Thursday, November 17, 2005

No More Pictures

There are moments when I feel at a complete loss for any more words. On the one hand, I certainly do not want to end up repeating myself; the search for the hidden memory is frequently elusive and always frustrating! On the other hand, there just has to be more! There just has to be! I suppose there will come a time when I’ll be finished-when what I have managed to recover and write by that point will have left me with a satisfactory sense of closure.
For the now, I've decided to recall a few of Ben's facial features that so
wonderfully defined him as ... himself:

a. Ben's earlobes were ... kind of ... angled out.
b. He had a slightly noticeable 'oriental' fold in the inner corner of each eye.
c. His blue eyes and naturally blonde hair naturally complemented each other-both of which he inherited from his mom.
d. His sparse growth of beard he inherited from me ... thankfully! (He often commented that he and I were so alike in that respect.)
e. His cheeks were full and soft and even with the appearance of whiskers, I never tired of kissing them. (I was just doing as my father did and still does to me ... having no compunction about kissing his adult son.)
f. He had slight dimples in both cheeks.
g. His nose had a slight rise in the middle.
h. He had a full lower lip, rather heavy eyebrows and very straight eyelashes angled downward

Ben was indeed a handsome lad but more important than the wonderful shape of his nose, his sparkling blue eyes or his dimples … was his gentle nature as a loving, kind and considerate son. His mom always rightly characterized him as a “peacemaker”, the kind of person for whom *“shalom bayit” was nothing less than an inherent extension of his personality.

Just a glance back to the summer of 1993- when Ben first attended Olin Sang Ruby Hebrew Union Institute just a few short weeks after having been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes- clearly demonstrates what a remarkable kid he really was! I, on the other hand, was a “basketcase” despite the assurances by the camp nurse that she would keep a close eye on him, as I know she did; Ben’s mom had things under much better control than I, but I dare say she was more than just a tiny bit nervous herself and Ben-with his usual aplomb-set about confidently reassuring mostly me that all would be just fine. Did it put me at ease? No! It did not, but was Ben right about how well things would turn out? Yes, he was and, as a matter of fact, he did not experience any diabetes–related difficulties during the whole of his month-long stay at camp.

Not long before, just several weeks prior to the start of camp, Ben’s mom and I first noticed the tell-tale signs of his diabetes, but at that time, we did not know or have any idea about what in fact would soon turn our lives completely upside down. One evening we were sitting in the front room when he came down from his room for no apparent reason. Perhaps it was just to sit with us or watch a movie when his mom first mentioned that she had noticed how thin and drawn he was looking of late but largely attributed it to the physical changes brought about by adolescence. I do remember the rather noticeable dark bags under Ben’s eyes and how thin he had become, but what really alarmed us was the frequency with which he was urinating. As it happened he was due at that time to receive his physical exam in advance of the start of the camping season.

The day of his physical … it was not even several minutes into the physical before Ben’s pediatrician diagnosed him with type 1 juvenile diabetes and ordered his immediate admission into Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Our timing was fortuitous if not almost dangerously late for-as it turned out-Ben’s blood sugars were so high that he was spilling sugar into his urine, a potentially life threatening situation.

Ben’s first endocrinologist was a staff member at Children’s whose bedside manner was as icy as Lake Michigan’s shoreline about December or so. All that we really sought were … naturally answers! Why? How? I mean … after all neither of us had any history of type 1 juvenile diabetes in our families, although there were several cousins on my side who in their later years had contracted adult onset type 2 diabetes, but that was hardly relevant to Ben’s case … so we were told. Then how was it that this had come to pass? Oh! How well I remember this one doctor’s response …


“What doctor?”

“Genetic predisposition,” he repeated clinically.

“And that is what?” we queried.

“Meaning that he is genetically predisposed to something like this.”


And then he mentioned something about the possibility of milk triggering a virus that attacks the pancreas … something like that?!

I just wish he had said, “You know something? Honestly, we just don’t know!”

Before Ben could leave the hospital, all three of us had to demonstrate that we knew how and were able to inject him with insulin. I can assure you that that is no easy thing … well, at least for me it wasn’t, but I did finally get it while Ben’s nurse stood by watching. Frankly, I think I closed my eyes. Ben and his mom … well, no problem.

*shalom bayit … peace in the home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... said that perhaps, someday, you will have written enough words, that you will have a satisfactory closure. Is there any such thing? I think not. Perhaps, you will have found acceptance, of the horrible fact that you lost a part of your heart and life that awful day. Ben is gone..the wonderful, precious, (and sometimes, painful) memories of him will always be with you. Perhaps some of the memories are still hidden..but they are there, and you will find them when it is time.