I often find in my life that two things simultaneously can be true. Circumstances can be both bittersweet and celebratory. We can have huge loss and experience overwhelming gratitude at the same time. Today is a bittersweet day. Today is both a day of heaviness and celebration. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Birthdays are the perfect time to celebrate all that is wonderful about special people in our lives. Jenny is a ray of sunshine and light. She has strength, optimism, and radiant energy. Every interaction with her feels special, light-hearted, and meaningful.
Today is also the day that will be forever be marred by receiving the devestating news from docs in Seattle that there was nothing else they could do. To try for a bone marrow transplant in Sam’s condition would, as they put it, “shorten his already short life.” Since leukemia would take Sam swiftly on its own, this essentially meant treatment would kill him. It was important to Sam that he didn’t die of painful treatment in a hospital. He wanted to be back in Alaska and let leukemia take him quietly in the home he loved. March 16 started his road home, to all his homes, to say his final goodbyes.
Sam and Jenny packed up their temporary home in Seattle and headed first to Wisconsin. I said goodbye to him for the last time standing in my sister’s kitchen. He had just gotten back from a long clinic visit and he was tired. We hugged and ended our conversation him saying I should really get up to Alaska sometime soon. I said I liked that idea and gave him a squeeze knowing full well this was probably goodbye. “See you soon,” were my final words in person to him, “love you.”
I’ve been in a funny headspace as this spring rolls around thinking how we had no way of knowing last year at this time that Sam only had two more months to live. Hindsight always gives us all the answers we couldn’t have possibly known then. As the year anniversary of his death creeps up on us, I find myself seeing him everywhere. His spirit visits me in cardinals, deer looking at me on the side of a snowy backroad, and in blue herons flying overhead. I play a playlist of songs we swapped back and forth when I took him to one of his clinic visits in Madison. Ghosts of healthy Sam have visited me in dreams and I’m always so happy to see him again.
March 16 is both celebration for all the things Jenny means to me and my family, and all the ways I miss Sam. It’s both a time of looking forward with optimism and hope while one eye looks sadly back. Mostly today I want for Jenny to know all she is to me and my family, and all I want for her now and in the future. I hope for Jenny to live a full and wonderful life. I hope she, if she’s ready and it feels right, finds someone that gives flight to her dreams and a soft place to land after adventures. I hope she skis a thousand skis and sees even more sunsets. I hope she always knows how much we love her and value her as part of our family, always.
Happy birthday Jenny! Today is your day. It’s about celebrating you and all you are in the world. I can’t wait to see what’s waiting for you on the wings of your life. I’m so happy to be a part of it. I love you!