What Remains

Maybe it’s the stinkin’ hot weather and the wet bathing suits hanging in our mud room from Kate playing in her little inflatable pool. Maybe it’s all the beautiful babies in my mom’s group turning one year older and the memory of all of their parties this time last year. Perhaps it’s the visual reminder of the calendar pages flipping by inching us closer and closer to August. These days I’m feeling overwhelmed by sentimentality of…it all.

I’ve said an awful lot of “this time last year…” and “at this point last summer…” lately and it makes me realize our lives are always going to be divided in two. Before August 15th and, well, everything after. Before cancer and after.

Our whole lives have changed. Our family and friendships have changed. Certainly priorities and time management have changed, but what I wasn’t prepared for was all of the little things that remain.

There is a box of purple latex gloves that I brought home with me from the hospital to change “chemo diapers” that still sit on her changing table. The cabinet where I keep all of her dishes & sippy cups still has all of the disposable take ‘n toss cups they gave us in the hospital. There is still a haphazardly packed bin of snacks, toiletries and activities in the pantry with non-perishable items that we had packed up “just in case” we had to make an unexpected overnight trip to the hospital. Nearly 11 months ago, the day we returned home, I stocked a polka dot thirty-one tote with all of Kate’s medication and set it on the kitchen counter. It is still in that very same (exact!) spot. Still sitting on my dresser, in the very same place, is the lock of hair we lovingly snipped off and tied with a hot pink zebra ribbon when it started falling out faster than we could keep up with.

As soon as summer ended last year, I couldn’t get rid of the clothes and hospital memories fast enough. Clothes, pj’s, even toys…I still get a little nauseated every time Kate asks me to read one of Karma Wilson’s bear books. But these other things? These things remain as a constant reminder of what will soon be “a year ago.”

I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of what has happened and yet…some things still just remain.

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