Yes, the title is stupid lolcat speak but I think it sums up how I felt this afternoon on the way home.
For those who don't live in Atlanta there's a local radio station that for the past 9 years has been donating airtime and personalities (as well as large amounts of cash from the radio personalities themselves) to a local non-profit. That non-profit is the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Service at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. CHOA is a worthy non-profit in its own right but the Aflac Cancer Center is a special kind of place. The goal is to get to a 100% cure rate. They're at 80% or so right now.
So every year for two days, 750AM WSB Radio in Atlanta has this Care-a-thon to help raise money. I think last year they raised over 1 million dollars and I haven't heard the final numbers for this year.
Michelle and I never gave to the Care-a-thon until we got pregnant with Gus. At that point, we figured it was "good karma" and considered it jokingly like an MSA should, god forbid, we ever need it. Luckily we haven't but we have taken Gus to the emergency room at one of the CHOA facilities before. These people love children. They know kids. They know how to take care of kids. They are simply wonderful.
Anyway, during this Care-a-thon they often interview the various staff members at the Center. A doctor here. A nurse there. The guy who runs the place. This year they interviewed a woman who's title I can't remember but her job was essentially to partner with the children as they went through chemo and other procedures at the hospital. She helped them understand what each procedure was going to do, what their cancer was...pretty much everything during the time the child was at the Center.
Today, however she read a letter she got from a parent of a child who sadly passed away in July. That's when I realized that not all of her work was the good. I hadn't really thought about the fact that there's this 10% that don't survive. She talked about how she had to tell this girl that the chemo wasn't working and that she was going to die.
I sort of froze for a moment. I couldn't stay that way for too long because I was sitting in traffic on the way home. Then my mind started to wander. This has happened entirely too much for both Michelle and I since Gus was born. I understand it's fairly normal for new parents. Most of these wandering are absurd situations that are 1 in 1 million of things to happen to you kind of things.
I'm going to tell you how my mind wandered because in the sadness of my mind's eye, I came to realize exactly how much I loved my son.
In my mind, I am with my son as he is now - 13 months old. We've gotten new that there's nothing else that can be done for him and he's going to die.
That got me choked up. I mean literally I choked and coughed back the tears.
I have no idea what a child of my son's age would have to go through for cancer treatment but I imagined him as he is now. Playful. Happy. I imagined those last minutes I would have with him.
Would he be playing and get tired and simply lay down? Would he be in pain? What could they do for him?
For me, those last minutes went as I remember the best times with him right now. Sleeping on my shoulder in the glider in his room. I love the those times. I'd like to think he likes them too. It's our thing. Our bonding.
In my mind Gus was sleeping with his head on my shoulder as he does every night, I can hear him with his little snore. I'm rocking in the glider and he's sleeping. Then the snoring just stops. No more breathing and it's over. I keep rocking him and I'm sad but at least we had the time we did together.
Now mind you at this point I'm trying desperately to NOT run off the road from the tears in my eyes. I'm about to vomit from trying to hold this all in. I'm cursing the traffic. All I want to do is get home to my wife and son and hold them both.
When I finally get home, I step around the corner to the kitchen and Gus sees me. He has a huge grin and comes running to me as only a 13 month old who's been walking solidly for all of a month and half can. It's more of a waddle.
He throws his arms up in the air begging me to pick him up. I do.
He lays his head on my shoulder and grips my neck in the way that he does when he wants to love on me.
I burst into tears. Michelle bursts into tears. Gus senses the mood and continues to hug me. He doesn't cry. He occasionally pulls back to look at me and make sure I'm okay. We stay like this - all three of us - for 5 minutes. I tell my story to Michelle a bit later and we have another good cry.
We talked about it tonight after Gus went down. It was cathartic. It felt good to get out all of these unspoken fears about our son. About his future. About what we would do in the gravest of situations. I think it broke through a mental wall that we both had with these "terrors" about something happening to him.
We both love our son so much. In the moment that I was hugging him so tightly, I couldn't feel anymore love than I did for him and my wife right then.
That's love, folks.