In a Perfect World
Today my nephew would have been nine years old. Had he survived his cancer my sister would be frosting a cake and decorating it with the M&Ms that he loved so much. She would be indulging him in a snack of Goldfish crackers, his favorite, and she would be experiencing the bitter sweetness that parents go through each birthday as their child turns a year older.
No doubt, he would be involved in sports activities of some type since, even at fifteen months of age, he was a huge Ohio State football fan. In fact, when he was in the hospital, the coach of the team paid him a visit and, while I suspect that the appearance was more for the sake of his father-an OSU alumnus- my nephew enjoyed it thoroughly. He especially liked the football, signed by the team, which the coach brought along for him; that kid was crazy about footballs. In a perfect world, he might get a new one for his birthday.
I remember the year the Man-Cub turned nine; we had a football-themed party for him in the front yard. Hugh spray-painted the lawn with yard markers and goal posts and I baked a stadium-shaped cake. In a perfect world, my sister would have the same opportunity to do those things for my nephew.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where bad things happen to good people and those people are left to struggle through the aftermath.
My sister is a strong woman. She is stronger than I could ever imagine being and, quite frankly, than I ever hope I have to be. She has soldiered on under a circumstance that breaks a lot of people. She has experienced the loss that all parents fear, the one that we push to the inner recesses of our minds; if we don’t think about it, it won’t happen to us and, in a perfect world, it wouldn’t.
But, it does. It did.
Mitch was a precious little person. He was never without a smile. The nurses who cared for him throughout the last five months of his life commented on his joyful personality and his ever present grin. He was the darling of the pediatric cancer ward and he was the darling of our hearts. My family misses him. My sister is incomplete without him.
In a perfect world, there would be a party today; gifts, balloons, streamers and laughter.
And nine candles on the cake.