CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.

Celebrating Laynee

You might want to scroll to the bottom of this page and pause the music before playing this video.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Healing in Heaven

Yesterday the girls and I ran for the children of St Jude.   Brock, though not old enough to run with us, went as a volunteer for keeping the runners hydrated.  It was an incredible, emotion filled day.  If you are unfamiliar with St Jude,   is internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Ranked one of the best pediatric cancer hospitals in the country, St. Jude is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.  Their main hospital is in Memphis, Tennessee but we are honored to have the St Jude Midwest Affiliate just minutes away from our home at OSF Children's Hospital. St Jude funds treatment and research for children with cancer. In other words, what insurance does not cover of the astonomical cost of cancer treatment, St Jude pays for. 

Each year, thousands of runners come together to raise money for St Jude.  Some run all the way from Memphis to the Midwest Affiliate, here in Peoria, Illinois.  Others, like the girls and I, run from our own communities to Peoria. We ask people to sponsor us as we run and together. Millions of dollars are raised for St Jude children.  This year was an especially heroic year as temperatures across the nation soared into the triple digits, making hydration and safety a very real concern. 

For myself, the day started out with uncertainty as I awoke to what felt like early signs of a bladder infection.  I wrote it off as perhaps nerves and not too big a deal until after our first running segment, when there was no denying it.  I had a wicked, full blown bladder infection.  I became uncomfortable to the point of needing to sit on the bus for two of the segments.  But after a few phone calls to my doctor and pharmacy and thanks to parents who are always there when we need them, I was soon equipped with medication.  After chugging 24 ounces of cranberry juice and two bottles of water, with the help of the meds, I was ready to run again but with considerable more caution then usual.  I was fully aware that dehydration would be the worst thing I could subject my bladder to.

Running all day in the scorching heat is uncomfortable, no matter how you look at it, even for well trained runners.  Yet that discomfort reminds the runner of why we are running and the discomfort of so many children who fight against cancer.   As we ran, we received honks and hollers of "Thank You's" and "God Bless You's"  but it is not ourselves but the children that we want others to think about. 
At the end of the run day we stood, with hundreds of other runners and families,  along the street and welcomed the Memphis runners.  My eyes stung, my throat swelled with emotion as I tried to comprehend what these runners had just done.  One does not lightly commit to running from Memphis, TN to Peoria, IL.  They run in segments for days, with very little sleep.    These people have true grit, stamina and endurance.  As I watched the weary but enthusiastic runners finish their course, I wondered.  How many of them have been directly impacted by childhood cancer?  I suspect that for most, if not all of them, this level of dedication and passion is born from watching their, friend, sibling, cousin or, worst of all... child... battle cancer.  Their devotion is well beyond admirable.

As the evening wrapped up and we finally entered an air conditioned building, my eyes, for a brief instant, made contact with those of a mother, whom I know watched her son die of cancer.  Nicholaus was Jamee's kindergarten classmate and should be 19 years old today.  I merely smiled at Yvonne as I passed by her but in my heart I felt an aching stab that comes from knowing that her pain, even after 14 years, is great.    I don't pretend to know what it was like for her to watch her child struggle and suffer and leave her.  I know that she, in turn, would never pretend to know what it is like to find my child in a pool of blue water, to fight with everything in me to save her, and to know that she had left us.  But we both know what it is like to hold a lifeless little body in our arms, to watch them be lowered into the ground and to wake up every morning, for the rest of our lives,  without them.   I know that she knows that the pain never ends, that it goes on and on, raw and unrelenting.  I know that she despises the word "cancer" in the same way that I despise any form of the word "drown."  We both know also that we go on and that we live and love and we find joy and contentment but time does not heal all wounds. 

As we prepared to start our run, our youth pastor was there to send us off with a few words and a prayer.  Pastor Doug is familiar with the cancer battle as his daughter, Jada, is now in remission.  He spoke of healing and hope and how they, in a sense, go together. I thought of his words at different times throughout the day.  As we entered the large room filled with people last evening, I studied the poster sized pictures of St Jude children.  These children had shining heads that spoke of illness and large, shining eyes that spoke of courage and hope.  These children do have hope but sometimes we have to stretch our minds to see it. As little children, they have hope of healing, whether on earth or in heaven.  As for the parents who are left behind, well, there is hope of seeing them again but there are some things that just cannot be healed on this earth.....the death of a child is one of them. We know long suffering, perseverance, endurance, and even hope..... but not healing. 

 The 2012 Tremont to Peoria St Jude Team


Thank you to all who donated this year to St Jude, those who ran in the merciless heat, those who fight the battle.  And to those who have been forced to say "good bye," in spite of the fact that you weren't ready,  there is hope that there will be healing in heaven.

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