Friday, August 13, 2010

Before my diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, 10 year-old Shammond was the one who consistently climbed into bed next to me with a bag full of books. He would stack the books on the bed, pull the covers back and nestle in for a read. When I spent four months in a Green Bay Hospital, Joe kept the children in school on Washington Island. They came to visit on some weekends. Shammond was always the first kid to reach my room. When the car docked in the parking lot, Shammond must have run all the way because he would show-up at my bedside smiling and we had time for a good talk before the rest of the family arrived. Maybe he ran the stairs.
By the time I got home in February, Shammond was living his own life, telling mom and dad that he didn't need any help and he knew how to do it (everything). I had a bed in the living room for months. Shammond would walk by without stopping. He was coping with fear uncertainty and circumstance as best he could. One day I found him sitting on the floor crying in the pantry. I sat on the floor with him, started "This Little Piggy," and played with his toes. "These toes are thirsty," I noticed. "Will you let me put some cream on them?" He nodded o.k. Later in the day he came to my bedside and climbed in with a book. When I left in mid-April for the bone marrow transplant at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Shammond stayed with his brothers Joshua, Steven and dad on Washington Island. "So, how is Shammond," I would ask when talking with Joe via cell. "You can't tell him anything. He thinks that he knows it." And, this is the boy, one who made his own painful journey through cancer with mom who gave up tie-dye shirts and wading pool fun at Hutch Day Camp to sit by my side for the central line pull. I never asked anyone to accompany me. It was all his idea.

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