Friday, April 27, 2012
It has been a few weeks since I received the call from my sister. I could tell right away it was bad news. You could hear the defeat in her voice. You could feel the grief welling up inside her little body spilling through the phone. That kind of sadness tastes metallic. She had confided a couple weeks earlier of her fears and I had responded with hope. You always respond with hope. In our family, it's hope mixed with a little gallows humor. "Kid's got a little hole in the heart...hey at least it's not brain cancer." I really thought we had this one. We wouldn't lose again. She wouldn't lose again. All the hope and all the humor couldn't stop that call. I think of a lot different things in retrospect. My father spending nights watching Elmo stroking her hand as she sleeps. My brother, ever the river marshall, making everyone comfortable, entertaining visitors before he would start his shift. My sister reveling at her daughter's spunk with her world crashing in around them. Stella being so happy and sharp when she saw the new baby on Skype. These bittersweet memories only provide a little joy before they are enveloped with pain. I cry a lot at the oddest times. Especially around the five month old. I don't like being alone with him for too long. He smiles with his entire face,oblivious to this kind of soul-wrenching loss. I feel as though I am keeping all this hidden, lying to him by smiling back but the truth can only be kept back for a while before it forces itself free. Eli must think I am a crazy man. We deal with this in our ways. Amanda denies herself deep sleep, jerking awake at the slightest cough from Eli. I planted a rose and some Stella day lillies. We hug more, but that in itself is part of the problem. If we weren't so damn close in the first place this wouldnt hurt so bad. If my sister hadn't left all those messages, I wouldn't have that voice in my head or feel so hollow for not keeping them. Tulsa wasn't a buffer,it's solitary where time carries on but you can't tell and the wound gets reopened every time you see or talk to anyone. This of course beats the alternative. Only with the help of close friends and family, will we ever have a chance at normalcy. Not that it ever fit us in the first place. My mother was right in saying life isn't fair. In no way is it even remotely fair, it just is and you deal. Travis and Amanda have lost their child, again, yet neither of them have been defeated. They are truly an inspiration, a modern day miracle, even if doesn't feel like it. I love them with all that I have and I use them as an excuse to hold everyone just a little longer. -Eric
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Eli finally sleeps in his bouncy seat to my right.
His cold makes every breath tight and charged with static.
Each breath takes too much effort.
Each breath is work.
We have all been holding our breaths for Stella.
We have held them for nearly six months.
We have kept our lungs filled with hope.
Pray, don't breathe. There was no room for air, only miracles.
We curled our fingers into fists of fury, raging at disease.
We had no time to breathe deep.
We held our breaths for miracles.
Maybe a Thanksgiving day parade of cures.
Maybe a Christmas gift of healing.
Maybe a birthday present for everyone.
We held our breaths.
And now we are breathless.
Their star was stolen from the sky.
The breath snatched right from our throats.
Time for Eli's next dose.
The medicine relaxes the grip on his lungs.
He can sleep. He can now breathe deep.
Harder for us. Grief does not loosen its grip.
Each breath is work.