Not guaranteed a tomorrow

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I just can’t.

It is a newsworthy time in Alabama, one fueled by scandal and political intrigue. I should be writing lines and lines about the “Luv Gov” and his text messages about cupping Rebekah Mason’s various body parts.

But I can’t.

All I can think about is a hospital room at M.D. Anderson where a mother is cupping the side of her son’s face, praying for a miracle and hoping when he closes his eyes, it won’t be for the last time. Or maybe she does because then his suffering would be over.

When you put it out there like that, the state’s sex scandal seems trivial.

Gordie is only 16, and his time left on Earth is little. Diagnosed with leukemia, he and his parents made the trip to Texas in October with hopes of a bone marrow transplant would bring remission and a bright future.

With his sister as the donor, it seemed that would be the case. For a while, there were discussions of homecomings and celebrations. And then there weren’t. His decline – much like the disease’s initial onslaught – was swift.

I met the Cartwright family more than a decade ago. Gordie’s parents work with the Town of Gantt. Over the years, our lives became more entwined. My police officer husband became the town’s chief and Gordie’s mom, Christy, its town clerk. Dad Rick helped remodel our cabin. On the night of Gordie’s diagnosis, Wes and I watched from the mouth of the hospital bay as the ambulance began its journey to the pediatric cancer hospital.

Gordie and my oldest are in the same grade. Prom, graduation and all the thrills of growing up are hers for the taking. I know we are never promised tomorrow, but a 16-year-old like Gordie deserves more time – time for a first love, one big mistake and all the wonderful things life has to offer.

How do you say goodbye to your child?

How do you cup his face and lean down for a one last kiss?

I. Just. Can’t.

Sitting at this computer, tears stream down my face. While my heart breaks, I know the devastation pales when compared to the grief of those gathered around his hospital bed.

Every effort was made to bring Gordie and his family home Monday night, but – for whatever reason – it wasn’t in God’s plan.

As this paper goes to press, a vigil is being held at Gordie’s high school. As the sun sets and prayers go up, I say to the Cartwrights, know that you are loved both in this world and in the next.

And know when I gently cup my children’s cheeks tonight and a press a kiss to their foreheads, I too am praying for a miracle.

If that is not His will, I pray you find peace and inner strength needed in the days ahead.