Saturday, August 23, 2008

Memories for Miles

A few weeks ago I was heading out the door with Miles to go and sit with my dad while he had chemo. As Tony hugged me goodbye, he suggested I take the camera with me so that I could take some pictures of my dad and Miles, so that we could help Miles remember him. His words tore at my heart as I recognized the validity of his comment. We seem to have come to a point where we need to do and say those things which will comfort us after his passing.

Reluctantly, I slipped the camera in my purse.

I arrived at the infusion lab and quickly scanned the room for dad. I wheeled the stroller clear to the end of the room trying to find him and turned around to re-trace my steps. A kind nurse who recognized me, silently pointed me in the right direction. Dad was there, quietly sleeping. I took a moment to regain my composure as I realized that it was in fact him. I didn't recognize the thin, pale, gray man as my father. I had walked right past him.

I watched him sleep for awhile and witnessed occassional slow tears leak from the corners of his eyes, tears born of pain I'm sure. Next to me in the stroller, Miles also lay sleeping, rosy cheeked and pudgy legged. I found it difficult to comprehend these two that I love so much: One preparing to leave this world, and one just discovering all that this world has to offer. The contrast was stark. It left me shaken, and perhaps for the first time I felt the urgency, the reality of my dad's diagnosis.

Later that night I went searching for pictures of my dad with Miles. This is the only picture I have of the two of them together. Just one picture taken a month after Miles was born and one month before my dad was diagnosed. It saddens me that this may be the only picture I ever get of Miles with his grandpa. There are not many days when dad feels well enough or looks well enough to want to be in front of the camera. I wished I had recorded more of the time they have spent together.

The next week I was responsible for getting dad to chemo. Miles woke up just in time to walk into the hospital with us. We waited with dad for almost two hours before he started his infusion. I was so grateful for that time. Dad was relatively comfortable having taken pain meds before we left the house, and Miles was, in a word, delightful.

Miles, I may not have many pictures of you with your grandpa Bill, but the memory of that day is forever ingrained on my heart. As we sat waiting to see the doctor, you shared your pretzels one by one with grandpa. Usually you would take a bite of each one before giving it to him...but you shared nonetheless. You offered up your sippy cup as well, but grandpa refused. Grandpa and I laughed as you emptied an entire box of kleenex in the waiting room. Something I normally wouldn't have let you do...but grandpa was getting such pleasure in watching your curiousity.

When it came time to start grandpa's IV, the nurse had a hard time finding a vein. You kept pointing at your arm and saying "Ow" and making the sign for hurt. When it was finally over, you climbed up on grandpa's lap and kissed his arm better, again signing "hurt". Grandpa lay back in the recliner and had a hard time seeing you. You stood at the foot of the chair playing with his shoes. He opened up his feet to get a better look at you and you instantly said "boo". A game was born and the two of you played peek a boo for a few minutes. I told you to kiss him and hug him goodbye, which you did without hesitation.

We left him to rest and I chased you all the way to the elevator, so grateful for your happy spirit and the opportunity you had to brighten up a normally dreary day for your grandpa. You will not remember this day. You probably won't even remember your grandpa. But I will remember and I know your grandpa will remember. Thank you for shining so bright my darling boy.