He cried in my arms. Big heartbreaking, choking sobs. “Is there any chance you’re going to be in a coma from the operation?”
My son’s understanding of hospitals and surgery is colored by growing up with the story of his father’s heart operation. I never considered how our openness about that time, that time before he was even born, would impact him now. Of course it was a terrifying experience, but we talk about it now, all these years later, in such a casual way. J was in a coma for five days following surgery to replace his aortic valve and repair an aneurism. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it worries me too. Surgery is full of risks. Some obvious and expected, some entirely unexpected.
I think it was good for him to cry, to tell me how scared he is, how worried. Some of his anxiety is for me, for the cancer, and some is for himself. “Who will make my lunch?” he asked me, and then, “I can’t go to school. There’s no way I can go to school.” I reassured him, held him, let him cry it out. I can make plans for meals and homework and school and I can reassure him that those things will be taken care of in ways that won’t impact him, but I can’t take away his fears about me.
This is when the stupid cancer just pisses me off. There is no upside to any of this. Cancer sucks.