BEHIND THE SCENES OF SMUDGE!
“Many years ago, Daddy had a baby human and they called him Allen.”
“Wait, hold up, Daddy has a baby human,” Yehudi asked.
I looked around at their faces and saw the same expression on each one. Confusion.
“Yes, Daddy had a baby human, most people have baby humans, and before you ask, they grow up into adult humans.”
Yehudi and Mylo looked at each other and shrugged.
“I guess that makes sense,” the yellow lab mix said.
In the short story, Smudge Cindee explains to the gang that I have a baby human. Three, in fact, but I am not sure they have put two and two together to figure out that Aunt Robin and Uncle Robert are my baby humans too. In this story though, we are concerned about Uncle Allen (my eldest child, Nick), who is sick and in need of a double transplant. That is where the reality of this story comes into play.
Normally, you come to this site and visit us every day on social media to enter into the world of Cindee and her friends and family, but this story touches not just the gang, but myself and the rest of our family, and I wanted to share with you what was going on behind the scenes of Smudge.
Nick (aka Allen) was born with a heart defect called Double Outlet Right Ventricle, or DORV for short. As an infant he had three heart surgeries, each incrementally building up to the next until at the age of two, he had his final surgery, which ended in success! All was well and happy with the world. So we thought.
Over the years he led a normal life. He graduated from high school, fell in love, got married and met a dog named Cindee. He would never be athletic, his repaired heart was designed in such a way that gravity was doing a lot of the work, leaving him short on stamina when it came to sports. Doctors would tell us that was normal.
What doctors did not tell us was that this surgery that saved his life was not meant to last forever, in fact, most children who are born with DORV have a life expectancy of thirty years.
This past year Nick woke up on Christmas eve with a swollen leg. He thought that maybe he had just twisted it or something. Just weeks later he would be taken to the emergency room where he would find out his liver was damaged and failing. It was related to his DORV, which at this point was also causing his heart to fail. He was told he would need a heart and liver transplant. There was hope after all! This is where we are at in this week’s story, Smudge.
Things did not work out so well during the visit to the Cleveland Clinic. This week we found out that Nick had developed cancer, also common in people with DORV. Normally, cancer in the liver would still be okay, but in his case, it had grown into the portal vein, making a transplant unfeasible, which leads us to why you are reading Smudge again.
It has been two Saturdays in a row now that Nick has not been to our home for the ritual dinner and a movie that Cindee looks forward to. She still sits on the sofa so she can have a clear view of the driveway, waiting impatiently and when he doesn’t show up, she looks at me, her face wearing an expression that says “why?”
Nick’s cancer is not curable, and his time is extremely short. I don’t have the courage to tell Cindee that she isn’t going to see him again, and it breaks my heart.
The reason you are reading Smudge once again so soon is because I have been focused on my son, and Cindee, well, she has been too focused on me to find the time or strength to whisper new stories into my ear. We do hope to return with a new story next week.
As I close this post today, I would like to leave you with something that happened at the very end of Smudge. Cindee, staring out the window, poses a question, one that I think we all ask at some point in life.
“Why do things like this happen Rapi?”
The answer that our favorite orange tabby cat gives is one that we all need to hear. It gives me something to hold onto when he says:
“You know Cindee, I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone has that answer. But I do know that what is important is this very moment. I think life is about making each second count … you know enjoying it to the fullest and letting the people you care about know that you love them.”
I let the words sink in while I stared out at the backyard and admired the birds flitting back and forth in a game of tag and a beautiful orange and black butterfly floating from flower to flower.
I would like to tell you that you’re taking the time to read these stories and to share in the moments of our lives is a blessing to me.