Been compiling this week.
Compiling Caring Bridge and TwoFlounders posts. Compiling calendars and text messages and emails and letters and all sorts of things from the past two years (and then some) as we set out on the task of threading it all together with a coherent narrative that might make it into your book.
Well, maybe I'm getting slightly ahead of myself. (But I have given some thought to who will play you in the film.)
Anyway, I came across this, and a few other emails and letters that were between just the two of us. That never made it onto the blog. But maybe they should have.
I hope it’s okay that I share this one. It’s one of my favorites. Because it’s true. Because it shows, in just one small moment, how cancer can erode even the strongest foundations of trust. But also showed one way to overcome its effects.
How it allowed us to navigate the peaks and valleys, always knowing the other would come back. That we would always come back.
The confidence in our permanence.
I’ve recently been in contact with someone going through an experience similar to ours. Cancer too young. Insurance wars. Scanxiety. All the stuff. And what struck me especially was their sharing a little something about the strain that it has had on their relationship. How the unfamiliar sensation of missing - missing where you never missed before - can be so disorienting. So earth-shaking.
And I was glad to have this exchange to look back on.
Missing you, sweet girl. Today, this is what I miss the most. Being completely open with you. And your being gentle and true and kind and honest, and all the things.
You know who you are. Every single moment.
On Tue, Jul 24, 2018, 7:37 AM Christopher Rhoden wrote:
Let me begin with how I should begin every letter I send to you ;-) (and to Mom, Grandma, Nate and Chris, and to all of the people who help to give my life meaning.)
I love you.
For almost your entire life, I believed I saw you as you were - when all the shoulds were stripped away and all that was left was you. That I could see right into your true self.
Do you know how you've been talking about how little we might actually know the people who are most important to us? How perhaps our knowledge and understanding their true selves is as shallow as our love for them is profound?
Why might that be? Because they can't trust completely that we'll cherish that true self, so they hold back? Because they sense our reluctance to reveal our own inner selves to them? Because they know they're imperfect, and they can't quite allow themselves to be completely vulnerable to our judgment until they trust that we're willing to be completely vulnerable, too?
Maybe all of these things. Maybe none of them. I don't know.
But of all the people who mean so much to me, I'm pretty sure that you know my true self, and that I know yours. Maybe this is the wonder of a parent/daughter relationship when it's right and strong. That mutual trust. That mutual openness. The deep respect and admiration for what is at the very center of the other.
And because of this, I’ve always believed I intuitively knew how to touch your wounds. Knew how to be there for you. Knew how to talk to you in a way that you could receive.
But lately I worry if I'm letting that special ability slip away. That despite how deeply I love you, how much I admire and respect you, and how profoundly I know you, that you need different things than you once did, and I'm not necessarily keeping pace. That I'm not as confident in my ability to meet you where you are.
That I'm finding the idea of "not knowing, not curing, not healing," increasingly intolerable, and the result is that I might be missing. That I'm not quite so intuitive in understanding what you need. Maybe I'm over-trying, over-reaching.
That I'm grasping, instead of simply being.
It's possible that I'm way off base here, but I absolutely do feel like I'm not providing the comfort to you that I so desperately want to provide. The comfort that you, my beloved, in your pain, your fear, and your fatigue deserve, but are being denied. And I believe that in some ways, you've depended on me for certain parts of that comfort. So the stakes might be higher when I'm missing.
I'm telling you this because I want you to know that I'm striving to be that person. To be that person who can face the reality of our powerlessness, and simply be the father/friend that knows your true self, and cherishes your true self, and trusts you completely, and loves you so very, very deeply.
I will still miss. Probably more frequently that I can bear to admit. But trust my intent. It's good and pure.
Finally, please hear me. I'm sharing my own true self with you this morning, and asking that you respect it and treat it gently. That's all. Words of affirmation always appreciated, but certainly not requested/required. And I certainly am not asking anything new of you. Just be Abi.
Because Abi's true self is so beautiful and admirable and kind and gentle and, well - true.
I love you, Flounder.
On Tue, Jul 24, 2018, 12:02 PM Abi Mayer wrote:
I love you.
Thank you for sharing some of yourself with me this morning. I know it's not always easy to make yourself vulnerable in this way, even with the ones you trust. It feels nice to know you a little better now than yesterday.
This email is a tough one for me, though.
I suspect through some combination of me needing some space and selfish support (i.e.; wanting to share but not hear), and your desire to hold me closer, we are both missing for each other right now. I hope you know I'm sorry for this. And that it hurts me so badly to know I am hurting you.
Please trust that you are still the one I know the most, who knows me the most. Insecurity in that creates an unnecessary breach in an otherwise incredibly stable foundation. To me, insecurity in our relationship feels so unnatural. If there is anything I need from you, it is to feel the same sense of faith in the permanence of our relationship.
The same sense of faith in the permanence that I feel.
Because that faith is utterly unshakeable.
Let’s talk today. In faith and certainty in our permanence.
I love you so much!