This past Sunday, April 18th, was the sixth anniversary of my fathers death and got me thinking about it again. Our daughter, Alexandra, was only 4 months old at the time. My dad made it just long enough to meet his first grandchild and visit with her a few times before the complications of MS took him from us. She doesn't know it, and probably wouldn't understand right now, but she was the one person that got me through the most difficult time that I had ever faced. A new life that gave me the hope and the strength to deal with a huge loss. Now six years old she is growing up to be a granddaughter he would be proud of. She's my #1 little girl.
It's hard to say which was worse, losing my dad or finding out that my son would be battling a potentially life-long disease, but I'll settle for a tie with the disclaimer that each one has it's own unique issues, just so that I don't have to dwell on the choice.
Throughout his hospitalization, starting school, working to find our new "normal" and even now, there is one person that I look up to for strength and reassurance. There is one person that proves to me that when it comes to keeping the D at bay, life goes on despite the extra care and management. When it comes to facing this with a healthy reverence and an intrepid presence, Jonathan is my shining example. With the most at stake in this and the one to have to carry the burden, he goes on like nothing ever happened. He understands that pokes and shots are necessary, accepts it as fact and routine, just does it and moves on as if it was nothing more than a brief pause. As I wrestle with the "what ifs" and contemplate the down-sides, I suspect that his youth and innocence go a long way towards a naivety that allows him to go day to day without comprehending the horrible potentials of this disease. Even though he lives with the monster, he's just business as usual. He's my #1 little guy.
As he grows and learns, I'd like for him to be able to maintain that apparent objectivity even as he adjusts his views and opinions based on his experience and education. I hope that as he matures, he'll be able to preserve a little bit of that child-like clarity to help keep things in perspective.
Two of the worst things that I could imagine happening, and two kids that got me through it. I owe them a debt that I could never repay. I could try and explain it to them, but I don’t know if in my words they'll ever really understand how much I rely on them.