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That Would Be Enough

It's been seven years since Charlotte died. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday. The time between early November and the end of January harbors some of the most intense memories from that time in late 2009 and early 2010 when we ran out of medical options and watched her die. On top of that, January 20 marks the date when she was first diagnosed (a year before). It's no wonder that this time of year is hard for our family, emotionally. 

Roger calls it "the bus".  That feeling of grief settles on his chest like a great weight and it stays there. Sometimes it's there for a few days but often it takes up residence for weeks at a time. There's no moving the bus. You just have to let it park for a while. 

This guy. Some days he drives me crazy.
Without him, I certainly would be.
One of the challenges in handling a collective grief is that nobody mourns the same way. The timetable is different. The intensity can be different. The feelings can fluctuate from day to day. If one person is deep in anger with their grief and the other person is depressed, there can be such a mismatch that conflict erupts. It almost feels like they aren't mourning the same loss. It's not a competition. It's not "my grief is bigger than your grief." But sometimes it can feel that way. 

Over the last seven years, Roger and I haven't always been in the same place. There have been moments where we snapped at each other, we've missed the mark, or we've overlooked the profundity of the other person's grief inadvertently. It's a mismatch that leads to conflict...usually resulting in tears and anger. Fortunately, however, it's usually short-lived. Most of the time, it just takes a word or a look for one of us to know what the other is thinking. Even if we aren't in the same place, we can get it. 

If you haven't discovered the Broadway musical Hamilton yet, that's ok. I'm kind of late to the party myself, only recently poring over the music and lyrics in more than just the casual pop culture sense. Of course, there's the quintessential "My Shot" and the catchy "You'll Be Back" but then there's this gem of a ballad in "It's Quiet Uptown." For background, Hamilton and Eliza's son is killed in a duel and this song is a reflection of their grief, their way of picking up the pieces and moving forward. It's also about how grief can change you. One of my favorite lines, though, the one I go back to over and over is this one:

"I don't pretend to know
The challenges we're facing
I know there's no replacing what we've lost
And you need time
But I'm not afraid
I know who I married
Just let me stay here by your side
That would be enough."

I'm still trying to figure out how Lin-Manuel jumped inside my head to write those lyrics. I'll talk to him later about residuals and royalties. The song as it plays in the musical is beautiful as it stands, working in themes from already introduced melodies from the rest of the musical in a masterful way that only great composers can accomplish. However, if you want to really lose yourself in an emotional way, check out Kelly Clarkson's version from the Hamilton Mixtape. Have a few tissues handy. 

All of that is to say, thank you to Roger for being enough. And a thank you to our friends and family...the Network that picks up the slack when we need a boost. You all are my light in the darkness.

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