If nothing else, 5 years down the road, I still have many questions and few answers. The amount and content of said questions only grows with time. Many of them are “what-ifs”, and still more are “what-woulds”.
“What if they hadn’t died?” is the first question for almost everyone. I can confidently say that it will never be answered definitively. In fact, in the world of multiple-choice answers, the number of choices has increased from A, B, and C, to the point that we’re way through the alphabet, and onto weird, made up characters.
In Megan’s case, seeing as she had a long-term illness, my second question was “what could I have done differently?”. It was the guilt setting in. Misplaced, mind you. There was literally nothing I, or anyone else could do that would have prevented a genetic, debilitating mutation from occurring, but my brain asked it constantly for months, nonetheless, and I felt it was somehow my fault.
I still ask question one almost daily, mostly in passing at this point. I’ve long since accepted that the second question is answered succinctly with a “nothing”, and largely moved on from asking it.
Every so often, however, the “what-ifs” creep back in. More and more frequently, the “what-woulds” are taking over.
Of course, if a new medication, procedure, or development occurs in the world of Cystic Fibrosis treatment, especially one that is seemingly very successful, I always ask “what if Megan had access to that when she was alive?”. It’s still a roundabout way of asking what if she didn’t die, but again, time and progress will always bring that question back up.
As my life (and Shelby’s) evolves and changes post Megan, I’ve found myself asking “what would she think?” ever more often. Shelby starting middle school? What would she think? Marrying Sarah? What would she think? Hell, throwing away old medical supplies? What would she think?
I still respect her opinion, even though she’s not here to give it. In those first months, I felt I knew exactly what she would think. “Oh, she’d love this idea” or “She’s shaking her head and rolling her eyes right now”. As time marches on though, that confidence in her thoughts has become more realistic because of me asking “what if she didn’t die?” initially.
What if? Well, it’s been 5 years. She would be a different person, with differing opinions on things, with new knowledge and an older daughter. New news, new shows, new movies, new hobbies, different interests, different health situations. Show me anyone who hasn’t changed in some way in 5 years. I certainly have. That means that honestly, what may have been her opinion on Shelby growing up 5 years ago could now be wildly different, and I have no clue what it might be.
Coming to this realization means that when I proposed to Sarah last Christmas, and as we plan our own wedding, the “what would Megan think?” question has become more and more cloudy. I mean, it’s a profoundly philosophical question, because if she was here to give her thoughts, then I have a feeling she would be pretty disappointed that I’m marrying another woman, but it’s precisely her death that has brought me to this happy place.
Megan or Sarah, regardless, Shelby would still be twelve. I would likely still be working where I am now. We’d still be in the same house, and have the same dogs. Many things would have stayed the same, yet so, so much more would differ. Megan and Sarah are in no way one in the same, and in no way is one better than the other. (Unless you define “better” as being alive, in which case, I think Sarah wins in that respect). Both of their opinions matter to me, and always will.
Because I truthfully can’t answer what Megan would think about life these days, I can only surmise she would be beyond happy, and beyond disappointed at the same time. Happy that we’re happy, and of course, disappointed that she doesn’t get to be here for it.