Thursday, October 9, 2008

And the trees are stripped bare of all they wear

Jason was a happy-go-lucky guy. We met in high school and have been fast friends since. He always wanted a whole bunch of kids to play guitar to. He met Michelle, cute and bubbly. She shared his dream. They bought a mini-van before she was even pregnant. One year later, their bouncing baby boy, John, arrived. Then Michelle got post-partum, and it was terrible. It stole her away for almost a year. She came through and they decided to have another. One year later, gorgeous baby Mikela was born. I held her in my arms, drank in her sweet baby smell, caressed her little fingers. Michelle told me she woke up one morning in October, just before Thanksgiving, a bright and sunny day and thought "I am happy."

The next day, Mikela turned three and she asked her daddy to carry her downstairs to watch cartoons. Michelle just had a deep feeling something was not right. Mikela had been irritable and cranky lately, not her usual sunny self. She remembered how Mikela's eye looked a bit "lazy" in some of the latest photos. They took her to the hospital that day. The doctors listened, reassured them all was fine, over-reacting. Michelle would not let it go. To ease their fears , they ordered a cat-scan. There it was. A big gray mass nestled in the brain. A diffuse pontine glioma. Inoperable.

Mikela started radiation treatment right and started collecting the bravery beads they give to children undergoing treatment. They juiced organic fruits and vegetables for a year. They saw every specialist. They tried every alternative and medical therapy recommended or mentioned. She rebounded. They did not want to check her again because if it was still there., there was nothing they could do. Jason & Michelle felt she suffered enough. She was happy and seemingly healthy and it looked like they got their miracle. She was flourishing, the picture of health, smart as a whip.

They all woke up again another bright and crisp October morning. It was Mikela's fourth birthday and she was having a "Princes and Princesses" party. She started to vomit. They knew immediately. The doctors said 4 months but she got sick very quickly. She started to have trouble walking, she lost most of her hearing, her vision was starting to fade. The horrible mass was growing quickly.

Everyone called and offered the words "If there is anything i can do..." So I went. I just went for the day to do their laundry. I knew I had to make an offering. I had to do something. For myself perhaps. There she was lying in bed. A lovely light-filled room on the main floor they had switched her too. No more organic juices. She was eating Oreo cookies and watching a Disney Princess movie as best she could, volume cranked up. The morphine for the pain was making her sleepy. She asked her mom if they could go to the zoo later.

I went outside to wash her window. I wanted her last view of the world to be clear. She saw me outside washing the window and giggled. Michelle told me later it was the last time she laughed. The day started to get darker. I walked into her room and lay down in bed beside her. I stroked her hair and talked into her good ear. Told her I had to go home to see my own little girl. I said I'd come back tomorrow. She waved good bye. I called the next morning and Jason answered the phone. "She's dying, she hasn't opened her eyes in an hour, and her breathing is shallow".

That was 4 years ago today. I held her in my arms the day after she came into the world and the day before she left it. I felt privileged. People always say children who are dying are brave. She was. It made it harder to see.
Peace my angel.