I knew I needed to write a post today but I wasn’t sure what to say. Sometimes words can’t convey feelings.
I thought of the Scream Machine post I wrote way back when we first started treatment (what a newbie I was then) but that didn’t seem like a proper analogy to how things are now. I remember writing something like “once you make that slow climb to the top, you know everything is going to bottom out for a few minutes but then you will hit the curve that straightens out a little so you can catch your breath before you drop down the hill again. “ Well, things don’t straighten out a little anymore so you can catch your breath. I decided now feels more like the ride, Free Fall. Do any of you remember Free Fall at Six Flags from the 90’s? Honestly, I don't even know if they still have that ride but I am sure they have something that is similar. I do know that I never wanted to ride it but again was coerced into standing in line when I was babysitting a bunch of 13 year old girls who made me feel old and uncool that I was too scared to ride it with them. Unlike the Scream Machine, there is no slow climb up the big hill so that you can try to prepare yourself for what is coming next. Without warning, there is just a lurch and you are free falling with no control over anything. You can’t even look over at your fellow rider to see how they are doing because you are just dropping so fast and have no idea when it will stop. It is all you can do to just focus on you and when the ride will end. Just as suddenly as the fall starts, it stops, and you get off and walk away seemingly back to what you were doing before but everything feels different. Your legs seem weaker, your head is spinning and is fuzzy, people around you are talking but you can’t really focus on what they are saying because you are trying to get your senses back and regain the same feeling you had before you got on the Free Fall. For me, that is life after loss. You are in the park walking around with everyone but everything feels different. You are different.
I never went back and read my blog posts after I wrote them. I just typed the words that came out and posted it and moved on to the next day. When I went looking for the Scream Machine post, I quickly looked over a few posts from around that same time which was early on in Conner’s treatment. I can hear the hope in my words. I never gave up that hope - ever - even when Dr. Anderson sent us home on hospice or when our hospice nurse and social worker and chaplain came to the house, hope was still prevalent everywhere. I am not sure what that hope looks like now. If I am brutally honest with you, that hope looks like me laying in bed at night listening for Conner’s footsteps upstairs. For whatever reason, he would run from his bed to the bathroom when he had to pee in the middle of the night and I would hear him, pat pat pat pat pat pat pause (standing and peeing at this point) pat pat pat pat pat pat silence (back in the bed). That hope also looks like me working at my desk in the kitchen and praying I will hear “casey - make me some pepperoni sliders please.” Yet, I also know that hope has stayed the same because I still hope for a cure; I still hope for targeted treatments for childhood cancer that are not as toxic and that are smarter and more precise and I still hope no child has to suffer physically and emotionally - it’s just now that hope is for a child who isn't mine.
Conner makes sure my hope lives in my heart each day just as he does. He sent us a third dog, Axel, that we adopted in November so I have another little man to snuggle with here on Earth. Hopefully, he keeps sending us dogs to love. If Bryan is reading this, he is rolling his eyes at this part.
Bryan and I are grateful for all of you. You are our support system. You are the protective rails on the Free Fall. Thank you for your love, your prayers, your compassion, your understanding, your patience, your guidance and most of all, thank you for remembering Conner. All we have are memories. We don’t have new experiences to share like other families so when you listen to our memories and when you share a memory or even when you just say his name into the sky or talk to him about the squirrel you just saw and wonder how they find their nuts in the spring (he will tell you), that is a blessing to us because we know Conner is not forgotten. He lives on in us and you so we love to hear your new experiences; don’t stop sharing your lives with us just because our life is different.
Always and Forever
With hope and love,
Conner, Casey and Bryan