Hard Times (and Good)

This is the season to count one’s blessings. I’ve had so many over the years that it would be impossible to do a full account on this page. But a patch of rough luck hit our family this year. Our 6-year-old grandson, Sammy, after a bout of inexplicable tummy trouble, was diagnosed with lymphoma. (That would be cancer, but it’s easier to write lymphoma, for some reason.) After the initial shock, everyone rallied, as I suppose people do in wartime. You weep, and then you do what needs to be done. His brave mom spent dozens of nights with him in the hospital this summer and his equally brave dad, my son, was there whenever he wasn’t at work. Sammy was a good soldier throughout; he hung in all those months while his body was being pounded with chemo treatments. I’m not going to say he always did it cheerfully, but he did it.

My wife and I, who happened to be visiting at the time of the diagnosis, moved in temporarily so Sammy’s older sister, Sarah, would have someone to come home to. Together, we got through it, and after nearly four months, I’m happy to say, it’s over. Sammy, now 7, is going to be poked and prodded and otherwise carefully observed for several years, but by the time you read this, he will be back in school, back to normal life, where such questions as when’s dinner or what’s the newest Lego kit are all that matter.

He missed a summer, which in a child’s life is huge. But it will seem like a minor blip just a few years from now. Many people have it a lot worse, as Sammy himself observed. He met children who were looking at multi-year treatments, and poorer prognoses. “Grandma, I’m really lucky,” he said to my wife. “I had cancer, but I had the good kind.”

Baby Sofia

In the midst of this family crisis, there was also joy from another quarter. Our younger son’s wife had their first baby. She’s possibly the most beautiful little girl you could imagine (our staff fact-checkers verified it!). We were able to break away and spend a few weeks with the new baby, who was born in Rome. And, we fell in love with little Sofia. (How could we resist?)