Nicholas left his Easter Bunny with a small nibble out of one ear. I ate the remains and then didn’t like myself for the rest of the day. We’ve had a day pass to the House. My boys always had a bath before bed, every night, and Nick hasn’t been immersed in water in a long while.
“Mommmm, I don’t want to, I’m tired. I just want to sit.” The dark circles under his eyes and his ‘I can’t believe you’re making me do this’ expression has me rethinking the idea until I brush my lips across the fuzz on his head and my nose wrinkles at the odor. “Nick, you smell nasty. It will be a quick swish in the suds and then you’re done. Besides, you’ll feel better.”
He rolls his eyes but lets me help him into the steaming tub of bubbles. “Ewww, it’s warm, Mom.”
I turn on the cold water tap and let a thin stream fall from the faucet. Careful not to get the dressing of his central line wet I run a wash cloth over his frail body. Bones poke out at angles and new scars in various stages of healing mar his skin. My eyes begin to tear.
“I don’t feel so good.” He mutters.
“OK. I’m done. Let’s get you out.” He struggles to his feet and leans heavily on me. The water seems to have washed away the little strength he had.
“Mom!” Wrapped in a towel he begins to crumple to the floor. On my knees with my arms around him I ease him down and now he sits with his legs crossed. His face is the color of a snow bank, his eye lashes are a dark fan across his cheek, when he lifts his eyes to mine he’s smiling.
“I think I fainted. Did I faint? What do you think? There was a noise in my ears and then I was looking down a tunnel and you sounded far away.” He’s impressed.
“Nick! You scared the crap out of me!” The familiar buzz is in my ears and I’m kicking myself for the temperature of the bath water.
Frankie and his Dad have been home for two weeks. On the phone Nicholas tells his near-faint-in-the-bathtub story and then hoots when his brother says they went fishing and he caught a Dolly Varden. “Awwww, I wish I’d been there!” We find out ‘Miss Daisy’ (our little dog who resembles a large grey rat) is staying with Dennis and Carol F. and has been to the vet for stitches and a drainage tube in her right hip for some mishap she’s had.
Members from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment are running the 624 kilometers from Castlegar to Vancouver to raise funds for our family. They set out early on the morning of the 2nd and taking turns at running have crossed over the first two mountain passes of Nancy Greene and Blueberry Paulson. Trailing behind the runners is an RV with a huge banner hanging from the back of it – “Mounties Marathon For Nick.”
“What’s that Dad?” He sits on a chair by one of the phones in the hall at the House. Nick listens for another minute then says “I love you too,” and hangs up.
“Dad said all these people want to help us because I’m a cool guy and they’re our friends.” For a minute he is thoughtful. Then a huge smile begins to grow, his thin cheeks rounding into little pale balls. “I guess I’m pretty lucky, eh?”