A long-awaited event.
On one of the turgid Spanish melodramas we blog over at Caray, Caray!, a mother takes time out from mourning to point out informatively that while there is a name for a wife who loses her husband, and a name for children who lose their parents, there is no name for a parent who loses a child.
That's a fate my ex-husband and I narrowly escaped when our son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, a medulloblastoma, two weeks after his thirteenth birthday. In the summer of 2000, while our daughter Melina was enjoying a free trip to Israel - unaware of the situation at home - our son had a 7-1/2 hour brain operation and then commenced six weeks of radiation to the brain and spinal column (mortality rate of this cancer without an aggressive course of radiation: 100%).
Zed stood in front of our congregation and celebrated his bar mitzvah on the last day of his radiation treatment, wearing a Bukharan kippah I sewed for him when the other kind wouldn't stay on his bald head. Then he suffered through a year of chemotherapy. When we decided to take him off chemo early - because it appeared to be destroying his immune system - we vowed to meet again, five years later, to celebrate.
And so we did, last night, for a Shabbat dinner. It was an informal affair at my ex's house. His wife (have you noticed there is also not a name for the new spouse of your ex?) finished baking the lasagna while their two young sons showed off for me, running at top speed around and around and around and around through the house, narrowly missing the pointy corners of tables and counters. I counted substantially more than forty laps before we finally managed to slow them down.
It was the kind of dinner party I rarely attend any more - the youngest son, after telling me he wanted to come visit me at my house, pelted me with challah. We managed to toast Zed for his amazing achievements over the last six years, though the atmosphere did not allow for a calm enumeration. I enjoyed the event immensely, and was grateful for having been invited, but I can't say I was sorry to escape back to the eerie quiet of my own home.
As for Zed, he is spectacularly distracted these days - he's thinking non-stop about Middletown as he counts the seconds till he can get back to college, where he finally has friends who don't even know about all this unless he chooses to tell them, where he's happier than he's ever been in his life. I hate to see him go but I beam with joy to think that we all lived to see this. So many more days above ground - what a blessing. Shabbat shalom.
Technorati Tags: Cancer, Brain, Medulloblastoma, Children