Watching my sons form a new friendship with each other

A columnist is filled with joy as his sons begin to form a close bond

Joe MacDonald avatar

by Joe MacDonald |

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Last week proved a time of celebration in the MacDonald house as my oldest son, Julian, came home to spend a few days with our family before going to Big Bend Ranch State Park for the summer. He successfully auditioned for his first paid acting gig in the show “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” in nearby Alpine, Texas. The house seemed to pick up with energy and excitement when he entered the front door.

I was concerned about my youngest as we welcomed my oldest son into our home. I’ve often worried about my sons’ relationship due to their 10-year age difference and hoped that they’d remain close. However, my youngest son, Caeleb, is 17 and often feels out of place when Julian visits. I encourage Caeleb and tell him that he’ll discover different ways to communicate with his brother as he ages. I hold my breath secretly, hoping to see some spark of connection.

But this visit seemed different, as Julian and Caeleb talked much more than ever before. My heart soared as I heard laughter ring from the kitchen as the family gathered around the table. I stopped participating in the conversation and just listened as an interested guest. My wife, Cazandra, and I grinned as one son made the other roar with laughter.

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As the scene played out, I thought, “My goodness. We haven’t said one word about hemophilia.” The bleeding disorder took a back seat to joy as we celebrated being in one another’s company. I saw the possibilities of what life could be like for my incredible sons. Here, for one moment, we didn’t focus on factor VIII, Hemlibra (emicizumab-kxwh), or a fear of needles.

Some stories they shared included moments when they struggled with their bleeding disorders. I listened to their exciting and colorful descriptions of past experiences. For example, Caeleb talked about when he played baseball and claimed he wasn’t very good at the game. Julian said, “No, little brother. You were very good at the sport. The problem was that your continuous internal ankle bleeds made it impossible for you to run.”

Secretly, I thought, “Damn.” Hemophilia had slithered its snakelike self into this fantastic conversation. Fortunately, they dropped the topic as fast as it had come up and began discussing a new video game they both enjoy. More laughter ensued as we refused to give up the incredible energy flowing through the heartbeat of the house. Nothing could take away the joy permeating the air.

The following day, Julian, Caeleb, and I went to breakfast and started on a quest to help my up-and-coming Broadway star find what he needed for the show. Again, the guys would not stop talking to each other as they enjoyed being together. They seemed to hear each other for the first time, and a brotherly bond, fastened with hope and cemented in love, grew.

I sat back and took it all in. My sons mistook my quietness for disapproval, and I assured them I wasn’t mad, but happy. I remembered the many times that extended stays in hospital rooms, fears of needles, and complications from an inhibitor prevented any fun. But I quietly put those thoughts away, as today proved a different story.

Later, I told my wife the whole story of my crazy sons throwing caution to the wind and enjoying each other’s company. On this visit, a bleeding disorder did not have permission to interfere with their newly discovered friendship, and happiness shone brightly in a way I’d never seen before that day. Everything felt right, and nothing could dampen our spirits. We raised our eyes to the sky and said, “Thank you for this moment of respite.”

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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