August 26, 2008

He was the first baby that I ever loved. He was the boy who taught me that I could love and care for someone much smaller than myself and still be myself. He was the reason I decided that I wanted one, maybe two, of my own (I will always be grateful to him for showing me that such love is possible, that the feel of one small, precious hand in one’s own is enough to fill the heart to busting, to satisfy it for an eternity). He was four when he toasted my husband and I at our wedding: TO FLAMILY, he said, raising his little glass of milk. To flamily. His name is Zachary, and I adore him.

Until two days ago, he was vibrant, beautiful, all tanned legs and arms and muscle and tousled hair, the very picture of unbridled boyhood in its sixteenth summer. Then it all turned. One minute he’s getting ready to go to his summer job, the next he’s vomiting in a clinic, the next he’s crumpled on the floor of the hospital, unable to walk. The next he’s medivacced to Vancouver, to a larger, better hospital, to specialists, to a place where they try to make sick children feel better. Beautiful boy, crippled and hurting and scared.

He’s fighting for his life, for his body, with his body. It’s meningitis, and it’s aggressive. It’s wrapped itself around his spine and is attacking, circling its way like a snake, inching its way to his brain, licking at him with a poisonous tongue. He’s paralyzed, and he’s scared, we’re all scared, and we don’t how this is going to go.

I am so worried that I feel physically ill. I desperately want to see him, and to see my sister, who has already suffered so much, and to just wrap them in my arms and squeeze, hard, hard as I can. But it’s complicated, and I can’t just jump on a plane, because I do, now, have my own children, and it pains me desperately that I can’t just rush home nownownow to my family and be there. And hold my Zach, and tell him that it’s going to be okay.

Because it will be okay. It must.

It must.

(Oh, hey! Welcome to THE MOST DEPRESSING BLOG IN THE WORLD. Bring your Zoloft and your Xanax and your vodka and stay awhile! I don’t have the violin soloist going – YET – but in the meantime I have some lovely, sombre chamber music rolling on 8-track in the background. Do, stay. Misery loves company, especially if it brings liquor.)

(Am feeling just totally defeated, and really fucking tired of all the SAD and the HEAVY and the LOW.)

(I can has hope nao plz?)

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    Rusti August 27, 2008 at 11:01 am

    My thoughts & prayers are absolutely with you and your entire family… Hoping for a quick and full recovery… {HUGS}

    Tracey August 27, 2008 at 11:11 am

    My prayers for your entire family…. I’m so sorry…

    delaneydiariesmama August 27, 2008 at 11:30 am

    I’m so sorry. I’m praying for your nephew, your sister, your family, you.

    Anissa Mayhew August 27, 2008 at 11:32 am


    I know the fear for a child’s life is crippling. We have been there, we never leave THERE, really. I’ll be praying for strength, comfort and healing.

    I’m so very sorry.

    Anonymous August 27, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    I am so very sorry to hear about your nephew. Thank you for sharing it with all of us, so that we can send tons of positive energy his way. I hope you are able to be there soon. I am thinking of all of you!

    justmylife August 27, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Your nephew and all of your family is in my prayers!

    Keely August 27, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I’m five months pregnant with my 2nd child – and I’ve got to say that my heart aches for you…. as a new reader/blog friend, a woman, a mother, and a daughter. What you and your family have been going through lately keeps me coming back because I cannot imagine what it would be like to go through what you are and not be able to write and vent and ask for understanding and support. Hormones or no, I keep coming back because I admire your strength and integrity and openness and I want you to know that your words give me courage to deal with things I’d rather not.

    Sending love, support, prayers and healing thoughts to you, your family and especially Zachary.

    just beth August 27, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve been following you on twitter, too, and have been holding my breath for you and your family. You take care.



    Anonymous August 27, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Sending you and your family warmth and light. And prayers, many, many prayers.

    Anonymous August 27, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Is that Kamloops (my home town – I recognize those scrubby hills anywhere) I see in the background? It’s good that he’s now in Children’s. RIH is fine, but Children’s is exceptional. He’s getting the best care.

    If your sister needs any help in Vancouver write a post and I’m sure there are dozens of us Lower Mainlanders who will be happy to help in any way possible.

    Schmutzie August 27, 2008 at 3:43 pm
    LD August 27, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Oh my– I don’t pray that often, but I’ll be praying for your nephew.

    fruitlady August 27, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Sending you and your “Flamily” happy and healthy and healing thoughts from Denver, CO.

    Miss Grace August 27, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Every day I come here and I read, and lately, every day it makes me cry. But I keep coming back to read, because my heart truly goes out to you and yours.

    Vicki August 27, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Consider all of us readers/bloggers/friends to be there with you holding you up. Lean on us and let us be your strength because everyone needs someone to help hold them up at times like these. Hold your chin up high knowing that we will be there to help you lift it when you need us. We all love you and wish you and your family and all your extended family nothing but the best.

    GIRL'S GONE CHILD August 27, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Sending you and your family love, strength and lots of hope for a swift recovery. xo.

    J from Ireland August 27, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Oh my God, the poor boy. Thoughts and prayers to you all.

    Marinka August 27, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    I’m pulling for him, and you. Take care of yourself.

    Green August 27, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Checking multiple times a day to see a (hopefully positive) update on your very special flamily member.

    Kaza August 27, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    It just sucks and it’s wrong and I have nothing to offer but prayers and a big bottle of Vodka. ((HUGS))

    GeekMommy August 27, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Adding our prayers and good thoughts here… Hoping Zachary is looking back in a couple of years laughing as he tells a beautiful girl about this one time when he was so sick everyone thought he was going to die, but it turned out he was just fine… so that she oohs and ahs and falls for his charming ways and his dashing bravery.


    Hang in there.

    Mitzi Green August 27, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    jesus christ. thinking about you and your family.

    abbyjess August 27, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    He will get better… With the love he is surrounded in, he just will.

    Carmen August 27, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    My fervent hopes and prayers for a quick recovery for your nephew. Oh, my goodness…so much heaviness on your heart lately, it seems…The hard times feel so much heavier when we’re really tired too. My heart goes out to you. May you be lifted and encouraged by love, good wishes and prayers.
    Oh, and, your blog is not the most depressing. It’s real.

    Cameron August 27, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Read daily…never replied yet. Wanted to let you know I am praying hard for Zachary. I have a nephew Zachary too and he taught me how to love and want one of my own. May God be with Zachary and make him well. I can tell how much he is loved.

    Many prayers and blessings,
    Martinsburg, WV

    Mommato2 August 27, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    As a Mom, I totally get the desperation and fear your sister is feeling. Please send lots of love and prayers to her from my family.
    Hugs to you all.

    Jenn August 27, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with your nephew and his family, they are with you and yours. May he be granted a full and speedy recovery.

    My heart aches for the fear you are facing.

    elle August 27, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Thank you for writing this amazing blog. I am inspired by your openness and eloquence and ability to acknowledge and feel both despair the and the joy that is this thing called life.

    I am sorry for your difficult times. The hard times will not last. Here’s hoping it gets better soon.

    ( I bet Catherine accepted the apology of the person who wrote the not-so-nice comment, so hopefully the rest of us can too.)

    Professional Critic August 28, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Oh, no. No, no, no. Not okay. Universe, take note and clean up this mess, post haste.

    Michelle August 28, 2008 at 2:40 am

    Every time I even try to think of something comforting or kind or even witty to say to one of the several posts you’ve produced over the past week, all I can do is cry.
    I am left sitting, staring at my screen, weeping and sobbing.

    Zachary will be alright because as you said, he must be! And the universe is NOT going to dish out any more pain to you right now lady. I deem it to be so.

    I can’t offer you a damn thing. A shot of vodka? A handful of my xanax maybe? But that pales in comparison to what you’ve offered me with your writing.

    I want you to know that after I read your posts about William Frederick Hunter, and Beaner, I posted something to my own blog that I never, ever thought I’d have the courage to put it print. I blogged about the pain that my father had been causing me for the past 37 years. And while it may offer you little consolation, I want you to know that there is no doubt in my mind that if I had not read your posts of last week, I NEVER would have gotten that out.

    So, thank you. And I am sending every iota of positivity I have to your little space in the world.

    -The Shiny Happy Mama- August 28, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Keeping Zach and your family in my thoughts. So sorry that this is happening to all of you. xoxoxo

    Mad August 28, 2008 at 9:24 am

    I’m so sorry Catherine. Godspeed in your travels to get there.

    jill August 28, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Have been thinking about you and your family even though I know you only from Twitter. Checking in to see how he’s doing, and saw your Tweet. Just so you know, total strangers are following and hoping for the best.

    Anonymous August 28, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    I have just found your blog through Motherhood Uncensored and I can’t tell you how touched I am by everything that is going on in your life. I, too, have a 16-year-old nephew who I love and adore more than the world and who loves and adores my little girl so much it makes my heart sing. I can’t imagine if he became sick, the anguish I would go through. Please know Zachary and your entire family are in our prayers tonight and every night until he comes home healed.

    ilinap August 28, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I spent 10 years volunteering with pediatric bone marrow transplant patients who were terminal and facing their last ditch efforts of treatment. Any story dealing with sick kids makes my heart ache. Due to my humbling volunteer experience, I hug my boys a little harder everyday. My prayers are with your family. Those are some pretty special boys your sister has.

    Kat August 29, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Holy CRAP, woman! Lotsa heavy, but you’re beautiful to post, and to write so eloquently, and each one of these heavy things strikes a chord with me. No violins needed. Or Zoloft. I just imagine if this were to happen to my god daughter – my first baby love, and I couldn’t bear it. He’s in my thoughts. He is well. Do post an update at some point.

    Laura August 29, 2008 at 11:12 am

    MATILDA means mighty battler
    MILLIE means labour of strength
    MEGAN a fine pearl

    or how about MIRA…short for miracle.

    no matter what her name, she is one blessed little gift. This story reminds me of how through struggle, there is always great love and miraculous discoveries. As a friend just reassured me, “Take Gods gifts when they come. They are wrapped in mysterious ways.”

    Laura August 29, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I’m an ass. That should be MY name. Let me re post the last comment in its correct spot!

    kia (good enough mama) August 29, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    My thoughts are with your sister, you, and especially Zachary. What an ordeal. No mother should have to see her “baby” suffer. I hope they can figure out what’s going on and fix it as quickly as possible.

    Maggie August 29, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Sending love and prayers – you and your nephew are in our thoughts.

    Fairly Odd Mother August 29, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    So very sorry for your sister, for you, for Zachary and for your family. I hope that this all turns out all right and that he feels the power of all of our well wishes, beating back the bad.

    Andrea August 30, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this awful news, but I am praying for you and hoping that things turn around quickly. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I wish I could do more.

    crunchiemummy August 31, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Nothing more to add other than I am so sorry. I hope that your nephew gets well soon.

    Deidre September 1, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I just found your blog through the blogher network.

    I will be thinking of you and your family – it is so hard to be away from the ones you love.

    I, too, know what it is like to fall completely in love with a nephew.

    Ruth Dynamite September 5, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Good freaking God.

    I am with you, C. I am so aghast at all of this – and wishing you and your sister nothing but hope and peace and health. Oh I hope…

    Anonymous September 15, 2008 at 3:04 pm


    reallyIamagoodmommy January 11, 2009 at 2:04 am

    I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself tonight, and then I read your blog. I am so, so sorry for what you and your family are going trough. I can’t imagine being in your sister’s shoes.
    I like you have two beautiful children, a son
    (6) and a daughter (5). I often think of what it would be like to have a third and wonder if I want to mess with my perfect little family.
    I was slighty depressed today over what now seems to be very petty things. Your blog has made me realize — if not only for the moment — just how lucky I am.
    I send out all the love, prayers, and support that a stranger 1000′s of miles away can send to another in need of such support.
    I will be donating what I can for Tanner. I wish all the health, and speedy recovery for Zachary.
    I have dealt with a lot in my lifetime; however, I could not imagine what it would be like to deal with even the thought of loosing a child.

    Sincerely, sincerely,
    Mom of Two

    Iheartfashion January 26, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Why do some families get hit so hard? Your sister must be at her wit’s end. I’m praying for your family.

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