I offer this submission for our son Toa Williams.
He was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. At that time, he was 10 years old, and we were a hot mess. Hearing such painful news in such an enclosed space, Room Number 2, was a difficult experience. I bursted out in tears and his father fainted. Toa sat on the medical bed with his ear phones on watching this emotional wave crash down in front of him to the beat of some random tune. Our youngest, Vasa, continued his day in Kindergarten as if it were any other school day.
Since that day we have learned, as do most families in situations like these, everything we could learn about his particular leukemia. We spent days and nights in the assigned hospital room and found out who our "true selves" were during the worse of the treatment process. Surprisingly, the saying that "children are resilient" comes to mind and I think so are adults.
Our family is very pragmatic so we heard there was a diagnosis and immediately changed our habits and schedules to match whatever it was we needed to do for him. Emotions are felt strongly but immediately so that we can move forward with what needs to get done. Our new normal is now the normal and we are all still here and that wave that crashed like a tsunami on the first day has since receded into more calming ebbs and flows.
Toa is an 11 year old boy, and he is strange. He is exactly what "strange" plays out in the theater of your mind when you hear someone described as so. He is awkward in social events and ironically prefers large gatherings. He plays VR games like no one is watching him but is shy when you ask him to dance with the same abandonment. He speaks as he is spoken to so he uses large vocabulary words in the wrong context and mixes up pop references constantly.
He is an older brother to a a five year old Tasmanian devil, Vasa, whom he secretly shows affection when he thinks no one is looking. He likes the role as older brother best when he is left "in charge". His animal spirit is a cat. I have an opinion that it is because cats are lazy and immediately lose interest. Toa disagrees. His animal spirit is a cat because he is drawn to fascinating things and he is compelled to check it out. He is comfortable in his own skin and stretches whenever he feels like it. He enjoys being alone but will not scoff at your company if he looks up and sees you sitting nearby and he purrs.
He thinks he is hilarious but that is what makes me laugh out loud. He does not care that no one gets his sense of humor. He knows how to entertain himself. He is a quick study and a procrastinator like his father. He enjoys spending up all his free time on the front end and becomes unbearably whiny as the deadline approaches. He believes all people are good and is okay with giving them a lifetime of do-overs to prove they have the capacity to show they can change. He is unbelievably selfish with his time with his mother and becomes the volunteer tribute with most other things.
We love our son for so many more reasons but the one that is most special to me is that he is still here. My son went into remission on Friday, February 21, 2020