I received an email the other night from a friend that went something like this: my son has a tumor that is likely cancer; I am dead inside; please pray for my baby boy.

I cannot think of another message that could possibly have upset me so much with so few words.  This is my son’s first buddy.  His mother and I went through our pregnancies together and our sons are four weeks apart.  We recently moved away but the distance doesn’t diminish our friendship, and this news has rocked my husband and I to the core.

I already knew from personal experience that life is unfair and that bad things happen to good people…but this is unprecedentedly horrifying.  I’ve heard about SIDS, accidents, and shaken babies, but I guess it always two or more degrees of separation from me.  This is the first time it’s happened close to home and it has hijacked my thoughts and infiltrated my soul.

Cancer is so random.  It doesn’t discriminate against sex, race, or income.  But a two-year-old?  And the tumor is in his face.  If he had to have cancer could it at least not have been one that might alter his appearance?  He has such a beautiful face with puppy dog eyes, full cheeks, and chocolaty skin.  But the truth is that even though I am thinking about the surgery, treatment, reconstruction, and rehabilitation he may ultimately need, it is his survival — his life — that I cannot fathom is in jeopardy.

If he doesn’t survive, what does that mean for life as we know it?  How would we ever sleep again with the fear that something like this could happen to us?  How would we be able to relax knowing there are mortal dangers we cannot protect our son from?   These thoughts invade every hour of the day and the fear — for my friend, for her son, for my family — takes my breath away.

We feel, as I am sure my friends do, utterly powerless.  My husband and I can’t stop thinking about their son.  We find ourselves kissing our son more (which is ridiculous because we already kissed him an outrageous amount), and when he crawls into our bed at night, we haven’t been taking him back to his room.  We stay awake and stare at him.  We watch him differently now.

We are praying for our friends’ son and hope to hear good news, terrified there won’t be any for some time (if at all).

I don’t like feeling powerless.  I wanted to do something…anything.  So I turned to my fellow moms here at Connecticut Working Moms.  They gave me great suggestions for a care package that I could never have thought of myself.

Today I mailed my friend a care package containing small books, toy cars, and little tchotchkes all gift-wrapped and small enough for mommy’s purse.  Doctor appointments, waiting rooms, and hospitals are all made a tiny bit better for a two-year-old when there is a gift to unwrap, right?  I also sent an iTunes gift card with a list of my son’s favorite apps and a Starbucks card so mama can buy herself the cup of coffee I would buy her if I were nearby.  (Also included: a DVD, fun Band-Aids, crayons, a small pillow of his own for hospital stays, and children’s travel size toiletries). This gesture seems so small and insignificant, but at least it is something.  I know my friend will smile when she opens the box, and a smile, albeit brief and transient in this dark moment, is priceless.

So now a call for all you other moms out there: if you have any dirty jokes, please share them!  I know my friend, and if I randomly text her a dirty joke from time to time, she would appreciate the reminder that even in a sterile hospital she can still smile over a dirty joke.

Thanks again to all the other Connecticut Working Moms for your superb suggestions, and thanks in advance to all you other moms out there for your thoughts and prayers for my friend’s son – every little bit helps.

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