Learning To Love You More




Assignment #31
Spend time with a dying person.

Danielle Davis
Los Angeles, California USA



Judson Levasheff
Costa Mesa, CA
November 6, 2007 @ 2:00 pm
I didn't set out to do number 31 for my Thanksgiving challenge to guests, which was to do an assignment in time for the space between turkey and dessert. It just happened.
My friend's little boy, Judson, was diagnosed five months ago with a rare, terminal genetic disease. He was two.
Last Tuesday, November sixth, 2007, after hearing from my friend that Jud's breathing was labored and that he hadn't eaten in a few days, I knew that I needed to make the drive to Costa Mesa to visit him.
I hadn't seen Jud since the day before his diagnosis, back when there was still hope that his symptoms'the onset of blindness and less and less mobility'could be temporary, accoutrements of a fleeting illness. Something that one catches and then goes away.
I hadn't seen him since then because my friend lives an hour and a half away and things never worked out just right. Plus, she and her husband are devout evangelical Christians who were praying for Judson to be miraculously healed. What good would I be with all those potlucking, praying folks reading scripture and singing praise songs?
By last Tuesday, it seemed like most of them, everyone, was accepting the imminent possibility that Jud would not be restored to the fullness of life, in this one anyway.
A note on Jud: he was probably the smartest kid I've ever known, and certainly the most verbal. At two he could sing the Star Spangled Banner, a song I still don't know some of the words to. Surely he would've been a guest with Jay Leno in a couple of years. But not only that, he was quite honestly the sweetest little guy I've met. I'm not naturally a kid-person, but Jud won me over with his sweetness and what can only be described as wisdom.
When my husband, Todd, and I arrived, Jud's parents were hunkered on a giant beanbag chair, Jud's birdlike body flung in their arms, his head and eyes drooping. After a few minutes of chitchat, my friend asked me to hold him. I was kind of amazed at myself that I wasn't thrown by the stale air in the room, Jud's frailness, or the death rattle in his throat with every breath.
It was a huge honor to have him for a while. He was, even barely conscious, still so sweet.
Todd and I had brought them a velveteen rabbit he'd sewed for me before we were married. I told Jud's parents it was on loan; I thought it would be something soft and soothing for Jud, and for them, to touch during this time of waiting and pain with its soft velveteen fur and the silk satin Todd had put on the underside of its flapping ears.
Jud didn't really notice the rabbit on his lap as I held him. Instead, I stroked his bare small feet, soft as the rabbit's ears, feeling the warmth of his dying little boy fever and listening to the delicate rattle in his throat.