This is Karen.
Karen and I have a lot in common: we’re blonde, we have blue eyes, we have loud voices, we like brightly colored things and good music and books and books and books. We’re curious. We’re a little brash. We have a lot of feelings, and we feel them deeply and without apology. We also have an ex-boyfriend in common, which in a lot of ways makes us the unlikeliest of friends, but when we...
I’m not as strong as you think I am. Or maybe I am. Swinging a 12 lb. baby kettle-bell style while he cries in a car seat does help develop your upper body muscles, but I still can’t do a push-up. What I mean is, I’m not unusually strong. I’m not exceptionally strong. There’s really nothing special about me. “I don’t know how you do it.” People say. It’s meant as a compliment, implying that I...
Me and my oncologist :)
lux-fiam: Aaron had a good MRI today. This is how it feels.
Anonymous asked: You changed my day, really. My boyfriend just found out that he was cancer. And he is pushing my away because he don't want me to be a pseudo widow when i'm just 20 years old and he also don't want me to suffer or see him suffering. And your tumblr and all your story really made me feel like there is hope. You're a really cute, strong and funny couple. I wish all the love in...
openmouthcats asked: I am very grateful my friend Trisha told me about your blog. I've recently started reading it, it's been quite helpful to me. My husband was recently diagnosed with stage III C colon cancer. I don't casually use insipid words like inspired and moved, but your blog is pretty fantastic. Thanks for your words, all the best to you and your sweet family.
Anonymous asked: Your strength and outlook on life it truly inspiring and contagious. If I ever have a daughter, I'll be sure to name her Nora. Take care xxx
brighteryellow asked: I don't know you personally, but I stumbled across this blog and I turn to it in times of sadness when I'm in need of comfort. (I do hope, sincerely, that this isn't a selfish act, but I'm afraid that it might be.) You two seem so strong, so in love, so selfless, so happy, so everything, that I can't help but be wowed and feel comforted by your love and your attitude and...
I love weddings. Not the wedding things; I don’t care about the favors or table settings or even your dress, frankly. I love weddings. Ceremony. An exchange of the same vows spoken by our parents and grandparents and great grandparents and bearing witness to the instantaneous creation of a new family. I get nervous before every single one: slightly sweaty and clammy handed with a...
Hand in hand.
The internet has brought me a lot of great people. My friend Sebastien, who I met after sending him a MySpace message telling him how much I liked his band. Twitter friends like Kara and Bren whom I have yet to meet IRL. And Mary, who sent me kind, anonymous notes through Tumblr until I posted begging the sender to reveal him or herself. She emailed me a few days later, telling me about her own...
Aaron’s brain tumor has given us a ravenous hunger for life that’s directly proportionate to the intense gratitude we have for every day on this planet. It’s discovery kick-started us to do all of the living we could: to get married, to have another wedding reception, to have a child, to sell our house, to drive North until we hit the edge of it all, to head west into the desert...
Anonymous asked: How do you stay positive and full of happiness? You are the definition of love & joy. Stay happy, stay blessed, stay in love. Blessings to you and your family. xxoo
(Healthy) Stuff We Like
Before all this cancer business, I considered myself pretty healthy. I practiced yoga. I ate fairly healthy food. I had given up my social smoking (even though I will shamefully admit that I still think it looks cool when skinny, pretty people do it). After his diagnosis, I quickly discarded the books about brain tumors that haunted my bedside table and focused on the few things I could take...
On the list of things I despise, reggae music...
outdatecancer asked: I know a man who named his tumor Tommy. He said he enjoyed chemo, treatments, and surgeries because he got to beat Tommy up. He took a little joy in knowing he could abuse poor Tommy, the tumor. Does Aaron's tumor have a name?
I didn’t know what it was at first, this map of mysterious continents shifting beneath the gauze on his head. These lines measure the blood that creeps out along his incision, a meridian that just the day before was nothing more than a faint scar, a reminder of the vanquished enemy we’ve been fighting for the past year. But it came back. Even though he took all the pills and I...
Little Miss Sunshine
Our niece and her mother arrived at the tail end of winter, when the snow has turned gray and even the hardiest of Northerners begin to long for the arrival of spring. Josie is a little Southern Belle, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia with a personality filled with sunshine. Our winter landscape was an alien one to her, but she plunged right into it, literally, her baby Uggs getting stuck...
Anonymous asked: Hi Nora -- we have a bunch of friends in common (and I have several with your husband too). i went to ad school in Minneapolis in 2004 and worked at Fallon for a while. I also had Stage 4 Hodgkins lymphoma in 2000-2001 (yeah, I'm probably the only person in the world who had cancer and went INTO advertising... sigh). Anyway, I just wanted to say that I've been loving reading your and...
because we made you, my darling with the love in...
The Purmort Family Guide to Hospital Life*
It’s been 16 months since Aaron’s first night in the hospital. In that time, we’ve gotten to know the halls and the people of our hospital like the backs of our hands. And while that’s actually a heart wrenching ability that neither of us ever imagined accomplishing, we’re choosing to see it as a valuable area of expertise that not many people achieve at such...
Mark my words, I WILL swim with the dolphins again!– Okay, Aaron.
catykakos asked: Hi Cousin Nora, I stayed up all night reading your blog from the very beginning. I don't know why I waited so long. You're an amazing writer living a beautiful love story. Praying for you and your family! ♥ Caty P.S. Mr. Henry would love to meet Mr. Ralph someday :)
Round 2, Cycle 3
A year ago, everything about this moment was unimaginable. The tumor wasn’t supposed to come back. A baby wasn’t supposed to be possible. I’ll never stop being amazed by these tectonic shifts our lives have taken, how small and undetectable changes culminate in earth-shattering explosions, how quickly we can pick up the pieces and get back to living while the world spins on...
Soon, we’re heading to the Southwest for a full week, the longest vacation I’ve taken since I joined the working world in 2005. Please don’t rob our home. Since Ralph started to form inside my body, I’ve had the need for open spaces. Big skies. Vision quests and red dirt and rocks so old they hold the secrets of time. Luckily, our families spend their winters in the...
“The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love.” - Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things words to live by, though I think you’ve already got it covered so very grateful to you and your amazing mother for sending so much love to me and mine. Right back at you, little bird. Life is made sweeter by people like you.
Anonymous asked: I wish I could have had half of your knowledge, wisdom and passion when I was your age. You amaze me and I love following your story. I wish all the best for you and your beautiful little family. I went to HS with your Mom and met you briefly a couple of weeks ago. You are truly beautiful inside and out.
I have had an ear infection for under 24 hours and have complained about it more than Aaron has or will ever complain about cancer, chemo, radiation or two brain surgeries.
Who should you marry? I'm so glad you asked.
Marry someone funny. Marry someone who thinks you’re funny, especially when you’re really, really trying to be. Marry someone who wears your clothing size—double your wardrobe, even if there’s a stack of off-limit t-shirts from his high school days that he gently explains are so precious he doesn’t want you stretching out the arms. Laugh about that later. Marry...
Blood + Sweat + Chemo
This blog is our story, told through my eyes, my experiences and my own voice. Now, Aaron has his own.
here in the dark i cherish the moonlight ...
The nurse can’t find a vein. Or, rather, she can’t find a vein she can get in to, the needle being repeatedly blocked by unseen scar tissue somewhere inside of his “beautiful veins.” He smiles graciously at her, but his feet give him away, twisting and kicking with each exploration of the needle. It’s a small sign of his mortality in spite of the superhero performance he puts on every day....
4 Things You Don't Want To Do (but have to, so get...
Listen up, kids: the world is full of harsh truths, and I’m here to share some of the most important ones I’ve learned in the past 15 months or so. Accept that someday, you will die. Probably not today, and most likely not tomorrow, but someday you will leave this mortal world. As a child, I imagined myself as nothing more than molecules floating in space, and the thought...
How To Have A Baby
On January 22, 2012, I became the first female in the history of humanity to have a baby. Or at least, that’s how it felt afterward. Nothing can prepare you for the feeling of pushing a human being out of your body, and the immense sense of awe and pride you have immediately afterward. Sometime between the Aaron announcing “it’s a boy!” and the midwife handing me the...
Anonymous asked: I can lose hours getting lost in your stories. I laugh and cry and know exactly how you feel sometimes. You're such a gifted writer to be able to do that and I just wanted you to know that. Life is beautiful :)
It’s been so long since I’ve been to mass that they’ve changed the words to the responses, but after 17 years in Catholic school, it’s like riding a bike. Still, I didn’t expect such comfort here, not after all the times I’ve gritted my teeth and rolled my eyes when people simplify the “the situation” by assuring us it’s...
Most people think happiness is about gaining something, but it’s not. It’s all...– Carolyn Crane (via hellanne)
It’s clear to me now that I have been moving toward you and you toward me for a...– Robert James Waller; ”The Bridges of Madison County” (via larmoyante)
Anonymous asked: NORA! Your absolutely amazing! I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon our history again, & to be reminded every time I read your blog how amazing life is and how I should not and cannot take this gift for granted. I love reading your blog! Thank you for writing & thank you for your ever positive perspective! The way you write about love, makes me ache for something like it to come my way! I...