Saturday, September 20, 2008

On a Beautiful Day in September

Friday was a beautiful crisp day of Indian Summer. Steven lost his courageous battle with leukemia.

My heart is breaking. My dear, sweet, loving Steven of the ready smile, my firstborn, is gone. I just want to lock myself in, pull the drapes and talk to no one for a few months/years. Maybe not bathe. We fought so hard. Steven was so incredibly brave and uncomplaining. He suffered everything for the hope of being a father to his children. He asked who would walk his daughter down the aisle? Who would teach his son to change the oil in the car? To be a man? I thought if I hung on tight enough I could pull him through this. The Fates laughed.

When Steven was first diagnosed and was sent to the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, it occured to me he was born there many years ago. A chill went through me. Though we have lived all over the world, it would be in that same place that he completed the circle of his given days.

The day last November when he was diagnosed, I set myself to know everything I could about the disease. When they told me which chromosone showed damage, I knew that it was one of the worst. I knew the statistics. I kept them to myself, not daring to whisper them out loud to anyone for fear of jinxing our meager chances. For two months after the transplant, things looked like maybe, could be, possibly we had a miracle. Finally I dared to breathe a little easier, to begin to hope. Then one week later, disaster struck. My worst nightmare. I had planned to bring him home with hospice care on this same Friday, to take good care of him, to find a way to continue transfusions and buy him a few more days, weeks, dare I say months? I negotiated with Hospice. I pulled some strings. You see, I would take such very good care of him. His brother is a doctor, he would help. I would get him to eat and drink. I would at least delay the inevitable. The rapidity of this ruthless disease's return robbed us of even that.

As hard as the last ten months have been, I had so much time with Steven and there are a lot of wonderful memories. That will be a comfort to me when I run out of tears, if ever I do. I just really enjoyed being with him. He was smart and quick and funny. We managed to laugh about the most dreadful things. The many, many, many nights alone at the various hospitals, just the two of us. The few weeks out of hospital he stayed here with me. The countless trips to the clinic in Dallas. No matter what indignity he was going through, we mocked it and laughed. He never complained about any of the horrors he was undergoing. That last trip to the hospital for still another chemo and hopefully a second transplant, knowing full well what was in store, the only complaint Steven had was that he just didn't know how he could take hospital food again.

I love that three of his friends came last Monday night to watch the Cowboys game with him at the hospital. They made quite a ruckus and a neighboring family member came to fuss at them and ask "Didn't they know, people are dying on this floor?" Steven found that totally hilarious. He was so exhilarated when I arrived for the night, just happy, giving me a blow by blow on the final winning touchdown. That was a scant four days ago.

My Hungarian step-daughters Lydia and Alexa flew in over the last couple of days and they were wonderful. The step-sisters were so good for Steven. Lydia took over and ran the show. Alexa was hit very hard, but we will try to comfort her. My other son David is being a rock for me, but he told his step-sister it feels as if someone amputated his right arm. As you know, there is no comfort really. Just the slow march of time to dull the edges.

One really funny scene today, if things can be funny with your beloved son growing cold on the bed next to you. A young man arrived and Lydia sort of "challenged" him at the door of Steven's hospital room. He said he was Steven's brother. Lydia was gobsmacked. She said she was Steven's sister and she'd never heard of him. Evidently he'd never heard of her either. It was Steven's half brother through his father. Alexa laughed at one point and said she had a totally step family. When she married and acquired a step-daughter, she called to apologize to me for how she had behaved many years before.

As you can see, it is my habit to handle grief and pain and troubles with wry humor. And scrubbing, lots of scrubbing. Somehow today, in addition to the painful time at the hospital, I've cleaned windows and pitched papers, sorted through Steven's belongings from the hospital and thrown out almost anything that reminded me of those terrible times, gone through mail that has piled up for months, cleaned litter pans, washed sheets and towels, mopped the kitchen floor and various other tasks. I'll keep this up for a while (poor cats, poor house). I may be begging my friends to let me scrub their houses, too.

No knitting content today. Knitting has been replaced with the above mentioned scrubbing. But I will add a photo of Steven and his proud mother the day he graduated from university...


And with his brother the Best Man on his wedding day...
Life was so full of promise then.

28 comments:

Frogdancer said...

I'm sitting here sobbing. Crazy. I've never met you....

But I'm a mother of four boys.

I've been lurking here for a while. Somehow I think we're programmed for happy endings....

You have my utmost sympathy for your loss. I know, and you know you'll get through this. You have my thoughts as you move through this new landscape.

Lynn said...

Email coming your way shortly. Phone call or voicemail later today. I am so sorry for your loss.

bookgrump said...

My heart breaks for you.

I wish there was more I could do for you, but if you ever need someone to sit by you and regale you with silly stories of the things that school children and administrators do, I'll have you laughing in ten minutes flat! I'll be practicing my one liners just for you!

In the meantime, please don't try to scrub the cat. I don't have a cat, but rumor has it, that never ends well!

{{{ hugs }}}

Jeri said...

I'm so sorry, Angela.

Micki said...

What a beautiful tribute to Steven. I know how difficult it was for you to write.

I'm heartbroken for you.

Dave said...

I'm so sorry. I don't know either your or your son, but it sounds like you both handled a terrible situation with grace and humour. My heart goes out to you and your family.

mama says: said...

Oh Angela, I don't know what to say. We love you

shawlcat said...

Angela, I don't know what to say other than I am so sorry. Your whole family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Rebecca

Natalie said...

I came by way of "Dancing With Frogs."
I'm so sorry. Our year has been marked by several family deaths... the sorrow of which have shaken me to the core, and I shudder to think what I would do if it were one of my own children.
Comfort, peace and hope... they must seem impossibly far away, but I pray you can find them again.

ambermoggie said...

Angela my heart is breaking for you (((((((((angela))))))))))
Stevens passing was made easier I am sure knowing he had his loving family around him
Please don't clean the cat, come over here and clean instead
Sending love and healing for you all
amber

pebbledash said...

I'm so very sorry.

A Pueblo Indian Prayer

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if I've gone away from you.

XXX

caramaena said...

I'm here via Dancing with Frogs. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

I know we keep saying that Steven "lost his battle" with leukemia, and it did take his body, and that's awful, absolutely terrible that he's gone from us, but, in a way, I think he "won" his battle. Leukemia broke his body, but it never broke his spirit! Think of the courage of his fight, and let's take courage ourselves.
Love, Deborah

Jen at Semantically driven said...

I'm really really sorry about your son. I can only imagine the heartache you are feeling right now.

mamaspark said...

This is my first time here visiting your blog. I can't even begin to imagine how you are feeling right now. I am so sorry for your loss. I will pray for you in hopes that you navigate through this new territory with all the love and support you need.

fifi said...

I would like to ofer my condolences for your terrible loss. What a wonderful son, and what a wonderful mother.

May you get through these sad times.
best wishes

(via frogdancer)

txknitter said...

Angela, I am so sorry. What you've written is beautiful and amazing.

Lesley said...

Hi Angela, sent over here by Frogdancer.
I'm so very sorry to hear about your son. Thinking of you.

Kim said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I was sent here by Frogdancer. My daughters died last November.

As one parent suffering the loss of a child to another, all I can say is I'm sorry, I'm here.

Anonymous said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. There's simply nothing else to say, I can't even imagine your pain.
Vicki in So. Cal.

Kate Smith said...

Oh, dear, I'm so sorry. Please take gentle care of yourself.

(And - please don't scrub the cat, they hate that).

Stilaholic Nartian knits said...

I am so sorry for you loss.

Cindy/Snid said...

Dear, dear Angela-
I have just read this and am so, so sorry. Somehow I feel that I was able to get a little glimpse of Steven through you and he seems like an incredibly special person. Be strong dear. Sending much love...

Nancy said...

My heart goes out to you, fellow knitter whose blog I've just found. My thoughts and prayers are with you -- I hope that you can scrub and knit your way through the sorrow!

Edie said...

Thinking about you and hoping you are getting through minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day. My heart breaks for you. Hope to see you soon.

Anonymous said...

I happened to click on a link here from Celtic memory's blog and have just read of your terrible loss. I am so sorry. You are in my thoughts.

Sally

Ruby Girl said...

My thoughts are with you. It was a lovely tribute to you and your son in this post.

Di said...

So sorry for your loss Angeluna. I can't imagine what you are going through, but I hope that in time, your pain eases.