The Evening

Published 10 years, 1 week past

We had guests for dinner, as we often do, a house full of squealing, laughing children and their grownups, preparing dinner and trying to figure out who would get stuck with setting the table.  We’d all gone up the street to the elementary school to test out their new playground equipment and try to fly a kite in the random spring breeze, running around an open field and trying not to slip in the mud.  Now we were back and ready to eat.

Rebecca played and laughed with the other kids, all obvious traces of our conversation earlier that day erased by the simple joy being a five-year-old, living wholly in the moment.  Playing impromptu tag, hiding around corners to shout “Boo!” and cackle with delight, singing pop songs and musical numbers with her sister and friends.  Because for all that’s going on, you would never know to look at her that anything was wrong.  We can even forget, from time to time.  She lives just as she always has, full of energy and smiles, and we’re determined to keep it that way as long as we can.

Eventually, it was time to take the little ones up to bed, which Kat and I divided up with a family friend.  Suddenly, I heard Kat’s voice breaking.  She was in the nursing chair we still have hanging around the house, Joshua on her lap, ready to read his bedtime stories.  Rebecca was standing next to her, still and calm.  I sat on the footstool, my legs just behind Rebecca’s.

“Rebecca told me she’s scared that she’s going to die and be all alone.  Baby, we will be always be with you, always always always.  You will never be alone.  Okay?”

My hand was on Rebecca’s back, tears in my eyes but not on my cheek.  I asked if she understood what Mommy had said.  She nodded, her eyes cast down in thought.  We thanked her for telling us what she was feeling, for trusting us.  She nodded again, and turned to look at me.  Looked into my eyes, and saw everything that was there.  Gave me a sad, affectionate smile, put her arms tenderly around me, and kissed me gently on the cheek.

My little girl, my child, trying to soothe my pain.

Later, as she lay under her princess blankets to read her own bedtime stories with a family friend, I came in to tell her good night.  She was holding a book about kids who have cancer.  We have such books, now.  I perched on the edge of the bed next to her and smoothed back a riot of her curls.

“Can you tell Daddy why you picked this book to read?” our friend prompted.

“Daddy, I’m reading this book because it will help me be strong — ”, she curled her arms in classic strongman pose, then dropped them, “ — and brrrave.”  She beamed up at me.

I smoothed back another curl, affectionately tweaked the end of her nose, and looked directly into her eyes as I said, “Sweetie, you are already by far the strongest and bravest person I have ever met.”

A wide grin, a little chortle, and then she flung her arms wide.  I leaned down and she leaned up, our arms circling each other, squeezing just hard enough.  I held her lean, solid weight close, her body strong and light, and for those moments I felt no sorrow, no fear, no pain, not for her and not for me, not for any of us.  There was just a calm peace rooted in the strength of her love and the bravery of her heart, and nothing else.

Comments (22)

  1. My daughter is near the same age and my heart breaks over what you’re all going through.

    What an incredible, beautiful little girl.

  2. Your family’s love makes me weep, a lot of them good tears, caused by my admiration of the strength and bravery of all of you.

  3. This is so beautiful. I am so sorry for what you and your family are going through.

  4. That’s the power of God.

    Eric, you have not only taught me how to be a better web professional, but now you are teaching me how to be a better father to my own son.

    And Rebecca is teaching ALL of us how to be strong individuals.

    Thank you both and your family.

  5. Exactly what Ricardo said! We are all better people — and your brave and strong Rebecca is reaching right through the pixels of our screens and taking grab of our hearts. May God Bless You and your family during all of these tribulations.

  6. I thought I was having a bad day, pondering plans that didn’t work out and conflict yet to be resolved. I read this and as usual, am humbled by the grace with which you share such painful stories. Tears are in my eyes as I write this, and my issues are instantly more manageable. Thank you.

  7. If Rebecca is called home to Jesus, please know that His arms will protect her and hold her while you are temporarily separated from her. The peace you felt is assuredly real! Still praying for healing!

  8. I just saw a Twitter post (which I retweeted) about this blog. I’m reading back through the last few posts, trying to hold back the tears as I sit at my office desk. This is probably the most profoundly sad things a family has to endure. As a parent, my heart bleeds for you and your family. I wonder how you manage to have the strength to even type the words for these posts – I think I would be crushed every moment of every day, not being able to function at all.

    I hope that you’re able to spend every moment cherishing your daughter and your family. I hope that you can find peace through this horrible storm and that you can find solace as life goes on. And know that there are a lot of us that may never personally know you but are grieving with you.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  9. Rebecca is one strong little girl who doesn’t deserve to be going through this!! I’m so sorry for what you all go through on a daily basis. I hope a miricle comes her way soon. Stay strong!

  10. Thank you for sharing with us. She is so brave and strong.

  11. I am so sorry, so endlessly sad for you and your lovely girl and your family. I will pray for peace and ease as you live this nightmare.

  12. Again, you share with us what truly matters. We live NOW. We should never, ever forget that, yet as adults we tend to lose our way. My sincere thanks to Rebecca for this lesson and to you for sharing it on this blog.

  13. My heart aches for you and your family, my old friend.

  14. Thank you. I needed that story. And tell Rebecca some guy named Doug thanks her too.

  15. Thank you for sharing the last two posts. As difficult as they were to read, the emotion expressed was powerful, honest and vital. My hope is that you gain as much strength from writing these as I do from reading them.

    When your journey started, I thought I knew how you felt. I tried to be supportive and provide a ‘been there, done that’ attitude of calm and strength. Now I know just how very wrong I was. My daughter, although seriously impaired by a TBI, is still with us and will be. Rebecca’s time is much, much more limited. Please forgive my arrogance.

    You’ve done such an amazing job of parenting through all this. Even when you think you’re just barely managing to, it looks for all the world that you’re an expert in such things. I think the kind of love you have for Rebecca is what makes this possible—you have and would do anything required to help her.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to reading more posts when you’re feeling able. If there’s anything I can do to help you and your family, you need only tell me and I’ll do my best to make it happen if it’s possible.

    om mani padme hum
    om tare tuttare ture svaha


  16. I don’t know you. Today was the first time I have read your blog. I knew nothing of your family or the trials you are enduring. What I read today broke my heart for you and your wonderful family.

    I wish I could sympathize with you and the pain you are dealing with, but I suspect nobody that hasn’t dealt with having to tell their daughter that they might be dying could even begin to imagine what that is like.

    As helpless as it is, know that you all are in my thoughts and prayers. The coming months will be the most challenging of your life. My own daughter Grace will be joining me in praying for the both of you. Regardless of your religious preference, we are reaching out with love for you all.

  17. I read of your family through a shared link from Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer. Michael was my best friend when were were Superman Sammy’s age. I ache for you, and simply write to thank you for your profound courage and wisdom in sharing this awful news. I have three beautiful children, and will never, ever take a moment of their precious lives for granted. I hope for peace for you and your daughter, and love enough to keep breathing one day at a time.

  18. Eric,
    today would be my mother’s birthday had she not died of cancer. I am so sorry for you and your family and I absolutely admire all of your family and strong brave Rebecca for your love which seems to outlive even the threat of death.
    Be God with your daughter and your whole family.

  19. Quite some time ago I learnt CSS through your books. This morning I have been here in front of your post for quite some time weeping and trying to find words that could help or give a little comfort.

    Thank you for sharing these posts about your beautiful family.
    I too want to reach out with love for you all.

  20. Thank you, Eric, for sharing. Each post is difficult to read, but I am still full of hope for you and your family. Love and peace, brother.

  21. Pingback ::

    This breaks my heart | Portal of Delusion

    […] “The Truth” by Eric Meyer “The Evening” by Eric Meyer […]

  22. Eric

    I only knew you through the web and technology. From the last few of your blogs about Rebecca is so heartbreaking and fills eyes with tears everytime I go through it.

    If I being an unknown to your family is feeling so, I can’t scope what’s going on with you and your family. I wish GOD doesn’t give such an punishment to any father or parents.

    I pray to GOD for your family and Rebecca, and hope if with slightest of something my prayer has, some miracle should let this brave, little, strong angel give more strength to fight and prolong her life.

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