A few weeks ago Michaela (our 2 year old) began hinting there was another person in our family. His name is Jason. At first we couldn’t figure out who Jason was. He would show up in odd moments and our nanny was convinced SHE was being referred to as Jason. After inquiring it became clear Jason was Michaela’s imaginary friend. Jason was a trouble maker sometimes. Jason is not simply pronounced “Jason”. Rather you must pucker your lips and express a deep drawn out ”JAAAASSSSSOOOON”.
Bailey (our 5 yr old) had never mentioned any imaginary friends. Growing up I had my BFF Tiffany so it has tickled me to have a kindred spirit in Michaela. As our family has become more immersed in Jason’s personality we have begun adding him to our daily questions. “Hey Michaela where is Jason?” From what I have surmised he is potty trained, a voracious reader, and an avid jokester. He loves to make messes, hide at bedtime, and cause trouble. He is her imaginary friend and her alter ego. Jason is awesome sauce.
Three weeks ago my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It was a shock as I am sure it is to any person finding out there dad is not invincible. The doctors were quick to get surgery scheduled and within days we had the date. March 29.
My world shook the moment I knew something was wrong with my dad. Realistically we know our parents will get older and have health problems. However it is just something we take for granted until a test result slaps us across the face. My little brother (Rob) and I immediately launched into action making plans to be there. Logistics wise we both had a ton on our plate but within 24 hours we had travel coordinated, work off and spouses taking over at home.
The family plan was to meet the day before surgery, stay together the night before then do hospital shifts. Between my mom, Rob and I my dad would never be alone. The doctors felt confident the cancer was only in his kidney. Everything sounded rational and on paper it made sense. However I knew I wasn’t alone with the feeling of complete and utter fear.
Tuesday I left my girls, Mike and our animals and got on the train. I spent 5 hours thinking about him and honestly dreading my arrival. What do I say? How do I act? Do I cry? Make jokes? Will they cry? My role in our family has always been the planner/cheerleader. I typically take charge (even when they don’t want me to) and lead. Armed with the team bracelets my daughter had made us I arrived ready to do anything to help my parents.
The first hour was a little rocky. My dad was understandably very nervous and my mom was trying to be a comfort while managing her emotions. He wasn’t allowed to have any cocktails and he didn’t have much of an appetite. We chatted about surface subjects and idly waited for Rob to get into town. When he did we headed to a quick dinner in anticipation of our early morning.
I’m not sure when the subject of Jason came about but it did. My family giggled at the Jason stories and we started making up new stories about Jason. Everyone pronounced “Jassssoooon” with the deep voice and curled lip I showed them and it just kept getting funnier. For some reason Jason brought out the child in all of us. By the time we went to bed we had spent most of the evening laughing and swapping stories. We bunked in the same room and my brother started cracking jokes in the dark. We were laughing so hard I was in tears. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt like such a little kid hanging out with my parents.
The next day was LONG. We checked in a 6am, dad’s surgery was at 9 and he remained in solitary recovery until almost 5pm. At one point the nurse allowed each of us to individually visit him. While walking back I was anxious. I wasn’t sure what he was going to look like and wanted to make sure I seemed confident and encouraging. I walk back and in his drugged state he looks at me and says, “It went good honey. “Jaaassooooon” was in there helping out!” I cracked up. Good ole Jason had been there watching over my dad the whole time.
Over the next few days Jason continued to be a theme. In the patient room next to my Dad’s there was a sheriff supervised patient. We joked Jason would protect us. When dad started walking we would say, “Have Jason go with you”. Even when I left this morning I told dad I had to bring Jason back to Michaela. Our faith was always present and Jason served as our angel. He made us all laugh when we really wanted to cry. He encouraged us to have fun rather than worry. Jason brought out the childlike banter we had been accustomed to and gave a light in the scary darkness.
My dad was discharged today two days ahead of schedule. He exceeded the doctor’s expectations with his strength and determination. I heard the nurses talking about him saying he was fun and a joy to have as a patient. We won’t know the final results until next week but his surgeon felt confident they would be positive.
As I sit on the train riding home I can’t help but smile. Watching my dad exude the qualities I love most about him filled me with pride. At 77 he is focused and optimistic. He is ready to tackle anything and is stubborn to get back to his active lifestyle. He is serious about his health but can giggle with Jason.
Jason provided the senseless relief we needed and I can’t help but feel so much admiration for my children. We wore the bracelets my daughter made us through the whole process and my parents implored us for more grandchild stories. THIS is the reason for family. The knowledge and love we receive from our elder’s passes to our children. Our children provide purity and unabashed wonder to us. It is absolutely awe inspiring and I travel home with a heart full of love and hope.
Sending the essence of Jason to all our readers!