Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Five years since our marriage, two years since his diagnosis, and Clark's first day of school

This Labor Day weekend marked what would have been our fifth wedding anniversary. There was some heartache, especially seeing so many other two-parent families out doing things together. Clark and I had a good weekend - a trip to the zoo on Saturday, a picnic on the Presidio on Sunday, Golden Gate Park and the Cal Academy science museum on Monday. We had gorgeous weather and lots of good time with our neighbors, but still there was that sense of loss for what life would have been like if Scott were here. This is a dangerous game to play, because the hypothetical life I imagine is always an idealized version, leaving real life - even so lovely a weekend as this one - pale by comparison. So I am mindful of the beauty of this life, and within that, I miss him. I miss his joy, his ability to see the big picture, his way with Clark.

I had two very cool conversations with Clark about Scott last week. On Wednesday morning, Clark and I were cuddling on the couch, right after he woke up, and he asked me where his dad was. We talked about it for a little while, my vague answers not satisfying his questions. Eventually, I said, "Clark, is there anything you want to tell your dad?"
"Yes." said Clark. "His head."
"His head? What about his head?"
"Inside his head."
I realized that Scott had his surgery on that day exactly two years ago, performed by a neurosurgeon and a head-and-neck surgeon, to remove the tumor. I don't remember talking to Clark about his dad's surgery at all - it certainly hasn't been part of our narrative over the past year. The following day, Thursday, as we were going to sleep, Clark started talking about a booger in his nose (like three-year-olds do), and then started talking about how the booger came from "something that died... deep inside my nose." It really felt like a reference to Scott's sinonasal tumor, even though - to my memory - we only ever discussed Scott's cancer in very general terms ("a very bad disease that made his body stop working").  I truly believe that Clark and Scott have a connection. I don't expect Clark to remember much, if anything, about his dad, because he was so young when he died. There are stories and photos to help fill in the gap, but maybe this connection will endure. If nothing else, I'm really glad that I'll be able to tell Clark that he had this link to his dad.

I made it through my surgery rotation. It wasn't as tough as I feared, but I'm glad to be on the other side. I was getting pretty run down toward the end, for a variety of reasons: 12-hour days working in a field I'm not interested in, less-than-perfect team dynamics, two headcolds, not a lot of time with Clark, not a lot of time to exercise, not a lot of time for quiet introverted recharging time. No time to write a blog post, and even if I had found time, I'm not sure I would have known what to write - these posts are usually the result of a few days' or a week's worth of introspection and incubation, until eventually things percolate to the surface and I find time to articulate them. I felt like I didn't have time (or energy) to pay attention to what I was incubating. I was definitely experiencing sadness about Scott - some of it triggered by things in the hospital, some triggered by pretty random events - but somehow it felt like the byproduct of stressors than like "real" authentic grief. But I made it through the rotation and have learned some things about surgery and teams and myself. A huge thank-you to to my classmates, who were always ready to listen and hug, and a huge thank-you to my parents and parents-in-law, my sister Margaret and my Wellesley sister Kate for taking such good care of Clark and I over the course of the eight weeks. I wouldn't be able to do this if it weren't for such a profoundly supportive village.

Now I am one week into my psychiatry rotation and am thoroughly enjoying the change from surgery, as well as the service itself. Today is Clark's first day at his new preschool, which he and I have been anticipating for weeks. One of his teachers called today just to let me know he was having a good first day - I wasn't worried, but I was glad for the reassurance.


Alice C said...

Have been thinking of you and Clark and Scott a lot in the past weeks. And surgery rotation sounds TOUGH - freaks me out just thinking about it, to be honest. Here's to more recharging time and time of all kinds in months and years to come. Much love to you, my dear friend.

marian said...

How wonderful to have a preschool teacher who thinks to call. Beautiful post, Challenging times. Sending love to you, sweet Libby. I, too, have been thinking about you a lot...