11 years ago today, I was a carefree mother of two active boys–ages 12 (Nick) and 10 (Stephen). Summer was upon us and even as Nick struggled with ear infections and unexplained rashes, we looked forward to sun and fun.
Every summer, we’d write out summer activities on a big poster and check them off as we completed them.
Eat at every possible ice cream shop in the area
Swimming at Barney Road
Bonfires and smores
That summer was a pivotal one. I had purchased bike locks, because we planned to ride our bikes to the pool, library, and ice cream. Nick would have soon been able to ride on his own, and I wanted to make sure they would be safe.
We also planned a big trip to Florida. Nick wanted to swim with the dolphins. It was to be our first big vacation in a couple years since buying a new house. Our world was golden. We were happy. We were whole. If I could have captured that moment in a single word it would have been joy.
The next day, July 4, 2008, our world plummeted into shock, disbelief, and pain. Nick was diagnosed with Leukemia. We never used our bikes or those locks. They still hang in the garage. Nick made it to the pool one time and was too ill to swim. We cancelled our trip to Florida–fear shackling us close to home. Our family was split in half with one parent in the hospital and taking Nick to treatment and the other with Stephen.
Four months later Nick passed away. As I sit at his spot in the Jonesville cemetery, I wish for that life back. I mourn for my son and the harsh reality of so many children battling cancer.
I give in to these moments and be with my son. Then I move once again. Back into life as it is now.
Tomorrow we walk in the parade that my boys loved to attend. It’s a reminder of what we lost, but also of how much work is yet to be done.
Our lives have changed. I have learned to focus on what I can control. I couldn’t control the disease that took Nick, but I made sure he knew he was loved forever. I can’t control the fact that 90 children are diagnosed each year just in our area, but I can show compassion and support them through our foundation.
I can control how I live each day. I take the time to sit and be with my boy, no matter where I am. I embrace the precious moments I have with Stephen. And I forge my path and live my life fully until I see Nick again.