It’s the topic that we steered carefully around for so long. Anyone who knew Wendy in the nineties knows what I mean.
We’ve had the speech about how outstanding Wendy was as a professional woman – as National Co-ordinator of Training for a successful company. But that was second choice. Growing up, Wendy always knew that she would be a great mother. When she first got married she kept her own name because as one of three daughters, the family name needed to be carried forward by her sons. Once the marriage settled into place, she and her husband chose a family-sized townhouse in a family-friendly community and prepared for the family.
It was not to be. When Dan and Wendy sought medical help to try harder, a series of drugs were prescribed. Eventually, the tides in the sea of hormones stirred up by those drugs ended up destroying her first marriage. And at least two of those drugs are associated with the kind of cancer she ended up getting, though it’s hard to tell in her case if the cancer might already have been in place.
When we see a service for someone who died skiing or on a dirt bike or something, people always make a big deal about the fact that he went doing something he enjoyed. In Wendy’s case it is bigger. The quest to raise a family is not just something to enjoy – it was the single most important thing in her life. If we went back and told her the risks of those drugs, would she still take them? Would she accept those risks? The biggest risk someone can take? I think that she would. If you dream big dreams, then sometimes you fall short. But this does not mean you cannot try. In a very real sense, Wendy died trying to have a family.
After the cancer operation in 1997, it took her body half a year to heal up well enough to move on. And she did heal, so far as most of her acquaintances could see. Only her closest friends could got to see the gaping hole left where the dream had been torn out. It wasn’t until half a decade later that she was able to redefine herself in terms that didn’t include “mother” in the first line of the definition. Relaunching her education, and pushing the career path from Travel Agent to National Co-ordinator wasn’t an escape from a career threatened by the Internet. It was a redefinition of what the word “woman” means.
She did not abandon motherhood. She redirected it to focus on her sister’s kids. Alex (gesture) and Bryan (gesture) – You were the most important people in Wendy’s life. I could have been replaced, but not you two. You two will always be the biggest part of Wendy, wherever she is.
For a brief period in 2004, the dream resurfaced. A friend’s mistake almost gave Wendy another chance at motherhood. But pregnancy is fragile, and that brief dream, too, followed the original one into oblivion.
Wendy. As mother. When I chose Wendy as my partner for life, I was choosing who I wanted to raise my kids as much as I was choosing someone to hang out with. When she was crumbling under the load of discarding that dream, I never told her that. I didn’t want her to think that she had failed me. But it wasn’t failure. She crawled out of that pit and became someone just as important to me, even without the dream.
We must remember that dream. Wendy as mother. It was her biggest dream, and even when the cards don’t come up to make the hand work, it is still worthwhile to have dreamed.
As I asked earlier, would she have still tossed those dice in 94, even knowing where those drugs could lead? I think so. If you restrict your dreams to just the sure thing winners, you end up with small dreams.
Children. We remember Wendy’s biggest dream.