One of my oldest, dearest friends, Andrea, has a son Aaron who is a year older than Katrina. Andrea and I were pals in high school from the gymnastics team, and went to the same college too (in fact I probably went to U of R because of her), and we've stayed close for over 30 years. She married young (I was her Maid of Honor), had two girls young, divorced, remarried, and had another baby when she was just shy of age 43. Naturally, she was the first person I called when I realized I too would be a super-geriatric Mom! In addition to being one of my closest friends she also has numerous degrees in psychology and is just really understanding and funny and a really great person to talk to.
In 2009, Andrea and her teenage daughter and then-4yo-son Aaron visited us. Katrina made friends with Aaron easily and talked about him for weeks after they left. They really hit it off -- and not because of my grumpy semi-social daughter, but because Aaron was a really nice, easygoing kid. The boys don't remember him, but they played a lot with him too.
Anyway, NO, not the worst thing possible that could happen to a child has happened, but the second-worst thing possible -- Aaron has leukemia.
Fortunately his cancer is a treatable kind with a high cure rate, but still, for Christ's sake, it's leukemia. He's only 5 years old, and will be 6 in November. I read daily updates from Andrea (she lives in New Jersey) or her sister, and so far the news is good. But still, God help us, it's still leukemia.
I think the only time I've felt this bad or frightened was when my dear sister-in-law had a stroke. Nothing is more serious than a loved one being gravely ill, and perhaps the younger the person, the less fair it seems. (My Dad's Alzheimer's was different...much slower, without the same shock factor...no less unfair or painful of course but of a different sort. Alzheimer's, for all its injustice, isn't a crisis.)
So while I bop through my day apparently cheerful, my dear friend's son's major health challenge weighs heavily on m and my helplessness grinds a hole in my conscience. Friends geographically closer are giving blood to help the hospital. (Actually, I can't even do that locally to help symbolically because my chronic G.I. trouble has kept my weight below eligible levels for blood donation, or I would. Blood donation seems to be the top request from doctors.)
If there's a bright spot anywhere, it's that few moms are as tough or determined or as willing to be an advocate -- and experienced at navigating the medical system -- as my friend Andrea. If you want anyone by your side as you're fighting a serious illness, it's her. Thank heavens for Aaron that he has her.