It's almost been 15 months since we lost Darrel to neuroblastoma, but
in one way or another I still see him everyday. Whether it be the pictures on
the walls, or slowly fading memories of him in each room of the house, he is
here/there. This was especially true when I was on vacation last week. I had
been meaning to get our camcorder tapes ready to transfer to DVDs for quite
awhile, and it seemed like a good time to begin.
Though I often look through our countless photo albums of pictures of Darrel,
it was completely different viewing and listening to the videos. There he was in front
of me again: smiling, laughing, crying, fighting with his sisters, blowing out
birthday candles, and asking for help putting together his new Power Ranger
Glider one Christmas morning. It wasn't merely a still image captured on a
piece of glossy paper, but at least for a moment, his voice seemed to echo
throughout the house once more. Since we mainly pulled out the video camera for
special and happy occasions, the moments from his brief life recorded on those
tapes were pleasant ones.
As with all things Darrel related, watching those home movies brought with them a
wide range of emotions. Though happiness and sadness were to be expected, I also
found myself feeling bad and guilty everytime I scolded Darrel on the tape for some
assorted minor misdeed. They were for the usual things you take issue with your children
for (and most of the clips I have watched thus far were before he was diagnosed
in September of 2005), but it felt somewhat wrong looking back at them now, all things
Even after his extensive treatments were well under way, we tried to keep all the kids
equal in the discipline department. Being 'fair' to all your children is sometimes one
of the difficult parts of parenting (I am unfortunately all too familiar with the Hardest thing
a parent ever may have to do). Of course, as the situation progressed, more and more
exceptions had to be made for Darrel. The constant mood swings brought on by the
various drugs, not to mention his physical condition, meant the rules were applied
differently, and different rules were applied. It was not always an easy task to accomplish,
but we somehow managed for the most part.
I recall the time Darrel went too far (there were countless such situations), and I gave him
a light swat on the bum (only the once). Enough was enough, and he needed a reminder
that it was not always 'anything goes', regardless of his illness. It was light enough to
cause him no pain or discomfort, but it did send a clear message about how
serious we were. He soon snapped out of it, and we enjoyed the rest of the
evening at home together. The next morning we were down at Sick Kids in Toronto
for one of our many regular appointments. Little had I known at the time that his
platelets had been so low that my hand print was still quite visible on his
backside. With a devilish little grin he told the nurse 'My Dad hit me'. His giggling, along
with my look of astonishment and embrassment made both Rebecca and the nurse
breakout into a chuckle themselves. I had been found guilty then... much like I felt
watching scattered parts of the videos, and every day that he is not here with me.
For the most part, watching the tapes filled me with pride, moderated with sorrow and a huge sense of loss. In the years ahead we'll be able to show the girls clips of their first words, first
steps, and many of the joys from their respective youths. I will not be able to share such
moments with Darrel, nor be able to video tape any other of his 'firsts' or triumphs
that surely would have come in a future that should have followed. The photographs,
videos, and memories of Darrel will always be intense and present in our lives, but they
will never be enough to fill the void his death created for our family.
"With a photographic memory, I could live in a time that used to be"
'Still Life' - Men At Work (1985)