Rob Delaney and his son Henry.  

I recently read a heartbreaking essay by the brilliant Rob Delaney. I knew his young son died recently of a brain tumor, but it wasn’t until I read this tonight that I realized that it was the same tumor I have.

I am so, so lucky that it happened to me. I would happily take the last almost 20 years of this shitty illness- the years of chemo, the radiation, surgery after surgery, the wheelchair, the almost certain early death- I would take it all a million times over if it somehow meant my kids don’t have to suffer with it.

You can read the essay here or listen to Delaney read aloud it here

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Words on love from Neil Gaiman


Gaiman wrote this for some friends of his that married in 2017. In addition to being beautiful, it also perfectly captures marriage, or at least what little I know about it after almost 20 years in one. You can read this and more at his online journal here

This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing.
This is everything I’ve learned about marriage: nothing.

Only that the world out there is complicated,
and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain,
and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes,
is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze,
and not to be alone.

It’s not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it’s what they mean.
Somebody’s got your back.
Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn’t want to rescue you
or send for the army to rescue them.

It’s not two broken halves becoming one.
It’s the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home
because home is wherever you are both together.

So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing,
like a book without pages or a forest without trees.

Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them.
Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials.
Because nobody else’s love, nobody else’s marriage, is like yours,
and it’s a road you can only learn by walking it,
a dance you cannot be taught,
a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.

And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand,
not knowing for certain if someone else is even there.
And your hands will meet, 
and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.

And that’s all I know about love.

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The world feels so hopelessly dark.

Just this week, the assumed remains of two young people were found in our state and, as if to pile tragedy upon tragedy, some have used it to pontificate about the value of humans based on their country of birth and it’s as if our humanity is leaking from a crack beneath us and seeping into the earth. I don’t see how we’ll ever recover what we’ve lost. At some point, maybe we’ll just run out completely.

Personally, we have fractured some relationships this year. Some quietly, gently. Some like sharp, jagged cuts that won’t be healed, rising months later, screaming to make themselves known despite efforts to bandage them or simply turn away.

The kids go back to school in a few days (and if something awful doesn’t befall them like this week’s news seems to promise) they’ll end up going to college and moving away and it’s already more than I can take to imagine them gone eight hours a day; I can’t even imagine them divided among the coasts.

But, amidst the darkness, there is also so much good: Emily, who wants to study musical theater, her voice ringing through the house night after night, Claudia, so dryly funny and endlessly helpful, sweet William who dreams of becoming a veterinarian, and Eric who makes me believe that the world is full of people working for justice.

There are the new connections we’ve made this summer that have been both surprising and wonderful. I find myself understanding the phrase, “everything I never knew I always wanted.”

And, I have been writing. Pages and pages on, as Ellis Paul says, a town I’ve built inside of my head. It’s been incredibly hard and satisfying and I’m sure no one will ever see it, but I’m lucky to be getting to do it.

The thing about having so much to be thankful for is that you’re keenly aware of how much you have to lose and tonight, with all the difficult news, the weight of that bad stuff feels so much heavier than it usually does.

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When I was a teenager, my mom seemed to actually care about what interested me. Maybe it mattered to her, maybe it didn’t, but I felt it did.

Now that I have teenagers of my own, I try to treat them the same way and it helps that they like things I enjoy. I’m not sure that I could camp outside of concert venues with Claudia if it was to hear death metal or go to the theater with Emily if it was to hear German opera over and over. I like to think I would, but, ugh.

I assume there will come a day, maybe soon, when they won’t want to sit in the van in the driveway with me for hours listening to music while we sing along or worse, there may come a day when they would still be willing to but I might not be here to do it. In the meantime, I’ll be the super uncool mom who knows all the word to that one boy band’s songs and has the t-shirts to all the musicals.

It’s hard enough to be a teenager, you may as well have a mom who gets you.

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Hiding places

I wish I could buy one acre of timber where I could just flop on the ground and look up at the trees and then I could stop skulking around the back of the Catholic cemetery to stare off into its woods.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think that’s how real estate sales work.

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Drowning on dry land

A couple of months ago the antidepressant I take started to quit working for me. My prescriber upped the dose once and then, a few weeks later, a second time. A few weeks after that, it became clear that it wasn’t just the dose that wasn’t working, but the medication itself.

Depression, in my case, is a nonstop inner dialogue about how awful and worthless I am and how much better my family and friends would be without me and hey, why don’t we cry about it for about eight hours a day and just sleep the other sixteen? And also, wouldn’t it be fun to obsess about regular everyday things that are not at all scary but have them ruin my every waking hour? No? Let’s do it anyway.

Fortunately, for people like me, there are a lot of medicines that help. Unfortunately, they take a while to work so increasingly, for the last few weeks, depression has been kicking my ass. Everything I do takes great effort even — or maybe especially — breathing. More than once, I have thought to myself, “If I could just stop breathing and close my eyes, it would all be so much better.” What helps is telling myself that the new medicine might work if I just give it time, if I just keep breathing.

So, I breathe and I move through life because I have kids who need me to keep moving. I cry, but not in front of them. I ask Eric constantly if he wants a divorce because I just know he’s stayed married to me out of duty and not because he loves me because he’s a good guy like that. Later, he assures me he’s not that good of a guy which makes me laugh a little and makes the next breath easier.

And then tonight, there was a breakthrough. While I was lying in my sleeping bag at family camp searching Reddit for “depression,” (not the best idea) someone who didn’t know any of this reached out to say impossibly kind things to me, among them how proud my mom would be of me and a part of me believed him. For a moment, I didn’t feel like an imposter.

All this is to say, if you’re suffering, you’re not alone. Please don’t give up, just keep breathing. Find a person or a medicine or something. There is help.

And if you have something kind to say, do it. You have no idea what a difference it might make to someone. (But not to me, because I will know you’re just trying to make me feel better, but for sure you should say nice things to other people.)

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Camp thoughts

When I was a kid, I went to camp every year and every year I spent the entire week thinking about if one of the boy campers would kiss me.

I was not a very deep kid.

Anyway, no boy at camp ever kissed me. In fact, no one kissed me until I was almost 16 so I wasted A LOT of time at camp thinking about things that were YEARS off.

But now, in my forties, I’m at family camp with Eric and the kids and there is a guy that will kiss me and it turns out he’s way cuter than any of those other boys from way back when.

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