A Gift from a Son Who Died

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GIFT FROM

A SON WHO DIED

by DORIS HEFIOLD LUND

It s not the way I thought it would be

l

thought the sun and the moon would go oui. I thought ioy itself would die when Eric died. He had given so much to all ot us his family. his iriends And yet his death is not the end oi ioy after all lt s sornehow another beginning. . lour' Eric died at twenty-two. aller a ahd-a-half -year struggle with leukemia.r While he left tls with the deep bruises ol grief, he left us sg much more So much to celebratel There's a victory here that I m still lrying io understand Why do l, even in loss, leel stronger? Why does life on lhis untldy, dangerous planet seem more wonderfullY Precious? I am

conscious now ol the vaiue of each good moment, the imPortance oi wasting nothing. These lhings are Eric's gilts to me. They weren't easily bought or qui6kly accepted. And noi all came iied with ribbonst manY were delivered with blows ln addition to leLrkemla, Eric was suffering from adolescence. And there were iimes when this condition took more oui of us than his other one A seventeen-year-old boy who may not live to become a man is suddenly in a great

hurry. Like a militant new nation he wants instant lndependence and no comprornises A{ier the ilrst few weeks Eric qulckly took charge oi his illness l was no longer to talk io the doctors ln Nraga' ne Copvrighl e)

issra ol CloL] fl.useLe'Aliii lror rlc boo" I fb/ oolr L.no as reooer'e l ':te April 1973 ,r7i,-,h. Ee st co !o'r'"r Ad"otpd

Gilt,rom a Son Who Died

/

Book one

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199

lact-the message came through clearly-l was no longer to talk at all unless lcould avoid sounding like a worried mother. Perhaps it would have been dilferent iJ we'd had a chance l(J preparo tor whal was coming. but it was a thunderbolt from a cloudless sky. We live in a small ConnocticLlt town, just a block from the beach. This had been a summer Iike many others. The front hall was, as usual, full ol sand and kicked-of t sneakers, mysterious towels thal didn'l belong lo us, an assorlment ol swimming lins, and soccer balls. By September, l, like many mothers, was hall-lo'rgilg for school to slarl and hal'dreading it. Our twenty-year-old daughter had married. and now Eric was packed and ready to go otf ior his freshman year at the Universily of Connecticut. But len-year-old Lisa and 'ourleen-year-old Mark would still oe al home. lkept telljng myself how lucky Id oe to have less laundry and fewer cookie crumbs to contend with. But I didn't exactly believe it. One afternoon Eric and lboth wanted the car at the same moment. ''1ve got to run al the track. N4om." He was wearing his soccer shoris and running shoes. "lve only got two more days before school starls, and Im not in shape " I knew how much he wanted to make the lreshman soccer team when he

got to college, but I had work to,do. "l have to go to the printer," lsaid. "But l'll drop you ofl at the field and pick you up later." "Okay. He scowled a bit at the compromise. As we drove olf together, I noticed something on his leg-an ugly red sore, big and round as a silver dollar' There was another larther down. And another on his other leg. "Eric. What have you got on Your legs?" "Dunno. Liille infection maybe." ''lt doesn't look little to me. l protested. "lmpeiigo is what it looks like. We'd better go r;ght over to the doctor's

'like mad. lf that's what it ls. they aren t even going to let you into the locker room. We ve got two days before You qo. Let's get the doctor to clear it up

office.' - "Moml" He was furious. ''Eric, ' I said- "lmpetigo spreads

''All right," he said dully. The sores did not look like impetigo to our doctor. He told his secreiary to call ll^e hospilal a'ld "-range to have E,ic admilted next morning for tests. Be there at eight. Eric," he said"What tests?" lturned to the doctor. Eric had had a complele physical requ'red lor all freshmen, only twelve days before. Blood tesls, too. He'd passed wilh flying...
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