There are new noises in our house. Not the clicking of the water heater exhaust expanding, not the occasional pop of a hot water pipe on a joist. No, not those. Not the creak of a loose subfloor board, the whir of the heater or the soft hum of the dishwasher. These new noises come from Parker’s room. They are screams. Terrifying screams. They come in his sleep. He doesn’t wake, he doesn’t even move. It’s slowly becoming normal. This should not be normal.
What is he dreaming? Does he feel as scared as he sounds? Is this how a 5 year old slowly processes everything, through imagery? We don’t know and we probably never will. Of all the changes, this one is probably the most unexpected and the most unsettling. Parker is not in physical pain right now. He has some occasional discomfort from his PICC, but no pain. Not the kind we have read about, at least. Emotionally, we all have our days. Yesterday wasn’t my best, but today was ok. Smiles through sorrow. An unimaginable sorrow. An indescribable absence of emotion, a complete void of any grounding in this world, mixed with an impossible simultaneous torrent of every emotion we are capable of experiencing. It is a tight rope strung between denial and acceptance, and we are stuck in the middle with the wind blowing too hard for us to move in either direction. It is the worst feeling of our lives.
So, we just wait for the calm and move forward. There is always a calm. Whether it’s in the middle of the day or at night when we finally allow ourselves to sleep. Every once in a while something special happens, too. A family relaxing together in a bedroom all collectively breath deeply and fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon. Just for a bit. For a small period of time it all gets washed away and peace takes its place. I’ve got the leg of my son wrapped around me, my arm falling asleep but I dare not move it. My wife, over there on the chair, her breathing slowed, peace finds her, too. My daughter on the floor, with a mountain of books. She quietly whispers the words to us while we close our eyes and dream of better things. No screams, just some pleasant dreams.
We have prepared Parker as much as we can for radiation, which starts this coming Tuesday. But we know he is scared. He has told us he is scared. He has begun weeping on occasion. For no reason, just weeping. It’s the anguish of the unknown and the uncertainty of his future. We are determined to give him a ground to run on and a horizon to follow. We will find his way. We will continue to find the peace in the midst of this war.