****(We're home from the hospital and Ben is recovering well. We don't have biopsy results yet, however. I'll post more, with a full update, after a powernap - promise.)****
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In this life I’ve lived, full of abandonment and conditional love; through foster homes and bus passes to relatives, I’ve known things capable of taking the color out of life. I’ve known abuse and molestation. I’ve known words that sting harder and longer than the palm of a hand or curled fist. But despite all that, I willed myself to break the cycle; when my first child was just a squiggling thing on an ultrasound monitor, I took my duty to parent him seriously. I went to school and collected majors like trinkets. Child development, Child Psychology, Psychology, Early Childhood Education, Special Education and all its sub-categories. I took courses until I ran out of courses to take. I walked away with two degrees: neither one intended, because it wasn’t about career goals; it was about never becoming like my mother or any of the adults whose care I’d been entrusted to over the years. My children spent their younger years in a house set up like a preschool . . . messy science and art projects all over the place and a kitchen whose utensils became musical instruments. They never attended a school in which I didn’t teach. The degrees came in handy for the I.E.P. meetings and special education classrooms and schools they both needed to work through their learning disabilities. The teen years came like teen years can. Despite my determination to make education central in their lives, they’ve both continued to struggle. It’s been no secret here the path my son chose to take . . . one landing him in military school. The last few years with him have been difficult, as I’ve let go of dreams of college, relented to the idea he might become, like his father, a fisherman in a dangerous ocean, with only a G.E.D. in hand. As a parent, I’ve been disappointed and questioned myself a million times: Did I do TOO much in the early years? Did he end up feeling entitled rather than motivated? And I’ve had those thoughts few parents will admit to: “I can’t WAIT until he’s out of the house!” But no matter what our kids do to disappoint us, hope never really dies, even when it’s time to step away and let them sink or swim all by themselves. Words from parent of the year? Probably not; but they are honest. And then last week, he came to me as I sat here at this computer and said “Mom, I have this weird lump in my neck.” He’d had a cold, so I figured a swollen lymph node. I might have been saying just that when I put my hand on the place he lead it to and knew, immediately, it was his thyroid and the lump was large. We were at his pediatrician’s the next morning, and then to the hospital for an ultrasound, where they called in the pediatric radiologist and the techs all talked in worried hushes. And within hours we were swooped up into what we now call The Cancer Machine – appointments here and there, long days forgetting to eat, long nights filled with worry. Last week we landed in the office of United State’s top cancer surgeon and this Wednesday, my son, Ben, will be in his surgical suite, having his thyroid removed and awaiting biopsy results. And while we wait, the color has gone out of life, in a way it never has before, despite all the places I’ve been and all the things I’ve seen. And all those dreams of just last week have gone by the wayside while I dream of something so simple: a benign pathology report. So, if you’re reading, please keep him in your thoughts . . .
Labels: cancer, parenting, sons