Written Thanksgiving Day, 2012
When they announced us into the room at our wedding on November 8, 1997, and we took to the floor for our first dance, I knew right then that my entire life had been leading me to that moment. I/we had made it to the place I belonged. It was an overwhelming sense of love, of calm, of purpose, that even as I write about now, I can still capture that same feeling in my heart.
On April 13th, 2012, when you called me on the cellphone, and I heard you crying, there’s that other feeling I will never forget. There was no music playing this time, no one clapping, no one taking pictures… and I didn’t have the opportunity to look into your eyes and tell you I love you. There was silence for a moment, then questions, (“what”?), then the obligatory, “it’s going to be ok”, even though I don’t know at that moment if I was really sure that was the truth. Cancer…. again.
I remember more than three years ago, the day you found out about your Dad’s diagnosis. I had just stepped back in the house after walking Ollie, and saw you crying, standing in the doorway to my office, and you told me the news. Back then it seemed more like confusion and concern about him, about hiding it from the kids for now, about what we would do for our upcoming family trip to the beach with your Dad, Mom, Alisa, Michael and the girls. I won’t forget that moment, nor watching him months later, slip away. It’s a sense of loss that aches and stays with you the rest of your life.
So, now it was your turn. Unexpected, unfair, unf****ing believable. I never thought it would end the same way, not for a moment. But I also knew the stories of what a tough, unforgiving road this could be. The uncertainty of what lie ahead, and the sense of fear and sadness was palpable. I couldn’t imagine that G-d was going to test us again, and this time it was my wife, partner, best friend, mother of my children, who would be forced to fight. Of all people, for someone who gives so much and is loved by so many. Wow, this sucks. Big time.
But you, scared and uncertain to say the least, went into action, leaning on those who could make some things happen immediately. Between you, Alisa, your Mom and Lloyd… somehow, just days later we were in the breast surgeon’s office. You made the decision to make a huge sacrifice to save yourself, but more importantly for me, Sophie and Emily…. to save us. Your decision to have the double mastectomy was swift, unwavering and so unselfish. As I think about it now, I still am in awe of your resolve to take the path. If I ever doubted you are the strongest person I know, I knew in that moment, no doubt would ever enter my mind, or my heart again.
There were options – and you took the one, that if it worked, would give you the best chance of being free from this beast, but would leave you, for the rest of your life, a constant reminder of what had been. It was a dramatic and defining moment for you, for everyone that knows you and loves you — and an affirmation of who you are. In our world, under our roof, inside our four walls, your decision will forever be the binding force between you, me and our girls. There is no doubt we would be lost without you…. in fact, I can’t even go there. But because of who you are, your resolve, and your unwavering love and devotion to your family, we don’t need to think about it. Ever.
I don’t need to recount every step of this journey for you… we are living it together. I can’t dig down deep enough into your mind and heart to know your exact feelings. I can’t live inside you, but I live just outside that beautiful soul. I know you have feelings of pain and loss, but I also know the other side, feelings of relief, rebirth, determination and of pride for doing what you knew was best. I don’t know if joy comes into play at this moment in time — but down the road, along the better side of the journey I know it will. As we move along the hills and valleys of our lives there will be times, so many times for you and me, for you and the girls, for all of us together, that I hope the simple joy of just “being there” and experiencing the moments will be enough.
I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of you, of how much I love you for who you are and for what you have done for us. Your beauty, laughter and sense of humor make every day worth it. I don’t pretend to think it’s perfect. Every relationship, when good or bad things happen, takes work… it’s all part of life and life is far from perfect, but if you have the determination to dig down deep, to never let go, and never, ever give up… it can be a beautiful ride.
So as we honor our tradition tonight at Thanksgiving and circle around the table to talk about what we are thankful for… I would never have time (in the 30 seconds they give you) to express how I truly feel. Nor could I get the words out I want to say. So I had to write it down. I had to let you know who thankful I am, how thankful Sophie and Emily are, for you. Just you. Thank you for being who you are, for giving up so much for us, for giving your heart, and your body, to make it all ok. There will never be a moment from now to eternity that we won’t be in your debt. You are our hero and we love you all our hearts.
Thanks for continuing to make our lives as beautiful as you are.
I love you, Mark