Sunday, June 15, 2014

Second Guess

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I try so very hard not to do this.
Not to think about what might have been.
What we could have done differently.
What we should have done differently.

What our doctors could have done to change things.

What could we have done to make last summer different? 
What kinds of decisions did we make that destroyed our hope of Sam's 9th birthday? 
As our summer begins, I can't help but linger in last summer's shadow.

Last June, when he was getting chemo and living at Bubbie & Zeyde's house
Later in the summer, at the Ronald McDonald House...of course, he climbed up there.
And then I talk to the people who know.
I ask the questions.
And I know damn well, deep down, that we did all that we could.

Because I also have the other side of the second guesses screaming in my head:
How much more awful it could have gone.
How much more time he could have spent in the hospital.
How much more scary and ugly and painful Sam's last few weeks could have been. 
How we might not have even had time to say goodbye.

We only get to do this once, I remember the doctors said to me. We only get one shot at this.
We only got to make those choices one time.
The secrets of Sam's biology, the mysteries of his leukemia's biology...they will haunt me forever.

Last year we poured poisons into his body and he bounced right back.
Last year we poured toxins into his bloodstream and he swung on the monkey bars.
Last year we shot him through with deadly radiation and he twirled a hula-hoop.

We couldn't have done any more or any differently. Really and truly.

But oh, how I wish we could have.


  1. It's hard to "make peace" with the results.
    May G-d give you guys strength.

  2. "IF" may be the biggest word in the language, but the reality is all we know and all we need to know. Nothing's more real than the love you shared with Sammy, no if's, and's, or but's.

  3. Most days I have trouble with the decision of what to wear, and pick apart my decision if I end up feeling uncomfortable in my choice. But I have learned there are not good and bad decisions. There are decisions, and we make each at the time we make them with the information we have. You made the hardest decisions of all, and you made them together and thoughtfully and with all the love in the world. There is no second guessing that. Hugs.

  4. I wish things could have turned out differently, too.

    You gave Sammy all the love in the world. You made it possible for the rest of us -- even for people like me who never had the chance to meet him -- to shower him with love, too.

    I wish love could have been enough to create a different outcome.

  5. Hi Rabbi Phyllis!
    You know, cancer sucks. One week we feel so great like your Sam. And then, in a split second we feel God awful with every side effect in the book Cancer just takes it's course, and when it's time, it takes us with us. The beauty is that it lets our families like you and Rabbi Michael and David and Yael,sand Solly gradually pour a lifetime of love into us, Sam and the rest of us. It's not like a car accident or a heart attack where there are no good byes, no special hugs and kisses, no special birthdays. Don't waste your precious time in life looking back and second guessing. Sam knew that you loved him beyond words, and that's all that matters., just like I know that Judi and Joseph and Danny and my gorgeous dog named Whinny (who weighs 92lbs and looks like a small horse) and ny grandchildren and friends love me. It's what got your Sam through the rough days, and it's the love that gets the rest of us through our cancer days too.
    I have come to love you too Rabbi Phyllis.
    Laila tov,
    Grandma Joan