The talk

December 6, 2013 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

From yesterday:

In talking with the social worker today and the child life specialist, I was urged to have the talk with Travis. I have been keeping Travis in the loop, gradually introducing more information – telling him in the beginning “Dad is very sick and gets special medicine in the hospital”, then “Dad has cancer and he has really good doctors who give him medicine to help him get better” and the other night “Sometimes people who have cancer die”. Travis changed the subject with that last one.

I mustered up the courage this evening and gathered the kids, luring them with Oreo shakes. Of course my imagined scenario was thwarted by a phone call and greedy consumption of shakes. Nevertheless, we all sat together and I began, “Travis, you know how Dad has been getting special medicine? Well, the medicine isn’t working. Dad is still very sick and there is no more medicine for him. Remember how I told you that sometimes people with cancer die? Well, Dad is going to die. We are all going to die some day, but Dad will die soon.” Travis fidgeted during this monologue and smiled and gestured at his sisters as if he was ignoring me. I held his hand and told him I was sad that Dad was going to die. He immediately gave me a hug and a kiss and I gushed that his hug made me feel so much better. He began to cry. I told him it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to cry, it’s also okay to be happy and laugh when you remember the silly things Dad did. I told him his body may be gone, but Dad is always in your heart. In all our hearts. We’re all going to miss him but we are still a family and we have lots of people who love us and will help us. I told him if he is sad, he can talk to me, his sisters, his Grandma, teacher, anyone he chooses. He can say “Mom, I’m sad”, “Mom, I miss Dad.”

We hugged and have moved on to a Disney movie. I was so concerned, judging by his reaction to our previous conversation, that he would be closed off to continuing the topic. And we NEEDED to talk. Not knowing when that final day will come, I didn’t want to surprise him with that news. I’m very relieved and so proud of him. We WILL get through this.