You know, the family with the husband/father with cancer?
Have you ever taken a friend to see your old neighborhood? Did you drive by your house and point to the houses of where all your childhood friends lived? Was there one where you pointed to and said “So and So lived here, his mother died.” John did. I saw THAT house and wondered what happened to THAT family.
I was also THAT family too. My father died when I was 12. My sister was 16 and my brother 20. I think our blow was different because his death was fast and my parents were divorced for 10 years. We lived in San Francisco while my father and our stepfamily lived in San Diego. My friends only saw him once, briefly but he was never present to them so they didn’t treat us any different.
We live in a condo community. We really weighed our options on where to settle down. It took a lot of thought but we did it. We wanted our children to grow up in a secure neighborhood with lots of children to play with. We moved in 2 days after Christmas last year. We worked hard to create a community here. We had an Easter Egg hunt and a Memorial Day cookout. Summer was filled with kids playing outside with each other everyday from morning to night. We would all chip in to give them dinner so we didn’t have to pull them away from each other. There would be lunch served sometimes, snacks would appear from some house and popsicles were never ending. We would have themed dinners and order pizzas. Toys here are shared. Parents would gather with wine and we would drink and talk and snack and laugh. We started planning our Halloween party. How did we get this lucky?
When John was in the hospital the first time, I didn’t say anything. KitKat’s 4th birthday was celebrated with a cake and the neighborhood kids gathered around singing to her. No one noticed. The second time John was in the hospital, It was Izzy’s 7th birthday and some neighbors knew but again, a birthday cake was made and we celebrated with Izzy’s gaining a year but losing her first front tooth.
The third time, I tried to keep up a normalcy for us but It really sucks to be THAT family. I have pretty much stopped going out and talking to our neighbors because, although I know they mean well and they are very concerned, I am tired of the head tilt, the understanding nod and the uncomfortable eye contact. I can’t have people come up and ask “How’s John?” in front of the children and then having my children stop and watch because more often than not, I cry. It’s not fair for them to want to run around and then have to worry about me.
When John is home, I see neighbors looking at him at the corner of their eye. THAT look. THAT sideways glance. They won’t go up and talk to him. I understand and they don’t have too.
Just this weekend, the kids were over at a neighbor’s house and I got THAT question with all eyes on me. Do I really have to quit with the eye contact too??
Oh how I wanted a last blast Summer cookout with tons of food and drink! How I want to plan this Halloween party with trips to the store to buy scary decorations, how I want to meet up with the moms and discuss the latest pinterest finds and do Autumn projects with all the children here…but then I think…if I do all these things, then what kind of wife and mother am I to “forget”? What kind of person does that make me, to get excited about these things while my husband is dying?
So I stay in the house and avoid my neighbors. I feel like I can’t win.
So when you drive by my house and you point. Yes, we are THAT family. Don’t forget though, that we are a family that loves to play board games, eat pancakes every Saturday morning, mimic eachother until we explode with laughter and love to be with one another. We jinx eachother, tease eachother and fight with eachother.
We love eachother.
We’re still us.