I’ve always been a pluviophile – or one who finds solace in the rain – and I’m fortunate in the way that my children have picked up on this trait as well. Especially Ben. One thing I love about Colorado summers is that when it rains, it’s usually a doozy. When we hear those first drops hit against the window, we’ll run out to the car and lean the seats all the way back to watch the rain hit the sunroof. We all take comfort in those drops – sometimes breathing deep and sighing – like our souls have been rejuvenated through the precipitation.
The rain washes us clean.
Last night, I was cleaning up the makings of banana bread when I first heard the thunder. Madeline was already asleep but Ben had just laid down so I knew he wasn’t asleep yet. I peeked into his room and said, “It’s happening.” I saw a thin smile despite his not feeling well. He crawled down from his loft bed as I grabbed a blanket and headed out to the balcony. I keep a big papasan chair out there where I often write my short stories (btw, book to be completed by the end of this year, friends!) Ben wandered out and stepped over the mess of yet another fairy garden that Madeline and I are creating (I think we have an entire village of fairies living on our balcony now.)
It was pouring. Ben sat next to me on the big chair as I pulled the blanket over us. Just as we were snuggling in, he asked if we should wake up Madeline. She hadn’t been feeling well, either, so I told him to let her sleep. I kept thinking that I would take the opportunity to talk to him about “stuff,” like “How are you feeling?” or “Do you want to talk about anything?” or “Are you ready for what’s next treatment wise?” He’s 13 now and I know he’s starting to pull away from the whole concept of “Mom.” He loves me, for sure, but he’s a teenager now. There are things he just doesn’t want to discuss with me. Unfortunately for him, that has no bearing on my ability to be a “smother.” I’m all up in his business 24/7. That’s my job, after all. And given his medical history, I’m hawk-like in my attention to what he’s doing. I know when he throws up. I know when he’s having bowel issues. I know when he’s dizzy or how much he’s eating or how much water he’s had for the day, so when he forgets to tell the doctor any symptoms, I’m there to back him up. Like I said, I’m a smother.
So, as we were sitting there, watching the sheets of rain from underneath our blanket, I kept thinking “ask now.” Then something would stop me. Sometimes it was a crack of lightning. Sometimes it was listening to Ben’s exclamations about the amazing light show. For once, he was watching what was before him instead of focusing on an electronic of some sort. The storm had his full attention. And I decided that it simply wasn’t the time to talk about cancer. He deserved this. He needed a break.
Mom needed to keep her mouth shut. And my reward for that was the moment Ben leaned his head over to rest on my shoulder. The soft sigh taking his body to a relaxed state as the rain soothed the storm that was consistently battering my son. Yes. He deserved this moment. And I soaked up the weight of his head leaning against my shoulder, knowing that I am comforting him as best as I can.
For once, we were facing a storm that we could manage.
With each crack of lightning, he gazed in wonder as I admired his profile. The soft slope of his nose. The slight upturn of his lips. The deep wisdom of his eyes as he looked at the lightning with childlike wonder. And as his head hit my shoulder to relax again, I felt the downiness of his hair. I swear, for a split second, I could smell the scent of Ben as a baby. I smiled as I remembered the good of the past 13 years. How far we’ve come. How hard we’ve fought. And the fact that he’s still here to sit beside me for another day.
He kept his head there until the rain let up. We must have been sitting there for thirty minutes. He told me that he was getting pretty tired so I encouraged him to head in to bed.
Then he said, “I won’t ever forget this, mom.”
I smiled and said, “I love you so much, Ben.”
I expected him to say “love ya,” because as he gets older he’s moving away from the gooey aspect of sentiments like expressing a full dose of “I love you.” But he humored me. Or maybe he meant it because it was such a moving moment.
And as he told me “I love you, too, Mom,” I let it wash over me like the torrents of a storm. The comfort I found was more than refreshing. I let it slide over me and soak me to the point of making my fingers pruny. I closed my eyes, breathed deep, and smiled.
Before he turned to go back inside, I let him know that I would never forget this moment, either.
No matter what happens. I’ll always do my best to give comfort during the storm.
Absolutely beautiful Sarah.
I love reading about you and Ben…. this was an awesome story, thanks for sharing one of your moments….
4ever Sean’s mommy
Sarah,I found your blog a few months ago as I try to help a friend whose 9 year old son has relapsed neuroblastoma.
Your writing is so honest,raw and beautiful. It has helped me understand the world of childhood cancer. The roller coaster that it is and the uncertainty of each and every day.
I will never truly understand, but I send you the hope and strength you need to get through.
I to love nothing better than watching a thunder storm and will think of you and Ben I during the next one.
I started following your blog a couple of months ago as I tried to work out how to help and support a friend whose 9 year old son has relapsed neuroblastoma.
Your writing is so honest, heart felt and raw. It has given me a glimpse of the roller coaster ride that is childhood cancer. Never knowing what each new day will bring.
I loved this article. Highlighting how precious the simple moments can be.
Sending you the hope and strength you need to get through this. Will think of you during our next thunderstorm.
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