Amazing that in a 6 week period created out of events of which Cory had NO control (his bone marrow transplant being postponed), that he was able to hug almost every person he needed to OR they needed to hug him before his passing. SomeOne knew of what was to come and gave this beautiful gift of peopletime to him and them. The Godincidences continue to blow my mind.
He called this “The Best Summer I ever had.” as I sat by his hospital bedside in the ICU. He’d had a Miracle. A true, blue Miracle. The doctors used that word, so it must be true (funny how a doctor stating it makes it more official….) But more on that later—The Miracle allowed more Time and meaningful conversation with my son than I had probably had with him in the previous 5 years put together.
1 month of 24/7 together. This was one of those conversations.
“What made it the best summer?”, I said.
I could feel Wisdom coming.
“I just wonder if…” and a tear from him. Isn’t it funny how when you see the tears of ThoseWhoDontCry, it melts you?? I was mush.
“If what?” I say.
“I just wonder if I should’ve been spending my time with you, my friends, the fam. < He really said “the fam”…I love that> I mean, I spent real time with real friends, and the reunion in New Mexico was awesome….” Okay, lots of tears from him now. I haven’t seen this since he was, like, 8 (Be strong for him, suck it up, I tell myself). “I just wonder if I should have spent more Time with everyone instead of exploring all over the country….”
“No, no, Cory…” and I have nothing. I lean over his bed and grab his head to my face. I am trying desperately to keep my composure, because I realize that he is speaking as if he knows this isn’t going to end well. And I wouldn’t change him or his adventurous, nature-loving, exploring and inspiring self for anything. It was HIM to wander and to wonder and he inspired others to do the same.
But he wondered….(so, when it comes down to It… to the End Game–it’s the People, people!) It’s the People we wonder about and possibly regret about and think about in our last days. Did we spend enough Time? –(Take that one home). Do we spend enough Time with the people we love and love us? He wasn’t thinking about what job he’d had, what schooling he’d had, where he went, what he did…..Cory was only thinking about his People, with sad and happy tears.
“Are the doctors ok with you flying ? Are there restrictions?” After dealing with chemotherapy and a compromised immune system this seemed like a logical question to me. “Nope, I’m good” Cory tells me. I kind of knew he wasn’t giving it to me straight and I think he knew that I knew,but we didn’t say anymore about it.
We had been talking about it since March. My parents 50th Anniversary and the ensuing reunion of sorts would fall just about exactly when Cory was scheduled for a Bone Marrow transplant. Cory was going to miss it. As was his nature he didn’t complain much, it’s another unfortunate scheduling issue. For someone who loved and longed for freedom so much he would roll with it and just consider it something he had to deal with. He didn’t ever bring too much attention to what he was going through.
So now with several potential marrow donors backing out we suddenly had this window of 3 days that Cory could fly to New Mexico and see the family. Trouble is… we only have a day or two to find a flight and scheduling and pricing were extremely prohibitive. Priceline, Travelocity, and all of the last minute deal makers were not helping I remember these words “I don’t mind waiting and I don’t mind airports” and then “but I understand if it doesn’t work out”. I almost was ok with that for a second since it was just one day ago that it wasn’t possible anyway. I immediately felt guilty for even thinking of not trying again. He needs this. He won’t complain, he won’t take it personally, he won’t whine or pout or bring more attention to himself, but he NEEDS this. He’s been through so much, we can’t have this reunion without him. I searched again and again, made a few calls and found a flight that worked with his schedule, as he was to report to the hospital Friday night at midnight. I would NEVER forgive myself if I hadn’t found that flight.
The next three days I just looked at him. I am in awe of this man. He never once talks about his journey through cancer(s), treatments, surgeries, etc unless asked. He skillfully deflects certain conversations and makes others feel comfortable. Instead he’s got a double splint holding his broken cadaver bone arm together, his other arm has bandages protecting pick lines installed in his veins, he’s wearing a signature Cory fedora and he’s just smiling and laughing with his cousins, playing cards, and soaking up the love that surrounds him. You would never know he was sick by looking at him. It would be hard to understand all that he’s been through and all that is going through his head. For now though, It is so incredible to just watch him. He was truly happy.
He would say it a couple of times but I know he thought it constantly, he wanted to stay. He was so glad he made it. He said it was just what he needed to go back and “power through” the next phase. He was always grateful for the simple things but this was big for him. I’m still actually haunted by the fact that we almost didn’t make this happen. I think about this a lot still. I, ME, his dad, almost didn’t get him there !!! I am so glad I tried one more time.
It was just for a couple of days unfortunately and because he had to be in the hospital Friday night and some people weren’t coming in until the weekend. We decided to take a picture of him and planned to paste it in later.
Irony that is both beautiful and heartbreaking is when looking at a picture of a person who isn’t with us and wasn’t in certain original pictures, it was he himself who cropped and photoshopped himself in. Equally as tragic but makes this few days with family more special for everyone that week is that he walked off the plane that Friday night after leaving us, he checked immediately into the hospital.
Although I guess we knew the possibility was there, I don’t think any of us really knew that would be the last time he would be able to leave. “–Charlie Powell, Cory’s Dad.