A year ago today, Jodi was getting ready for school to start. Caemon had been in his first year of preschool for one whole week. He had been reacting terribly to an antibiotic, so we took him to the doctor, a doctor he hadn’t seen before. She felt his belly, noticed his enlarged spleen and liver, and sent him for blood tests. Caemon and I went grocery shopping, and I hunted for supplements and probiotics and anything I could find to help him have a healthier year. And then we got home, and shortly thereafter, my phone rang. The doctor was on the line, listing Caemon’s blood counts–something with which I would later grow intimately familiar but which seemed utterly foreign at the moment. His platelets were low. His white counts were high. He had blasts. He very likely had leukemia. Most of you know the rest of the story. If you don’t, it’s here.
One year ago today was the day our lives changed forever. For the past year, I have been stuck in August. I couldn’t grasp that fall had come and gone, then winter, but they were manageable so long as we could watch those seasons go by through the hospital window with our boy by our sides. But then came spring–spring was surreal and unwelcome, and the return to summer, terrifying without my son. Finding myself back in August, back to the date when time stood still is confusing and heartbreaking without Caemon here. Both yesterday and today have seen Facebook filled with images of friends’ children starting back to school, wearing new clothes, sporting new haircuts. But not Caemon.
With the end of the summer also brings Jodi returning to teaching. Caemon and I used to drive her to school some days, and then Caemon and I would have adventures. Other days we would stay home together and have Mommy and Caemon time reading or baking or whatever else he wanted to do because I would have to work in the afternoon when Jodi came home. This time of year was always an adjustment, but it was normal and routine. It was our family life. It’s all so different now. The house is too quiet when Jodi leaves for school. My trips to the less-populated Tuesday morning grocery store are so lonely without a little boy in the shopping cart stopping me for hugs or asking for a snack. This is not a life I wanted to leave behind.
It’s hard to know what a year means at this point. For the first half of that year, nearly six months, we were fighting like hell to save our boy’s life. For the latter half, we have been floored by our loss. Both today and yesterday have found Jodi and I back in those early hours of leukemia, the trip to the ER, the first IV, the ambulance ride, the first nurses and doctors, the feelings of terror, the welling up of hope. In some ways, that day was a beginning. It was the beginning of a boy and his moms on a hero’s journey, the beginning of medical play, of meeting a whole new oncology family, of healing our son. But we know now that it was also the beginning of the end, first the end of normal family life–and later, the worst ending of all.
Oh how I miss you, my sweet, sweet son.