Today Hank began his fourth round of Chemo. This week he will receive a drug that requires him to go in for an hour and a half long transfusion treatment. This will take the place of one of the more toxic drugs in his treatment plan, the one that made him vomit the first week. It has the potential to be less toxic, so the doctors like to alternate it with the heavy hitter. Since Hank will be going in each day this week, the access cords to his chest port were left on... covered with a huge, clear, protective sticker/bandaid so he can't knock it loose. Because of this bandaid needing to remain in place, baths are a little more "sponge bath" than usual. As I knelt beside the tub tonight, scrubbing his head with a soapy washcloth... I cried. Patches of hair were noticeable missing. It was becoming real. Our son has cancer.
I bent to rinse the soap from the washcloth, so that I could rinse Hank's head, but noticed the amount of hair stuck to the fibers of the cloth. I stared as I tried to rinse them off. I stared as I wiped Hank's head to remove the soap... as the little hairs began to cling to the back of his neck on the wet skin. I stared as my sweet little four year old boy smiled up at me saying, "That feels good mom. Will you rub my back with the washcloth again?" Tears smoldered down my cheeks. I couldn't get all the hairs to release from his neck and upper back. The thought that I can't wipe away his pain, his suffering, his sickness... it stung in the deepest recesses of my heart.
I stared at him as he continued to smile in his moment of playing with the bath toys. He, only being four, knew to take care to keep his port bandage dry. He, being only four, knew to not squirt the water into his mouth as he used to... and knew not to drink the bath water as he used to... and knew not to splash as he so wanted to... he, being only four. His life has been altered. Hank will forever be changed by this cancer. And to me, those little hairs clinging to the washrag made this journey all the more real.
I often don't have time to sit and reflect on this whirlwind of a journey we were forced to embark upon. When I do, it is most often met with a sense of thanksgiving... of awe at how gracious the Lord has been in the many answered prayers. But tonight, I was struck by the worldly side of it all. I saw the brokenness, the pain, the sadness. I didn't question why Hank, or what if... I just mourned the loss of his hair, his health, his future. I mourned the loss of playing in the mud puddles, sonic happy hour drinks, and playing in the sun without a shirt. I mourned the things that normal four year old boys do, like drinking the bathtub water... however gross that may be, I wish he could... but he can't. I wish I could wash his hair without crying... but I can't.