In my family, we talk about hard things.
That’s not to say we are morose. We are not. Nor are we particularly profound. If anything, we lean into the ridiculous, and the silly, whenever possible.
At the same time, in over three years of managing our daughter Orli’s liver cancer, we have had to navigate the unimaginable, and also translate it to our children. Each stage seemed, at first, impossible on its own: diagnosis, chemotherapy, organ transplant, surgeries removing metastases in her lungs and brain, radiation, weeks of hospitalizations. Through it all, my partner, Ian, and I have attempted to meet both our children at the point between frankness and oversharing, optimism and reality. There is a weirdly direct line between despair and joy, between clarity and too much information.
In these years as cancer caregivers, we have often been told how brave we all are. I always find the sentiment lovely but misplaced. Bravery implies some agency in the matter. And what choice do we have? We have spent the last 38 months putting one foot in front of the other.