Friday, 4 September 2009

no words

There's a lady I know - a fellow Mum. Her son is dying.

Just a few months ago, he was in my son's class. One of the eldest, but also the brightest, head and shoulders above the rest in reading and maths. Reluctantly, the school transferred him up a form, to the year above, mid-term. His mother thought his headaches were part due to the change in pace, but he was happier and more fulfilled. A grand future ahead.

The tumour, in that precious brain, is deep. Too deep for successful operation, or further chemo. A young brain remembers.

Pray for a miracle, you think: beg the gods, whoever they might be, whichever faith... what does it matter when the desperation and despair is beyond belief? The instinct of a parent goes beyond rational thought. I'd lay down my life, my everything, to save a child. Wouldn't you?

I don't pray, normally. But for this Mum, her husband, this child, his sister, their friends and relatives, I'm praying. Hoping for a miracle. Because I don't know, don't dare to imagine, what I'd do with myself in such a position. "It doesn't bear thinking about", said my mother. Actually, it does. You don't just walk your thoughts away from tragedy, glad not to be involved personally. Or I don't, I find it somehow cold. Ancient peoples didn't have the head-in-the-sand, dismissive attitude to death we - in our materialistic, headonistic, society - more often than not show today. It's selfish to believe that another's tragedy shouldn't touch us. It should. Part of what being human means.

Nevertheless, I too am a tad superstitious. For example, I'm not one of those people who vehermently wish to win the lottery, to be on the end of fate's outstretched hand. After all, it can go both ways: there can be random acts of generosity by the Universe's roll of dice but also the shadow and taint of tragedy, waiting to fall on...?. It harks back centuries to be wary about wishing too much for anything you don't create yourself.

I had a dream last night: my children in a car, careering away along a country road with no-one else inside, me peddling furiously alongside on a bicycle, screaming, a sense of horrible dread and powerlessness. Luckily, as often occurs in my nightmares, in my semi-conscious state, I was then able to direct the dream (like a movie) and have a team of police in a helicopter winch down to enter and stop the car (and I made the country road straight and empty, and the children asleep so as not to alarm them).

My son's classmate's mother doesn't have that choice and there is no dream to wake up from.

There's nothing I can say to my fellow Mum except: "I'm sorry. I'll pray for you". Not even - "be strong" (how can you?) And realise, deep within oneself, once again, that it's our duty to ourselves and to our children to make the most of our time on this planet: both ours, and theirs. And to teach them that nothing else is as precious as health, energy and life itself. Let's make the most of it.

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  1. I read you comment on Wife in the North and it sounded so like me I had a peep at your blog. My theory is that frustrated would-be writers like us are at least free to get our words out there in a way we wouldn't have been in the less democratic world of publishing (don't you have to be a sleb to get a book deal nowadays?). Wife in the North gives us all hope and also encourages us in our efforts because she's just like us really (we hope!)
    On you dying child post, of course it's right to face these things head on but as I've become an uber-worrier since having kids I can hardly get my head round it. I constantly fear accidents, illness and catastrophe, as is borne out by my constant nagging (be careful, eat your greens, don't climb you'll fall etc etc). I used to by known as a laid-back person. i preferred that person, but hey-ho! X

  2. Wow a powerful reminder of what's important. Wealth is measured by those things you state at the end.

    My gosh, I don't know what I would do if it were me, but probably anything, like you say, including laying down myself . . . .