Kara signed me up for these e-mails. They're called "grief share" and they are daily. The theory is that you will receive one of these e-mails for a day, 365 in total, and at the end of the year you will have learned something about your grief. Perhaps something about yourself. I am on day 11. I started late. I wonder when I get these e-mails what Day 200 will look like. I wonder about the day when day 366 comes and no e-mail arrives. Does that mean my grief has ended? Am I finished? Of course that's silly and not at all what even the e-mails suggest. I think they know very well that a year is arbitrary, in much the same way as a decade would be. Our eight months and seventeen days was. Numbers without meaning, timelines with no context.
Almost one hundred days have passed since I first posted in this blog "Day 1" before we knew anything about rhabdoid tumors, when all we knew was the white mass on James' MRI staring back at us, a frame with the title "Seven Month Old with Brain Tumor." The Doctor stumbled on the words when Kara pointed out the tumor. There was no prefatory instruction, just "Is that a tumor?" and "Yes." I remember how committed we were to not even googling rhabdoid before we knew if James had it. Even when he was sick, we had so much hope, and James was always so happy. Why shouldn't we have hoped?
They say it takes a million cells to show up on an MRI. I wonder all the time when that first cell was born, when something wrong first happened. I wonder if there was a subtle change I missed in his behavior, if there anything at all that should have let me know that MRI shot was coming. This is foolishness of course, no one predicts a rhabdoid tumor. I know that. I do not always feel it.
Today's e-mail, Day 11, reminded me of that. "Losing a part of yourself" was the title. A man whose wife died described that he felt like someone had sliced him in two with a samurai sword, that he didn't know who he was anymore. For me, the sensation is different. Less cut in half, and more hollowed out, as if someone took a knife and scoured my chest cavity, a neat little hole where the core of me used to be. The center is missing. The sensation is one of absence. Without James, free hours reappear. There is no impediment to working long hours on the weekends, no obstacle to hours of television that you never bothered to watch before. You could develop hobbies, if only you cared. All the time serves no purpose but to remind you why it's there.
I do not always agree with the e-mails. Sometimes they catch me at an off time, or I don't care for their tone. Today's though, fit perfectly. I do feel like I lost part of myself, in many ways the best of me. The e-mail says to trust in God. I am trying. I do not have the answers, but I'm trying. Ask me again on day 366.
I met several people this week who I did not know who read this blog. Thank all of you for your support, everytime someone tells me what James meant for them or that they prayed for him I am glad to know how much he was loved.