Last day to gift wrap!

Okay, If I don’t do it today, then it’s really on Santa’s shoulders.  Tomorrow Rex has a short day so this is it.

( but not this Santa.  We have been going to Teddy Bear tea at a fancy hotel for years.  This year the pro Santa called in sick.)

This week still had the sad shadow of Sandy Hook, Vivien and I were out for two days with intestinal disturbances.  Then, another heart break.  An old friend succumbed to cancer.  I’m too upset to write about it and not even sure if I will.  Just sad.

I’m going to fire up some carols, and wrap.  Keep going.

But, if that Stevie Wonder version of “Ava Maria” comes on I will be bawling under the tree.


Can’t wait for 2012 to get it’s crap and get out of here.

Iron Hunter

I was shopping today. I had just left seeing my dad in assisted living. He was recently discharged from the hospital, and he is not doing well. He is a shadow of his former self. I was a little down and waiting for a mediocre lavash sandwich at a deli counter. As I waited I logged on to Facebook. I saw something that pushed my dad’s decline aside. My friend Lenore had posted, “Our little love is dying.” I have told you before about Hunter.

A boot was kicked in my gut. No. No. I walked to the nearest chair and bawled. I called my husband. I sent her a message. I didn’t know how I would get home.

I’m a friend who lives far away. Yet, I can think of nothing else and everything else has been pushed and twisted in my mind, and I have not been in the trenches. I’m not his family. If I feel like this, what are his parents going through? The level of heartache boggles the mind.

There are NO words to comfort Hunter’s parents. This is the worst thing imaginable.

I know, children die all over the world. They died in Haiti. They die in Africa. They die in America. And the suffering they and their families go through is awful. To focus on a dear child that I know doesn’t take anything away from what others have suffered. But for me this is not an abstract number. This is a beautiful boy that I saw lying in a hospital bed before he could talk. This is a boy whose name I knew when he was still being carried inside his mother before his birth. Who calmly submitted to the upside-down life he lived in. These are parents who showed great humility and courage as they have fought for their son’s life.

Hunter has been so brave. He has gone through so much. Staying in hospitals for months. Living in a tiny hospital room. Countless needles, marrow surgery, chemo, you name it.  And with the best parents there for him every step of the way. I just saw a video of him a few days ago. He was laughing in his father’s arms. There is NO GREATER sound then a child’s laugh. Nothing that connects us to life and joy more.

I thought, this laugh cannot be silenced.  There must be some mistake about his diagnosis. A miracle will present itself. Right?

I’m not that eloquent. But even in the face of her worst nightmare Hunter’s mom is. If you read her blog you will see that. I’m just profoundly sad, and I didn’t know what else to do but write about it.

My dad use to say, “The sign of a really dull person is when you ask them how they are doing, they tell you.”

I’m pretty dull. I made it to the check out and the cashier said, “Are you okay?”

“No, I just got some really bad news.”

I can’t be light. Hunter is supposed to live.

Healing Hunter Part 2

I had linked before to my friend’s blog about her journey fighting with her son and husband to save her young son’s life. I have just read her latest entry: “Living life on the edge of fear.”

It’s not good.

I am stunned. I am so sad for them. I find it hard to believe in God when I see a lovely little boy who has fought most of his life, and now his mama is told they are out of chances. I don’t know what to say to them. I think this is such an immense sorrow there is nothing adequate.

I am so sorry to any parent that has gone through a child’s loss. My friend writes beautifully, even now.

Healing Hunter

Any gripe or complaint in life has to be dropped kicked to the curb when compared to what I think is the THE SINGLE HARDEST thing a human could go through: being the parent of a seriously ill child. I was friends of friends with a nice couple Zen and Lenore. I met Lenore when she was pregnant with her son. Her fiance Zen was taking my headshots. She already knew he was going to be named Hunter. Vivien was about one, and we had mommy talks. I later heard through our mutual friend that they had had their son and gotten married.

Then when Hunter was 16 months I got an email for a fundraiser. Hunter had been diagnosed with Leukemia. I was dumbstruck. His parents are this cool, hip couple. Attractive, kind, living a very normal life. I know there is no profile for people dealing with tragedy, but I was stunned to hear they were going through this.  I went to the fundraiser. I think like a lot of people I didn’t know what to say, how I would act… what can you say to a mother whose child lies in a hospital seriously ill? Other than I will pray for him, affirm for him, see him whole, vibrant, healthy. The only constructive thing I could think to do was bring them food.

I visited Lenore and Zen and Hunter at LA Children’s Hospital a few times either bringing food from Campanile or homemade. There is no good food at that hospital, and they are too devoted to their son to leave him to go anywhere good. I was shocked at how they had to live. Bad enough to go through the agony of seeing your precious, beautiful boy full of cords, wires, poked and prodded, but most of the time they only had half a room. They were all living in half a room. One would sleep on the bed with Hunter, the other would be on the chair bed. They had their possessions piled high. DVDs, computer, change of clothes. And separated by only a curtain, another family was going through their own hell. Lenore and family were there for 5 months. (A friend who was helping with fundraising for the hospital said, “Well, I’ve heard the families can give each other comfort.” I said, “That’s BS; would you want to share your life crammed in half a room with complete strangers?”)

Yet, they were so positive and so gracious. They said they were humbled and felt lucky because there was a chance their son would be all right, but they had seen kids there who were so ill or disfigured they wouldn’t. I was so touched by their courage.

And then joy, they got out. Hunter was better. He would still need to see the doctor monthly, but his signs were good. Yeah. His family had had it with LA at this point and quite rightly thought a healthier lifestyle for all of them was in order. So, they moved to Oregon.

One day Lenore was in town, and we met for lunch. It was great to see her out of a hospital. They loved where they lived, and even going to Portland once a month for checkups was ok as they liked the hospital more than in LA. They were paying down their medical debt to a manageable level. I was so relieved. Maybe life is like a movie with a happy ending.

But some movies have sequels that shouldn’t be made. And I got a  notice about another fundraiser. Hunter’s cancer had returned. No, it can’t be I thought, how can they go through this again? Then there was a quest to find a bone marrow donor for him, made more complicated by the fact that Hunter is of mixed race, so it’s harder to find.  Then he did have the transplant. Things were going well. More life in the hospital, then out of this hospital. Back and forth. Many visits to the ER when his fever spikes. Recently, on her FB page Lenore said all was good.

And now, his fever has returned. I am stymied by what this little boy has had to go through. By the courage of he and his parents. Lenore wrote an essay called Teardrops and Smiles on his website recently, and I asked her if I could share it here. She said yes.

It is so unfair. I don’t have the words. But these are hers.