Grief – an upside?

It has been a one year, eight months, twelve days and nine and a half hours since we lost of youngest son, Gus, to his second battle with a neuroblastoma in his short but well lived ten years – but who is counting.  I should state at the outset that we were lucky? blessed? fortunate? (no word seems right) that neither of his two battles with cancer were terrible as weird as that sounds. Both times, the first when he was two years of age and the second eight years later, he did “well” with all of his treatments – chemo, radiation, and stem cell transplants.  Yes, he lost his hair and he lost tons of weight but he was always in good spirits, happy, calm, above it all in a manner that was truly beyond his age.  He seemed to have an understanding that there was a distance between body and his soul so much so that one day as he was being pumped with whatever was required that day he’d said to me “I’m sorry Mom, but this body is no good.” As we watched our brave little boy with great awe, admiration and helplessness endure his treatments I asked God for two favors – the first of course that he be cured and the second that if it was not to be to never make me tell him he was going to die and then to make it quick and painless.  God granted me the second.

Just before he died, early Sunday June 24, 2012, after a second five-day round of intense chemo for the second relapse in less than nine months, August Deppe raced his dad from the cancer center to the car -beating him as usual -for the last time.  He woke up the next day with a stomach ache, the beginning of septicemia, which would take him from us in less than twenty-four hours.   More than fifty people visited him that day and about thirty stayed with him, taking turns massaging his feet and holding his hand until he took his last breath. The ICU doctor said he’d never seen so many people for such a small child and speculated that he must have been very special.  He was. Kind, happy, hopeful, spirited, generous, thoughtful, courageous, brave, amazing – even death could not rob him of his inner light – on his face a final peace and on his lips a little smirk that suggested he’d taken a great secret with him.

I have always been a happy, optimistic – find the silver-lining kind of person but that day I wondered if I would ever stop crying.  Gus was the heart of our little community, his class and our family.  While a mother is never supposed to have a favorite, there was no way for me to help it.  Everyday he’d ask “How was your day Mom?” and I’d answer “better now that I am with you” and we’d hug each other and tell each other how much we loved each other – he was just that kid.  With his passing, the silence in the house was deafening and the busyness that had kept us swirling around him abruptly stopped.  We had difficulty looking forward to the next hour let alone the next day, month, holiday or year.  We’d had so many plans but all of them had included Gus.

This blog is about the diversions, distractions and motivations (the upsides) that are helping us live each day for and in honor of our son Gus.


August Deppe – August 10, 2001 – June 24, 2012

Smile – I’m Fine

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