Thursday, April 10, 2008

Anniversaries that resonate

We remember where we were, what we were doing when major events occurred. Our memories provide texture, fill in the gaps, anchor the big events.

A big one for most of us baby boomers is the day JFK was shot. I was in grade school in New York, and they sent us home. Not totally comprehending but knowing it was very bad, I watched the events unfold on a black and white TV. I sat on the floor in our parents' room, my eyes wandering from the televised images to the speaker at the bottom of the set. The dog had chewed it, and my mother had covered the hole with a pink silk rose.

Then of course there is Sept. 11; most everyone remembers where they were. I was running, and got home on time to see the second plane hit.

On a personal note, I piece together the events framing my hospitalizations, with anniversaries marked by whatever else was happening. Family and friends weave the fabric too.

St. Patrick's Day is a marker for me; more specifically, the St. Patrick's Road Race that takes place in Holyoke, Mass., the day before the area's big parade. My cancer journey began five years ago when my fatigue in running the race sent me to the doctor who diagnosed leukemia.

On April 7, 2003, I went to Boston. I would spend two days at my sister and brother-in-law's before being admitted to Brigham and Women's, the partner hospital of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. On April 9, 2003, my chemotherapy started.

That April 7 was tough for my three children, who fill in around the event with other memories. Ben remembers that he was supposed to play his first varsity baseball game. Snow was forecast, and the game was canceled. Actually it was just cold and damp when I left that morning, and it didn't snow until much later in the evening.

The present adds other layers, drawing attention away from the past.

April 7, 2008. Five girls, including Katie, wear Red Sox shirts to softball practice; Katie is one of three wearing a Papelbon shirt in honor of the charismatic closer who helped last year's team win the World Series. (So? The shirts were bright and cheerful, that's all.)

April 8, 2008: Ben, who covers sports for a newspaper in New Jersey, comes home for a couple of days and sits in his old spot on the couch to watch the Red Sox home opener, held on a beautiful baseball day on which Boston beats the Tigers, 5-0. Bill Buckner makes a surprise appearance to throw the first pitch, and the crowd gives him a standing ovation. It is his first visit to Fenway Park in more than a decade, and his eyes tear up. Buckner, who had 2,715 career hits, was blamed for an error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, which the Mets won. He tells interviewers that he forgives fans and the media for what they did to Buckner and his family. (I remember watching that fateful game while Ben slept upstairs in his crib, before life threw me curveballs.)

April 9: 2008: Katie pitches a no-hitter, and I watch her softball team win their game in the finally-warm spring sun. Later, I stop overnight outside of Boston at Diane and David's (my sister and brother-in-law) before heading to Maine to pick up my son Joe from college in Maine for his April break.

Diane and David don't eat much dessert, but they know I do, and they buy me a really good brownie. I savor the treat along with their conversation.

April 10, 2008: It's a sunny, glorious day again. When I get to Bates, students are lying in the sun, walking around in flip-flops, tossing frisbees. I can't believe I am old enough to have a second child in college. I am grateful that I am alive to see him coming out of his dorm, wearing, as usual, his Red Sox hat. We give each other a big hug. Then we laugh and talk almost the whole time during the three-and-a-half-hour drive back.


Mr. B-G said...

Hi Ronni,

These are very moving and powerful stories. It's certainly telling that we - through our subjective filters - determine what events are meaningful and important in our lives. The cliche that it's the little things that matter is once again proved true.

How is your treatment going? What is your current diagnosis? I wish you the best of luck as you battle this disease.

Your stories are well-written and inspiring. Keep it up!


Mr. B-G

Connie said...

It is interesting how we anchor the big events with little details in our lives. I remember getting of the bus and having my dad tell me about 9-11, and not really realizing how bad it was. I just wanted to go home and get a snack.

I'm glad that all the anniversaries this year were positive ones. I wish I had seen the no-hitter!

I love reading your blogs, and will continue to.

Much love,

Oh, and of course, go Red Sox!

Mark A. said...

Great to see you recording your experiences in a way which resonate with anyone who has faced a health challenge and/or the people who face that challenge with them. MGA

Anonymous said...

HI Ronni:
Blog is coming along nicely. Congratulations on the anniversary. Small steps, one foot in front of the other. Time for us to go biking ...