To forget any part of what my son went through, or how he conducted himself at each and every step of his battle with neuroblastoma would be deemed to diminish a short, but extraordinary life. Darrel faced every morning the same way he concluded every day...with a smile that could warm the coldest of hearts, and a determination that would not bend against odds that most adults could not even comprehend enduring. There was never a thought of giving up...never a thought of surrender. This is how my seven year old boy stood up to cancer. To forget any part of this, regradless of any emotional pain and anguish on my part...would be unthinkable and unforgivable.
Like most parents who have lost a child, I've become better over the years at hiding much of what I'm feeling inside...most of the time. I've met lots of new people over the past 5 years, be it at social gatherings or at work, that probably have no idea what happened to Darrel and my family. To dwell too much on the past every moment of every day would make it impossible to function on a daily basis, but this certainly does not mean I'm "over it".
Losing a child leaves open a wound that will never heal. If a person loses a physcial ability or limb, there doesn't seem to be a rush by those around the individual for them to "Get Over It". There is almost always compassion and understanding, as others try to empathize and relate to what has happened. This is not the case for us parents. We are supposed to "Get Over It" according to someone else's timeable. This is not how it works!! We learn and we adapt to the "new normal" as best as we can, but "getting over it" is a luxury and option we will never have. While nobody can relate to how this feels without going through it themselves, they should at least not be so quick to judge how those of us that have chose to deal with our loss.
Much of my free time is spent on Facebook or Twitter attempting to spread awareness for childhood cancers in general, and neuroblastoma in particular, or writing Blogs such as this on Darrel's Playground or other sites. Because of time and other personal commitments, I do not always participate in as many events as I might like to, but I still think what I do does make a difference. At the end of the day, it helps keep my sanity (I think), which after all we've been through, is an impressive accomplishment in itself.
In addition to sharing with other parents through Blogs and other Social Media, there are online Support Groups available specifically addressing Child Loss. Like Support Groups you can physically attend, it is often more important to listen to others than personally contribute all the time. People in our situation really need some empathy from those around us...not pity, not
fear, and not being treated as an outcast by those we once called friends. If talking to people who I probably never meet face to face helps us both mutually get through the days and years ahead...so be it.
No two situations are exactly the same when it comes to childhood cancer, regardless of type of diagnosis, place of treatment, or the financial situations of the lives turned upside down by the disease. There is no one doctor, book, video, or meeting where you get all the answers to your
questions, as each and every day brings endless new questions...and some of them may never properly be answered.
With Darrel, like all other parents, we tried to make the best decisions we could, for our son and family, when they needed to be made. You can not make neither a long nor short term plan, as everything can (and usually did) change in an instant. To say that each day brought a new adventure is putting it too mildly. We do not need others to second guess these choices that we have made, because, regardless of the outcomes, we are already continually
re-examining every single moment in our own minds each and every day, whether awake or
sleeping. In addition to losing our children, this a a never ending battle we must face. The "What Ifs" never have, and never will entirely go away. The dreams Darrel had, and we had for Darrel, while never given the chance to persued, will not be forgotten.
Five years ago today, I held my seven year old son's hand as he took his last breath...
NEVER...EVER...TELL ME TO "GET OVER IT"!!
Love and Miss You Little Man