On June 23, 2004 my husband and I followed two doctors into a small conference room designed for privacy. It was then that we learned that our son had cancer. Upon delivering the difficult news the doctors waited, expectantly, for my emotional outburst, my breakdown. Instead, I considered their words carefully and replied “what’s the treatment plan?”
The doctors exchanged curious looks and proceeded to give me the “plan”. Weeks later, one of the doctors approached me and said that he had never in all his years of practicing met someone who responded the way I did to the news of my son’s diagnosis, further commenting on how strong I was.
But he was wrong. Several days after that devastating meeting, while holding a baby picture of my son, I curled up in my closet of all places and cried. And when I say I cried I mean I sobbed. It had finally sunk in that my son could die and I cried a lifetime of tears.
Ten months later, my son finished his treatment plan and was declared cancer free. However, during that time, my dog was diagnosed with cancer as well and two weeks after Erik was declared healthy, my dog received his death sentence. There was nothing more that could be done, and in Marley and Me fashion, I sat in the vet’s office on Memorial Day weekend 2005 and with my beloved greyhound's head in my lap I watched him take his last breath.
And with that came another torrent of tears. Beyond anything I had ever experienced. I felt sick to my stomach, a hole the size of the planet in my soul. I could not pull myself together. Finally, my husband came to my aid, forcing me to leave the house and go to a baseball game. And I remember thinking how strange it was that in my moment of despair life just kept going. Just as it did during Erik’s cancer treatment. The world didn’t stop. Bills still had to be paid, the lawn still needed to be mowed,
And I realized that there was no time for crying. So I built a dam. A carefully crafted wall that for the last six years has worked beautifully to contain my reservoir of tears.
But lately, I have noticed that my dam is getting weaker, it’s starting to crack and I spend my time and energy patching up these cracks because if I don’t, the dam will give way, the floodgates will open and I fear I will never again be able to stop it.