Thoughts From the Hospital
We’re late in the ninth month of what is supposed to be a 12-month cycle of intense chemotherapy for my son. He was diagnosed with a cancerous bone tumor in his leg the day before school started last August.
Early in the process it was daily anguish. Existence felt like a “crying out for mercy”.
We have watched him wither. We have watched him bounce back a little in between the cycles of toxic intravenous infusions at the hospital. It has become progressively more difficult for him to “bounce back”.
I was writing a lot in the beginning. I intensified what had been an informal meditation practice. I also began to read and practice other Eastern disciplines and exercises including martial arts.
I say this wondering if the aforementioned practices have “calmed” my voice or rendered it inconsequential? Simply put … I got tired of crying. I wearied of the agony and fear. I hardened the wounded part of me and began to search for balance and strength in places I have not known before.
Writing has been a salve for a perpetual broken heart these past few years. It is also a way for me to share experience, strength and hope with folks. I believe that I am called to do this yet feel that here must be more than pain to share.
Last night he asked for a hug and whispered in my ear, “ I’m tired, Dad. I’m so tired.”
Pain? Is that all there is? No … as I looked in the mirror this morning I realized there was something else lingering there. It’s name is anger … smoldering, breathing … anger.
What powers that be would allow these children to suffer so? What omnipotent, omniscient being steals youth, replaces it with pain and offers no solace?
I asked him did he want to pray?
“No Dad. I don’t think so.”
What can I do to help him? He asked for wet cloths and some water. I gave him that.
Then leaning in, clasping my fist I mumbled,
“ All I can say, Son, is maybe don’t fight so hard. Roll with it. Let go.”
This is it, I guess. This is what I have to offer. This morning I hugged him as he lay there and whispered, “I love you.” As I walked out the door to go to work my heart was breaking. I turned the corner; wiping my eyes when I spotted two women and a small girl who stood not much more than knee high. The women pushed her IV pole as she tottered along. Blonde fuzz covered her head where once her hair had been. She had on pink cowboy boots and an off white frock.
I walked past but as the electronic doors opened I looked back. She gazed up at me with that curious, friendly look children have that ask, “Do you see me? Will you be my friend?”
Transfixed by her dark, flashing brown eyes I softly burred … “ I like your boots.” She smiled as her mother asked her to say thank you. I turned for the elevators thinking, “It’s me that needs to be saying thank you.”