Since it's already 2011, I guess calling today the "coldest day of the year" is rather premature. I should say it's the coldest day of the winter of 2010-11. I'm surprised it didn't break a record, but that may go to the winter of 1994...when Josh was a newborn.
It was -50 with windchill the day we took him home from the hospital....in a car with no heat. We only lived a few blocks from the hospital, and he was well protected in a brand new little snow suit from his Grandma Jeanette, and lots of blankets.
Still...it makes me wonder what we were thinking. We did have friends who lived close and would have driven us.
I think I was channeling my pioneer roots. I grew up with stories of my Mom and Dad racing my brother, who had asthma, to the hospital in a wagon in the middle of winter. It was the late fifties. They were farmers on a homestead. They lived at least 30 country miles from the hospital too.
Josh had it easy.
It was -39 here this morning, and I had to go in to the city to get a filling.
I hate cold. I forgot to plug my van in last night. It was a slow start this morning, and the trani and power steering pump did protest as I pulled s-l-o-w-l-y out of the driveway.
I also had a message from a friend that her son, just in his twenties, passed away yesterday afternoon. He was first diagnosed with cancer years ago, as a teen. He battled leukemia a few times, with chemo, radiation and in the spring of last year, at the same time as my brother Michael, he had a bone marrow transplant.
He's battled GVHD (graft vs host disease), common in transplant patients, since. He had another round of chemo and radiation. You'd think, through all that, a young man might get bitter and feel sorry for himself and give up. Not this young man. Not at all. I have never witnessed a more determined and positive attitude, and I have had close contact with a few cancer patients. Michael (yes, his name was the same as my brother) would walk the halls of the transplant unit, despite the pain and side effects. He was unstoppable. He was an inspiration to the other patients, and to the staff. He walked off the unit, discharged, on time, after the treatment. He had a smile on his face and a hope in his heart. He had a deep faith and a joy.
No, he was not perfectly cheerful at all times. No human could be. But he thought about his life and his mortality, and he wanted to live every moment, and it showed. My family, watching and helping my brother through his own illness, were in awe. Along with young Michael's mom, we laughed, prayed, cried and held each other as the two Michaels fought bravely.
We were heartbroken when, exhausted of strength and will, my brother passed away in his sleep at the Tom Baker Cancer Center on May 29th, 2010. Almost exactly two years after my father had passed away, also from cancer.
We cheered young Michael on though. We transferred all our hope and prayers to him. We prayed and waited and my sister made him a quilt to keep him warm. He was left very thin and was cold all the time, so we tried to send him a bit of warmth from our family.
Yesterday I heard from his mom, my friend, Terri. Michael passed away peacefully with his family there with him. I know his family. They have great faith. They know that their son, their brother, is now in a better place. But my heart goes out to them. I think of them watching the world go on, and I remember thinking, when my brother passed away, and when I lost my Dad, "How? How can you live and laugh and carry on?" But we do, we all do. We put one foot in front of the other and we walk, and we nod, and we accept the love and we make plans and we finalize things. We give thanks that the pain is over, and we weep in our own pain, and we wonder if we will ever fully fill our lungs again.
I send out a prayer to the Maker of the Universe, to hold on tight to both these brave Michaels and those we have lost, those gone ahead. I pray for peace for those left behind.