Six summers at camp has meant six summers of “I miss you” letters. However this summer they have taken on a different tone.
“This could be your last heathy summer and I want to be with you.”
Gulp. Double Gulp.
I’m not sure which is worse: knowing he is walking around with such a profound degree of worry and fear, or that I cannot, with integrity, assure him that he is wrong (although I’m quite certain he is wrong).
What I can do, however – what I must do – is help him to make this summer incredible regardless. No small task.
I saw it coming before he left. At the time I tried to reassure him that my tumor marker was continuing to drop and that I was feeling great, not a symptom to be found.
He assured me he knew all that…
I responded to his letters from camp by explaining that, baring the random events that could befall anyone, I would be the same when he returned home especially since I was not likely to get any new test results while he is away.
He knew that too…
And then I got a call from camp. He was having fun but still struggling. Another camper was going home because he was homesick, and the staff were worried how that would impact my son. Would I please fax him a letter?
At a loss for new words to deliver the same message, I decided to take a different tack. I wrote that I love him, that I was feeling great, that things at home were quiet without him…and that there was something he could do to help me: he could have fun.
With the benefit of a pending departure on a three-day rock climbing trip, he had a great distraction. Upon his return to camp I got a call from a rabbi who had been on the trip with him. She assured me that he was doing better, that they had talked at length, and that in the end she asked him what he thought would make me happiest. His answer: she would want me to have fun.
“That’s right,” she answered him, “because a mom can only be as happy as her saddest child.”
What an honest and beautiful truth…