Timing. It is all about the timing, according to Quinn's (awesome) hospice nurse. Nurse Anne intimated a number of times that even in a child as young as Quinn, they seem to know, to let go at the right time - even if the fact that it is right isn't quite apparent to everyone else, at least not right away.
I held on to that talk with Anne for weeks following while Quinn was here, and for the past two weeks while Quinn is not.
The Friday before her death was a 'summer Friday' for Brett, meaning it was his turn to have the whole day off (he alternates with his business partner / cousin during the summer). We decided to go to the beach that day, it being a beautiful day and the beach being Quinn's most favorite place. We had a great, relaxing day and on a whim, Brett's mom decided to come with us.
On Saturday, we went to a fairly impromptu barbecue at Brett's friend's house, where we had a great, relaxing day with old friends we hadn't seen in some time.
On Sunday, two of my brothers and my mom popped in for bagels in the morning - also somewhat impromptu. Sunday afternoon, we went to my best friend's house where another close friend and her family were for yet another great, relaxing day.
On Monday, my mom came over and she, I, the boys and Quinn went to Colin and Reid's favorite sprinkler park / playground combo where we had (all together now) a great, relaxing day.
Once she became ill, all of our immediate family - and my (almost) 92 year old grandmother - made it in time to see her and say goodbye. When she passed, just our brothers, sisters, mothers, father, and step-father were in our house and came to see her once more before the funeral home took her away.
She managed to squeeze in amidst vacation plans, freshman year of college beginnings for not one but two of my nieces, and my cousin's wedding.
All excellent timing - very commendable, Quinn.
But, Quinn had bigger fish to fry. I should obviously have known.
Back in July, two days after Quinn's 14 month birthday, I finally made it to my 6week postpartum check up. My gynecologist (formerly my obstetrician) wrote up a few scripts, including one for my baseline mammography. As it was a few months early (I don't turn 35 until November - the magic age dictated by insurance companies as to when your baseline should be taken), he wrote it for a bilateral diagnostic mammogram.
I made the appointment for August 16th. It seemed like a good day because Brett would be home for summer Friday that day and he could take care of Quinn - the only other person besides me she would allow to handle her for more than 47 seconds.
Well, by August 16th, who was watching Quinn was obviously no longer an issue. Being three days out from the funeral you may think that I'd bag the appointment and reschedule for a later date. But, August 16th - besides being Quinn's 15 month birthday, and one week since her death - was one year to the date of her diagnosis (something I probably should have considered when making this appointment...) and it seemed prudent to keep the appointment instead.
As I entered the Diagnostic Imaging Center, it all suddenly clicked. Quinn's timing was not about vacations, college entries or even goodbyes. It was about Us - me and her, and the Linzer Party of Five. I knew at that moment they were going to find something on that test, and with even more certainty, I knew Quinn knew it too. That was her timing.
Unfortunately I - and she - was right. The mammography revealed three spots that needed biopsy, only two of which could be reached by needle. On Thursday, August 22nd I had the first two biopsied. And on Friday, August 23rd, I learned that both were malignant, indicative of invasive cancer.
I learned, in short, that I have Breast Cancer.
And I am apparently one of the last to know. That little pip knew full well that if I had ever learned of this during her life, that information would have gone in my back pocket to be brought out only after our time with Quinn was through. She would not - could not - allow herself to be cared for by anyone else. I understood this, and it is (was :( ) my life's mission to ensure that she never would be - come hell or high water... or breast cancer diagnosis.
There are a number of 'next steps', the most important being a pre-op MRI to determine where else it may have spread. The results of that test will really guide the rest of the treatment plan.
So for those of you who have asked that I continue writing... seems we have a new chapter to fill.
God, I miss my baby :(