My friend’s kid is sick. Really sick.
I don’t know what to do.
This young man (I almost wrote “boy” – he’ll be 28 in 9 more days, but I’ve known him since he was 6) is exceptional. He’s funny and warm and smart; that doesn’t even matter – my friend is in love with her kid like we all are. Her heart is breaking, and I don’t know what to do. Every time we email back and forth, I close with the same tired, lame, useless “I love yous” and “I’m so sorries”.
Adam has struggled with leukemia for the past 5 years. As with diseases like this, there are times of false security when the bastard lays low and allows you a moment to breathe and look around, and then back he waltzes, right into the middle of your life.
Adam is an engineer, Purdue 2007, and is a classic computer geek/nerd. I got to attend his wedding in Indiana several years ago, and the legend was that he proposed to his lovely wife Kelly after she beat him in his favorite video game. When Adam and his brother Aaron and my two sons were little, we lived on the same quiet street. My friend Renee, Adam’s mom, and I would discuss their passion for videogames and bounce restrictions and limits off each other to make sure we were on track. Far simpler times; like we should have worried about that.
When the boys were little, and it was the big boys against the little boys, inevitably Adam would become the peacemaker and the Lego’s would once again become the domain of all 4 of them. Even now Adam’s struggle, lying in a hospital bed, is not wanting to disappoint anyone if he can’t get down his daily count of calories due to the chemo and other meds. He’s a kind, compassionate, gentle, loving man, and he’s sick, and I can’t help my friend.
On his Caring Bridge site, his guestbook is full of good wishes and good thoughts. It is indicative of how much the boy is loved and cared about to read these posts. Each time I visit the site, I have my fingers hovered over the keys, trying to think of what to write, how to say how much we care and want him to get well, about our confidence in his medical team, how spectacular we think he is. As I read the other entries, I see that my fellow wellwishers are experiencing the same writer’s block. I think about Adam and his family reading every word and the comfort they might take in the love expressed from friends, even in middle of their despair. And all of the strength that words have ever had just vanishes.
Last year, just before Bonnaroo, Adam inboxed me to recommend a band that was playing. I made a point to go hear them, and as I suspected, they were metally and weird, and just what you’d expect from a game geek/engineer/science/computer guy. But I loved it just because Adam wanted me to.
And now the hospital is home, the Candlewood Suites is home for my friend Renee, and her husband David. A few years ago, when Adam was first sick, and I was either still in massage therapy school, or just out, I made a trip up for a couple of days with Renee. She’s probably the smartest friend I have (which is saying something with the group of people I hang with!), but also one of the kindest and most thoughtful. I went up to support her and give her a massage and help her, but it was she who had girlie presents for me of lotion and candies and we ate like kings while I was there. Renee and David made the drive down to Murfreesboro for my 50th birthday party, and one of Renee’s gifts to me was an engraved wine glass that read “The Greatest Ironman is a Woman”. She has since finished her PhD in nursing and is teaching at the U of So. Indiana, and of course has had a long career in helping and teaching others.
She and I are both very expressive, so our relationship has through the years been one of many words. Long conversations, long letters, long emails, and now I don’t know what to say. I told her in my last email that I so wanted to say something profound and comforting, something to make her smile, or laugh, or think, and I’ve failed. Epically failed. It’s cliche to write it, but words are so thin and meaningless in this situation. That’s hard to take in a relationship in which words have had such profound meaning.
I love you. I’m sorry. I hate this.
Wrapping you up in a friend’s arms, because it’s all I can do.