Rowan happy and healthy in her favorite yellow shirt.

Coming Home

I don't know the particular circumstances that surround the mother who talked with me on the phone that day. But I realized, as she fought through tears to affirm our decision and to tell me her story, that she really wasn't talking to me. She was addressing her daughter, and perhaps more significantly, herself. She was reflecting on a terrible choice she was forced to make so long ago.

I remember her twice saying "I know you feel alone." And that was it, really. We had never felt alone. We had felt many things, but never alone. I came to wonder if she had ever had this conversation with anyone.


And, reflecting back, I wonder if, unlike my wife and I who had the benefit of contact with so many parents coping with retinoblastoma, without social media, whether this woman simply lacked the technology to communicate with other parents. I wonder if that very technology doesn't also create a disposition, easily misidentified as narcissism, to share the self. To have the courage to contact a stranger. To have the strength to expose oneself. To dance with one's ghosts.

Because that's what I want, I think, if I can claim to know my new self so well. That's want I want my story to signify: that although I could not necessarily control it, I can help others to help me to become otherwise.