On the last day of the summer past one of my sons was diagnosed with bone cancer. Since then we as a family with him at our core have lived in a surreal place of pain and fog and forgetfulness.
I say forgetfulness not only because I misplace things more often or miss an appointment in my hazy waltz through this maze of fear but because when the nightmare of disease possesses a loved one you learn to forget as quickly as possible.
To dwell on what is or meander down the nostalgic path of easier days is nothing less than pure folly. It only leads to depression, anger and more fear.
When we forget we open ourselves to new reality. We wash away the “if onlys” and shake the hand of determination that is the best friend of our loved ones courage. Laughter is the salve that protects us from horror. Yet I wonder if that is what I have done when this demon did not possess my son.
Children have suffered for time memorial from horrible illness while I played, worked and generally concerned myself with the trappings of middle class existence. While they lay dying I harbored vanity while devoting most of my free time to self.
Yes I believe in service to my fellow man and have done what I could but I always go home to the warmth and comfort of knowing my loved ones are sound and protected.
For the remainder of my days I cannot imagine taking for granted the peace and serenity that comes with having a safe and healthy family.
It has been said that gratitude is an action. My son is fighting for his life but he is alive. He gets angry and complains. He jokes and he cries. He calls me “old man” and grins waiting for me to “cut” him back. I kiss the top of his smooth white head careful not to let a tear fall there where he might know my sadness.
When this is done there will be less forgetting. One thing I will not forget is the gift of each breath. I will not forget that children all over the world lay suffering in agonizing pain. They suffer more than physical pain. They suffer the doubt that fatal disease delivers to their door each morning and there is no end.
Can we all remember? Can we all beat a drum, run a race, sit with a child, cook a meal, take the children to see the friend that is still their friend though temporarily living apart?
This pain will never let me forget. Does it take this for us to remember?