Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Touch (the sense of touch) (08/05/10)
TITLE: Loving Luke Good-bye
By Sarah Heywood
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It’s a still summer night and I am helping my son die.
You lie here on the couch, my precious Luke, and sleep. I stroke your head and then your too-thin arms. Many times throughout the night you are restless, but my touch seems to calm you. Soon it will be time for more pain medicine, but for now, I touch you -- up and down your legs, making circling motions on your distended abdomen, and over and over again on your sweet face, tracing its imprint into the memory of my hands.
I have to remind myself that a year ago at this time you were a normal eight year old. I spent my days cleaning up after your dirt trail, intervening when you teased your sisters too much, and convincing you to put down the video games and go play outside. But then there was the weekend that you started stumbling around. I thought you were just being silly. But then I noticed the tremors in your hand and I knew you needed help.
I fought rising hysteria as they wheeled you off for test after test. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew it was something that would change our lives forever. When Dr. Hawthorne told us gently that you had a tumor pressing on your brainstem, I nearly collapsed. But I didn’t because you needed me.
We weathered it all this past year - the surgery, the chemo, radiation. We all got very comfortable at the hospital and despite your sickness, you shone. I’ve never been so proud of you, Luke, as I watched you battle this demon. And then there was the day, just a few weeks ago, that Dr. Hawthorne sat us down and told us there was nothing more to be done. You would never recover, you’d never grow into a teenager or a man, we won’t see you graduate from high school or get married. The demon will win.
Well, we know he won’t really win, although right now it feels like he is. I don’t think there’s been a night since your diagnosis that your father or I haven’t cried ourselves to sleep. It’s hard to accept that for the rest of our lives, there will be a Luke - shaped hole in our family. But I’ll never forget the day that you asked me what Heaven was going to be like. I tried to make it sound like your birthday and Disneyland rolled together. But then you, my precious boy, commented, “But the best part will be that Jesus is there -- right, Mom?” I had to choke back the tears as I assured you that yes, that was indeed the best thing about Heaven.
I am reminded tonight of the first night that your father and I brought you home, nine summers ago. We crept into your bedroom, the moonlight spilling a lighted path to your crib. We stared in awe at this tiny gift God had entrusted to us. Night after night, I remember sitting for hours in that same room, skin to skin with you, rocking back and forth, back and forth. You would smile a sleepy, milky grin at me and I knew you were completely Heaven-sent.
And now tonight I hold you again. I ease myself onto the couch, so that your head is once again cradled in my arms. I stroke your forehead, your checks, and your chest. I want every touch to express my deep love for you. Soon, Jesus will reach out His hand and you’ll step into the other side of Eternity. For your sake, I pray it’s very soon. For my sake, I pray it’s nights and nights away yet.
Then I will cry.
But for tonight, I hold you close and help you die, loving you with every touch of my hands.
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