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The Dragonfly

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

Some of my very favorite messages I’ve received are ones sending love and acknowledgment of the strife I’ve had to deal with in my life so far. I spent most of my adult life watching my mom suffer and eventually succumb to illness and then a few years later learned that statistically speaking, I would very likely lose my husband to cancer and be raising our boys alone. Today, 15 months after that diagnosis, my husband is on hospice with a prognosis measured in weeks to a few months. Brain cancer is different from other cancers because full remission is unachievable. The kind of brain cancer that Mike has is one that some people are fortunate to live a long time with but prognosis often depends on genetic markers and resect-ability – both of which were not in our favor. Mike fought like hell to get through the most brutal of days but this was never, ever a fair match. Every bit of good news felt like we got in a good punch but we knew when the match ended, it wouldn’t be in our favor. We were forced to stay positive and only celebrate the small wins along the way. Though it’s always well intended, sometimes telling someone with cancer to keep fighting and to not give up is unfitting. Sometimes to keep fighting means to keep suffering and being told to not give up leads to feelings of guilt in someone who just wants to be at freaking peace. There is no such thing as giving up. It takes incredible strength to go through cancer treatment but it takes an equal or greater strength to accept that treatment is no longer what's best when literally all you want is your life back. Collectively, stopping treatment is what was decided with and for Mike. Those messages that I've received are some of my favorites because they’ve made me feel stronger. It’s true that I have had a lot of sadness in my life. But I don’t have a sad life. My boys will grow up with an inevitable sadness but they won’t have a sad life, either. I’ve been challenged but I’m not disadvantaged. I actually feel so blessed and I do still have so much happiness in my life. We go to the pool, we play outside, we visit the zoo, we have dance parties on the couch and we go out for ice cream (a little too often). Do I still wish for a miracle on Mike? Do I wish I had my mom's shoulder to cry on over all this? Do I wish they could both be here to help raise the boys? That's a *HARD* yes to all three. Feelings of sadness and grief can absolutely coexist with hope and joy. I’m somehow living the best and worst days of my life simultaneously.

Lately, the boys have become total besties and partners in crime. Dominic squeals with the purest excitement when Dante wakes up in the morning. The two of them recently created a game called the “Steal Things We Can’t Have Game”. Dante asks Dominic if he wants to play and Dominic shakes his head enthusiastically – for the game itself (Dommy is very into rebellious activity) but also for Dante showing him attention. They take things out of the kitchen drawers and run around the house with them. Together they play, they dance, they chit chat, they cause trouble. I could watch them interact all day even when they’re teaming up to be destructive little monsters. Seeing their relationship develop makes my heart literally explode with the greatest happiness. I've realized that I need to search for and be super aware of moments of joy that come naturally and embrace the opportunities to create more of them.

What’s happening to us is sad and unfair but I really don't want to be a sob story. I want to share hope. I asked my talented sister-in-law, Jess (owner of GoodGooseGraphics) to help me make this site a little more “official". Writing has been so so good for me and so has been connecting with women going through a similar trauma, or who have already become widowed. What these people have given me (whether they know it or not) is what I want to give others; especially, others navigating these challenges while parenting little ones.

When I gave my sister in law a series of unorganized text messages about my vision for this site, she shared with me this story:

The Dragonfly Story

By Walter Dudley Cavert

“In the bottom of an old pond lived some grubs who could not understand why none of their group ever came back after crawling up the lily stems to the top of the water. They promised each other that the next one who was called to make the upward climb would return and tell what had happened to him. Soon one of them felt an urgent impulse to seek the surface; he rested himself on the top of a lily pad and went through a glorious transformation which made him a dragonfly with beautiful wings. In vain he tried to keep his promise. Flying back and forth over the pond, he peered down at his friends below. Then he realized that even if they could see him they would not recognize such a radiant creature as one of their number. The fact that we cannot see our friends or communicate with them after the transformation which we call death is no proof that they cease to exist.”

Jess happened to have a half finished dragonfly drawing on her desk for the last few years. The dragonfly is a symbol of hope and transformation. She finally finished it over the next few weeks following my text rant and the finished product felt so right. I know that I’ve been grieving for the last 15 months but I find so much comfort in knowing Mike is still physically here – despite his condition. I can kiss him, hug him, help him. Sometimes when I give myself the “I can do this” pep talk, I wonder if that strength actually comes from being so numb to my reality. Living in survival mode can do that. I don’t know what I’ll do when he’s gone and it all sets in. Mike told me that I will be okay. That the boys will be okay. That I’m strong and will find a new normal. He told me that I am capable of amazing things and that I will help people on this journey. And so I have to try. I have absolutely no idea where this blog will go - but I hope one day it pops up on the right person’s screen who just may need to know that they are not alone.

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We have dragon flies ALL OVER our yard. I kid you not I see maybe 10 a day. It’s weird because I didn’t see them last year but this year.. all over!! Maybe, if life ever allows, you and the boys can get down here as see them all with Iz : )


Dragonflies have always been a sign for me. I love this. You are inspiring and incredible. ❤️

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