Dearest Don Raine,
I’m not sure where to begin. I thought I could be one of those parents who blogged that could (well, blog reguarlarly for starters…) post letters to their children, but it turns out I am not and I haven’t even been doing a good job of trying. It has actually been two years since I wrote my first blog letter to you. I’m not going to apologize because there’s a delicate point to be made that perhaps all of my blog is for you. It is for me, to create and cope; it is for those who read it, to take what they will from it; and then there is you. You will become someone who reads it with the extraordinary gift of having been inside its world. To be a part of the very heartbeat that is my pulse in my fingertips at the keyboard. I don’t think about this much at all. As a writer, an artist, someone trying to survive–I don’t think about this space more than the basics. It has to just breathe on its own.
It is August of 2017 and life is complicated. We left our blue house and left Oregon. We came to Illinois and lived in a white house so that we would be closer to family. However, your grandmother Mary died this past winter. You had seen her in person only a handful of times in your short life, and then you had six months to be around her, warm up to her, and then hug and talk to her. I used your anatomy coloring book to teach you why Grandma Mary looked and acted the way that she did–one of her organs didn’t work properly. You are very tender and caring and like to comfort me when you know I am sad and miss her. You have had many questions about losing Grandma Mary but you are honest and seem satisfied with my answers. Ha!–Until you think of another question. You were not afraid to see her dead body and touch her at the funeral. Your generosity at that time was a part of my healing. Thank you.
Your father still gets his special medicine every three weeks. You are now able to pronounce it –“chemotherapy” and you can also pronounce his disease, “cancer.” At this moment in time, he is here with us every day. Solid with his warm skin and heavy weight on your bed at night, he counts from 299 to 0 so that he can tell you he loves you and send you to sleep relaxed. He helps you ride your bike. You play video games and do science experiments together. He takes you on road trips, finds parks and places to play or explore, and makes sure you keep trying at things like fishing and soccer, or reading and eating new things. You have developed a keen sense of what buttons to push and how to get what you want from him. (You know that he will give in a lot easier than mommy will).
He is with you every day unless he has to be in the hospital or he takes a road trip by himself. I have not showed you in your coloring book all of the parts of daddy’s body that are hurt by cancer. I was afraid but now I am ready. I need you to know because you have fallen in love with your father. As we take our next steps, you deserve to be a part of the conversation.
You continue to be the best of both your daddy and me…Except your favorite subject is Math. We don’t know where you get that.