Our situation, and my posts, have been the cause of sleepless nights and fallen tears for a great many people. In some ways I feel bad about that; it occasionally feels like I’m forcing our pain onto other people, which isn’t exactly a friendly thing to do. But I know you’re here because you want to be here for us, and here, words are how we commune.
But why, I am occasionally asked and occasionally ask myself, am I writing about Rebecca’s cancer instead of doing other things? There are a number of reasons.
Part of it is that I’m creating a precisely timestamped chronicle for later, the historian in me asserting itself. This is where a lot of my tweets come from, as well: the desire to record something at the moment, so that later I’ll be able to say whether X happened before or after Y or how many days apart two events actually were.
But it’s also for Joshua, if he wants to know more about his sister and what happened to her, when he’s older; and for Carolyn, if she ever wants to revisit this time or see it from my perspective, to compare against her memories. And perhaps for others, if I ever decide to collect these fragments into some sort of longer work.
More importantly, writing about what’s happening and how I feel about it allows me to organize my thoughts and give some structure to what’s happening. In a situation where so much is beyond our ability to do anything at all, this is something I can shape directly. It allows me to feel some small measure of influence. It lets me face my fears by naming them. It helps me get a handle on a few shards of this overwhelming thing that defies any real understanding.
And of course I’m grieving online. I do that here so that I can put it away elsewhere, so to speak. When I’m with the kids, I can be there for them as the father I’ve always been and hope to keep being, rather than the hollowed-out ruin I sometimes feel like. Grieving here, through the words that come to me, makes that easier to do. So I write and tweet. A little bit of pressure release.
But most of all, I am sharing Rebecca with you, with anyone who will listen. We’ve always felt it’s up to our kids to become themselves and then bring themselves to the world in their own way, to meaningfully affect it and be affected by it. In the words of Khalil Gibran:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
We’ve always meant for our children to fly free of their own accord, on the arc of their choosing, when they were ready. Rebecca will almost certainly not have that opportunity.
So now we are her archers. In the Web, I have a bow that can send her arrow all the way around the world. If her flight is to be short, then let it be far, a trail of purest fire etched across every sky, more beautiful and wondrous than any comet could ever hope to be.