Last updated: May 2023
As many of us do I suffer from a very short attention span. Life can pass quickly and with a partner living with advanced breast cancer every memory seems extra important. Moments I do not want to forget, even when days can run together endlessly.
I want these memories to stick, to stay in my brain forever. I refuse to let them slip through my fingers. I grip them, pulling them deep into my memory where I store them for a hard day. Quick snapshots of a life happily spent.
When Steph was first diagnosed
When my partner Steph was first diagnosed with advanced breast cancer I couldn't stop taking photos. Photos, videos, any small piece of handwriting I squirreled away.
Within 3 months of diagnosis we faced a surgery that would remove a tumor that had broken their arm, the surgeon had explained my partner would lose some function in their arm, possibly all, spend 3 months in a sling, and possibly have a life-ending reaction to the materials used in surgery causing them to never wake up. I'm sorry, what?!
The surgeon explained it 3 more ways, each time differently, with every word I could feel myself becoming closer to the color of cement, my partner blurting out "What are you saying?" because this man was not being clear. I felt myself blurt out "He's saying you could die, that you would go to sleep and never wake up".
The silence hung in the air, the surgeon looking uncomfortably grateful, my other half now the color of the pale green wall all around us.
Making memories and saving every little thing
Between that moment and the moment Steph woke up from that surgery I saved every single thing. A fog message on a window, written on a cold day playfully, every flower I dried, no longer playing "Do they or do they not love me?" with the petals, now playing "Will they live or won't they?"
Driven by the feeling of terror, of possibly not being able to give our daughter her mother, needing anything and everything to be able to have to give her knowing things, pictures, videos would never ever fill the hole the loss of my partner would leave. I didn't need those things, still don't. Steph is still here, my daughter still has her mother. And as she grows I am so incredibly happy.
Happy that for now she can build these memories with my partner too. That with every passing month, every year that Steph is still here is a better chance our daughter will remember them. That she will have these moments to pull deep into her brain too.
Taking pictures with our brains
So I grab my daughter's hand. I say "Hey did you know your brain can work like a camera?" I continue on as she listens excitedly and I lean down. "Watch" I open my eyes really wide taking in the scene around us.
A day at the park, a perfectly sunny day with just a little bit of a breeze, then I squeeze my eyes shut fast and as tight as they go gently squeezing her hand and saying "Click".
"What did you just do?" She narrows her eyes at me, unsure if it's a trick or if I might possibly print a photo out of my mouth all of a sudden. "I took a picture I do it all the time actually, when I want to save a moment, I take a picture with my brain and I put it deep in my mind..." "Like a photo album?!" she interrupts excitedly, "I wanna try!" she runs off squeezing her eyes and yelling "CLICK!"
She might not get it today, but she will one day, and I hope she's as grateful as I am that for these snapshots.
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