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How My Son, Who Has a Terminal Illness, Fills My Life With Love


The distant sounds of “Electric Light Orchestra’s” concert movie play on as my son drifts off into a peaceful mid-day nap. The song is Xanadu, one of my favorites. Jeff Lynne, you are a genius.

I’m crying in the kitchen again. Not my usual slow steady stream of soft tears, but blubbering with a flood of tears I just can’t stop. I did this to myself, reading another mother’s story that feels so similar to my own. A story about a woman’s son who was born with a similar diagnosis to my son’s. A story about the moment this mother watched her son gain his angel wings. A story that I know I will live out in the near future.

The salt in my tears seem to burn my skin. My face has turned to that obnoxious shade of tomato red and my lips quiver tremendously. I am so weak with emotion that I have to hold my arm out against the kitchen cabinet to support myself. Slowly, my hand begins to shake beneath the weight of my body. I have lost all control of not only my emotions, but my body as well.

The story of my son’s life begins to play in my mind. The harrowing moments of his premature birth, the first time I was able to hold his minuscule body and the way he looked up into my eyes. The sleepless nights of watching him fight through hours of seizures. All of the tests, the diagnosis, the therapy and specialist appointments, the hospital stays, the moments when I looked into his eyes and said goodbye because the end looked near.

Stop. Rewind. Play. Pause. That smile, it makes me flutter.
Play. Pause. His eyes, they reflect all of the beauty in life.
Rewind. Play. The deep laughter that roars from my son, it’s a sound that was sent from the heavens.

I have now found myself smiling as I recount everything that is so tremendously beautiful about my son. The tears meet the corners of my smile and are redirected on. A sense of calmness radiates throughout my body, warming every inch of me. What a life this boy has given me. He saved my life from a horrifically abusive relationship and gave me a second chance at life. My son has taught me more in five years that what people learn over their lifetime. I now have a life filled with immense love because of him. How grateful I am for my son, for his diagnosis, for his life.

This is Xanadu.

Getty image by Archv