reminders of the hope of future days, one year after the storm

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I believe
And I believe cause I can see
Our future days
Days of you and me…

“Future Days” ~ Pearl Jam

Marking of one’s days and dates is the stuff that life is made of, either consciously or not.  For The Husband and me, moreso than most, there’s more than the casual interest in the chronology and passage of time. We look for patterns, correlations, coincidences. We remember and recall dates, the mundane and the momentous. It is one of the characteristics that has always made our relationship tick, so to speak.

A year in the life of a cancer patient – a cancer family – is an odd thing, at least it is from this perspective. There are parts that, from The Husband’s viewpoint as The Patient, are complete blurs and that’s for the better. From this vantage point as The Caregiver, most of it seems like a missing year; like we weren’t quite here.

In a very real sense, we weren’t.

If I ever were to lose you
I’d surely lose myself
Everything I have found dear
I’ve not found by myself
Try and sometimes you’ll succeed
To make this man of me
All my stolen missing parts
I’ve no need for anymore…

“Future Days” ~ Pearl Jam

Red Swing Corner 2Today is the one year anniversary since The Husband’s cancer surgery and as events in our lives tend to go, it coincided with the devastation that Hurricane Sandy incurred on our beloved New Jersey shore. The reminders of the storm – the meteorological one – are all over the news this week with the re-opening of Ellis Island and as my friends post photos of the way things were, with water up to porches and windows and stop signs, and how many people are still – one year later – living very much in the shadows of the storm.

As I wrote in a November 21, 2012 column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

As Hurricane Sandy pounded and decimated the Jersey Shore, my brother sent me a photo of my aunt’s Strathmere street. There, the Atlantic Ocean and driving rains had submerged mailboxes, crashed into front doors, swept entire decks into the bay, crept more than halfway up the street signs.

“Not even high tide yet. Things don’t look good,” my brother texted me.

I sat helplessly a world away here in Pittsburgh, where my husband had just had surgery. I simultaneously watched the ICU monitors and the storm aftermath on the news. The feeling of loss was too familiar, the surging tide knocking me asunder. I braced for the possibility that we had just spent our last family vacation in Strathmere.

Two days later, as I again sat in my husband’s hospital room, my phone buzzed. Another photo from my brother. “Our” house. Still standing.

Porch stop signThere were times when I wondered. How. What if. Why.

“When hurricanes and cyclones raged
When winds turned dirt to dust
When floods they came or tides they raised
Ever closer became us
All the promises at sundown
I’ve meant them like the rest
All the demons used to come round
I’m grateful now they’ve left
So persistent in my ways
Hey Angel I am here to stay
No resistance, no alarms
Please, this is just too good to be gone …”

“Future Days” ~ Pearl Jam

In June we saw the house for ourselves, the aftermath of the destruction, the water lines and the commemorative signs on the wall of our my favorite restaurant. Our own emotional house was still shaky, still under reconstruction with no end date in sight.

As the song says, I’m grateful now that the demons have left, that they’re at bay. And as much as I might wish the coverage away and banished from my world as a reminder, I think  it takes seeing the rebuilding to remind oneself of what is, was, and always will be possible.

“I believe
And I believe cause I can see
Our future days
Days of you and me
You and me
Days…
You and me.” 

“Future Days” ~ Pearl Jam

Row of pink flowers on porch

photos taken by me

Strathmere, NJ

June 2013

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