Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Hate That I Know How Good a Writer This Young Dad Is

This is Layton Reid and he's the husband of Candace, one of our office's former RDs. A number of years ago they moved to Halifax where they and their now 3 year old son Finn call home.

Certainly when they were living here in Ottawa I had no idea that Layton could write. Now I know that he can write circles around me. I also know that he's brave and vulnerable. That he's deep, thoughtful and funny. I know all of this in large part because I also know that he's dying. Just before their move Layton had a growth removed in walk in clinic. That growth, one he's now calling "Mel", was a melanoma. And it's spread.

Being friends with his wife on Facebook I regularly see his posts. His prose, venturing at times a bit towards poetry, captures his experiences with cancer, and does so with such poise and honesty that I wanted to use my platform here to share his words with others.

His latest post is a letter he wrote to Mel (copied below).

To follow Layton, you can find him on Facebook here.

Layton, you're an inspiration as a person, a husband and a father and I wish I didn't have to know that.
dear mel.

i hope you don't mind me calling you that. melanoma just sounds so formal, you know? i just thought i’d check in and catch up and let you know how things are going on my end. i feel like we never really get a chance to talk anymore, just the two of us.

finn turned three last month (total rapscallion) and candace is on this big minimalist kick lately. inexplicably, and due in large part to a handful of my cancer killing crew at the VG i am, as of today, still upright. what a trip. some days are better than others of course but i guess that goes with the territory, right?

as you’re well aware, three of my friends in the attic have bulked up a bit over the summer, so it looks like i’ll be in this week for a last ditch effort to see if we can at least keep them at bay before i start having panic attacks in public and pooping in my pants. again. i’m confident i can enjoy a diaper free existence until at least the end of the year, but what do i know?

all i know is until our paths cross again i just wanted to take a minute to say thank you. genuinely.

i know we’ve had our differences in the past and i know we've not always seen eye to eye, but i've learned so many lessons i never would have, had we not been introduced a handful of years ago in the back of a sketchy walk-in clinic in downtown ottawa. back where this whole silly adventure began. back when you taught me all the ultra important rules to remember about this unmistakably messy yet miraculous life of mine.

lessons on perspective, patience, pain and above all, resilience.

i have loved and been loved more in the last few years than i have the first thirty five or so of my life and i appreciate things today that i most certainly would have taken for granted the day before we met. most importantly though i’ve accumulated a ton of cool scars to show finn before i have to eventually squeeze his clammy little hand into mine and remind him to be good to his mummy and hope he remembers just how much i loved him when he’s old enough to process this whole shitty nightmare of a situation i’ve inadvertently put my family through.

so, if we don’t get a chance to chat again before you decide enough is enough, just know that i’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me. i don’t know if that was your intention back when we originally met but at the moment that’s all i can think about. how you’ve changed my life, temporarily at least, for the better.

i’ll miss you mel, you old magnificent, malignant, murdering masterpiece. thank you once more for giving my family the strength to band together to fight for a cause much bigger than me, and thank you for the opportunity to safely gather my things and say my goodbyes one last time before i hobble proudly off into the sunset, camera in hand and a photo of candace and finn in my back pocket.

yours sincerely, and still alive.
layton reid.