So fast

On Monday, I saw my friend’s child, the one who is dying of cancer… As I mentioned in my last update, it had been a while, but even compared to what I had been told of the state of the child by others, the situation was far worse than I could have imagined. In fact, the family left yesterday for Canuck Place, a pediatric palliative care hospice, and they don’t expect to come back with that child. It’s the place where terminally ill children go to die.

I had a chance to say goodbye and I will treasure that chance forever, even though I wish there had not been this 2-month period during which I didn’t see them at all. The child is now in bed, not able to see anymore, and we don’t know for sure what the awareness level is, but there is no obvious reaction to anything. It was really sad to see, but at the same time the child still looked “normal”, was not obviously emaciated, and I’m glad my son had a chance to say goodbye.

He went back yesterday and spent an hour and a half reading stories with his friend. The mom curled up with her child and fell asleep (much needed, I’m sure) while Zak read stories to the four kids (the sick child, the little brother and our two happy, healthy, LUCKY children). It sounds like it was a nice, peaceful moment that will help both father and son to come to terms with the situation.

We will try to go visit them at Canuck Place, but we don’t know how long they will be there for and we don’t know if it’s going to work. We don’t want to intrude. But we did want to have a chance to say goodbye, and to give that chance to our son. He refused to hold hands or kiss his friend (him who is usually all about showing affection), but it’s ok. It is a weird situation for him. At least, he wanted to go back and read to his friend. And I think seeing the child like that, at the end of life, will be good for him since the last time we had seen them the child was still walking and aware of everything. I didn’t want my son to think you can go from that to being dead all of a sudden.

I know, it does happen. But I don’t need him to worry about it just now.

So here we are, pondering how fast a child can go from running around (albeit in a less coordinated fashion than usual) just after a diagnosis four and a half months ago to being in bed, blind and unaware or at least unresponsive. We always knew that a short-term death was unavoidable, but being face-to-face with it is still hard.

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