Saturday, August 25, 2018

Day 87

We’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

I put on my best strong face and utter those words aloud to my husband and his mother, mostly believing it but wondering a little if I am trying to convince them or myself. 

Our photographer is sweet, patient, and sensitive to our situation. She poses us carefully and makes sure to capture multiple shots in case of blinkers. These are photos we all know we will cherish, because it’s all too rare for the twelve of us to be together at once, even when everyone is healthy, but not everyone is healthy today. 

We’re gonna remember today as a great day.

Shortly after photos are done, the men are preparing the grill outside, and I’ve just finished snapping the tough ends off of a bunch of asparagus so it can be tossed on the grill. My phone illuminates with a text from an old friend. 

“John McCain just died.” He has written.
“Fuck cancer,” I respond, partially because I don’t want to get caught up in text messaging too long during family time, and partially because that sums up my feelings on the matter. There’s not much else I feel like saying. 
“I love you and I’m sorry,” he writes, then follows with a second message. “He’d be so proud of you.”

I’ve been a fatherless woman since February 2011, and  I think I am finally becoming the kind of person who can offer support to people whose lives are impacted by a cruel and unnecessary disease like cancer. These are the days to cherish, and if we do not make them great, then they are a waste of precious time. Time that is more precious to some of us than others. Yet as I am facing this cancer case, I can’t seem to find the words to say or think of a gesture that would give anyone just a bit of relief or comfort. 

We’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

Now that the photographer is gone, I have unofficially stepped into her role, capturing shots of the bright red juicy tomatoes from the Ruston Farmer’s Market that are now in our caprese salad. I try to catch an action shot of my sister-in-law, Rebecca, grinding pepper onto the salad, but I’m not satisfied with any of my shots. 

My father-in-law, Russ, stokes the fire, encouraging me to document the Hendricks gin bottle that is being used for cocktail hour. “Get some lime wedges! This is a Mignon Faget glass!” I do my best, but there’s a reason why my Instagram doesn’t make any money. 

The “final boss” is documenting the wine. I’m shooting with an iPhone 6S, so there is no portrait mode. I start reading about apps that will give photos the macro lens look and download one, then another, then another. The third one seems decent. I clear the water pitcher and an extra place setting off of the buffet, and Rebecca tells me, kind of joking but kind of not, “You’re messing up my table!” I eventually settle for this photo. 

We’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

Richard floats in and out of the kitchen, ferrying appetizers from the grill to the adults in the kitchen while he and Brian grill steaks outside. The kids, sweet as they are, are growing hungry and impatient. They’ve been good for photos, but they’re not interested in adult appetizers. We send them back upstairs to play, telling them dinner will be ready soon. When they leave, the adult crowd agrees that, if push comes to shove, the kids’ steaks don’t have to rest like the adults’ steaks do. I document the steaks while they rest on the counter. I take this one in one shot without using the macro app. 

We’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

When we sit down for dinner, thick steaks, twice baked potatoes, and asparagus grace our plates in a familiar family meal set aside for special occasions like Christmas and birthdays. We enjoy the caprese salad and bread with butter, and several people remark that the wine is the best they’ve ever had.  After dinner, we eat decadent chocolate d’oberge cake and watch Russ open presents.  Throughout the meal, a few tales of Russ are shared, including mention of the awesome shorts he wore in the 1980’s and the way he loves hairspray. Even when everyone laughs, though, we are cognizant of the fact that there are seven of us breaking bread instead of eight. Not everyone feels up to celebrating tonight. 

This night isn’t like the other nights we have shared as a family, but there are plenty of common threads with those nights that will allow us to look back someday and remember today as a great one because we were all together. I personally feel useless as I try to figure out how to help the people and situation around me when there is nothing I can do to change the eventual outcome. Tonight as I pray for peace, healing, and comfort for so many people I love, I will also wish earnestly that I turn out to be correct when I said that we’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

Something that made today great: any of the items photographed above. 

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