It was a shiny, blue Highlander that caught my eye

I saw a Cheering for Caitlin magnet on the back of a new, blue, Highlander yesterday as I drove home. I followed it; around corners, at stoplights, past stores, and through Oviedo. The car continued down the road as I turned right into my subdivision. I don’t think I know the person driving the car.

I bought a planner today. 

“It’s about time” right? I mean, after all, the New Year started more than 2 weeks ago. And if you ask Jeff, what do I need a planner for? I have made the ridiculously difficult change from a paper and pencil planner to the virtual world of organizing and keeping track of appointments, practices, schedules and dates on my computer and phone. (Don’t tell Jeff, but it IS easier than paper and pencil.) So I gave up that other method long ago.

Why buy a planner then? Well, to keep track of the upcoming year. I did it last year, and decided, after internal debate to do the same thing this year.

Except my year didn’t start on January 1st, it started on the 13th, with a preview on the 8th.

I’m stuck; solidified in concrete. I am remembering last year. I remember the dates, and their significance, both the good and the bad. I told you we don’t do that, remember the bad dates. We have always chosen to celebrate the ‘good dates.’ Well, this past weekend, a friend gave me permission to remember, and I have to admit it felt good.

Last year, on Sunday January 8, 2012, Caitlin’s eyes crossed. I saw it, twice. I remember the concern. I remember each day as it passed; symptoms increasing, functioning deteriorating, and my own emotions escalating from concern to worry, and then panic, and finally the intense fear. I remember the moment I ‘knew’ it was bad news. I remember the seconds it took for us to hear the confirmation of the news that began our ‘new year.’

Back then, I got a planner. I wrote it all down. Every meal, every gift, every moment that I wanted to remember, every detail I couldn’t risk forgetting, every ‘coincidental’ occurrence, every story someone told me. That planner has no more space left to write.

I wasn’t going to do it this year. I changed my mind. Why? 

Well, first, we made it through the week of January 8th. I remembered, and I cried. But we made it through, one moment at a time. And when we got to the 13th we marked the day by participating in the Color Run with 13,000 other people in Orlando. We ran through the city. We ran through color. We ended the race a human painted rainbow. No better way to observe the day. (The week was actually filled with those random coincidental happenings we have come to define as ‘winks.’ Rounding itself out with a quiet cake and ice cream and singing of the Happy Birthday chorus for Campbell on the 14th; the day after her birthday.)

And the other reason I bought the planner is because of the Highlander with the magnet. Because really, it isn’t just the magnet, but what that magnet represents in a blazing way to me…

It is the tough football player who finds room for a 5 year old girl’s picture amid his awards and trophies and medals…

It is the friend who silently holds me when my sobbing threatens to never end…

It is the group of high school students who want to plant a tree…

It is the sharing of Caitlin memories over coffee and tea, when I’m not even present…

It is rainbow bears, big smiles and bigger hugs…

It is gentle words, quiet embraces, unexpected texts, kind emails, and phone calls when I’m guaranteed to be a crying mess.

It is reaching out, to me, and one another. It is family and friends, and acquaintances and strangers.

Yesterday I spent the day surrounded by piles and baskets and boxes, filled and composed of mail, bills, letters, pictures, receipts, paperwork. It also held little treasures and other things I have been avoiding for months, on purpose. It was things I didn’t know what to do with, didn’t have the strength to read or look at. Yesterday I did, for hours. And, I cried and I yelled. I am sad, and I am mad. I don’t want to have to put away the consents for the clinical trials. I don’t want to figure out what to do with the Hello Kitty purse mirror I bought at a Sephora store in NYC because Caitlin fell in love with it. I don’t want to have to call the insurance company again to tell them a bill(s) isn’t resolved. (And here is the selfish anger: why do I have to keep fighting insurance bills when I didn’t get to keep my daughter…)

But I did all that,  and I got a planner…

So I can continue to write it all down; not the kids practices and games and competitions, not the dentist and doctor appointments, not the schedules and the parties…

So I can write down the special things; the moments that give us strength, and joy, and winks. So I can remember every detail of every story, and the love and support that still surround us…

So I can write down I saw a new blue Highlander with a Cheering For Caitlin magnet on the back…

All my love, and thanks; for caring and supporting us while you deal with all your own lives give you too, d


PS- I have a confession. I have also been going through the letters you have written to me for Caitlin’s scrapbook, like I had asked you to. It has taken me time, to read all the incredible thoughts and amazing words. Almost every letter starts off saying,”I don’t know what to say…”

And every ONE of the letters I have received and read has touched me, so much.

And they are helping me, to heal. I predict they will continue to help me heal for a long time to come. And as Jeff, and Courtney, Cole and Campbell read them they will find healing in them. Thank you for taking the time to write them and send them to me.

(If you haven’t sent it yet, you still can! It’s not too late;) 

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