I'll never forget the night I got the news....
Charlie had cancer.
The dog that has been my best friend through life’s most painful tribulations. The dog that greeted me at our patio every day back from college. The dog that has never run out of love to give with his kisses and a simple tail wag. The dog that is the son to Michael and I. The dog that would not leave my bedside, not even for food or water, as I grieved the death of Michael in Iraq. The dog that senses when I am down and quietly lets me know that I am not alone. The dog that is not just a dog, but something more that few understand.
At first knowledge of the news I didn’t know what to say. The tears just rolled down my cheeks and seemed to never stop. He is the link to me and Michael, a part of us that still lives to know the depth of our love together. He is the one thing that has never left my side. I drifted into a dark place I hadn't been in since the beginning months of Michael's murder.
After Michael died I feared most for when Charlie or Maximus would pass away. I feared how I could deal with their absence, for I knew only Michael would be able to help me through it. But here I was, sans Michael, starting in on a battle for the quality and happiness of our son's life.
A veil of darkness had covered me in the weeks to follow. We decided on radiation and an oral chemo to kick the ass of the sarcoma that rooted from his nasal cavity. For two weeks we took the long drive north for his daily treatments. By the second week he became sloth like, but overnight the mass on his head went down and Charlie had a hop in his step. By December 31st, Charlie had officially finished his treatments and there was a 75% reduction in the tumor.
The past two weeks though have been rough. Radiation burns took over his face, and for once I started questioning if I had made the right choice for him. The pain from the burns was unbearable and again we started daily trips to the doctor. The past two days I've broken down in the office, telling the oncologist assistants and doctors that this isn't what I expected...that I was afraid it was getting worse. They reassured me that this was the worst of it and that it must get this way before it gets better. I replied with that I don't believe that....forgetting in reality that it is an example of my life since Michael's death. Nightly I spoke to Michael about getting Charlie and I through this.
I returned home last night, emotionally drained to my core. I walked through the door, and like all things....when I was running on empty in the hope department....it refueled.
Charlie was running around, eating more food than I could offer, kissing me, wanting to window surf.
I'm upset at myself for letting my optimism get sucked dry by fear, anger, and sadness. I was upset that ignored the fact that I know Michael is glad we decided to put up a fight, I feel it and know he is by my side, with his arm around me, assuring me that we’re all going to be okay. I've forgiven myself though, and today is a good day for Charlie and I.
Papa Giorgio (one of his many names) continues to teach me so much about unconditional love and life, in the sense that he hasn't given up, and he trusts my decisions and gets up every morning to face whatever is set in front of him. He's a fighter, and through the long haul we've both been through since his diagnosis, he still finds time for a kiss goodnight and each morning.
He always was more like Michael than I, but unknowingly, I see that he has seen me pull from the bottoms to the earth to try to find a reason to live, and in return, now has a bit of me in him too.
I love you Papa Jinkies and thank you for continuing to remind me just how to live life, how to love, and how to face the world each day....even when we may not want to.