The young woman sat in her black leather chair, thinking. Tears threatened to overflow and escape down her round cheeks. But no, she would not allow herself to release all the pent up pain in her soul. She liked to think she was strong. So strong that she would not allow herself to shed her tears. She was a young mother and at 26 had three beautiful children. One handsome boy, and two beautiful daughters, one blonde the other dark.
This young mother knew about pain. The kind of emotional pain that cuts through the heart to the core of your being. The kind that no mother ever expects to feel, never wants to experience. Her family was all important to her. Her family was precious. Now, something dark and evil had come to tear her apart. It was so dark it threatened her sanity. This darkness of life had crept in and threatened to take what was most dear to her. Her son. Her beautiful healthy little boy. He was only 5 years old. Why? How could this happen to him? These thoughts ran through her mind over and over. Relentlessly, her dark thoughts marched on and on. 'Will he live?' 'Will he die?' 'Will he still be here when he was 10?' 'Will he suffer?' Please God, don't let him suffer! God? She began to wonder and to question His existence. If He existed, would this be happening? But it was happening, with or without God and she had to find the strength to get through it. Would this dear child live to be a man? Have children of his own? No one had any answers. No one could help heal her fear and her pain. No one.
Three weeks earlier, three very long, pain filled weeks, the doctor told her that her precious little boy had cancer. Ahhh, the dark evil beast had a name. Cancer. Cancer kills, she thought. Over and over!
Her thoughts went back to Labor Day. She had been watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Something she did every labor day. Those poor children, those poor people. She always counted her blessings on Labor Day. And oh, she was so lucky. She had these three beautiful children. They had always been healthy. Except the time her son had drunk gasoline and ended up in the hospital with chemical pneumonia. But that had been an accident. That didn't count. Her children were beautiful, strong and healthy and the young mother was so very thankful. All that would soon change. Her entire life would be altered drastically, but she didn't even sense it as she sat watching Jerry Lewis pleading for money, money to help these unfortunate children. She reached for the phone and pledged $20.00, which was all she could afford at the time.
She looked up from the tv as her son came bounding through the front door.
"Mommy, I got the mumps!" he said.
"Who says?" she asked him.
"Bobby's mom. She said I have the mumps and I have to stay home!"
The young woman got up and walked across the room towards her little boy to inspect his neck. She was surprised to see a very large lump on his neck. Where did this come from, she wondered. Her mind raced back to ten days earlier. He had been to the doctors for a check up. They all had. He was fine. There had been a little lump the size of a pea. The doctor had said not to worry, it was just an enlarged gland. Not to worry! She felt the lump in her son's neck. It was like a golf ball had been stuck in there. And it was very very hard.
"Does it hurt?" she asked him.
"Nope," he said. He turned and ran down the hall towards his room.
Well she thought, definitely not the mumps. That would hurt. She didn't know what it was but she wasn't really worried. She sat back down and turned her attention back to Jerry's kids. Hers were all fine.
Two days later, after repeatedly hearing from people that her son had the mumps, she got out her medical book and looked it up. She read 'a tender swelling', well, this was not tender and it certainly was not a swelling. More like a very hard lump. Not the mumps she thought. She read on. Her eyes caught the words 'parotid gland tumor.' What's that she wondered. Tumor seemed more like it. She looked up tumor. As she read a sensation of cold and fear flowed through her, her heart beginning to pound. NO! It can't be! These tumors were rapid growing. Yes, ten days. Hard. Yes. And, very malignant. No! No! No! She slammed the book closed and took off out the door at a run, racing to her neighbors. She asked her friend if she would watch the girls, she had to take her son to the clinic. It was Wednesday and her new doctor would not be in and she was not prepared to wait one more day. She had to know now! Her gut instinct, that instinct only a mother can know, screamed at her. He has cancer! She was almost crazy with fear. Her thoughts raced around in her head. Awful thoughts. On the surface she seemed very calm. Just in a hurry.
The strange doctor calmly said, "Well, it could be serious or it could be nothing at all." He instructed her to take the child for blood tests and bring him back on Friday. "We will know then."
A very long two days for her. She mentioned to a friend what she thought her son had. Her friend looked at her like she was crazy. "Don't be so stupid," her friend said. The young mother then knew she could not express her fears to anyone. She would keep it to herself until she knew for sure.
That was the beginning of 3 long months of doctors and tests, antibiotics, and "I don't knows." Three agonizing months with her awful fear running through her mind. She suffered alone. Who could she tell? She couldn't even confide to her new doctor. She didn't want to appear stupid. Or that she was over reacting. No, she would keep it to herself and wait. Wait for someone to say she was wrong. She prayed to God. Please let me be wrong. He looked healthy. He was not sick. He must be ok. But she could not seem to convince her heart.
The day she had waited for finally came. She was instructed to take her son to yet another new doctor. Right away. "They are expecting you." Oh God, she thought. She packed her son back into the car and drove expectantly to the new doctor. The best in his field they said. I hope so she thought as she looked for a parking spot. She parked the car and sat staring off.
"What's wrong mommy?" her little boy asked.
"Nothing," she responded.
She didn't have any money for parking. Not a nickel. She saw a man nearby getting into his car. She went up to him and asked if he knew how much a parking ticket would be. She always liked to be prepared. She hated surprises. When he found she had no money he filled the meter and said, "Don't worry about it. Have a nice day." What a nice man she thought as she and her son darted off through the cold to see yet another new doctor.
She liked him immediately. He was so gentle and kind with her little boy. She could see it in his eyes, and hear it in his softly spoken words. He looked over to the young woman and said "I don't know what it is, but if it were my child I would want to take it out and find out."
"Do it," she replied. "As soon as possible. I have been waiting three months to hear that." The arrangements were made for him to go into the hospital the following week.
The morning of her son's surgery, her father and her best friend were there to wait it out with her. She was strong. She was ok. But, as they wheeled him away into the elevator, leaving her looking on as the doors closed, she broke down. She could no longer stop the tears that had finally found release after three months of holding them at bay. It was an agonizing two hours before the doctor came out to say all was well, her son was in recovery, and they should know something in a few days. The week went by quickly. She brought her little boy a different present every day. He was so good. He never complained. Never cried. No, nothing serious could possibly be wrong.
It was a bitterly cold day. As the mother and her son sat waiting to see the doctor, the outer door opened and she saw her father walk in. What was he doing here she wondered. How did he know we were here? She had no time for questions, the nurse was calling them in. As she rose to walk down the hallway, her father followed. He was there just in case, he didn't want her to be alone.
The doctor joked around with the boy while he removed the stitches from his neck. The mother watched closely. She looked into his kind eyes and felt lighter then she had in months. I must have been wrong she thought hopefully. The doctor asked her father to take his grandson out to the waiting room so he could talk to mom. He knew dad's name. How did he know dad's name?
She followed the doctor into his private office. He looked at her gently.
"I have some bad news. It was malignant."
She sat stiffly, saying nothing. She was rigid with control but her mind went blank. NO! NO! This can't be happening. The doctor continued speaking about cancer treatments, tests, it was all just a blur. Her mind screamed on and on, but she said not one word. Arrangements were made for the cancer clinic the next morning. No!
She walked through the door into the waiting room. She saw no one. She hurried out through the outer door. Alone. She had forgotten her son back in the waiting room. She ran a few steps towards the road. She sank to her knees. And she cried. She took no notice of people passing, of cars passing, of her father and her son who had come up behind her. She was on her knees wailing, sobbing, shaking, and alone. No one could know what was going through her mind. No one could feel that awful pain she felt. She was alone with her pain. Her beautiful little boy had cancer. Oh God, help me please! Those first moments of awful crying would be the last she would allow herself. She had to protect him. She would never allow him to see her cry again.
This story began 28 years ago. Much has happened in those years. Too much. But this story does have a happy ending. That beautiful little boy is now grown and married and 32 years old. He is the man she once feared he may not live to be. He is my son, and that woman is me.
*As of September 29, 2001 he is a proud father to Hanna :) 7lbs 4oz.
*As of January 8, 2004 he is a proud father to Madlaine :) 5lbs 7Oz.
© Karma’s Korner