I suppose it’s Christmas heresy to declare at this time of year that another holiday is my perennial favorite, but God knows it’s true.
On the afternoon of July 4th, 1996, about 18 years ago now, I stood at the window of Thatcher’s hospital room on the Children’s Oncology floor at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs with tears of joy streaming down my face, thinking to myself “Happy Fucking Fourth of July!”
The night before, I’ll also never forget watching one of the oncology nurses coming into Thatch’s room dressed in hospital garb that now reminds me of the protective clothing worn by Ebola workers, covered head to foot with plastic face mask and not just any hospital gloves but heavy duty, industrial strength gloves that looked more like ones that you would find on a robot, not a human. The kind nurse, whose duty it was to administer a most caustic, toxic chemo drug felt terrible having to do it, but nonetheless gave us the hopeful promise that this medicine might do the trick in dissolving the tumor on Thatch’s esophagus that grew to make it impossible for him to eat. I felt so very, very helpless to do anything, knowing that this poison was being sent into my sweet innocent son’s blood system through his newly installed port. So very helpless as I watched the nurse slowly release the chemical (whose name I’ve blocked) into his beautiful, near-perfect nine-year old body. So…very…helpless…
That night Thatch and I spent most of the dark night going from bed to bathroom as the process of flushing the excess toxin from his body would keep him as healthy as could be expected, with the nurse having turned up his saline drip to the max.
The next morning they took x-rays of Thatch’s chest, and we waited patiently to see what was up. Not knowing what to expect I was incredibly surprised and overwhelmed with the news that the tumor had totally dissolved! My heart raced, and Thatch, Tam and I hugged in triumph! I’ll never forget going to the window in Thatcher’s room, looking outside thinking about 4th of July fireworks that would later light the coming night, and crying tears of joy: We Are Free! Happy Fucking 4th of July! Thatch was free! We were all free of the bondage of this evil growth inside his body that had threatened his very existence.
I am so amazed to this day of the bravery that Thatch brought to his illness and recovery. I am so proud of his indomitable spirit that he brought to his being so stalwart, so cooperative, so willing to make sure that everyone involved in his care was also being taken care of.
I am so very proud of my sweet son Thatcher who still holds those compassionate actions true to himself for everyone he meets. If you know Thatch, ya know I ain’t lyin’!
So even if this isn’t the 4th of July, I still celebrate his health and happiness as I watch him grow into a successful filmmaker and storyteller, so proud of his new architectural cinematography gig with Boston’s MASS Design Group, an award-winning architecture firm made up of some incredibly wonderful Harvard Graduate School of Design alum doing amazing, beautiful work around the world, including Haiti, Kenya, Uganda and the DR Congo helping developing communities with urgent health care and educational needs. I’m proud of their mini-op-doc series “Beyond The Building,” Thatcher’s beautiful, heartfelt filmmaking.