I Remember It All

Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things. Cicero

I remember the day you arrived with a hearty wail and a full head of dark brown hair.

The terror of bringing you home from the hospital and the overwhelming joy of becoming a family.

How happy you were, interacting easily with anyone and everyone. Beyond the simplest of needs — eating, sleeping, a dry diaper — not much upset or fazed you.

I remember the way you watched The Lion King over and over and over and over, always anxiously calling me to fast forward past the part where Simba’s father is lured to his death by the hyenas.

How patiently you waited for Dad to get home from work. Dragging him up to the playroom and asking him to make a line with every ball in the house so you could hit them, one by one, into the orange hockey net with your blue plastic stick.

How scared you were to ride a two wheeler or jump into the deep end of the pool. The joy on your face when you mastered both.

Jimmy age four jumping into a pool at the Hyatt Maui. He's wearing blue swim trucks and goggles

The way you loved to gently tease Molly when you sat together in the backseat. How dearly you loved her, even when she swiped and wore your basketball shorts or tried to weasel her way into whatever game you and your friends were playing.

Your obsession with the Harry Potter books and the way you fell asleep listening to the audio recordings night after night, well into your teens.

How easily you made friends before the cancer stole your confidence, the way you begged for sleepovers every night during the long Oregon summers.

The maturity with which you handled the news of your brain cancer diagnosis and all the radiation and chemotherapy treatments it required. Your determination to be the exception, the patient whose hair didn’t fall out during radiation. When it did, the way you made it cool to be bald, inspiring 28 of your peers plus Dad, Uncle Chris and Robin to shave their heads.

Taken at Jimmy's head shaving party. Dan, on the left, is bald and wearing a blue shirt. Margo is also wearing a blue shirt and is standing next to him. Chris is next to Margo. He's also bald and is wearing a green and yellow Nike pullover. Molly and Jimmy are in the front. Molly is wearing a blue jacket and Jimmy is wearing an orange shirt.

Bringing you home after you’d spent a month in the hospital undergoing high dose chemotherapy. Watching your dogged determination to walk up and down the stairs. Bronco’s confusion when you could only shuffle a few hundred yards down the street before needing to head back to the house. The way you kept at it, despite the pain, until you could walk the 4 mile loop to the top of the hill and back.

I remember our long talks in the hospital late at night after Molly and Dad had gone home when you would tell me about your fears and dreams and hopes for the future.

Your final days and weeks at home. The list you made of those you most wanted to see and the way every single one of the people on that list came to be with you. The courage of your friends, their tears after you told them how much they meant to you, the way you laughed and enjoyed every minute you had together. The honor of bearing witness and the gratitude I still have at all of the amazing people you brought into our lives.

Now that you are gone from this world, I see you everywhere — in the stars shining in the night sky, in the hummingbirds flashing in the garden, in the cherry tree Taryn gave me after you died that covers itself with deep pink blossoms every spring.

I feel your presence when AC/DC comes on the radio or over the loudspeaker at one of Molly’s softball games and Shelby says, “Jimmy is in the house!”

I yearn to know about the movies, music and books you aren’t here to tell me about and wish that I could tell you about the ones I have discovered on my own that I know you would love, too.

I wonder if you know that Dad, Molly and I have soldiered on. Refused to crawl into the pit, knowing that isn’t what you would want for us, despite being driven to our knees by the Jimmy size hole in our lives and hearts.

I hope you know how much we miss you, how much there is to tell you. You will forever be our inspiration, our guiding light, our greatest gift, the brightest star.

I remember.

I remember it all.

I remember you.

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  • Margo Fowkes says:

    Thank you so much. I’m happy that the piece resonates with you, and I’m so sorry that you are navigating life without your beloved daughter.

  • emmaclaire says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It resonates so much with my experience. My 18 year old daughter died of leukaemia a year ago. She too will forever be our inspiration.

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