Saturday, May 30, 2009


Yesterday I saw one of my pediatric patients, who was close to Henry's age at diagnosis.

He's had rough month illness-wise, and enough unusual symptoms that my doctor-skin-on-the-back-of-my-neck is prickled. Just enough to start wondering if he has cancer.

I think about cancer all the time in my patients, but it doesn't come up often in my pediatric group. Any good doctor should. Sometimes I mention it, sometimes I don't, depending on how much I'm worried, or how much I perceive my patient to be worried. I remember one older boy, just as Henry finished treatment. He wasn't my patient, I just happened to get involved in his care one day due to his regular physician being out. And I very quickly extracted myself from the situation. I found myself nauseated every time I saw his chart. He turned out to be fine.

This little boy is mine, though, and I know his mom well. I didn't mention the "C" word yesterday; I couldn't tell if it was on her mind, but she is a bright woman so it probably was.

In an eerie coincidence, she had just shaved his head. He so reminded me of all the little children just regrowing their hair. It certainly contributed to my unease.

I had flash memories of Hopkins the rest of the day.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Question

I got the question, for the first time.

I was sitting on the soccer field sidelines, watching my middling play. My older daughter (who needs an internet nickname) was on another field at her own game.

The mother of a teammate I didn't know asked me, "How many children do you have?"


Somewhere an answer must exist, like a good banana split. One scoop of he-will-always-be-one-of-your-children, one of can-you-come-up-with-a-more-jarring-comment-than-my-son-is-dead, and throw in a gawd-I-don't-feel-like-crying-in-front-of-these-strangers. Top with my innate ineptitude with small talk, the fact the family on the other side of me knew Henry, and sprinkle on the distance this other woman was away causing me to all but yell.

I hate banana splits.

I said something like "I have two now, my son died three months ago."

She was very gracious, talked about the girls, and then asked how old he would have been. I was then able to talk a little about how he had died without making her ask. It ended up being a nice conversation, and I didn't cry. This was entirely due to her social grace and genuineness.

Maybe I'll get better at it. It is sure to happen again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Middling

I'm sure I've broken all kinds of universal parent/child trust laws by doing this, but really, she's too young to know.

Here's my middling's latest journal entry.

I have to agree.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Illusion of Control

Is the illusion of control over our lives a western trait, or more a human one?

We expect, in the middle class of this country, that if you study hard, do your time, eat your veggies, go to church, play by the rules, that things will work out for you.

We know, cognitively, that this isn't necessarily true.

But I believed it. I think most of us do. My version of faith, perhaps?

I don't think it's a bad thing to believe. It's a good motivator. Makes you feel good about yourself, your accomplishments, the people you love.

It's a shield, a forcefield. An invisible airbag that must be there, to protect you if you were to be sideswiped, or rearended.

I don't have it anymore. Lots of people don't. Anyone who has been rearended, and not seen the layer of airbag dust settle on their lives know they don't have it. It makes life more scary.

Is it better to believe in an illusion, or not? To believe that things will just work out well, since you are doing what you are supposed to? It seems easier, gentler. And if nothing "bad" ever happens to you, maybe better.

Would it make life's challenges easier if you weren't surprised that the airbag wasn't there? Maybe. Maybe not.

I'm not sure if I want the illusion back. I'm not sure if it's my decision to make anyway.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Henry was never old enough to make me a Mother's Day card with a fat red crayon, the words trailing down the side since he hadn't planned ahead and left enough room.

It makes today easier, because I don't miss it.

When your young child dies, what do you miss? My ten year old used to make me those cards, and her four year old self is as absent from me as Henry is. I'm certain I don't remember Mother's Day with her at age 4.

Right now I miss him, as he was when he died. Is that what I will always miss? Will I "miss" him as he would have been at age 10? Can you miss what never was?

I've never been overly into Mother's Day, except for the fact that it tends to land on a sunny spring Sunday. I don't expect today to be awful for me, but I've been unexpectedly broadsided enough times that it wouldn't surprise me. I am forever fortunate to have my beautiful girls, and will try to keep that in mind today.

When I'm not feeling so sad, I can be grateful for being Henry's mom too. Some days I can't help that being outweighed by missing him.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I've been struck with an utter lack of profundity, hence the lack of blogging. I'm pretty busy, and pretty tired because of it.

I walked/ran a 6 K last weekend, to support one of the charities that supported us during Henry's illness. I really enjoyed the whole experience, but haven't exercised since.

We got a new dog. She's cute, but the little piddle spots aren't.

I'm back to working full time. I am enjoying it on a variety of levels, but I regret that I'm not home more. It's definitely my comfort zone, where I can really let down if I need to.

My sister had a baby. He's gorgeous, and I love to see their family grow. I expected to find my emotions regarding it a little tough, but I haven't, a pleasant surprise.

The pain of his death is passing, the constancy of my grief becoming more apparent. At first the emotion was so intense it was unsustainable, and seemed to rise and fall without warning. I seem to be at a more stable place now, but I don't get much relief.

I miss him so much.