How do you register the magnitude of an earthquake that happens in your own life, the experience of being blindsided by information that permanently turns your world upside down?
Last night we found out that our friend’s son, Harry’s very first friend here in Sonoma county, has Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s 16. He’s an incredible, funny, brilliant, quirky kid. And his mom is one of my dearest friends.
What do you do with that information? Well, first of all, you don’t sleep.
Everywhere I go the talk is about Haiti. The devastation, the agony. It is hard to comprehend what life is like there right now. There is so much unknown. The profound grief hangs over everyone.
But last night, as I processed this terrible news from my friend, I did comprehend it. This is a personal, emotional earthquake. Everywhere I look I see rubble where once stood normal life. I ache for my friend, for whom the coming hours, days, weeks and months are going to be an excruciatingly painful and challenging journey. I ache for her son, who suddenly had that carefree, immortal aspect of teenagehood stolen from him. I am scared for them.
Our friend’s doctors are cautiously optimistic, and I read on the Mayo Clinic website that the disease is highly treatable with a potential for full recovery.
And I exhale. And I inhale. And I exhale.
There are moments when I wish I was more of a Pollyanna. I wish I was more of a glass is half full kind of person. I wish I was more of a believer, too. These are the moments that I feel most bereft religiously, though I find myself praying and praying and praying.
Ben’s own surgery is one month from yesterday. One month. I don’t think I mentioned that as soon as we turned towards home at the end of our Disneyland trip reality came crashing back down on me. My heart was racing before we even got to the airport in Orange County, knowing that now we were entering the homestretch, just a matter of days until Ben’s surgery.
We’re all struggling with it. Ben, of course, is feeling the weight. He flip flops between angry, lashing out, and needy, clingy and talking in a baby voice. He is suffering from mysterious pains and discomforts. And yesterday we started butting heads about chores which climaxed in a major tantrum involving a kitchen knife (“I’m going to kill myself! I hate my life!”) and some time spent huddled in the back of his closet, sobbing, hiding inside his upside down clothes hamper. Hours later all was calm again. And there was even laughter and silliness and chocolate chip cookies he helped bake.
You can practically see the earth move as the quake passes through.
Please send your blessings to our friends, Sarah and James. Thank you.