Hormones Matter TM

The Days are Long, The Years are Short

May 8, 2012  |  Amy Sandberg

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Bethany w:boys on couch

In 1996, my mom was in Bay View Hospital for the last time after fighting lymphoma for 16 years.

My 4-year-old, Stuart, was in UCSD’s hospital with aspiration pneumonia.

Spencer, my 2-year-old son, had a fever of 105 degrees.

My husband wasn’t much help; at the time he was battling alcoholism.

There was just me. Me and Anna, a woman I’d hired initially to help me care for my children, and later to help care for my mother. I was 34. I worked part-time, carried 115 pounds on my 5’ 10” frame, and the four most important people in my world were sick. So sick that my little Spencer was triaged to Anna and Anna’s mother, who did everything they could to sooth him while I dealt with other more pressing urgencies than a baby with a 105 degree fever.

The days are long.

Fast forward 10 years. My mother has passed on. My husband, recovering, is no longer my husband. Spencer is healthy and the easiest child to raise, for which I’m grateful, but I also wonder — with a twinge of guilt — if it’s because he learned from an early age that whining wouldn’t get him far.

Stuart is sick. Again. I spend countless hours trying to figure out what to do, where to take him, whether he needs one brain surgery or two. How to get insurance that will cover his seeing an out-of-state specialist? I am 44. I’m on my own, and own a start-up which barely pays the bills. My son has a life-threatening illness and there are no easy answers.

The days are long.

The next five years feel like the re-entry of a space vehicle into the atmosphere. You pray you did everything right in the design process, i.e the early years, and that the heat shield you built for your child will hold and the aerodynamics are calibrated to withstand the stress and forces of the teen years. But all you can do is hold your breath and wait in hopeful anticipation for the sound of static indicating that communication has been re-established.

The days are long.

Now, Stuart is away at college. Not Harvard, as I’d once imagined, but a college seemingly meant for him. He’s not a pre-med major, as I’d also once imagined, but has his own passion I didn’t imagine, physics. Spencer is tall, strapping, and handsome, as easy on the eyes as he’s always been on the nerves. After years of trying to move out from behind Stuart’s intellectual shadow, he casts a long shadow of his own. One of confidence, congeniality and his own unique brand of intelligence.

I’m 49. No longer on my own. An established business owner. Well loved and content.

The years are short.