In this excerpt from his book A Heart That Works, Rob Delaney, the writer and star in the TV series Catastrophe, recounts how after some unexplained vomiting, doctors discovered a brain tumor the size of an apple on his infant son’s brain stem. In recounting Henry’s diagnosis and treatment, Delaney shares the deeply personal and harrowing experiences of caring for a terminally ill loved one.
Upon our arrival, Henry was admitted and given a bed in their brain and neurology ward. We were shown to a shower room where all three of us could fit in, and Leah showered with Henry, holding him. I took their picture and in it, beautiful naked Leah is cradling beautiful naked Henry under the warm water and the expression on his face is one of pain and fatigue you would normally associate with an old man.
A few days after the surgery, we were allowed to carefully hold Henry on a pillow. He’d have to be gingerly lifted out of his bed by two or three people, making sure none of his lines and ventilation got tangled, but we could hold our baby boy again.
The weight of him in my arms was heaven. The ability to kiss him, to put my lips on his tummy and his shoulders. His ears weren’t yet freed from the bandages, but I would get to kiss and nibble gently on those soon too.
The truth is, despite the death of my son, I still love people. And I genuinely believe, whether it’s true or not, that if people felt a fraction of what my family felt and still feels, they would know what this life and this world are really about.