Saturday, May 24, 2014
The Battle We Lost
It can make you feel that you're sinking or suffocating, or going through a little of both.
Eighteen years have passed and you'd think the damage would be over. Battle complete. Troops moved out. Rebuild. On to business as usual.
If only we were made that way.
As the holiday weekend approaches, I watch the men and women in uniform being honored, the waving Red, White, and Blue, read the grocery store specials on ground beef and chips, and feel this overwhelming ache. There stands what only I can fully see---a little boy in a Barney T-shirt and a pair of shorts. The boy needs a hair cut. His Mama wishes she'd taken care of that.
But in one second, a hair cut is forgotten. Because the boy needs so much more. He needs immediate surgery, a Broviac catheter inserted into his back running to his heart for chemo. Later he will need radiation. And stronger chemo. And prayers.
After the first week of chemo, hair falls out in clumps, sprawled out on the back seat of the dusty green van. A hair cut is not needed. His five-year-old sister cries when she sees his blond strands and balding head. "It's so sad," she whispers. We buy him a red ball cap to wear, one with dinosaurs. We buy him a blue one, too. He wears them for a few days, but when his head is smooth and shiny, he goes cap-less.
I recall how friends from church were driving in their van and passed us. I saw their smiles and knew that they were on their way to the Memorial Day church picnic. They turned right; we veered left toward the hospital. That image remains.
Every year for me, Memorial Day marks the beginning of the end. Eighteen years later and it feels just like yesterday when I sat on the sofa the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 1996. The cordless phone was in my hand. The pediatrician told me that my son had a malignant tumor in his neck. The war raged from that day on, and on February 2, 1997, it ceased. All the surgeries, the chemo, the fight, the hope, the prayers-----over.
There was no victory; we lost.
Every year on Memorial Day weekend I am reminded of how much we lost.
Pushing it aside does no good. I have to acknowledge my heartache-----own it, for it is mine.
That's how we mamas are made.
And so I write on my blog and for some reason, that helps. Writing unleashes some of the ache so I can go to the picnics, hear the bands play, watch the fireworks. Writing keeps me from shattering like a bullet fired in the dark night.
For me, Memorial Day honors all of our soldiers---those here and those here only in the delicate arms of memory.
[This post first appeared at my Patchwork Quilt Blog.]