Since I was a teenager, I knew I wanted children. I didn’t meet Robin until I was 43, so I knew I would be an old dad, if at all. We didn’t have to wait too long. Will was born in the summer of 2010.
Our happiness was cut short. Exactly one year later, I was back in the same hospital where he was born, enduring my first chemo treatment (we moved the date of his first birthday party.) For months afterward, when I cried about having cancer, I was really crying about saying goodbye to Will. The thing that made me happiest was the same thing that made me saddest.
That “thing” is now three and a half. His curly hair is from me, his good looks come from his mother, and his blue eyes remain a mystery. (Right, Robin… Robin?) He loves tools and trains and superheroes. He is one of the happiest kids I have ever met.
He is also our secret weapon against cancer. Because of him, I have never wondered if the struggle was worth it. We used to bring him to medical appointments, hoping he would charm the doctors into doing a better job at saving my life. If he were just a little cuter, I could use him to get tickets to Book of Mormon.
When I was first diagnosed, I hoped for remission, but told myself I would settle for five more years — just long enough to ensure he had a good foundation: kind, confident and strong enough to grow up without a father. It’s been nearly three years and he’s off to a great start.
The “cancer and death” conversation seems far away, right now. He knows I go to hospital, and he’s seen me hooked up to the chemo drip. We’ve told him it’s to take away my cough.
I was in hospital the other day, for a pre-chemo blood test. I took Will with me. I sat shirtless on the edge of a bed, waiting for the nurse. Will sat in a chair, asking me questions about the medical equipment in the room. Then I stared into space, thinking about cancer, death, and Will, like I always do when I’m in a hospital.
Will looked at me. “You’ll be okay daddy.”
Well, I’m okay today, Will. You make for great todays.