Really, it's hard to imagine that any of this past six days has been real.
This Friday, we went up to my cabin to spend September long weekend. I was excited for the next week back at school. I had a cross country schedule and a script to study for drama auditions on Tuesday. That occupied all of my mind.
Then we got a phone call. My 14-month-old cousin, Kane, was in the intensive ward of the hospital. They didn't know what he had. We didn't know what was about to happen.
Then we got another phone call. We learned that baby Kane, my sweet, darling, baby cousin, wasn't going to make it.
Those next minutes were the worst of my life. My whole family was crying as we hugged each other. Except for me. I wanted to, but somehow, I just couldn't cry. We had to go to Calgary immediately. Except we just had three days worth of clothes. Our new plan was to meet our aunt in Saskatoon, and then travel on to Calgary. Auntie Char would bring us more clothes. We all packed, sniffling and dazed. As I was lugging my stuff out to the truck, that's when it hit me. I started to sob. It was so horrible.
We spent a good nine, ten hours in the suburban that day. Lots of the way was silent and sad. Towards the end, however, we got a little silly. We made a picture depicting our love of salad. We also made a song. I'll post the picture.
After so many hours cooped up in the truck, it didn't seem real that our baby cousin was dying. How could he? It was Kane. Kane was the sweetest, most perfect baby ever.
Around ten, we got to the hospital. A big, colorful builidng that seemed ironically cheerful. We had to clean our hands with sanitizer. And we saw Kane, and he looked so small in the hospital bed. He had a tube in his nose and a breathing tube bandaged to his mouth. The rest of the tubes were covered by a colorful fish blanket. He had grown a lot since we had last seen him, in February. My aunt and uncle were holding up fairly well, considering, you know. That they were losing a child.
The trouble was in Kane's tiny brain. If you tickled his feet, he would twitch his legs or shrug his shoulders. He was still there. He was still with us.
That night we stopped at about ten hotels looking for an open one. But they were clogged due to September long and some skills competition. We ended up pulling up at some Best Western in Strathmore. We left the next morning.
For the next two days, we stayed in a Comfort Inn with a pool and waterslide. Our cousin, Mathew, stayed with us. We visited Kane during the day. In the morning and night, we swam in the pool.
Kane was increasingly non-responsive. You could feel it in the room, he wasn't with us anymore. His body was trapped in that stuffy room, but we thought his spirit was just above us, watching. It's like when people die briefly and come back to life. Kane wasn't really there. It was awful, but in a way, I wished he could be free.
The next day, he hadn't improved. We said good-bye to him for the last time. I couldn't help crying behind my stuffy mask. I kissed his sweet slack face, twice, and ruffled his soft baby hair. He was so peaceful looking.
My mom and I cried outside on the bench. My whole family is Catholic, and we strongly believe that Kane was going to be safe. Kane wasn't dying, exactly. He was being set free. He was going to be in a much better place than us. Also, in a way, he was much luckier than us. He didn't have to know all the bad things in the word. He'd never experience a crushed ego, or heartbreak, or face something horrific. All he knew was love and trust. My grandpa was going to take care of little Kane.
When we stood up to go for a little walk, we saw a rabbit. A huge, fat, gray bunny, just sitting plain as day on the hospital grounds. He hopped idly to the empty playground, and he just sat there. Then he ran off. This was an act of God. The sight of that sweet, fluffy bunny hopping around made me smile.
Kane Alexander Steenson died at 11:10 pm. They removed the respirator, and his heart beat only a few more times, and then he slipped off peacefully. My aunt and uncle held him. They were with him the whole time.
We moved to our second cousin's house. It's big and beautiful. Danna, my dad's cousin, is great. We hadn't met her before. Meghan is a year older than me, and she's hilariously great. Paul is twenty or something, and he lives at home and works. Even though the circumstances are horrific, I'm really glad I had the chance to meet my cousins.
Kane was cremated, and his funeral is on Friday at three o'clock. My uncle prepared a half-hour presentation with pictures and videos of Kane. My dad and Kane's aunt, Lisa, prepared a eulogy. It's so wrong that he was with us for only fourteen months, but most people would never even get that long with such a boy as Kane. So in a way, we're lucky.
I "interviewed" Kane's brother, Mathew, my cousin, about memories. Here are some that I remember:
- When Matt was showering, Kane crawled in and shocked him by peeking into the shower.
- Kane loved his two puppies, Sadey and Lelik, and would toddle over to Lelik (golden retriever) and grab his fur with two hands and bury his face into his side.
- He loved to splash in the hot tub.
- While Matt was playing video games, Kane would attack him by jumping on him.
- Kane loved to play with the garden hose and fill up his pool.
- If someone held his hands, he would jump on the trampoline.
- He liked to play/eat sand.
Sadly, we didn't know Kane very well, but here are some of my memories:
- At Christmas, five months old, you only had to look at him and he would grin.
- He loved all animals.
- We sat him up on the bread machine, and he loved the vibration.
- On media player, while I was playing a CD, he was mesmerized by the swirling patterns.
Kane was the best baby in the entire world, and it is so cruel that he had such a short time with us. I love you, Kane. Kanerinsky. Kane of the Jungle. Rest in peace: we love you forever.