This time a year ago was a big day. My daughter had her first child a year ago today.
One year ago today, I had spent the day in the hospital, joining my daughter and her partner in the birthing room. Kevin, my husband, was alive, and he spent the day with his sister. She’d come over to keep him company until the “news” came through. It was a lot longer of an ordeal than we had expected. I had gone over around noon, having been told that my daughter had been induced. The intent was for a natural birth, but there were complications. When I could, I left the room to update Kevin; he waited and waited by the phone.
Our grandson finally arrived in the early evening, somewhere around 7:45 pm, and I happily made the call to let Kevin and his sister know. It was a heartbreaking thing, making that call. Kevin was so sick, and so sad that he couldn’t be part of the event. The day had taken a tremendous toll on him – I could tell when I got home. It had been too much, and I had been away too long. He was good about taking his pills, but I was better at making him take them and take them with food.
Such a happy, happy day – it always is when a child is born. It turned into a tragic one as well, for while my daughter was busy giving birth, a good friend of my husband’s, a friend he had taught with for many years, was dying. In the same hospital, on the same day. Kevin didn’t find out until later the next day. He had wanted to go to the hospital to see our daughter and the baby. It was exceptionally hard, he was exhausted, as well as fearful of picking up something his body couldn’t fight off while he was there. But he managed to get there, hold the baby; and then we headed home.
He found out about his friend later that night. A heart attack. It diminished Kevin, just hearing the news. He seemed to physically shrink. Here he was facing his own mortality and one of his dear friends had met his. Unexpectedly. In the next week, Kevin would help his friend’s wife select the music to play at her husband’s funeral. He also insisted on going to the visitation. A friend of ours called ahead to the funeral home. When we pulled up, everyone stood aside to let us through to see his friend’s wife. No waiting. So kind of them, so important to Kevin to go. He was a good friend to those he loved.
I didn’t know it at the time, none of us did, but this would be the last month of Kevin’s life. His neck had been sore for a while, and finally he decided he’d do another round of radiation. I think he hoped to buy more time to be with his grandsons. But all hope was lost; cancer had spread throughout his lymph nodes and his neck, so painful, started to swell.
This next month will be full of memories for me and for the whole family. Today, though, we made new memories as we celebrated my grandson’s first birthday. We talked about this time a year ago and how happy Granddad was to have a new member of the family. How important family is and how much we will work to cherish every moment together, the love of family and the love of life.