Zachary

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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    { 198 comments }

    mothergoosemouse August 26, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    C, I’m so sorry. It’s unfair and wrong, and I wish there was something I could do to change it.

    Love you, my friend. Thinking of you even more than I always do.

    Carrie August 26, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment before, but I just wanted to say that you and your family will be in my thoughts today. I am almost sick reading this and I don’t know him. It is so unfair that things like this exist to happen to our children. It must be ok. It must.

    Sass E-mum August 26, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    That is every mother’s nightmare. My heart reaches out to your sister.

    Anonymous – some blogs are tough to read. IMHO, it’s good to give feedback and you’ve explained yourself.

    Anna Marie August 26, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    {{{hugs}}} I’m praying for you and your family.

    Mr Lady August 26, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I have beds, a crib, and a Wii. Bring’em over.

    AmericanMaid August 26, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    All of my love to you and your family during this very difficult time.

    rebecca August 26, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    To anon 2:11: Welcome to REAL LIFE. It’s hard and it’s scary and bad shit happens to good people. HBM’s nephew’s life is threatened and you want her to write about the fucking video store? Get a grip. And good riddance.

    Rock and Roll Mama August 26, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    HBM: Praying for Zachary, and for you to be OK till you can get there and feel better, holding your sister’s hand. Much love, L

    Ali August 26, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    HUGS. many, many HUGS.

    shane_onegoodie August 26, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I’ve been following your updates on Twitter. My prayers are with you and your family at this very scary time.

    SUEB0B August 26, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    HBM – I’m so sorry. I hope that your nephew is back to health soon. I will put him on the prayer list.

    Redneck Mommy August 26, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Rebecca stole my words to the anon commenter.

    I’ve got your back girl. Say the word and I’l meet you at the airport to watch those babies.

    Kate August 26, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    This is terrifying story. I knew a boy in 8th grade who suffered the same thing (and recovered by the way). Now as a parent I understand why my mother was so frantic at the time.

    I know that this boy will be fine too – and I’m sorry that you have to be the frantic grownup.

    slouching mom August 26, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Catherine. I’ve been thinking about your nephew nonstop. I’m so sorry. This has been some rough spell for you, hasn’t it…

    To the woman who finds this blog depressing: Aren’t blogs personal diaries? Is your life all rainbows and unicorns?

    I didn’t think so.

    Reality bites sometimes.

    Of course you’re free to read what you want.

    But kicking someone when she’s down, and doing so under cover of anonymity? That’s just poor sportsmanship.

    motherbumper August 26, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    I’m thinking of you and sending strength with love…. so is Gigi in her own way – but hers involves spit and icing but trust me, it’s her own wonderful way. xoxoxo

    Issas Crazy World August 26, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    @anon 2:11 I understand being a hormonal mess, I truly do. You are always free to leave and stop reading. But telling someone they are depressing, when they are depressed and going through something huge is so uncool.

    The Ex August 26, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Thinking of you.

    FishyGirl August 26, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    OMG, Catherine, crap. Praying for you and your flamily and Zachary.

    MissAnna August 26, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    What a helluva summer for you & your family. Lots of positive thoughts your way, I hope he gets better quickly.

    Karen August 26, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I agree with slouching mom – on principle, of course – but she also happens to be 100% right about your anonymous no-longer blog reader.
    In all else, you whole family is in my prayers – hope & healing all around for you guys.

    Don Mills Diva August 26, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    So sorry Catherine. I wish so badly I had more to offer tan my own fervent hope that everything will work out for you and your nephew.

    And to anonymous: So just stop reading already. Not being able to handle heavy subject matter is understandable, announcing your intentions and, worse, urging someone who’s nephew is fighting for his life to write something funny about the video store for your amusement is so goddamn selfish and rude and unnecessary it makes ME depressed. And angry, very angry.

    Momo Fali August 26, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    I have typed, deleted, and retyped this comment about 10 times. Nothing I can say is going to make this better, but just know there are a lot of people thinking about Zachary and wishing him well.

    Velma August 26, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I’m so sorry for this, on top of everything else that is going on with you and your family. Sending good wishes and hopeful thoughts your way.

    JanMary August 26, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Hugs and prayers.

    Heidi August 26, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I am so sorry. I will pray for your sister, that sweet baby, and you…. I agree, it has to work out. I will continue to follow you & offer any support, all bit it small.

    thespottedottoman.com August 26, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Meningitis is really scary–I had it last month and am still getting through it. There’s nothing more frightening than seeing doctors and nurses who can’t take their masks and gowns off for you, but the good news is that with watchful care, most people do pull through–the important thing is catching it, which it seems like your family has. It can be a long journey, but with all of your love and support, I suspect that he will pull through.

    Maman August 26, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Sending hopeful thoughts…

    Whirlwind August 26, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    I know I’ve replied on twitter, but I’ll say it here as well- you and your family are in our thoughts.

    Meenie contracted encephalitis two years ago when she was three. It came on suddenly and was very scary. But she started recovering in a few days thanks to antibiotics (they treated it for both viral and bacterial while they awaited test results) and was back to her normal rambouncous self withing a month and a half.

    Here’s positive thoughts!

    jessica August 26, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    I’m typically a lurker but I just wanted to take a moment to say that I hope you all find the strength you need to pull through this. I hope that your family gets a happy ending.

    asecrettobluebamboo August 26, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    I’ll be thinking of your flamily. Kids are fighters, we just need to always remember how much love and determination can change a situation.

    anon 2:11 August 26, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Oy, I made the wrong choice in expressing myself. At the wrong time. In the wrong way. Just wrong.

    Please ignore my comments that included the depressing complaint and please focus on my best wishes and sympathies for what your blog post was really all about.

    Very sorry, very embarrassed, and many more positive wishes to you and yours. I’ll be going now.

    Lori at Spinning Yellow August 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Thinking of you and all your “flamily”, including those you have yet to meet. So much at once. Ugh. Sending all my positive energy your way!

    Karen August 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    First of all, sending warm thoughts full of health, strength, and light for your nephew, you and your “flamily”

    Second, depressing?? I have to say no, not really, not for me anyway. The subject of this particular post is tragic and scary and oh hell I just want to “fix” it and wish that Life would just give you a breather so you could regain your balance, but the feeling I take away from this and your other recent posts is really awe of the fierceness, and depth, and intensity of your love for your family and your incredible ability to express it so vividly and honestly. So please don’t apologize – real life is messy

    Tootsie Farklepants August 26, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Oh GOD!!! I’m so sorry. Your poor family. My thoughts are with you. All of you.

    Corina August 26, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I am sitting vigil for you and your family. Your nephew WILL pull through. He WILL be strong once again. He WILL recover and live the life growing boy should. This I promise.

    Stay strong girl! Rely on us for your strength. Don’t worry about the depressing info…. we all have it from time to time. Sharing this is the human condition.

    Mrs. T August 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    We’ll put him in our prayers.
    I know it’s so hard for you to be the rock that your sister needs especially from far away. Sometimes the effort is almost as comforting as the action.
    Have faith, think good thoughts, and we will pray.

    Awesome Mom August 26, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    That sucks! Your poor sister! I will be praying that he recovers quickly and completely. Hang in there!

    ChurchPunkMom August 26, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    ok.. now you’ve done it.. you’ve gone and made me cry! this one hits a bit close to home..

    My SIL’s little sister got meningitis in college.. it was terrifying she was in the hospital for I think around a month and ended up with encephalitis as well from it. she was very near death.

    Then my brother got it a couple years later. I was in CA and he in FL. I had little ones of my own (as did he) and I had no way to go to him. I. cried. my. eyes. out. And prayed. Hard.

    He’s still alive and well.

    I wish I could chime along with the others and say ‘I’m sure he’ll pull through, I’m sure he’ll be fine.’ But I can’t. It’s a scary disease. But I will hope. and pray. Hard.

    and now I will go outside and stomp my feet and scream about how unfair this is for you…

    anymommy August 26, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    All my thoughts and prayers go out to Zachary and to your family. Terrifying. I know they feel your strength and love from where you are.

    pkzcass August 26, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Me? I’d be pissed if something like this happened to you and you DIDN’T share it with your readers. That’s why I read; because I’ve come to care for you even though it’s in cyberspace…

    Am praying for you and your family.

    Walking With Scissors August 26, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear of everything that’s been going on for you lately. I will be thinking about Zachary. For what it’s worth, a co-worker of mine was hospitalized for meningitis a few years ago and she came out of it just fine. I know that Zachary will too.

    Samantha August 26, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Prayers for your family. I am sorry you are all going through this!

    Cagey August 26, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    HBM,
    I have been thinking of you a lot during this silly, crappy, shitty time you are having. Concentrate on your family, we will do all the heavy lifting around here.

    Also, it is a really sad commentary on life when someone feels the compelling need to crap on someone else’s Already Rained-Out Parade. And then, that someone does not even have the cajones to put their NAME on it. Bah.

    Momily August 26, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    It all seems like too much for one family to bear. I’m so sorry that life continues to be 100% completely unfair. My thoughts are with you adn all i can say is kudos for having the courage and wherewithall to share all this beautifully and honestly. If some readers can’t handle it, then there are lots of other places for them to go.

    Jenifer August 26, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.

    egm August 26, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    As if you didn’t have enough going on . . .

    I lived almost 1000 miles away from my family when my younger brother was terminally ill. I had two kids and not a lot of extra money, but I begged, borrowed, and did everything except steal to go see him and the rest of my grieving, stressed out, exhausted family every chance I could. There’s every reason to expect that Zachary will make a full recovery, but this is one of those times when you just need to get there. For you, for your sister, for Zachary–just get there.

    May you fly on angels’ wings, my dear.

    cathy August 26, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    I’ve been following your updates on your nephew on Twitter, and I am terrified for him and heart broken for you and your sister. Can’t even imagine what you’re going through. Praying that it will all be ok because it has to be.

    And, fwiw, your blog is not depressing. It is honest and hilarious and heart wrenching and more all at the same time. But to say that it is depressing, well, you’re not giving yourself enough credit. You’ve had some heavy stuff lately – and presented the heavy stuff so brilliantly – but you’ve had light stuff in the past.

    Praying that your nephew pulls through and is fine and that you can take a breath.

    Lisa August 26, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Oh how scarey for you all. My heart is with him, you, and the rest of the family.

    Sending Prayers and good vibes.

    Bridge August 26, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    The first babies I loved were not mine either…and now one of them is also a big beautiful boy will all of life ahead of him. And so I can begin to imagine how desperate and scary and awful this is for you and your family. So I will add my prayers to all the others. May He reach down and touch Zachary. May He right every wrong in his body. And may He wrap all of you in His peace and comfort in the meantime.

    Manager Mom August 26, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

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