One Year

Published 3 years, 10 months ago

Exactly one year ago, in the emergency department of Cape Regional Medical Center, Rebecca had the first of her seizures, and our nightmare began.

Now we are back in the same place for our annual family vacation.  The same resort, the same building, even the same floor, though not the same room.  We go to the beach, we swim in the pools, we play games on the boardwalk.  All the things Rebecca loved to do.  In fact, her first wish with Make-A-Wish was not to go to Disney World.  Her wish was that it be summer so she could come back to New Jersey and do all those things.  Disney was a distant runner-up, a sort of consolation prize for not being able to do what she really wanted to do.

Even as we organized for that Disney trip, Kat and I decided to bring the family to New Jersey for an early vacation, if Rebecca was well enough once June finally came.  And then to come again in August, unless Rebecca was still alive but too sick to make the journey.  Neither came to pass.

Instead, we’re here without her.  I had feared this would be too painful for us to bear, but it isn’t.  New memories are being made with our children, and if sometimes Kat and I are drawn up short by a specific memory, or a wish that Rebecca were here to enjoy the trip with us, or just having the instinct to count three heads before realizing that we only have to count two, it is usually a wistful sorrow rather than a sharp agony.  Usually.

Those newly-made memories, of jumping waves and digging holes in the sand and boardwalk ice cream and going to water parks, are the building blocks of healing.  Forming them in the place that Rebecca loved so much is, we hope, the mortar that will glue them together.  It helps that we love it here too, and that love is limned by the memory of her love.

It all still seems unreal.  Our lives were proceeding as lives do, and then, in the middle of our special family time away, we were suddenly confronted with the horror that our middle child, our five-year-old girl, had a tumor in the middle of her brain.

I remember all the shock and terror and anguish, but not like it was yesterday, because it wasn’t.  It was a year ago today.


  1. Beautiful. I wish you guys the best on your vacation from a meeting room in Sacramento.

  2. Heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. I wish you all many more happy memories.

  3. The year of firsts is so difficult. Sending {{{hugs}}} to all of you.

  4. I didn’t know what to say, Eric, in response to this post. I looked at my hands and saw that I’m wearing sparkly purple nail polish. Maybe that says it all?

    Enjoy your vacation.

  5. I have two grown children, and while they are not always what I wish they had become, I cannot imagine the pain of having lost one of them. Please continue to blog about your feelings. there are many of us who will read it and hold you and your family in our hearts, even though we have not been through your journey. I would like to add something very wise and existential but I am old enough to know that sometimes there are no words. The cruelest part of our existence is that for many of us life does seem to unfold in a meaningful manner, but that is just circumstance and luck. I think of the Grandmother from the Steve Martin movie ‘Parenthood’ who liked the roller coaster. And that is what life is all about. It’s about riding the ride to the end, however long or short that may be. I know, cold comfort. Sorry.

  6. I’m so glad to read “New memories are being made…”! Yes, definitely part of the healing process for all of you.
    Your post reminds me of the song: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
    I think the same is true of memories, especially when healing from such a heartbreaking loss. Make new memories and treasure the old…

  7. I know it is not the same, but your post reminded me of something a friend of mine has been saying recently. This friend is mourning the loss of a (young) spouse. He has often remarked that the anticipation of all the “firsts” – first time coming home alone to an empty house, first time going back to their favorite vacation spot, first time celebrating a birthday, etc. – has generally been worse than the actual event itself. I am pretty sure this is no consolation whatsoever in terms of the actual loss you are experiencing, but perhaps it’s something to keep in mind as you approach various “firsts,” as a way to talk yourself or others through it, and somehow, keep going on. I am very sorry for your loss of Rebecca and wish you and your family all the best as you begin to heal.

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