Do rainy days and Mondays get you down? Do endless gray days heighten your anxiety? Or does the rain wash away the pain, and the gray skies dilute the light of a nebulous tomorrow?
When my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February 1985; we finally had a limited understanding of the persistent health maladies that he had been experiencing for several months. Daily harsh headaches, nausea, etc. but it was finally the double vision that prompted us to bring him to the ER. They immediately performed emergency surgery to remove a large fast-growing tumor on his brain stem. The tumor was a called a Medulloblastoma which is most always fatal.
All our pick-up sticks fell off the table.
We signed up for surgery, radiation and chemotherapy so we could kill the lion’s share of our son’s tumor. He died on the operating table for several minutes until he was again revived but was left in a coma for a week. When he awoke and the breathing apparatus was removed, he recounted immediately that he had left his body during surgery and that Jesus held his hand and said, “Kelly you will be well”. He also said Jesus looked just like Half Nelson, one of his Garbage Pail Kid cards.
Kelly was raised a very moderate Christmas/Easter Catholic as was I,, he never went to catechism and attended limited Sunday masses; we never discussed the bible at home but Kelly as every kid in our country knows that on Jesus’s birthday you get presents, so he was acquainted with Jesus but not on a first name basis.
Something happens to your faith and belief system when your dying child has a conversation with arguably the most famous persona the word has ever known. This can rock one’s world, which it did, and we are still rocking. We had obviously connected with the hard drive of the universe which left a cookie of continual correspondence upon Kelly’s soul and a timestamp of hope in our hearts. What happened after that could fill a book which is did: Letters to My Son, Turning Loss to Legacy. That is not what this writing is about although, that was then, this is now.
In 1985 modern medicine was still fighting cancer akin to hitting a fly on a glass table with 30# sledgehammer; we started to kill our son’s body, ravage his brain, numb his soul and test his spirit. We seemingly had no choice. We followed the rules, listened the doctors and proceeded to slowly poison our son. During that first year Kelly grew dark in spirit and sullen in soul and he would only wear black clothing. He recovered in part physically, but the dark clouds remained; the cancer more persistent then the chemo and he was dying.
Through Make-a-Wish and other circumstances we ended up in Mexico for several months where Kelly had a miracle healing in a small Mexican chapel. Following the service, he experienced a profound unexplained change physically, mentally, and spiritually and the tumor disappeared. Kelly was feeling great and he started to wear very colorful clothing and smiling all the time. Something happened in that chapel beyond our explanation; we had our son back.
We enjoyed the new color of his wardrobe as one appreciates a beautiful sunset. This was his sunset. The last rose of summer, the swan song for a 9-year-old boy. We had a miracle healing from God that brought color back to his young life that would prove to provide us with 4 more months of living his last days to the fullest that we could muster.
I am so grateful for the many miracles that were and have been springboards to healing by providing us with so much hope in the darkness of our despair; love is not lost, dead is not gone and heaven is a very real place; I saw it reflected In my son’s eyes, I saw it in the smile that formed on his lips as his paralyzed face relaxed and contracted muscles lost their hold… at the same time his hand went limp in mine. My son was looking right through me and was obviously seeing something very glorious; then the lights went out, but slowly with a look of gratitude, and recognition accompanied by one last unlabored sigh. Someone was there to bring him home.
Surviving the loss of child in your lives will alter your universe forever. Nothing will ever be the same. We can survive physically; our body demands it. We can survive mentally; our brain is resilient with plasticity. We can survive emotionally; by the choices that we make and the drugs that we take. We can survive with all the insights we glean from body, mind and soul, just as one can sit on a three-legged stool and rest, but a four-legged stool is much sturdier. When we embrace spirit, our connectedness to all, our child and to our higher power we create that fourth leg of equilibrium that rules them all. This enables us to not only survive but to thrive.
When the pain is so severe
We soon lose our fear
…and too learn to dance in the rain.