I dug around a little bit trying to find information on what this holiday is truly about but came up with nuthin’. So I guess I have to wing it.
All I can imagine is a large table surrounded with manly, muscle-bound men, boldly laughing with their comrades, tearing through gigantic turkey legs and drinking large mugs of frosty beer (kinda like the “Gaston” character from “Beauty and the Beast”, but not in cartoon form). My initial thought isn’t “Mmmm, look at all these gorgeous, studly men,” it’s more like “who’s going to clean up all this mess?” or “You’d be a lot more handsome if you’d wipe the carnage of turkey leg from your beard.” Kinda takes the romance out of the feast of fabulous wild men.
I have a list of Hollywood Stars that I call my “Top 10 Kissy-List”. This list is comprised of the top 10 movie stars that I wouldn’t mind locking lips with. I guess I should state that I used to keep such a list. Honestly, I haven’t updated it in quite a long time. Either I’ve grown up and have lost interest in such things or I’ve simply had other things on my mind. I’ll go with the latter.
This list has four permanent residents and then six who cycle off and on, dependent on recent video viewing history or any new-comers to the scene. The four who always stay put are: Johnny Depp, Ben Stiller, Harrison Ford and Paul Newman (there is no requirement on whether they are living or not – and since I have no real opportunity to kiss any of these people it doesn’t matter if they’re currently alive or simply with us in spirit. Just to be clear, though, I won’t kiss a dead or decomposing person, no matter their status on my kissy-list).
Ben Stiller, you ask? Oh, my. Yes. He is adorable. He is hysterically funny. And despite the fact that his body is probably really hairy (I’m just guessing) he seems to be the type of guy that you would do really silly stuff with. And I love the idea of that. I love to be silly. As for Harrison Ford, I’d just like to have an entire conversation pretending to be Chewbacka to his Han Solo. Johnny Depp? Well, what can I say? He is, after all, the current sexiest man alive (according to “People”)Â and probably doesn’t allow turkey leg carnage to live in his beard for long. And Paul Newman. *Sigh*. Sexy. Not to mention the Founder of the Hole in the Wall Gang camps for critically ill children. I just want to know what his aversion was to the tune “Lady of Spain” ( If you get this reference, you TOTALLY rock.)
My silliness is a trait that I’m missing these days. It still shines through, usually at completely inappropriate moments or during a high stress situation, but I’m not able to pursue my silliness to its fullest extent. Remember that book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff)”? Well, I’m thinking the writer of that book never had a child with cancer. There’s just no way that I can view my son being bullied by a ridiculous disease “small stuff”. I try to be positive but there’s no denying the fact that this is a life-threatening illness. And often times my silly attempts to inject humor into this horrific situation just seem ridiculous. It all seemed ridiculous yesterday as I had my major melt-down at the hospital during Ben’s first radiation session. I tried to be silly for Ben’s sake. I tried to be silly to relieve my high anxiety. I tried. And seriously failed. It’s just too serious a situation to be silly.
I hated it. Radiation is horrible. The re-marking of my son wasn’t so bad. After all, I had already seen him go through that before. It was the actual session itself. Taking him into a big room with a gigantic machine. Watching them line the lasers up with the marks they’d just put on him. Telling him to stay as still as possible. Looking at his teeny-tiny frame laying in his personalized body mold (hey! I wonder if we get to keep that after therapy is over?) and watching him look around the room, taking in everything in this new environment. He was particularly concerned about the hole in the machine that was placed right over his head. It freaked him out a bit until we decided that the etchings around the perimeter of the hole looked like Legos. That seemed to calm him down a bit.
The hardest part was leaving him in that room. I leaned over to kiss him, he gave a soft whimper that I interpreted as “Don’t leave me”, and I was forced to put on a smile, straighten my back and say “See you in a bit!” with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. As soon as my back was to him, the tears started to fall. I walked out into the hall and sat where they directed me to sit. I watched people’s feet shuffle past. I heard voices murmuring. I heard machines whirring. I felt absolutely helpless. And completely sick. Then the door shut. A door that was as thick as a castle wall. Heavy. Impenetrable. Foreboding. Separating me from my baby. I knew he was scared. I was scared. And I couldn’t get to him. He was all alone. I honestly felt my heart crack.
My tears continued to fall silently. Me, sitting alone in that hallway. Holding in the tears just added pressure to my body. My lips swelled. My heart raced. My eyes stung. I wanted to run outside and shake with hysteria but then I might miss the moment that horrible door opened to reveal my little Bean. And I wanted to be right there to calm him. To calm myself. To touch him. To see that he was okay.
And when the red light went off and the door opened, that’s what I did. I raced in to my Ben. There was nothing noticeably different. He seemed to be okay. I lifted him up and carried him over to get his clothes. I continued to hold it in until I just couldn’t do it any longer. Then I shook. I cried. I could no longer muffle the sounds of despair. I felt horrible melting down in front of my son but the meltdown didn’t schedule this appointment. It just showed up. Rescheduling was not an option. And while the child with the life-threatening illness soothed his mother, the sweet release of pain took over.
I think my meltdown prompted Ben to have one of his own later. I always hate to see him upset but I think he needed to let go of some of his pent-up emotions. At bedtime, he started talking about wanting a normal life. He wanted to be just a regular kid. Go to school. Play with friends. Be normal. He cried. I soothed. He got mad about his little friends who have died. I just held him as he talked about it. Told him to let it out. Told him that he has every right to be mad and sad and anything else that he’s feeling. Then it came again. The question. “Mom, am I going to die?”
“Ben,” I started with a shaky voice, “just because a lot of your friends have died does not mean that you will, too. We will fight with everything we got. Do whatever we have to do. Go wherever treatment is available. Because I WILL NOT let you go.”
I will not let him go. It’s the fight of my life to watch him fight for his life.
Then we made plans to make a flip book of his hair growing back in. Each day, we’re going to take a picture of Ben. We’ll put all the pictures in order and make a little flip book to celebrate the return of his hair. We’ll make some copies and give them to kids on the oncology floor to help them see that their hair will most likely grow back in… just give it time.
Every little thing is gonna be alright. Ben’s hair will grow back in and with a major miracle, he will participate in next year’s “Feast of Fabulous Wild Men”. And the next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. Infinity. Because I’m not letting go.