When Louie turned 6, his birthday party was at the local botanic garden. He and his friends had Angry Bird cake pops, learned about butterflies and got to release one into their exhibit. His butterfly was the largest and most glorious (to us) and seemed to cling to Louie for quite a bit, despite its newfound freedom. We stayed close until it was ready to test out its wings.
In the moments before the party started, a woman was folding cranes and regaling anyone who would listen about the origins of origami. She gave Louie a tiny crane and it still sits in his room among the tiny creatures children amass over their lives. We dusted around it, moved it here or there, but it always stayed nearby.
When Louie turned 8, his birthday party was in the back of his favorite sushi restaurant. The kids learned to roll their own sushi. We made takeout boxes with Hi-Chews, Domos and their names written in Japanese. As we waited for the sushi rolling to commence, one of the activities was folding cranes. We discussed the legend of 1000 cranes and despite prepping to instruct the kids how to fold them, I resorted to Google to get through it. This was also the birthday Louie asked his friends to bring games and crafts to donate to our children’s hospital in lieu of something for him. This was over a year before his diagnosis.
When Louie was sick, prior to our first trip to New York for a trial, his 5th grade teacher gathered a group of upper school kids to fold cranes for him. These were older kids that stayed afterschool for days to fold paper cranes. His teacher delivered the cranes moments before we left for New York. We immersed ourselves in the variety of colors and patterns; I felt so positive, that these thoughtfully folded signs were saying Louie would emerge healthier and stronger. Alive.
And now, we are weeks away from his 13th birthday. He said he didn’t want to have a bar mitzvah, that he wanted to convert to Buddhism or something else for a few weeks to avoid it. He agreed finally when I said we could forgo the madness and sojourn instead to Israel or anywhere else. He offered London because, Harry Potter. Fine. London. Only we’re not there. Instead we’re visiting his grave to give him details of the last Simpson’s episode or tell him about money we’ve raised to help find a cure. We bring him rocks or coins or other trinkets he treasured, a hedgehog, Pikachu, etc.. Today we brought him 2 of those cranes that were folded for him. I added the words #cranesforana and his name to them. Ana is a girl in New York, who died a year ago from cancer. I’ve only had written correspondence with her mother, who writes about grief among other things. When you have grief like we have, it manages to hijack all other emotions.
As the weather warms, we try to hide children’s voices outside by making the TV louder. I go weeks without hearing from friends, now realizing a response on social media was all they could muster. I've come to pragmatically realize I had no friends at all. And I'm at peace with that. I try to keep busy until 4:30 when I think it’s acceptable to spend the rest of the evening watching the news, Jeopardy and Simpson’s reruns. When I work, I spend the time pretending I have a son who is almost 13. When people groan about that age and what I must be going through, I wish with every cell I was dealing with the tumultuous emotions that reside in a 13 year old boy. Instead, I’m wishing for him back or at the very least to have things stay the same. I dread the day I stop hearing songs he liked or commercials he thought were ridiculous. I’m only looking forward to the next Harry Potter movie. Aside from that, each day rolls by, where I miss my Louie a little more. I realize that everything, even folded cranes, just ease the pain for a moment. But I know how much a moment can mean.
#cranesforana #universelouie #thegreatloudini