As I try to write about the 7th year of my boy’s passing, I am filled with sadness mixed anger, love and gratefulness. I’m an oxymoron of emotions. In order to make sense of my emotions, I looked at their journals. These three photos are from 2002. Nick was 7 and Stephen was 5. What I noticed going through the words I wrote and the pictured displayed was how much love our family shared. And not just our immediate family. Love encompassed their aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends who made our family complete. We had so much fun, joy, and hysterical laughter.
|Birthdays were always a huge family event with lots of food, bounce houses, family and friends|
Our families did everything together and the memories that we created have held me together through some of my deepest grief. I am grateful to know that we gave our kids the best childhood they could possibly have had. We had love and that sustains me.
|October 31, 2002–our favorite holiday!|
|Nick was always distracted during soccer and losing a tooth was just another reason to miss the ball!|
But then at this time of year I am catapulted back to those horrible moments 7 years ago when Nick had complications from his chemotherapy. I won’t relive it here because that doesn’t serve any purpose. But the fact that the love and joy of October that you see above is marred by such gut wrenching grief really pisses me off. Of course it wouldn’t have mattered what time of the year it had happened. The pain would still be here, but the rollercoaster of pain and happiness takes a toll on all of us. We express it in different ways, but the grief remains.
|Liam having some fun while he waits to go home after transplant.|
The decision to begin a foundation to help other children fight cancer came from the feeling of powerlessness that we felt not being able to heal our child. Many sacrifices have been made to build a successful foundation and it has involved so many volunteers to achieve our goals. But we do it because to do nothing is not an option. The anger grows and the need to make a difference becomes overwhelming. It becomes a mission.
I received an email about Liam who is pictured above. Here Liam received new life with a bone marrow transplant in Rochester. One of our volunteers, Kayla Wheeler, went to visit Liam and bring him some gifts. He was happy and doing well. Sadly his mom informed me that Liam has relapsed with Leukemia. This breaks my heart and makes me think of Nick and all that he went through. It’s hard to remain emotionally separate. I can’t do it. So my heart bleeds for this little boy and I will do what I can to help him.
Liam’s mom asks that we pray for him and send him positive messages.
You can follow his story on Facebook page Love for Liam
|Abby living in the moment “marrying” her favorite nurse, Matt.|
Then I am overjoyed when I see a little beauty like Amazing Abby who is living life to the fullest extent despite her cancer and treatments. She and her little sister, Zoey, have woven their way into my heart and I couldn’t feel more grateful and blessed. These moments of goodness, hope and happiness get me through my saddest days. I know that despite my pain, I can still do good for others and I want to do that. Abby has taught me to celebrate life, because you don’t know what may happen tomorrow. Grab what you can today and enjoy it.
This reminds me of Nick and his never ending optimism and bubbly personality. I live my life striving to find the positive and the good in everything and everyone I meet. The option isn’t feasible to me. So when the sadness gets too much, I think of the good and when those moments of happiness sneak in, I embrace them and am thankful.
Never a day goes by that I don’t miss my child. The same goes for every other parent, sibling, relation or friend who has lost someone to cancer. As I remember Nick today, I ask you to honor his memory by finding good in your life and if you can’t find any right now, do something to bring out the positive. Renew hope, have compassion, and give back.
And like Nick would do–tell a joke and make someone laugh.