My daughter and son-in-law just celebrated their second wedding anniversary. I was sure it was their third. That might be partly because I am crazy about my son-in-law and I think he has been in the family longer than he has. Part of it, though, might be that I subconsciously want to separate the joy of their wedding from the stress of my cancer.

The two overlapped, but I don’t remember it that way. I remember the one and then the other, but the two don’t blend in my memory. Perhaps because I love to think about the wedding and its celebration, but would rather forget about the stupid cancer.

I did this sort of compartmentalization at the time as well.

When Ellen and Steve got married in March 2006, I did not yet know I had cancer. They were married in Lake Tahoe with just the immediate family there. A beautiful ceremony in the snow by the lake. Two months later, we had a reception for them in Des Moines. It was also beautiful—a room full of friends and family surrounded by flowers at the Botanical Center, a beautiful couple in love, great music, and much fun.

Between the wedding and the reception, I was diagnosed with cancer.

As we were preparing for the reception, my son-in-law’s mother asked me how I was holding up. I looked at her, surprised. I had forgotten the cancer and was focusing on the delightful moment. That is still the way I see it. One beautiful series of events on its own. The cancer as a separate event. No need to blur the two.

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