A Year in Black – guest post

Got an email last week from Beth Fox who lost her son to cancer.  So this is a bereavement blog, a tribute.  The web design is interestingly different.  Learning to navigate it is its own voyage of discovery.  Beth writes at A year of Black

Spring is coming. In my house we love the outdoors, we spend lots of time hiking and walking and going to the park. Nolan was famous for bringing a sword everywhere he went and he protected all of us from the usual horrors, aliens, rattlesnakes and imaginary dinosaurs. He loved hiking and we made up names for the trails we went on and I still call them those names when I run, and I think about him and how happy he was to be outside and running around and being a kid with a sword. Now I have 2 little princesses who I take to the park, and some part of me always cringes when I go, because I am afraid. I read recently about how parents with Kids who are dying should prepare themselves( as if…) and one of the things they said was that a parent should prepare himself with answers to questions people would ask, like “how many kids do you have?” Harmless question normally. Ugh, but not at my park where there is a mecca of jogging strollers and too many sand toys, these are professional moms and they like to be social, and if you know me then you know that I struggle with general sociability. So I am afraid to go to the park because In my moments where someone is brave enough to approach me, (ok, not true! I am mostly friendly!) they always ask how many kids I have. Let me lay this out for you. I miss my son, I often don’t mind talking about him and sharing stories about him ,but strangers don;t know that, and so what then? They ask, they see your 2 girls and do you throw in a bombshell about a son in heaven or do you mention 3 kids and hope to heck they drop it so it doesn’t get awkward. Or do I lie and say 2 kids, which isn’t a lie but a technicality and feel like crap because it makes you feel like you have lost the ability to count him anymore. whew. I know I am not the only parent who has felt like this. Sometime I avoid it all together, but mainly I change my answer everyday and still nothing feels right, after 2 years I cannot decide how many kids I tell people I have.
I have learned that people take there cues from you. If you are sincere and stable about your losses, then they are too. Sometimes My answer depends on the type of person I judge them to be, wrong I know, but sometimes I wonder how I could touch someone in a moment unaware of what they might be going through. I can put surety in my voice and hope in my response. I can cover a hand in peace and I can stand up before a throng of people and say that something terrible has happened and yet there is still life and goodness and Peace. I can share hope when I can. But to be honest sometimes I can’t; some days I wrap myself in black and murmur that I have 2 girls and they are making me crazy, and then shuffle home and stare at curly hair and a big smile that I wish I could touch and I scoot myself under the covers and bury my head in my pillow and talk to God all night long because there is no good sleep anymore.
I don’t have an answer, and If i could bury my head in the sand at the park I would, but then, who would push the swings?

~ from A year of Black

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About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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