Our worlds can turn upside down in the blink of an eye. Imagine your 22-year-old son feeling under the weather for a few weeks and unable to shake his malaise. You insist he see a doctor, one test leads to another and, within days, he’s diagnosed with a fast-moving strain of leukemia. He must start chemotherapy treatments right away, as in that day, or the leukemia will be fatal. He’ll be hospitalized for one month and then will require a bone marrow transplant to insure that the cancerous cells are eradicated.
This is what happened last week to FOF Barbara (not her real name), the divorced mother of five. Her newly ill son, her second youngest, is the golden boy. He never caused Barbara a day of grief, whereas his siblings each contributed a measure of aggravation to her life, at one time or another. The oldest were most affected by her divorce, which happened 16 years ago.
“Barbara is super woman,” said the girlfriend of one of her other sons. “She’s basically raised all the kids on her own. She treats each one like he or she’s an only child. On top of that, she’s a full-time social worker. Just when she was going to be able to relax, boom, this happens. She’s devastated.”
“Devastated” says it best. Nothing, not one single thing, can impact a mother’s life like the extreme illness of a child. “You’re only as happy as your most unhappy child,” the saying goes. Barbara has taken a leave of absence from her job so she can focus on her son and his treatment. No woman in her right mind would be able to focus on anything but her child during such a crisis. Fortunately, Barbara has the support of a loving family, especially her sister.
Nevertheless, Barbara found the time to respond to an email from the mother and dad of the other son’s girlfriend. It is one of the most thoughtful, touching notes I have ever read and I wanted to share it with my FOFriends.
“Dear M and J,
“Thank you so much for your kind words of support. I passed them along to (L, her son) as well.
“As you can imagine, this has become my worst nightmare. All that was important a week ago has become secondary. My total focus is to be able to find the best care for my son. My heart is broken but I have tried to put up a good front for all of my children, who I know share my sorrow equally.
“I hope to be able to have some positive information to pass on and welcome hearing about any success stories we can find. L has his moments of doubt, as are expected, and those are the worst. Even with our training [as social workers], it is difficult to be consoling when you lose hope yourself so I need to remind myself to think positive.
“As for our children I am ecstatic they have found each other and are making a life for themselves. I just wish they didn’t have to have these worries. I love S, as we all do, and she has provided so much strength and joy to all of our lives. I hope that we will be able to celebrate their happiness together in the near future.’
There is nothing left to say, except that my thoughts and prayers go out to Barbara and her son.