Life Isn’t A Hallmark Moment

At some point today during a scroll through Facebook I found a post about National Cancer Survivor’s Day – which I somehow thought was in June (it is).  The post was one of those copy and paste to status, so no telling when it was actually written.  But it made me think – we’re all kind of cancer survivors (at least in my house) and life isn’t a hallmark moment to be commemorated like that.

Hallmark as a euphemism for many industries – creates days and events (Santa Claus and  Valentine’s Day are the two that leap to mind first) that we commemorate and sometimes even celebrate.

I’m not sure cancer fits into that mold.

A good friend of mine and someone I’ve worked with for the last eight years or more recently beat cancer.  He and his family should celebrate that accomplishment and cherish all that life has to offer.

In the same way my friend is a survivor – I think the girls and I are survivors too.  We not only survive – but thrive in the world after Risa passed away from cancer.  In fact – I even consider the 12 years Risa battled (and beat) cancer as surviving.

I don’t think any of us think of life as a Hallmark moment – instead we embrace every day and celebrate the day for all we can accomplish and use it to prepare for tomorrow.

So let the first Sunday of June, National Cancer Survivor’s Day, be another day to celebrate the battle we all do with cancer (and all of the other diseases) and save the Hallmark moments for times you want to cherish.

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In the world of single parenting-speaking broadly you can categorize single parents into two groups: widows and divorce/separated.  There is far more nuance than this I know but at a high level there is a dividing line.  The groups can then get further sub-divided.

These Hallmark made holidays like Mother’s Day for me and my crew (the same can be said for some friends about Father’s Day) pose a unique set of challenges.  Frankly it’s not an overly easy day (or week given the in-school emphasis) to get through.

This year in school, 9.5 had a little bit of an issue that I instructed the school was not an issue and they could deal with themselves and to leave my daughter alone.  That being said, there still is the day to manage.

Last year (our first motherless Mother’s Day), I intentionally ignored the day.  I kept the girls busy throughout the day, we did a bunch of cool stuff and I let the day pass with hardly a mention of Mother’s Day.  I was pretty sure that strategy would not work again this year, and then with the call from school added in I needed to regroup.

After some thought and hearing from others who are widowed, I decided the balloon-a-gram approach.  I talked to the girls on Thursday about getting some balloons and writing notes to mommy.  We’d then tie the notes to the balloons and set them free.

So, this morning we did just that.  The rule was you could share the note or not, it was completely up to the author.  I offered up my note to both girls.  Only 9.5 read it.  11.5 declined the invitation.  Neither girl officially showed me their note.  However, more than 15 years as a working journalist, one of the skills I mastered was reading upside down.

I tried not to be obvious and to respect the privacy of the girls.  But I did want to watch for any signs of other issues I had to deal with.  Happily there are none that I saw from the notes.  What did strike me is that both girls made reference to heaven near the top of their notes.

This is not something they would get from me.  I am fine with the thought process, I never want to invoke my thoughts on religion and spirituality upon them.  Each of us told Risa that we’re doing OK and we missed her lots.  11.5 in a much longer note also wrote that she was happy that any suffering she was doing ended.

With some welled up tears away went the balloons.  9.5 even taped a piece of chocolate to hers.

And so, balloon-a-grams away-and into a non-Hallmark Sunday we go.

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