Sitting in my office at home, I look to my left at the white shelves on the lightly painted blue walls and hold my gaze at the face of three angels that were stolen from this earth. The programs from their going home services are neatly centered and I can’t turn away. Their smiles are beaming and my heart is aching. How could cancer be such a monster?
I talked to a mom of an angel recently and she had a sense of sorrow that you could feel. It had been a few years since her son had passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Holidays have always been hard without him, but a new fear was sinking in and she couldn’t figure out how to stop it. With tear filled eyes and a desperate voice, she muttered 6 words that broke my heart “Are people starting to forget him?”
I couldn’t imagine the heartache that was racing through her when thinking that her sons battle of cancer was slowly being forgotten. All of the pain that he endured, the loss of childhood, their loss of family dynamics, the pain of watching him take his last breath, how could anyone forget that? I wanted to reassure her that I had not and will not ever forget his face, his sweet personality and how he fought like hell to live another day.
The pain of losing a loved one is often unbearable, especially around the holidays. The empty seat around the dinner table on Thanksgiving and the foot steps on Christmas morning that are no longer, is painful. I can’t help but think that the only thing worse than losing a child, is to think that they’ve been forgotten. There’s a special little baby shark in heaven that finished his battle with childhood cancer and ran into the arms of Jesus that I miss to my core. Every single day that passes I fear that people forget all that he was and all that he went through. His smile was enough to light up a room and his personality was a mixture of sassy and sweet- much too perfect to ever be forgotten. I don’t know the feeling on a parent level, but I do know the feeling on a different level and it’s a knock you to your knees type of feeling.
I know the world can’t just stop when you feel like yours has, but I wish there was a way for us to keep talking about a memory without it being seen as “too much.” We live in a society that’s super invested in a moment, rather than a legacy. I watch childhood cancer moms plea on Facebook for their childs memory to not be forgotten, I watch followers increase when a child is nearing end of life and decrease when the child passes. I watch friends and family reach out to families daily, then weekly, then monthly, then……
My advice to all of us this holiday season is to: Be patient. Be kind. Give Grace. Reach out and share a memory. That man you see in the aisle standing in your way for the last 10 minutes? It’s his first Christmas without his son and he misses buying him presents. That mom you saw fumbling her change at the register holding everyone up behind her? She’s using the last of her money to get toys for her kids who are facing their first holiday without their sister. The little boy screaming for the toy in the aisle? He wants the truck him and his brother used to play with at the hospital, before he passed away.
I envision one thing being said from the angel that I grieve“just one more thing before you leave, don’t forget to remember me.”
And I won’t.