I walked in the door at 9:15 p.m., took off my shoes, dropped my bag and quietly headed downstairs. Pablo was surely asleep, I thought, as I touched down on the first stair. My hand touched our bedroom door knob. I turned it as quietly as possible, pushing the door open. Inside, the lights were low; I saw Jo Ann, awake, as expected. There was one other creature stirring in our bed, and his name was Pablo. His eyes lit up, his smile thrust forth like the heat of a blast furnace. I felt my smile mirror his, and I felt my heart slow down, warm, then melt. He stood up. I went over to the edge of the bed, hugged his frail, 16 kilogram body as tightly as I could, and told him I loved him a zillion times. Without uttering a word, he smiled a smile that communicated 'you always say that, Papa.'
I could tell P wasn't tired. Or, perhaps he saw a willing playmate who could keep him from having to go to bed when Mommy wanted him to. Either way, I hadn't seen him since parting ways with him and Jo Ann at 9 a.m. at CHLA. I missed him, and I wanted to hang with him. So, I invited him to tag along with me as I went upstairs to take my nighttime vitamins, and prepare his post-radiation food.
Pablo was so eager to participate in the prep of tomorrow's breakfast snacks that he pulled the honey nut Elmo-O's out of the cabinet all on his own. A Tupperware container filled with a box of that stuff is still quite a task for him. Then, he snagged a rather large Tupperware container to hold tomorrow's portion captive until he can get his hands on it. I enjoyed watching him make the decision on which container to use. I enjoyed watching him hold the container as I poured the O's. And I enjoyed asking him to say 'when' at the point where we'd poured the correct amount. When that task was complete, he opened the refrigerator and implored me to take a guided tour of his 'sport drinks'—the organic fruit drinks that Jo Ann bought for him at Whole Foods. There must be four different flavors of the stuff. Each flavor is filled with electrolytes and all kinds of other replenishing ingredients—just the kind of drink you need when your body is being zapped and juiced up by radiation and chemo.
Pablo's always such a good sport. Once he heard the term 'sport drink,' that became his flag to fly. He has always been so willing to latch onto a phrase or sentiment and run with it. When he was younger, we thought it was adorable, and a sign that he had good 'processing skills.' We still think that, and we also think that it's wonderful to see Pablo accept so many new drinks, foods, medicines and procedures into his life. This playful, exuberant acceptance is like a soothing elixir to me and Grady and Jo Ann.
Without saying the words, Pablo is saying to us, 'I get it, guys. I'm in on it, I'm with you, and I get it.'
One other thing P was in on today: pushing the syringe of milky Propofol at the radiation oncology clinic. No, he didn't hijack the anesthetist! The doctor who worked with us today (we'd never met him, and I forgot his name) offered Pablo the syringe, and encouraged him to push it. Like a total pro, P placed his thumb on the back end of the syringe, positioning hi index and middle fingers on the sides of the tube. He pushed it in. In an instant, his hand and arm went limp. He tried to regain his grip on the syringe. His eyelids drooped. I could feel him heavy against my chest. He grabbed at the syringe again, ham-fisted like an Everclear ballad. No luck that time. He was out.
And that's my exit segue. It's late, and I, too, need to be asleep, sans the wicked white milk med.