Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Giving Season

Jack Frost came to our house yesterday, much to Olivia's delight.  The sweatshirts worn in the weekend sunshine as we raked mountains of leaves to the curb had become wholly insufficient. Fall has taken a turn, as the majority of the trees have shed their colors. Only a few retain their vibrant glory which was commonplace two weeks ago.

I walked with Olivia and her friend Maggie on Halloween, dressed as Hermione and Rey.  The ghosts of Elsa and Ana followed me, the princess innocence of last year replaced with more active and powerful characters. Fantasy and magic remain constant, but the fight against evil and the defense of justice have appeared.

The girls are clearly growing up, apparent in their costumes. But I was more haunted by the other memories from last fall, when Brent was so desperately ill with leukemia. Birthday season was mentally challenging, as reminders of last year's relapse continually wormed their way into my thoughts on these special days.

It is now November, the time of year when the Ramers take pieces of Alex and transfer them to Brent in ways that are in conflict with established medical practices. I pointed out to a dear mutant friend that normal people simply call this time of year 'Thanksgiving.'

While part of me feels rather snarky about this truth, it is layered with some wonder and gratitude. After donating bone marrow, then peripheral stem cells, Alex is once again stepping up for his brother and donating an impressive amount of skin to cover the large wound that remains from Brent's summer infection. This graft -this gift- is only possible because of the success of last year's bone marrow transplant.

Alex will arrive tonight from Ann Arbor, setting aside the demands of his first semester of college in order to do what he is uniquely able to do for Brent in the OR.

I have always believed that siblings are the best gift you could give to your child, never quite understanding the common worry about jealousy when a new baby arrived.  When they were only toddlers, I taught our children the mantra, "We are Ramers. We look out for one another."

It would seem that Alex took that tribal chant to heart.  While I am glad for his other accomplishments, his devotion to family is what makes me the proudest. He, quite literally, has Brent's back. 

Like with Elsa and Ana, sibling love is powerful. We fight a cancerous evil like Hermione and Rey, using the magic found in science and medicine, all of it backed with the power of prayer.

We welcome your prayers on Thursday, as we once again dive into uncharted territory.