My husband teases me a lot. Whenever we can’t be together because I’m traveling, or we don’t get that “alone” time due to the kids…he reminds me we’ve got “50 or 60 years… your whole life baby!” And he pulls me close and kisses me and lets me know just how long forever really is.

But on the morning of the health care reform vote in the House, I had to tell my son his music teacher passed away. And it got me to thinking that maybe, just maybe, we don’t have 50 or 60 more years. And maybe, just maybe, this could all end tomorrow.


My son took the news as any “almost” seven-year old would. He got upset, he teared up, he lamented that he didn’t get a turn in the last game she played with them in class. Apparently the beloved Miss Mary would “lose her voice” as she sang to the kids…and they would eventually discover it in her pocket. My little guy was upset he’d never get his turn to find her voice.

I was upset for him. And I held him close and asked if he’d like to play the teacher’s fun game at home. He quickly became distracted with a toy and ran off to play, while I sat there…feeling empty and worrisome over all the reasons any one of us might not get “our turn” at whatever game was next.

I’m the first to admit I worry. I worry for my family, of course. But also for my friends spread far and wide across the world. And I’m also the first to admit I’d much rather be in control. I want my son to get another turn finding Miss Mary’s voice. I want to make sure my husband gets the 50 or 60 years he’s anticipating with me. I want my children to know that yes, everything really does turn out ok.

But when you have to explain cancer to a little boy, and explain why he should hug his classmates a little tighter on Monday…it’s hard. Actually, it’s beyond hard. It’s like taking a little bit of innocence and crushing it under your adult foot.

There are no guarantees. Nothing is certain. It’s the worst and most important lesson to teach a child.

My son knew. He understood. And much like his mother he quickly put it out of his head and moved on to something that made him happy. Denial? Maybe. Coping? Sure. I don’t expect a seven-year old to face death like his mother…wondering over when it’s her turn, anxious for test results from yet another doctor trip. Trying to not make mountains out of mole hills.

He turns seven on Wednesday. Not much of a “little” boy anymore and ready to hear a lot of these truths I so desperately wish he didn’t need to know. But that seven-year old, that very night, spilled the contents of his “possibles” box onto my bed.

The content of my son's "possibles" box
With love and care he told me about each stone. Each coin. Each treasure. How he would one day find more. How he would one day discover treasures no one has ever seen. How he would one day have an even BIGGER box of “possibles.”

And with all those “possibles” in my heart I tell him anyway of the truths we face. I tell him with a heavy heart and a big hug. Knowing that with the truth of the unexpected, and of life…he would be better for it in the end. Hoping that with the knowledge he will find HIS voice, and move forward as his father and I do…hoping for many, many years of being together, and tons upon tons of love.


  1. As always, you pull me back to the close to home stuff that is the glue in this crazy world. Thank you!!

  2. gah, you’re making me all teary first thing in the morning! A wonderful post and a fabulous box of ‘possibles’.

  3. okay, you just totally melted me. I think about things like this even though I don’t have children, but from the perspective of other people’s shoes, and mine some.

    I also believe the things we face in our times here, bad and joyful, have the greatest meaning when we admit to ourselves that our choices and paths, do have finite reality attached, and still remember when I realized that as a child. It -is- a spot on the mirror, indeed.

    Conversely, I still believe anything is possible, with the right combination of events 🙂

    Thanks for writing this!


  4. Since Charlotte’s diagnosis query of Autism. It has been so hard to look much beyond a few months into possibilities. But she still has lots. A big ‘ol’ box. My sadness has clouded that, this is a nice reminder.

    .-= JenB´s last blog ..Sometimes sparkly just looks that way =-.

  5. In my “I can’t sleep” stupor I read this post and cried. It is sad that kids eventually have to learn about the harsh realities of this world. But, at least they begin to learn when they still believe anything is possible. And, maybe, just maybe, they will hold on to that belief and live life always believing that anything is possible.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Tired of Saying “NO” =-.

  6. have been following ur Health Care posts on Twitter and would like to follow your blog. peace and light.

  7. Wow. This is the kind of parenting stuff that paralyzes me and makes me feel inadequate. I remember worrying about this when I was pregnant with my son. Its so hard to give someone life, and the pain that comes along with it.

  8. A box of possibles. How beautiful is that?
    .-= Maggie, dammit´s last blog ..Who do I think I am? =-.

  9. When my oldest daughter died of Breast Cancer in 2002 I thought it was going to destroy my other two children, As it turned out they gave me the reason to not get totally overwhelmed by the Grief and Loss, I had raised them all three by myself, ( yes, I m a single dad ). They supported me in ways that brought me through the loss and I am eternally grateful for their compassion and in spite of their loss they carried me when I could not see anything but the dark abyss. The source of all strength comes from family and the love and compassion of all the gifts of the Universe. When my grand daughter was born several years later, and could begin to speak, she told me of playing with Kathryn before she was born and told me Kathryn was so happy and watching over us all, Every time we see a butterfly she remarks ” Hi Aunt Kathryn”, and I am struck with wonder anew.
    .-= michael sykes´s last blog ..Sunday 3-21-10 A Brief Political Comment =-.

  10. Michael my son speaks that way all the time. He tells me about what it was like in my belly, and how he floated around a lot.

    Amazing and touching story from your grand daughter.

  11. This is something I think about a lot. My 2yo twins have a terminal disease, and lately I’ve been struggling with coming to terms with the likelihood that I will outlive them and how to balance that knowledge with the need to provide my family with a “normal” daily life.

    It hurts to explain to my oldest why and how other SMA kids that we know have died. She’s just too smart, and I just have too few answers. I’d rather admit to her that mommy = Santa than tell her that life can be brutal and that her siblings may never live to see Arizona men’s basketball make an Elite 8 again (come on, if I can’t invoke some humor about this shitty disease then I will go completely berserk).

    We can’t live our lives waiting for the worst to happen. I think I know how death will hit me and fracture my family, but I don’t know for sure. And neither do you. Or you, or you. We just have to sack up and forge ahead and (any other cliches?) do our best in good faith. Faith in what? I’m not sure of anymore. But we can’t just flounder, directionless, forever–so it’s best to greet each day with confidence and the determination to kick that day’s ass. Gotta be a good role model for the children.

    “Live life out loud” and all that.
    .-= Cass´s last blog ..Stride N Ride 2010 =-.

  12. Six years ago we lost a 12 year old student – killed in a car accident over Thanksgiving weekend. I will forever remember her best friend sobbing and wailing on her way into school, needing to be almost carried down the hallway.
    I saw this girl two weeks ago; she’s doing very, very well now. The innocence shattered in 6th grade, and she suffered. But she survived and is now thriving.
    While I would wish that no one suffer like these kids did, I need to put my efforts into counseling them, teaching them to reach heal and focus on the Possibles.
    Thanks so much for the post.
    .-= Daisy´s last blog ..Elected officials, Health Care, and Bad Craziness =-.

  13. We had recently been thinking of a friend. We hadn’t heard from him in a while and he usually contacts us sometime during the holiday. Since he didn’t and his phone wasn’t working, we called his work. We were told he died just before Christmas in 2008. We were devastated. We would have been notified but they couldn’t find his phone to call his contacts. This is a person we have known since he was about 13 but haven’t kept in great contact with because he is a former student and wanted to let him control the contacts. He was 41 and had no previous problems. Keep in touch as much as possible.

    It is always hard to tell young ones about death. It sounds like you did a great job.
    .-= Lela Willey´s last blog ..Health Care =-.

  14. Wow. Life and Death… your son sounds like a great little dude.

    & Michael’s story about Kathryn…awesome. I believe in the happy Afterlife, but it is always awesome to read another story like that!
    .-= Al_Pal´s last blog ..Sensitivity: I have it. =-.


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