Floating away (re-post)

October 12th, 2014 § 10 comments


I make sure my family goes on trips without me now.
It is important that they learn to be without me.
Important that they get time away from here.
Important that they know there can be fun and joy even if I am not with them.

This is what I want.
This is what will be.
It is not easy to be the family of someone who is ill.
I know this is true.
And so I send them away to laugh, to be together, to have fun.
This is what I unselfishly demand.

In April of 2013 we all went to Florida. I didn’t know it would be our last trip together for a while. I could not focus very well. I just knew that life was not the same and it never could be. I had learned about six months earlier that I had metastatic breast cancer. I knew I would never be carefree again. I had intended to stay away from writing for that time, but on this particular day, in this moment, all I could do was realize the agony that was my situation. When I got back to the hotel room I wrote the words that had been in my head.


“Floating Away”

20130418-085609.jpgI sit on the beach, feel the sand’s angry texture rub my chemo feet in a way I wish it wouldn’t.

I watch my family in the ocean, turquoise and calm and vast.

My husband flips over, face in the water, takes some strokes out to sea.
His movement is graceful, effortless, just as it was the when I met him 22 years ago.

He was a sprinter on the college swim team then,
and while he laughs and says it doesn’t feel effortless anymore,
nor perhaps fast,
it does not matter.

In my mind’s eye he is that young man,
swimming fast,
joking with his team,
coming over to the stands to talk to me while chewing on the strap of his racing goggles.

I fall in love with him again every time I see him swim.

My three children float, bobbing in the ocean water.
I can feel the distance between us, it feels like a lifetime.
It is my family in the ocean floating away from me.

I see the quartet, I watch as an outsider.
I do this a lot lately.
I watch them from afar and think how it will be without me.
A new family unit.
Behind the big black sunglasses my tears stream down.

Suddenly Tristan is running from the water to me, across the sand.
He stands, dripping, face beaming.
“I just wanted to tell you I love you, Mama.”
I take his picture.
I capture the sweetness.
I grab him, hug him, feeling the cold ocean water on him, melding it to my hot skin.
I murmur to him what a sweet boy he is, that he must never lose that.
I send him back to the ocean, away, so I can cry harder.

By the time they return to shore I’ll have myself composed.
But my oldest immediately senses something amiss.
She mouths to me, “Are you okay?” and pantomimes tears rolling down her cheeks.

Yes, I nod.
I walk to the water’s edge to prove it.

§ 10 Responses to Floating away (re-post)"

  • Angela Bazydlo says:

    Boy, this post made me cry so hard… So sad for you… They will never forget you, and you will watch them forever. I am so sorry you are sick and that you ( and they) have to go through this… You are so brave.

  • Janet says:

    omgosh Lisa, your words get me every time…. I wish my river of tears could halt this dispicable disease for you and your family…. I’m amazed that you even find the words to write amidst all the trauma and turmoil going on with your treatment, always looking for the next mixture of meds to gain more time… How I wish we could flick a switch and turn off this bloody cancer for you…. If you didn’t know it already, you are a true inspiration… Hugs from Oz x

  • So sad…

    In spite of all your preparations for ‘life without you’ I wish you many happy moments ‘still with the quintet’.

  • Alex Albin says:

    One aritculate elegant lady you are! So special is your insight and so unselfish are your words. Something to live up to!

  • Jody Schoger says:

    No words — just feeling the depth of your sorrow.


  • Rebecca says:

    A tear slid down my cheek reading that. So sorry Lisa. Hugs.

  • fujikats says:

    It occurs to me that your family will have plenty of time to learn how to live without your presence in their lives. Your kids have a loving dad and loving grandparents – and even in the midst of their own sorrow, they will show your children the way forward. If you asked them right now what they would rather do, go the beach without you – or curl up in bed with you and play board games and read familiar stories – what do you think their answer would be? I DARE you to ask them!

    • Lisa Bonchek Adams says:

      We do that for the other 355 days a year. I don’t need to be dared to do anything. We talk about this and they express that they love seeing their relatives that they can’t see for the rest of the year. I would be selfish to deny them what they want and what is healthy.

  • Sharon says:

    @fujikats, what a horrible comment to make. Of course Lisa’s husband and grandparents will continue to love her children. Do you have the magic wand that teaches people how to live without their mams because if you do send it my way! I lost my beautiful mam last november and NO ONE can teach me how to be without her. Her presence will be with me until the day I die. No one can ever replace your mam, her love is so unique. Don’t “dare” Lisa to do something, god knows it’s hard enough for her, it’s not a game

  • Ruthie says:

    So. much love. It takes so much love to live like you do. Sending hugs, because they help – I hope:-)

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