These are photos of three people with nothing to fear.
We knew this was coming, and we didn’t care. Not really.
Since 2011, cancer and death were our constant companions, but we didn’t pay them any mind, didn’t give them any more space than they absolutely required, and in turn, they were as gracious as two assholes can possibly be.
But now our armistice has come to an end.
All cancer is terrible but brain cancer is particularly heinous. It kills you a thousand different times, with a thousand different indignities. It deserves an SVU spinoff, and I am its Olivia Benson. I want to make it pay.
Aaron weathered each of these assaults with grace. When seizures meant he’d never drive again. When the tumor shut down his left arm and made it impossible for him to hold our son on his own. When treatment meant he needed to sleep 18-20 hours a day instead of coming to swimming lessons or even the grocery store, the basic functions of life that we take for granted or are even annoyed by.
Because of his grace, we were able to spend the past three years not just being alive, but living. We still went to work and paid our bills. We raised our son and cooked dinner (okay, we ordered in). We worked on our house and watched a ton of movies. We traveled, we went to shows (so many shows). We had a child and lost a child and buried my father, together.
Looking through photos from the past few years gives me the same butterflies I had when Aaron and I were falling in love. He was so electrically alive that he sparked a new fire inside of me, lifted the veil of ennui I’d been under and made me, at my core, a happier person.
As he was dying, my father said to my sister and me “we never really leave one another,” and I know he was not bullshitting us just to make us feel better. He is in my bones and all around me.
Aaron has one foot in another world. He is flying through space on a Methadone Ship, but he drops in from time to time, opens his wild eyes to say hello or continue a conversation that’s been happening in his head.
I’ll always be with you. He says.
Unless you’re peeing. That’s gross. Also, please start shutting the door when you pee. I mean it. No more peeing with the door half open it’s fucking disgusting.
Okay. I promise.
In these brief moments of clarity he also tells me that it’s going to be okay. It’s a familiar refrain, one that he’s been saying since October 31, 2011. He never changed his tune, even when there was another brain tumor, another surgery, another schedule of chemo and radiation and uncertainty.
Every time he says it, I believe him.
So far, he’s always been right.