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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    Robbin August 26, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    I will be praying for your nephew. Meningitis is so scary and strikes so quickly. Please let us know how he is doing.

    Syko August 26, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this! Your poor sister! Bless you all.

    Anonymous August 26, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Just lit a candle for your nephew and your sister and you. Mothering covers so many people and *flamily* is so important.

    You’re a VGA, (Very Good Aunt.)

    Take care,

    Brandy August 26, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with your nephew and your entire family.

    Heather August 26, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Menengitis is so scary. I was going to school in Mankato MN when we had a big outbreak. Very scary.

    Thinking about you and your flamily.

    Barbara August 26, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Dear Catherine,
    I am sending you every ounce of positive, healthy thoughts and prayers to you and your family. I cannot imagine the helplessness you feel right now but you must have strength for your nephews, sisters and mom. And faith.
    With love,

    Amy August 26, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Love and prayers for you and your flamily.

    Vered August 26, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I am so sorry.

    Niksmom August 26, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Sending prayers for Zachary and your whole “flamily.”

    mynoseinabook August 26, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    It’s been a while since I visited (I’ve been wrapped up in my own superfluous drama) and my heart goes out to you.

    My heart goes out to your sister. You and your family have my prayers and loving thoughts.

    rhea_sun August 26, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    I agree, it must work out okay. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    Jill August 26, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    My first baby love was also named Zachary. My cousin’s son. Who over the past few years I’ve watched drop out of school, land himself in and out of jail and all manner of trouble and generally be a drain on society. And it kills me. Could I or should I have done more? I don’t know. And this doesn’t have anything to do with your pain. I do hope the doctors can work their magic on your Zachary and in the meantime I’ll be thinking of you and your family.

    southernsuds August 26, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I am so sorry! I will send positive thoughts his way. I hope he recovers soon.

    tara August 26, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I am a meningitis survivor.
    I was five when I had it, so it was easier for my little body to handle it, but that was also in 1978 when we had no idea how to cure anything. I was hospitalized for two weeks. I cannot remember most of it. I did come out of it pretty much normal though. No lingering side effects save for a bit of a change in my personality.

    If I made it through, thirty years ago, then your nephew has a huge chance. He is a strong boy. There have been huge advances in medicine in thirty years. It is terrifying, but it is possible.

    Please feel free to email me if you like. I was little, but I am happy to tell you the tiny bit that I remember, and what my family has filled in for me. Hang in there. There is a lot of hope.

    I will keep you all in my thoughts.

    fairytalesandmargaritas August 26, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I will pray for him.

    Issas Crazy World August 26, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Hugs to you Catherine and to your family. Am not much of a prayer…but am praying for Zach.

    All Things BD August 26, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Saying prayers for Zachary, your family, and you.

    Avonlea August 26, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with Zachary and your ‘flamily’, as well.

    Kathy August 26, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I’m thinking of you and I feel for your family. I can’t imagine how hard this must be for all of you. You are all in my thoughts too and I love reading your blog even if sometimes it is sad, it so heartfelt.

    Domestic Extraordinaire August 26, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Catherine, sending lots of prayer and love to you and your family, and especially for Zachary.

    jennster August 26, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    well FUCK!!! of course i’m projecting right now and thinking OMG what if this was my gorgeous, tanned amazing 16 year old nephew. i would just lose it.
    i am so sorry this is happening. my god. so sorry.
    why aren’t you going? pack those kids up and go there. or leave them with daddy and get there. i don’t know, i would go- but that’s just me. reason later. go now. not trying to make you feel bad, i just know that for me- it’s this type of thing that i would never forgive myself for not being there. but i beat myself up over shit like that.
    i’m going to stop talking now k? cause right now i know you’re cursing the screen telling me to shut it. but i love you. you know that. even if you just stopped loving me back. lol

    mommamia August 26, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I’m praying for Zachary and your whole family. If there is anything we can do for you please ask.

    Maggie, Dammit August 26, 2008 at 1:13 pm


    Why is this happening???

    Oh, I’m not helping, I’m not helping, and I’m so, so, so sorry.

    I am praying for you. Fiercely.

    Mommy Melee August 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Oh my god. Your poor family. Poor Zachary.

    You and yours are in my thoughts.


    Maria August 26, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    I thinking about and praying for Zachary and his mother. My heart breaks for them.

    Mom101 August 26, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Oh WHAT THE FUCK, you universe or God or fate or whoever the fuck is pulling the strings that are bringing so much pain into this family’s life right now. Don’t you have like some orphan to pick on? Some nobel peace prize winner? I mean seriously WHAT. THE. FUCK.

    I wish I could just do something more than send positive thoughts. Although if I can…you’ll let me know.

    ScientistMother August 26, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I am in the same city as your nephew. Tell me what to take to him or your sister and I will. Then you can be there without being there. A special CD, flowers, song or something that you would just do. I will do it for you.

    Catherine August 26, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I’m sending my prayers for your nephew’s healthy return to the universe. I think she owes your sister that at least. You, your sister, your mother are in the heads and hearts of many right now. I hope it helps keep you strong when you fear you have no more.

    beanski August 26, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I am thinking about you and your nephew and your mother and your new baby. They say it comes in threes, have faith it will get better soon.

    Vicki August 26, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I will keep him and your family in my prayers. I am so so very sorry that this is happening to you. I would wish it all away if I could just to make everyone happy and healthy for you.

    Mrs. Chicken August 26, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Living far away is so hard.

    Praying for you and yours.

    sweetney August 26, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    i’m so sorry. i’m thinking about you. xoxo

    Ms. Huis Herself August 26, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Sending many prayers & healing thoughts your way and especially Zachary's.

    verybadcat August 26, 2008 at 1:31 pm


    We should start a club. I love you. I hate to see your sad tweets and not be able to respond, cause you don’t follow me. So this will have to make up for it: you are a pillar of wisdom and strength and something of a hero to me. I believe in you. Your strength is what helps me carry on. We’re in something of the same boat right now:

    Again, I love you. It’s only interwebs love, but still.


    furiousBall August 26, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I have a Zach in my life too that is a kinetic little ball of love. Many prayers for your Z guy.

    verybadcat August 26, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Oh, and by “we’re in the same boat”, I mean the whole world crashing down around you boat. ;-)

    Beck August 26, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Praying right now.

    HeatherPride August 26, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Said a prayer for Zachary and your whole “flamily” – God Bless.

    Tom August 26, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Our son had it when he was very young. He came through fine. God bless and we’ll remember Z in our prayers.

    Mr Lady August 26, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Seriously! Hop on a plane. I’ll watch your kids. PROMISE.

    jenB August 26, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    I love you. And I too, am whipping out the praying for your family, which I do not do very often. I need practice.


    Andrea August 26, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Hoping and praying for you and your family and your nephew still. Still.

    Mr Lady August 26, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    PS: Please tell your mother this:

    My aunt in law gave up a child for adoption 40ish years ago. She was too young, in the wrong relationship, etc. None of us even knew about him until the day she decided to find him.

    She was petrified. Many of her concerns I hear in your own mother’s. She was so afraid that he would be angry, that he wouldn’t forgive her, that his life hadn’t been what she dreamed it to be. She was mostly afraid to hurt him.

    She found him. I think she actually found his parents, and they put the two of them in touch. His name is Andrew, he looks like my son and speaks like my cousin. He not only wasn’t angry, he was thankful. He understood. His life was just fine.

    He came to a family bbq the summer she found him. He held onto all of our babies, he laughed and drank beers and talked. It was like we were never without him.

    He loves his family. His mother is his mother. But he also loves my aunt, and she is his mother, too. Their family opened their doors wide to her, and now our family is much larger, and more complete.

    I hope she changes her mind, for all of you.

    Bekka Ross Russell August 26, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    What the hell do you think you’re doing, apologizing for all the darkness? Thats why your faithful readers (lurkers though some of us *cough* may be) are here, for you to pour out your sadness to. I will be thinking of you and your family tonight, as well as my own golden sixteen year old brother. Please let us know if there is anything else to be done.

    Tory August 26, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I usually lurk but wanted to add my voice to the many before me. I imgaine it is impossible to get to Vancouver so do take the earlier poster up on her offer and have her deliver something to your sister and nephew. We’ll all be watching this space for the good news we are hoping for. Thinking of you and your family.

    Lisa C August 26, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Sending every positive thought I have to Zachary, to your sister and her family, and to you.

    ❉ pixie ❉ August 26, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    I saw your twitter about this last night. I’m so sorry you and your family are suffering. My thoughts are with all of you.

    Her Bad Mother August 26, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    ScientistMother, Mr Lady – I’m working on getting out there. You’ll hear about it when I get it sorted out. xo

    Anonymous August 26, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I am so sorry to about your nephew and I wish all the best…..

    I must say this though…You are correct in saying that this is the most depressing blog in the world.

    I’m not sure which post roped me in 6 months ago, but it was probably funny, since that is what I am drawn too. I am 8 mos pregnant now and my fragile hormones can no longer fight the depression/panic attack that strikes me after I read this blog. It scares the crap out of me! The posts about breastfeeding alone are enough to keep me from breastfeeding my own baby when he’s here.

    When I wandered down to “the basement” last week it was even worse! I know that I am hormonal, irrational and unfair to write this, but I can’t take it anymore. I will not be reading this blog for awhile. I hope that very soon you are able to write about unimportant stuff like funny things that happened at the video store or something to that affect. I am so sorry that life has not given you a break yet, I’m sure it will soon. But I will not be taking the journey with you anymore, I am not strong enough.

    I wish you all the best.

    BaltimoreGal August 26, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Catherine, I’ve been reading your twitters since last night and I am so sorry. It’s so unfortunate that some people are put through so much. It seems like it all piles up, doesn’t it? I don’t know why that is, but I know you will help give your family the strength to handle whatever comes. Also, I had a high school teacher who had meningitis and while the recovery was long, he did make it back to us.

    And also, for your most recent anonymous commenter- If you have nothing nice to say, why don’t you shut the fuck up?

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