Monday, April 17, 2017

The last crane: On parenting a dying child

She took her last dose of chemotherapy the day of that last scan. We paid our last visit to the pediatric oncology clinic.
The “lasts” kept coming — relentless, heartbreaking and agonizingly final.January was the last time she was able to walk upstairs without gasping for breath.February was the last time she had the energy to wake up in the morning and go to school. 
I can’t remember the day she made me the last crane. 
She’d started folding origami cranes when she was about 11. She’d had a liver transplant and her cancer was in remission. She wasn’t allowed back to school because the risk of infection was too great. She’d been drawing a lot, doing projects, and playing with the crafts that so many people had sent her as gifts. She’d gotten some origami paper and a little booklet and folded her first crane. 
She continued making cranes throughout the years, often as a way to thank me for something (e.g., “I’ll make you two cranes if you help me clean my room.”) They’re all over the house — perched on shelves and cabinets, hanging from clear plastic thread above my computer, sitting atop the mantle in our dining room.After her last scan — the “freight train” scan — her oncologist told us her left lung was in danger of collapse and that we’d see obvious symptoms of this soon, likely within weeks. He was right but, still, I wasn’t prepared.She went from going to school three or four days a week to one or two days. She wasn’t able to walk up the path to her classroom, then she couldn’t walk more than a few steps at all without gasping for breath. Her appetite disappeared. She started sleeping more and more. On Feb. 28, she woke up and said, “I don’t think I can go to school right now. Maybe once I’m feeling better …” She never went back.
Read it from beginning to end.

Hat tip:  Joseph Wu

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