It's not often that I find myself at a loss for words, but that very thing occurred just the other day when I was in the process of writing about yet another job I worked where hyjinx eventually ensues. I was writing along at a pretty good clip feeling like I had the world by a tail when I stopped to look at my Facebook and my world tilted. No, it really wasn't a tilt, it was a full on JOLT and it happened just like that. To be fair, there is no humor in what I have to offer and I'm feeling like it might even be a two parter.
I saw this post on Facebook and it stopped me cold. It said, "R.I.P Nick, you are in a better place." It only took a moment for me to confirm that Nick Smith, who just turned 21 last week and celebrated with a trip down to the college he left for 2 years ago - Baylor, had passed away; his battle with cancer finally over. Nick was two years younger then my oldest and two years older than my yougest. Byron is a small town and all of the kids know each other, but Nick was a runner as is Jeff and I spent many a track meet cheering for Nick all the way to the State Meet for two years. Nick left for college an eager freshman but, it wasn't long before he was diagnosed with Leukemia and he spent the next two years fighting, learning and loving life inspite of it all.
What I find completely heartbreaking is his final posted status on Facebook. He posted this the night before he passed:
the foebodding [sic] spectre of spending most of the summer In a hospital getting sicker again is one I have neither the strength to overcome or that special someone to make the choice easier."
I am a trained hospice volunteer. I have spent countless hours with dying patients and I have experienced the gift that the dying have to offer. Even with the prophetic post, I didn't see this coming and when I found out, I came apart. Maybe it is the mother in me who grieves for his mom, maybe it is the abruptness in which I found out or maybe it is the sadness in realizing that he had so much to offer the world, his friends and family that will go unfinished. Whatever it was, my response surprised me. I found myself walking that fine line of grief. Do I remain stoic and strong so that my own child has someone to lean on ( and really, who am I fooling with that thought?) Or do I show him the depth of my sorrow and hope he absorbs the truth: all mothers feel the loss when a child dies.
Sometimes I hate being a grown-up.