I can't believe it's been almost nine years since Chris was told his cancer was officially in remission. The anniversary of that wonderful moment isn't for another couple months, but I recently found a little something that I wrote way back then, and every time I read it I gain perspective.
I certainly don't miss going through that illness and all that came with it, and don't ever wish to go through it again. But there is a certain, beautiful focus that your life takes on when faced with something so serious. Your entire world shrinks to hold only three things -- God, family, and the goal of 'tomorrow.' It's amazing how much you can hear when the noise of the everyday world is silenced, when your life takes a detour off the highway and down a silent, lonely path.
For years after he was healthy again, I missed that simplicity, that clarity. Luckily I am now able to experience a measure of it with Kostyn. Many other things that once seemed important are now just white noise, and I love that. I try every day to clear my mind and open my heart to what's really important — God, family, and the goal of 'tomorrow.' I don't always succeed. But it's a worthy goal, I think.

Here's that piece of history:

They walk slowly down the hospital hallway, each one engulfed in a different hell.

"Look up." She commands him to stay awake, to try to focus on what's ahead of him. She can tell that he is nearly falling asleep standing up.

He struggles to raise his head. She can see him urging his lungs to inflate again.

She struggles with the cart that carries his IVs, the medications and tubes that are attached to his weakened body.

He clutches the wheelchair handles and pushes on. The wheelchair he's pushing is just there for support - it holds nothing but his hope, heavy and unsure of itself. But he is determined to make it all the way around the nurse's station at the other end of the hallway.

She can see that determination on his face. She knows this is his longest walk yet.

They are welcomed with smiles by the nurses as they pass. They are the youngest ones on this floor. The other patients here are generations ahead of them.

Still, they feel lucky.

"Look up. Breathe in," she commands — two simple sentences she never thought she'd hear herself say to him. But they're not simple to him. He looks up slowly. A nurse greets them warmly, and he smiles at her.

'He is charming,' she thinks. There is a very important part of her that sees just the smile, the long eyelashes, the love, and nothing else. No tubes, no tears, no pain.

She is thinking about how far they've come and how far they'll have to go and how great it is that he is looking up on his own now without being told to and he is thinking

Right foot. Left foot. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Then his face changes, his determination shifts and he stops in front of the windows.
The windows are touching the air outside that he hasn't felt in so long. But that's not what he's thinking about. He turns to her, straightens his body as much as he can and says, "I want to kiss you," and this surprise fills her heart.

The kiss is simple, but awkward. There is a tube that hides his lips. There are tubes everywhere but just now, they hardly notice.

Then he looks at her with eyes that are focused and clear and as she is breathing in this moment he smiles that same shy smile that made her fall so long ago and he says,

"Happy anniversary."

She had forgotten. And he has remembered. There are no cards or presents or dinners to mark the third year these two young people have spent as one, just a remarkable, God-given moment of clarity, and love.

'This is our best anniversary ever,' she thinks with a smile, as they amble slowly back down the hall.


Kim said...

There you go making me cry again. Granted, that's not tough to do these days with all the hormones pumping through my body, but still...

It's hard to think about two people I love so much having to go through all of that. I'm glad, though, that when you came out the other side you were able to gain something from all of it.

Amy said...

while totally different circumstances of "coming out on the other side of something" -- I too believe that there is something beautiful about experiencing it and becoming stronger...both yourself and your relationship. I wouldn't change a thing about all we've been through. love you both.

Carol said...

absolutely beautiful.

Tara said...

I don't think I breathed the whole way through.

Dan said...


Noratiqah a.k.a Nora said...

That is so touching and romantic :)

=) said...

Wow--That should have a warning label on it. My students are going to wonder what the heck I'm crying about.

Sheila said...

Thanks for the cry, and for reminding me about life's three most important things.

Robyn said...

Thanks guys, for the comments. Does it really elicit tears? For some reason that surprises me.

LovingMy2Boys said...

You have inspired me to write DH a note for his one anniversary of being in remission! You did a great job!!!