I couldn’t sleep last night. That happens a lot. One of my anti-rejection meds, Prograf, is known for producing insomnia. That might be it. It might be the stress I feel building up in me again. My head knows is stupid but my body doesn’t seem to care.
After lying there staring at the ceiling for about 90 minutes, I gave up and texted my youngest son in the next room knowing he would still be up.
“Hey, what’s the name of that comedian you said you thought I would like?”
I figured I’d put my earbuds in and watch him on Netflix on my phone. Jake’s answer came with an invitation, “Come on out and we can watch it together.” For the next 90 minutes, in the middle of the night, we laughed together.
After my transplant, I got the bonus of hanging out with my oldest son Josh for 5 weeks while we recovered. Since he recovered from being my donor much more quickly than I did, he took on providing a lot of my care. Josh and I talked politics, economics and laughed at a lot of things. We watched reruns of reruns, SportsCenter and whined about our Red Sox as awful as they were. We got hooked on the icky “Walking Dead” on Netflix and watched an episode or two every night. We even bought the second season!
Josh walked with me to the stop sign and back at my slow pace. We sat soaking up the sun. I tried asking him about his Phd. work, still not understanding what it is that he does but being very proud with every word.
My solo time with my oldest was a gift I will never forget. Even now I am choking up writing about it. My boy and I have always shared so much. From the early days of throwing him thousands of pitches, mountain biking together and staying connected with music and sports all the way through high school and into college, we had lots of hangout time.
My relationship with Jake was, of course, different. Jake played sports early but it faded by middle school. Televised sports were boring to him so he’d disappear when a game would come on. We shared our sense of humor but it was tougher for me to share experiences with Jake. Baseball bored him, team sports made him feel too much pressure so he swam and played golf. He hated biking. We did golf together but it was far too expensive to do it often.
Jake always loved media, video games and computers. I’d invite him out into the sunshine and tease he and his friends about sitting in a dark room shooting trolls and goblins all day. I’d sit for hours trying to play while they would shoot me and laugh. No matter how much I practiced … I never got better at it.
Our tightest bond has always been our ability to make others laugh while laughing at ourselves. Youth group games, road trips, joking with family … we are so much alike. And we’re both wimps crying at sappy movies and then laughing about it.
I remember when Jake was little and we’d try to get him to go on a “daddy date.” Each month I’d do one special thing with each of my kids. It was individual bonding time. Jake wanted everyone to come. He has always loved it when everyone is together.
Four weeks ago he graduated. He’s been hanging out with me here at home waiting to hear about a job in New York. For me, it has been like the gift I got of alone time with Josh after transplant. I’ve loved it.
Jake has grown up and though he still plays video games at least 2-5 hours a day, we’ve watched baseball, laughed at movies, teased Robin and played with my puppy. He has helped me with photo shoots and gone with me to run errands. We’ve talked politics, laughed at Youtube videos and pictures on Facebook.
On Tuesday my dad was here and the three Donald’s (Jake is really Donald Jacob) took Pompom for a walk to the ballfields. I was so glad he set the laptop aside and came with us. Maybe I’m being over-dramatic but my dad is 80, my Jake is 21 and I should be dead. Sitting on the soccer field bleachers with my dad’s constant humming in my ear, watching Jake laugh and chase Pompom protecting her ball, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude. I thought, “This right here, will probably not happen ever again. Thank you, God, for this.”
Last night Jake and I laughed and ate Pop Tarts until almost 3 AM. I thought of him heading back to New York this Sunday leaving Pom and I alone again and I wished these four weeks hadn’t gone by so fast.
“Thank you, God, for this.”