Some things are better left unsaid, continued…

I’m certain that everyone of us has said something we wish we could take back. I mean you know the type of comment or rebuttal or opinion that you felt just had to be said then almost immediately knew you probably should have kept quiet? There are those comments and then there are those that later on turn around and bite us in the butt…if you are a human, than you’ve experienced this. I’m one of those people that tries very hard to not preface something I am saying with “I’ve got something to tell you but you can’t repeat it, or you can’t tell anyone…” I operate under the assumption if I say it, its out there and will be repeated…needless to say, I have learned the hard way that some things are better left unsaid. My mouth has gotten me into trouble many times…

Fortunately, when my young son, Robert, was sick I had a guard on my mouth to protect him for many reasons. When he was a patient at St. Jude Children’s Hospital for his bone marrow transplant he would often ask about other patients he had met. Robert was 11 at the time, and very smart. He understood much of what was explained to him by doctors and nurses and pretty much knew what he had to do to get out of there. That was all he cared about-getting to his 100 days post transplant to get to go home…some of the kids he would ask about were friends who posted updates about their illness online. He knew that I was writing a journal about his illness and we were connected to many amazing people in this manner.

There was one young man he followed almost daily. This young man was older than Robert, he was 16, his name was Matt (like Robert’s younger brother). Matt had gone through a similar path with his leukemia as Robert had; ALL and relapse during treatment; and now having a Matched Unrelated Donor (MUD) bone marrow transplant. I would read about Matt to Robert. He laughed at his Mom’s account of her teenage son’s recovery; the food he craved, his interaction with his family and doctors…Matt was close to his 100 days…so close. Robert cheered him on; he looked to him as his champion willing him to win his battle. Robert had never met nor even seen a picture of Matt, but he loved him and felt so close to him and watched and prayed…

As I began to read Matt’s Mom’s updates I realized things were not going as they had hoped. Matt’s Mom was a nurse, she worked at the hospital where his transplant had taken place; her updates were often very detailed medically oriented…I understood every word. I would read only the highlights…soon it became painfully obvious that Matt was dying. That his transplant had failed. I read in horror of his body’s failing days…the horror of him dying at home and what the leukemia did to his body…never, NEVER did I tell Robert Matt died. I couldn’t do it; couldn’t bare to tell my son this young man’s fate…yet I read every word. Read them like I was documenting his final days just in case I was ever in those shoes…I learned a lot. Her sharing the medical part of her dying son’s life helped me understand my own son’s plight. I became more aware, more vigilant. There was no way on God’s green earth the words that Matt was dying would ever come out of my mouth to my son. Truly, I cannot remember lying to him; but I do know that I sort of just moved on to other things when or if it came up. When Matt died, I read the words of his passing as I sat next to my own son’s bed in the transplant unit at St. Jude. I was horrified, and scared to death. Impossible. Unimaginable. Yet, it happened.

Robert’s champion the landmark kid for his transplant had died. I never said one word to my son about Matt. Never told my son about his funeral, about the last meal he ate, how horribly his body failed him—–never said one of those words.

My son didn’t need to hear those words, not one bit of them. I will say this, if my own son had survived his cancer, eventually I would have told him, because I am certain he would have asked about Matt again…but in those dark hours and days I knew better, knew those words were better left unsaid…

Being a Mom is a powerful thing.


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