ones around him constantly when he went.
It has been 15 months and 1 week since my friend and sister, Melissa, passed away. Unexpected. Completely. I'd spoken to her every day for so long. She was a bright light in a weary world, and in each other we found safe passage. She was the quintessential older sibling; she knew when I was screwing up and would patiently tell me exactly why I was being an ass. She also let me be devastated without the nagging echo of "I told you so," or the disappointment of misplaced hero-worship. She saw my flaws, and let me stand beside her even in the face of them.
It has been 2 years and several weeks since my Mom and older brother passed away, within weeks of each other.
Even in the face of these scars, beautiful moments and new friends have brought love into my life. I've had magnificent moments, spectacular adventures and quiet restful evenings. I've learned more every day. My health is stable, which is a small miracle. I fight every day to keep it so.
I've seen one of my favorite people marry her long-time love. I've had an afternoon/evening as Cinderella. I've dyed my white hair a tanzanite purple-blue. I have started wearing thermal nail polish so I can tell when my toes/fingers are colder than they seem. I laugh too loudly. I kiss my husband in public. I'm reading Harry Potter for the first time, after 20 years of resistance. I am looking forward to once-in-a-lifetime memories with once-in-a-lifetime people. I am planning a dinner for friends. I'm watching movies in theaters again. I am writing again.
I'm still here. At a moment my world can change; in a second it will change again. But I have lived, up to now, and I will make even more memories in the days, weeks, years to come. I will have a rich and varied life to look back on, and I am grateful for all in it.