Catherine’s Story: The Children of my Daydreams



Years ago, and I mean nearly ten years ago, my husband – then boyfriend – and I would lay in bed on a Saturday morning and not get out till about noon. We’d just hang out there and talk the way a couple talks when they are new and crazy in love. Somehow on one Saturday morning, the subject came up of baby names.

(So that was thrilling for me, because nothing says ‘long term’ like baby names.)

That discussion sparked several other ‘lay-in and day-dream’ Saturdays, and we finally settled on two names: Claire for a girl, and Joseph for a boy. Zsolt thought Claire was a beautiful name (also my middle name), and I quite liked the Hungarian nickname for Joseph, Joszo, plus it’s my dad’s name.

Since that time I’ve always seen the two of them, Claire & Joszo, in my head. It has felt as though I’ve been waiting for them, and they’ve been waiting for me. In some way, I’ve loved them ever since we conceived the very idea of their existence.

But babies and I simply haven’t worked out. With each attempt, my body has said no.

It was crushing when my first breast cancer diagnosis came just months before we’d planned on trying for children. It was crushing when a hormone test taken after chemotherapy said I had no more eggs to use. It was exciting when a couple years later, tests suggested that maybe I could conceive since my period had returned. And then, it was crushing in so many ways, once more, to be told following a precautionary scan required for me to stop Tamoxifen (to try for a baby) that spots had appeared on my lungs. The spots were the cancer returned.

And despite all this, I still see Claire and Joszo in my mind, and it quietly breaks my heart.

As a women with stage four cancer, I think my options are limited to miracle in general, miracle adoption, miracle cure, and perhaps one day being an aunt – maybe. Unfortunately being without children isn’t limited to me, and has impacted other women I love for reasons totally not about cancer. I know many of us struggle with this incongruence between what we had expected, and what life has delivered.

I have no answer for it. And then, there is this weird sense of a failed obligation . . .

I’m crazy for my husband. Zsolt is my focus, he is my deep love, and he is the very core of my drive to have children. It breaks my heart not to pass along his lovely smile, or his tenderness, or his ability to love so wholly. It’s funny, because while he is my rock in these strange times, he is in some way the source of the hurt. I love him so much but I can’t carry on his family, and that feels terrible. I know it’s so old fashioned and cave-man ‘ish’ but I would be lying to hold back that truth.

In the meanwhile, Zsolt doesn’t even want to try for children until I am well.  He says maybe we can try again, or adopt, or do something, but only once I get better. He has this deep faith that everything is going to be okay. I love that about him. So what can I do? I say okay, because I’m not in the mood to argue statistics or bleak realities. Frankly, I’d rather hold onto his hope. We figure out life as it goes.

It’s funny, because as many of you know, I wrote a novel called Claire Never Ending. And in that book, two important characters are Claire, and also a little boy named Joszo. I say that is funny because having written that novel, I didn’t realize I’d included my two ‘Saturday morning’ children in the pages until after the book had been completed and published. My subconscious surprised me.

All that to say, the feeling of loss might become quiet, but it doesn’t go away. I find my comfort in the life I can live today . . . and I leave a little space to mourn the life I may never know. They’re safe inside of my soul,  the children of my daydreams, and for now that is where they will stay.

Fancy-line-1Visit Catherine’s website for more information about her life and loves and her book Claire Never Ending