Eldest has a friend. A best friend. Earlier this year, he transferred to another middle school, but they've made a point of staying in touch. For a month or so, try as he might, Eldest couldn't reach his friend. He didn't respond to texts or messages. Zip.
"My mom has cancer," he finally said, weeks later, as a way of explaining why he'd been out of touch.
She and I are not close friends. She is very nice, very personable. But only when we are trading children, mostly with her boy coming to my house.
This is not a new way of acting. This is how it has been since the two boys met nearly four years ago.
Her husband, his father, had heart surgery a month after Pete had his. Pete stayed in the hospital about four days. Her husband stayed in for a month. There were many complications. Ultimately, he ended up in an assisted living situation. He remains there, more than two years after the surgery.
My boy's best friend essentially has had no father at home for almost two years. His mother and his sister are all that he has. And now his mother has been going through surgeries and hospital stays and chemo and all of that for several months.
Pets have been parceled out to this friend of his sister and that friend of his sister. His aunt put her life on hold to come be with her sister and tend to the kids for weeks at a time. The kids, being kids, still do the full calendar of activities: lacrosse, soccer, basketball, band, etc.
I saw her the other day, for the first time since this all came down months ago. She was going into the hospital again for a brief stay, just a night or two. She doesn't want anything from me, except, I sense, not to be peppered with questions or sympathy. So I just talk with her as I've always done about her boy, her girl, my kids.
I didn't ask if I could pray for her. But I do. And for those two kids of hers. And for me and mine to not ever have to bear such a burden.