Monday, April 07, 2008

Distressing News

We have this friend who is a former colleague of my husband's from when we lived in the south. Really lovely, smart woman. We have not been super close over the years but maintained an easy relationship. My husband often sees her at conferences, they email on professional issues frequently and I look forward to spending time with her, too, when the opportunity arises.

We were so happy for N when she met her husband J, and later had a baby boy D. The last time we saw her was at our house in June. She was giving a talk in town and stayed with us. We had a lovely dinner on the porch after she kindly endured one of C's 5th grade band concerts. She was also very newly pregnant after several losses. We talked about (among other things) how being a carrier of the cystic fibrosis gene probably means more than just carrying a gene - and how life takes you unexpected places. She told us about converting to Judaism upon marrying her husband and how it was quite a surprise to her Catholic family, but that she continues to feel absolutely right about the decision. It was hard to end our conversations and go to sleep.

After N left the next day, we didn't hear from her. Summer passed and there wasn't much urgency, but into September there were no return emails and we worried. Did she lose the baby? Was her mother's health failing? We didn't want to push in, however.

The conference at which my husband usually saw her came and went. She wasn't there. Nothing at the holidays.

Last night my husband finally heard from her. The good news is that the pregnancy did hold and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl in January. The harder news is that D, her little boy, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in September. He continues to go through chemotherapy. He is three.

Her email, my husband said, sounded as positive as it could. He replied and tried to offer words of the resiliency of children (the possibility of a cure is pretty good), and support as a parent who has been through a child's illness. We can't know exactly how she feels, of course, but we do know something of being a parent with a very, very sick child.

We were subdued last night (obviously) after hearing from N. The time of year plays into it for us, too.

Please, keep N and her son D, husband J, and daughter J in your thoughts.

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