25 years: Year 2, 1994-1995

Yesterday, we left learning that Tom, my father-in-law, was diagnosed with something that would change our lives forever. But let’s back up a second. See, when we found out we were pregnant, we had no clue what to do. Our moms didn’t react well (I understand as a mom now). I “got pregnant on purpose”, and we were going to have a “bastard child.” Not their best days. But the dads, especially Tom, were elated.

Once Alec was born, and we lived with them, Tom would wait for Alec to wake up. He’d come down the hall during the commercial from the ball game, and ask if he was awake. Over, and over. I would tell him to just wake him. But he’d have none of that. As soon as Alec would cry, there would be Tom.

So when we found out it was pancreatic cancer, and stomach cancer, and he wasn’t going to fight it…it was right after Thanksgiving.

I forgot to add, Karen lost her mom unexpectedly that fall too. Nina was so special, and adored Alec. So it was a really tough year for Karen especially.

Alec’s first Christmas was special. And a bit sad. It was definitely full of wonder for a little guy, regardless of what else was going on.

We tried to keep going like nothing was different. That’s what Tom wanted. We were still in school. Karen, my mother-in-law, even sent us to Chicago for NYE, just to think about something else.

Tom passed in January. He loved being a grandpa more than anything. You could just tell. We weren’t there. It was one of those nights we’d been directed to do something “normal,” so we had a play date scheduled with a couple from Lamaze. That never happened. It took a long time for John to be ok. And from that moment forward, there was a hole.

Life moved forward though, whether anyone wanted it to or not. We continued hanging with the same friends, and playing a lot of cards. By that time, others started having kids too. We started having play dates, trips to the park and zoo.

I was still in college. John was still waiting tables. That summer, so we could stay in our little apartment, I even delivered newspapers. We survived on $12K/year back then. Can you believe it?!

Before long, it was Alec’s first birthday. We crammed everyone in our little apartment. It was the first big thing without Tom, but it was still special. Alec always had this ability to unite people, and as the first grand baby, he sure drew everyone in.

While we were missing Tom, and felt sad because we knew he’d never enjoy these celebrations with us, we knew we had to persevere and push forward. Alec deserved that much.

John and I had friends who really made a difference. Even though they were in the city and we were 4 hours away, they looked out for us, and made sure we knew our chosen family was behind us.

Milestones were happening on my side of the family as well. Mom graduated with her associates degree, and before the year is over, they’ll move to England.

Love and family, birth and chosen, had brought us this far. College was truly a safe and unique time for us. Even with such a gigantic loss. Next year, we experience some growing pains.

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