My family has been given a vague prediction of how much longer we have together; it’s vague because they’d be shocked if Travis didn’t make it another year, and surprised if he made it four years. It’s all just a guess based off of statistics and his general health. We hope and pray they are wrong, that there will be scientific advancements, or a miracle. However, we have to accept the harsh reality that he’s dying.
In the last 10 months, since the terminal diagnosis, it has been a roller coaster of emotions. We have felt acceptance, denial, depression, and hope. One thing that has stayed consistent is our continued determination to not only stay focused on the moment, but also on creating our moments to be special memories.
Travis recently likened our memories to a savings account. We are working on depositing enough of a savings so that when he passes, our kids and I will have a lot of memories to withdraw from the memory bank. Until this year, I had never really lived to try and create memories, the memories were something that just happened. However, really actively trying to create memories has changed our perspective and purpose and in many ways allowed us to find joy in simple things because they aren’t just about the moment, they are about the lasting moment, the deposit of that memory.
Our first big deposit was a trip to Disneyland. Someone gave us the trip and planned it all. We just had to show up and enjoy. It was the most perfect week ever. Disneyland is a pretty easy memory to start with, but it was so much more than the incredible hotel, rides, Mickey Mouse, food, etc. Disneyland was all about us spending time together and us laughing. There are literally moments of so much joy, I cry to remember and can’t put the moment into words. We had so much fun waiting in the lines and we found joy in not just the entertainment but the entire journey getting to the ride. I will never forget the way my 6-year-old son sang at the top of his lungs while dancing down the street, my kids facing their fears, the cuddles, and the laughter. I took hundreds of pictures to help us remember and as I look through them I can clearly remember the pure joy we experienced.
As we approach the holidays we are excited for the memories our family can create, and, quite honestly, for the memories we didn’t think we would be able to make. This is the first year I don’t have a little spark of dread as the holidays approach. I typically stress about pleasing everyone, getting the presents, and everything else I have to do. This year I pray Travis will be well enough for me to push him in his wheelchair trick or treating (maybe he will let us decorate it!). I also look forward to Christmas music, wearing Santa hats, leaving treats for Santa, all of the innocence of magic, watching Elf, reading the story of our Savior on Christmas Eve, and focusing on the gift of our forever family. We are focused on creating memories this holiday season as simple as they may need to be and I can hardly wait!
Heading into the holidays we all know traffic is going to get worse, the lines are going to get longer, and the demands on our families are going to increase. Remember to enjoy the journey too. Here are some ways I’ve found to enjoy the moments:
- While standing in line I ask my kids silly questions, the sillier the better! It makes the line move quicker and helps the mood.
- The car is an excellent place to have discussions where no one can escape! Enjoy the traffic and the moments created to have conversations.
- Slow down! One of our greatest blessing is Trav’s speed. It forces us to not drag our kids from place to place but walk with them and enjoy things as we can. Instead of rushing to do it all, we really enjoy the things we are able to do.
- Watch the joy in your children’s faces. Nothing makes me happier than to watch their faces light up. Take the time to watch for that.
- Try to make every moment special and to create the memories.
Fill up your memory banks with positive moments that you can withdraw on if life is cut shorter than you hope. Actively create memories Today! Moments spent watching TV, movies, cuddling, storytelling, etc., are all creating memories. My kids will always remember the pain of cancer, but I pray that they will also remember the joy that we created and be able to withdraw all of the memories we actively deposited.