Pain, Pain Go Away

You're my hero; I will always love you

September 11, 1994. It was a rather warm morning, my daughter, Shannon, was home now. She was home, resting in her own bed, after a three-year battle with bone cancer. Adriamycin, Methotrexate and the heavy metals Cisplatin. And then there was Cytoxan. Cytoxan, it even sounds lethal. Words I’d never heard before. Words I never wanted to hear. Painful words, etched forever into my memory.
Her bedroom was a brightly decorated; a typical teenage girl’s room. There were colorful pictures that she had drawn on her walls. Pictures of her favorite TV stars, her heart throbs. There were presents all around. Just last week was her fourteenth birthday party, the house filled with loving friends and family. The house filled with life. But that was all gone now. It was just the three of us now. The three weary warriors who fought a noble battle. Three long years.
The IV machine was slowly turning, beep, beep, beep. The oxygen machine was whirring in the corner. It had become rather warm. I reached over her bed and opened the window to let in a little air, or to let something out; I’m not sure which. One of her favorite songs came on the radio, softly playing in the background, “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” by Bette Midler. The one with the line, “Didn’t you know that you’re my hero?” Irene left the room and went into the kitchen. Shannon had always been more concerned for her mom then for herself. She was afraid, of course, but more than that she didn’t want her mother to see her die. I was untying the balloons that had fallen, their air now gone, from her IV pole. Immediately after “The Wind Beneath My Wings” ended, another of her favorite songs began to play, “I Will Always Love You,” by Whitney Houston. It was from a movie she watched more than a few times, “The Bodyguard.” I think that she often dreamed of being swept up and rescued by the handsome leading man. Just as the song ended she simply stopped breathing. She let go of what was left of her body. “You’re my hero; I will always love you.”
In a calm, almost matter of fact voice, I called out, “Irene, it’s time.” I turned off the IV, then reached down and turned off the oxygen. Irene came back into the room. We held each other. We seemed to be surrounded in a bubble. There were no tears at this time; those would come later. We sighed as if releasing her, the last 3 years and the torture that Shannon had endured. Her journey here on earth, our journey with her was complete now. There was nothing that needed to be done. There was nothing left to do. For the first time in three years there was nothing to be done. The universe stopped for that moment. “You’re my hero; I will always love you.” Silence.


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