Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unstinting (excuse my adjective instead of a verb)

September 5, 2012

The NY Giants kick off against the Dallas Cowboys tonight, their coach Tom Coughlin could wear a gold ribbon on his chest.

In case you missed it, the small, but mighty childhood cancer community is unstinting in its determination to get the nation's attention and focus it on children and teens with cancer.  More walks, more lemonade, more cookies, more kickball, more shaved heads, more garage sales, more beaded lanyards.

That doesn't obligate me to write about childhood cancer, but with Davis heading to surgery in the morning, my mind is on him, and on Erin tonight.

This blurry (artsy?) photo is my phone screensaver.  I look at it every day.  Raising strong-willed, bright kids nine years apart in age was never going to be a picnic, and having one with cancer added a degree of difficulty that I hadn't anticipated.

I have often heard or read notes from moms and dads whose child died about how respond to when someone asks them how many children they have.  Most people work out their own personal answer.  What I hadn't reckoned on was what Davis encounters on a parallel, but completely different track.

As a single guy he has had his share of first dates.  You remember those?  The jitters.  What to wear?  Where to go?  What to talk about?  What NOT to talk about?

Anybody who reads magazine pieces or blog entries about "safe" first date conversational topics, places to go, or other ways to quell the nerves, will recognize that asking your new acquaintance about their major is sort of de rigeur.  That is, unless your major is theoretical mathematics.  That's a certain conversation stopper which leaves the new acquaintance searching for safer, more settled territory, like "Do you have any brother or sisters?"  Asking about siblings is considered VERY SAFE.

Except when your sister who you loved very much died of cancer.  No matter how you answer, it's likely to de-rail the date.  You either tell the truth and wait for the awkward silence to quit roaring in your ears or you dodge the question and feel like you've betrayed your sister's memory.  Even if you explain the circumstances and the new acquaintance responds sympathetically, it changes the dynamics and the trajectory of the first date, which is already a very risk-filled proposition.

So my wish today in memory of Erin and in honor of childhood cancer awareness month is saving all the children so that their brothers and sisters don't have to figure out what it means to live without them.


  1. Praying for you guys...always. Today, especially, for Davis as he heads into surgery. And missing Erin...

    Much love to the Buenger family!
    Tanya Loewen

  2. Wow, that last line was an emotion-filled, tear-producing kicker. Great post--straight from the heart. Davis will ALWAYS be a great big brother.

  3. Thoughts and prayers coming your way this morning! Davis is such a special guy to us--hope his recovery is speedy and complete. the mcburneys

  4. Beautiful post. All the best to Davis, he's in my thoughts. Wishing him a speedy recovery!

  5. me. the short chick.September 11, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    Well, you suck. I'm exhausted and I came to teach a class that it ends up I'm NOT teaching. So, instead of doing rewrites or other important academic things, of course I decided to look at blogs. Of course I came here. I was already close to tears as it was being all tired and exhausted from this city and all.. believe me, even bus rides to downtown are exhausting because these aren't the bus rides of set bus stops and schedules and big highways and streets of america. Oh f. no. These are the bus rides of holding on for dear life in case the bus HITS something or someone on the way to picking up just anyone who happens to put their hand out. So, here I am, sitting at this new job place in the middle of Amman (thank GOD its not down at Rainbow Street, that's TOO FAR) and I read this. And all the "what does one do when one talks about a dead loved one" hits me in that spot that causes tears in the most uncomfortable situation. I live it every day, you know that. How do I talk about Melissa and Dad? Tell Davis I understand too well. Luckily I have a yummy cuke to eat because the lump you left is bigger something a drink can wash away.

    Now you should come to Amman to visit me so I can cry on your shoulder. :P