Dear Son… 001

A letter to my son: Here is the world. The price you pay to be here is to endure the terrible. So we pay our fare and we take our seat, come what may. Don’t be afraid.

Beautiful and terrible things

Me and the kid

Dear Son;

As I write this, you are almost seven months old. I feel guilty that your Grandma McCarthy has been taking the most care of you because I need to focus on your mama.

But you’re always laughing, so I assume that you’re generally happy and oblivious to the terrible things around us. That’s actually why I’m writing you.

A fellow New Yorker – of which you are a proud member – named Frederick Buechner once said, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”

(I will quote things to you a lot because I think other people say things far more eloquently than your pop can; you’ll have to learn to deal).

What Buechner said is true, with this caveat: The terrible and beautiful are often intertwined.

By all metrics, your mother should have died on December 10th, when you were just a month old. I say this terrible thing as plainly as I can.

But equally plainly, I tell you: Your mother came back an hour from death – crippled and half-blind – because she couldn’t bear being away from us. From you.

She came back with a titanium mesh where her skull once was. So when I tell you that she is made of titanium, I mean that both figuratively and literally.

She fights every day to see you and hopes to hold you again, like she did when you were born. She wants to see you sit, stand, walk, and run.

She wants to see you become you.

You know, on December 10th, you hadn’t yet learned how to laugh or smile? I think she came back to experience that.

Kid, that is love like I’ve never seen before. If that’s not beautiful, I dunno what is.

This letter is late, sorry. I’d meant to write it months ago but life got in the way. You’ll find that the life’s terrible things get in the way of your plans and dreams.

It’s the nature of the world to whittle you down to nothingness. One day it will win. We accept that in our family. But we fight the world every step of the way because we will not go quietly.

We struggle and scuffle until we’re breathless and weak. Life demands struggle.

Our family motto is a pictograph of a blade in a heart – we survive things that would kill other people. We survive.15207350313_c43e87a6b6_c

Know that the terrible things will come. But so will the beautiful things. They go hand-in-hand.

Your mother is the most beautiful thing that has come into my life and she came with this terrible thing. Neither of us knew. I would not change a thing, except maybe bring her to the hospital the day we met to get rid of this damn cancer. And buy more shares of Facebook. (Always invest your money – that’s another letter for another time).

I will love your mother until the day I die. You as well.

In any case, son: Here is the world. The price you pay to be here is to endure the terrible. So we pay our fare and we take our seat, come what may.

Don’t be afraid. Because you are our son and there is titanium in your blood.



Dear Son… 001
Dear Son… 002: Wait and wish
Dear Son… 003: Rain happens
Dear Son… 004: Understanding is gold
Dear Son… 005: Language is telepathy


Location: home, after almost a month in the hospital again
Mood: tired
Music: it was then that I knew only a full house gonna make it through

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24 replies on “Dear Son… 001”

I am a good friend of Din’s first cousins. I know the McCarthys and I’m deeply saddened when I think about what you are Alison are enduring. Sending you strong positive vibes. May your burden be lifted and the beautiful once again dominate your life.

Thanks for the comment – we’d love for our burden to be lifted too. Let’s hope it happens.

Logan, your words are beautiful. Praying for you and the family! Good things happen to good people. All the best!

Hi Logan-
I met you and Alison when I was called by the ER for a neurosurgical consult at mount Sinai west (Roosevelt) back last November. When I heard her about her story, her symptoms and then saw her CT scan, my heart dropped. In over 19 years working in neurosurgery, you try and become numb to the terrible things you see and situations you can neither control or even help. But your situation had and still has deeply affected me. A new mother, a beautiful, loving couple, facing this awful diagnosis…I left your room in tears. Alison stayed with us a few days during her initial presentation and biopsy and I had the privilege of meeting your beautiful son. Working in medicine, we often question why things happen. I go home at night after work feeling helpless in many situations where we wish we could do more. I came across Alison on the you caring website and saw your blog. I just wanted to say that even though I can’t offer much, I pray for Alison and think about her often. Some patients leave a mark in your mind and she definitely has. As a mother, I can understand wanting to fight with everything you have to be around for your children. I pray for her continued strength to fight as well as yours. You both left a lasting impression on me and our staff.

Marina, that period was a blur to me. Most of this was/is. Sleepless nights and heartache does that.

I wish I could remember you more clearly. Some people we met were wonderful. Others, less so.

But I do want you to know that this comment means a great deal to me. Alison is special – so very much so – to me and when I hear that someone has met her for just a bit but has been touched by her, it means the world to me.

Thank you for writing and letting me know you remember her. That’s the nicest thing I’ve heard all day.

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