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An Unbearable Truth

August 8, 2009

I get ready to send a reply to Diana, maybe Miles’ words, “Keep fighting,” or “We’re praying for you,” or “Stay strong,” but all words seem trite, absolutely useless. No child should have to suffer like this.

 

Less people lost their jobs last month. The stock market has risen as the fear of economic depression decelerated. John Hughes, director of two of my favorite films from the ‘80s, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, suddenly died at age 59 of a heart attack.

            None of this matters when you wake up to an email like this: “Since my last update, things have continued to deteriorate rapidly for little man. When his arm isn’t hurting, his leg is hurting. When his leg isn’t hurting, his head is hurting. We have him on enough pain medications to choke a horse and still he continues to be in pain.”

            Diana wrote the update about five-year-old Noah and sent it to her friends and family at 1:50 a.m. I’m on the list and found it first thing in the morning, learning more excruciating details about Noah’s descent into the hell of cancer.

            Scott and Diana met with Noah’s Palliative Care team who told them that Noah knows what’s happening to him. He knows the truth that he is dying.

            “They also feel that he is scared of being without us,” Diana wrote. “He freaks out if he can’t physically see me. I have to tell him where I am going and exactly how long I will be gone. His best friend, Christine, has been here often and he cries every time that she leaves. He wants her with him all of the time. He has told me that he loves me more times than I can tell you. I keep reassuring him that I am here for him. I hold him or sit and hold his hand. I just want to make sure he knows he is loved and not alone. When he sleeps, I cry. When he is awake, I try to treat him like I always have.”

            I get ready to send a reply to Diana, maybe Miles’ words, “Keep fighting,” or “We’re praying for you,” or “Stay strong,” but all words seem trite, absolutely useless. No child should have to suffer like this. I stare at the words from Noah’s mother. “Yeah, this is more difficult than I could ever give accurate words to, but figuring out how to live without him is going to be much harder.”

            I sit quietly at my work desk, unable to move. I think of Nancy Levin approaching the two-year anniversary this month of the death of her son, Miles. I imagine the agony she has suffered for the last four years and what Diana and Scott will soon have to bear when their only child is taken from them.

            There are no words to accurately describe the unbearable.

            No words. None.

 

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