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Diagnos-aversary: Trauma, Illness and Grief Anniversaries

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

The challenges of solo parenting and motherhood while navigating life after loss.


My urge to spring clean finds me clearing out kitchen cabinets, disposing of the leftover medication that was supposed to be our miracle drug. Looking at half empty prescriptions feels a lot like unfinished business. I’m emptying these bottles with visions in my head of reaching into a rainbow pill box 4-5 times a day and sitting on the computer researching every potential side effect– usually praying that a side effect of a medication would explain Mike’s worsening symptoms instead of tumor progression. Instructions: Take Zofran 30 minutes before chemo to avoid nausea

It never worked.

The spring weather usually brings excitement. There’s nothing better than being outside with the boys jumping on the trampoline and making stick piles all around the back yard.

But now, mixed in with that excitement, is sadness. This joy lives alongside the trauma that the last few spring seasons left me with.

As the weather got nicer, Mike got sicker.

When we bought this house, we imagined spending so much time on our back deck. And we did. We spent a lot of time last spring and summer out there. But instead of the barbecues, parties, and late nights we imagined, it was Mike sitting in a green recliner that he repeatedly told me to burn in f***** flames once he was gone.

...I threw it in the trash instead

It was him attached to an IV while the kids splashed around innocently in their water table a few feet away.

It was helping Mike eat and drink and stand and stretch and sit.

It was holding his hand wondering how long we actually had left together. It was my mother in law and I lifting and shifting him around to make sure he’s comfortable and the two of us tag teaming the boys on the swing set so we could each have time alone with Mike.

It was watching the boys play on the deck through the window while we worked on his OT/PT exercises every damn day - trying to find the smallest of improvements. They never came.

I can't put into words the way it felt to watch this man who ran Tough Mudders with me, struggle to bring his finger to his nose.

It was this time of year that my mom was put on hospice. She died 4 years ago today. It was this time of year that someone first suggested coordinating hospice care for Mike.

I didn't want to hear it. I wasn't there yet.


I went for a run outside the other day. It felt good. I felt strong and I felt grateful for a working body but I also felt guilty. If I close my eyes, I can just see Mike walking in the door of our old house appearing so defeated after what became his last run ever.

He was visibly frustrated and uncomfortable because his left hand was “flopping around” his entire run. We just didn't know why yet.

It was around Easter 2021 when we noticed Mike having issues with his left hand which led to his first diagnosis. It was around Easter 2022 that Mike started having vision problems which led to his second diagnosis. The last two years, springtime was consumed with hospital stays, MRIs and false hope.

Easter 2019: first with Dante and first without my Mom.

Easter 2020: COVID version. Pregnant with Dommy.

Easter 2021: a few weeks before Mike was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I would give anything to relive this weekend.

Easter 2022: our last together. We were back in the hospital the very next day due to Mike's impaired balance and double vision.

Here we are approaching Easter 2023. The spring weather and Easter decorations bring me right back to it. It freaking hurts.

But at the very same time, I’ve felt more myself this month than I have in almost two years.

It's taken a lot of discomfort, writing, friends and family.

But that's something to celebrate.

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