June 12, 2017: The date stares back at us on the calendar for the third time. It marks the day our fear was given a name. The day our future was rewritten. Diagnosis day. As catastrophic as it was, Piper lived to see another June 12, but just one. I remember she walked out of her infusion one year later, clad in her “Piper The Powerful” cape. And even if DIPG would claim her body four months later, she remains the hero she was that day.
At the end of 2019, we made a decision. Instead of fighting the current of change, this time we initiated it. We sold our house. The one we bought just five years before, when Piper was our only baby, and childhood cancer was nowhere in our peripheral. The timing was such that we packed up Piper’s room 16-months to the day after her 16-month battle with DIPG. It felt like self-amputating a limb, forced by the realization that in doing so, one might survive the wound. Pain and grief alternated with nothingness and numbness, like a body in shock. But the process let us see that she was more than a room, more than a house. Her spirit and memory could never be limited by walls. Everything that mattered was movable.
Regardless, it was difficult to leave. It was difficult for Piper too. Yet, in the two months since we moved west, we have found home again. Boxes still abound, but we wake up to birdsongs, the smell of trees, and the sound of a purposeful creek. Serenity – followed by the clamor of a busy 4-year-old who seems to understand she’s already faced the biggest change of her life, and this move wasn’t it. Serenity – followed by the chatter of an 11-month old who, like her sisters, subscribes to a belief that we always rise at dawn. Serenity – followed by eager dogs who know they’ve found paradise, and the new routine of tending to a dozen chickens. We feel Piper in the breeze here. She is everywhere we are, and part of every place we go.
We have not started over, simply started again. We have found a place to heal, one where every step won’t haunt us with memories of life before June 12, 2017. It is a place to move forward as we are, while not tripping over who we were. A place that’s more future than past. We took a chance, a really big one. Piper would have. And we planted a garden. There is nothing so hopeful as a garden. Now we wait and see what grows.