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Bonds Formed, Hearts Broken

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Driving in silence, heartbroken we approach our final destination, every parent’s worst nightmare. All we hear is the windshield wipers fiercely trying to keep up with God’s tears as they fall in sadness. God’s tears fall in sadness over pain that so many of his children are coming together to painfully mourn the loss of a beautiful, sassy 15 year old girl. More tears falling out of pain that her family has move forward in life with a heart that will never fully heal. More tears falling because of all the teenagers that will sit through a funeral confused and scared. More tears falling because of the fears and emotions that will be created by fellow Cancer patients, parents, family members, nurses, oncology techs and Oncologist that comes together to pay respect and show love for a girl that was chosen to sit in heaven, rather than in the medical office on Monday. How is the fair? It is not. No parent should EVER have to bury a child. It is the greatest fear of every parent in the world and the greatest tragedy to witness.

Sarah Crowley, nicknamed Alou, by my 2 year old son Christian sadly lost her fight with Cancer this past Tuesday, April 18 th. My words to honor Sarah will never be good enough as she was the salt of the Earth. Anyone who knew Sarah would describe her as Sassy. She had a beautiful smile and big personality. Her heart of full of love and she was a strong willed, pure soul. My son, Christian and “Alou” shared a special bond. Christian, being 2, doesn’t have the emotional complications that come with Cancer Treatment. He does not have Facebook, Snapchat, and teenage worries. All he knows is that he wants to play all day. This sense of simplicity and positivity has a great effect on Sarah and on the other older Cancer patients. Christian gravitated towards her loving and fun personality and in her; he had his perfect play partner and friend. They would lie in bed together and watch movies, look at pictures and videos of dogs and take Snapchat pictures of each other. She would get lost in his imaginary world with him, playing with the toys he loves for hours on end. They would hold hands and take laps around the Oncology floor together. It was therapeutic for both of them. When we were not in the hospital together, Christian would often ask for her, eager for their next play session. I know Sarah will be watching over him and protecting him, but as a father I do not look forward to explaining this to him. He is not ready to understand, but deserves to know why his buddy now lives in his heart.

At the funeral, I sat in the pew heavy hearted, taking in my surroundings. The hardest was to watch, Sarah’s friends from the Oncology floor. The strength that these teenage Cancer patients showed by being present and paying their final respects to their fallen friend, is beyond words. The road these brave Warriors walk is to be admired by all. Their love for Sarah outweighed any fears or anxieties that would come from being there. I will never forget the look of their faces as they sat in the presence of her casket. It hurts my heart even typing this. My eyes then traveled to the next seat, their parents watching them. I have been through a lot in my life, but being a parent of a child going through Cancer treatment is a brutally hard road. This is a path that you don’t understand unless you have to walk it with your child. Every patient has their own path, but not only are you taken to your limit every day with your child’s treatment, but you are also surrounded with realities like this and other stories of patient challenges. Staying mentally strong and blocking out negativity is not easy. It takes a lot of work and is mentally and emotionally exhausting. Cancer is ugly and evil. There is no other way of looking at it. As I watch the parents of these kids, I question how they address their child’s emotions and fears on the way home and moving forward? How do they relate to their kids and assure them that their path is smoother and there is nothing to worry about? Are you a parent? Can you imagine explaining this to your kid who is still fighting this horrible disease? Next, my eyes move to other Cancer Mothers as they look at each other, saying nothing, but expressing everything. These Mothers are heroes. They walk down the darkest path in life with their children and attempt to create a loving, safe environment. They have formed a bond that will never be broken. They celebrate every positive day together and embrace each other through every difficult day. Lastly, I observe the Cancer patients embracing their doctors and nurses that came to pay respect. Their embrace is not a, “nice to see you” greeting, it is an embrace that goes much further. It is an embrace that says thank you for caring for me, thank you for giving me today and a plea and assurance for tomorrow. These nurses and tech’s provide care and compassion. They have a hard job. They have parents like me that expect perfection and are pit bulls for their child’s care. They have parents that are scared and lash out at them. They handle extremely complex situations every day, yet they continue to deliver love and focus on what is the most important, the patient. The Oncologists are counted on to deliver solutions, provide clarity and a path to a normal life. I can’t think of a harder job. They go to work every day and need to execute flawlessly. Mistakes are never ok because a Cancer patient’s life is on the line. You have parents that give your their heart and trust to heal their child, no matter how rocky the road. The sad reality is that Cancer is not a perfect science and these talented healers don’t have all the answers and, most importantly, they are not God. I expressed my sympathy to one of the doctors to the reality that they have been to too many of these funerals. The doctor answered, “One is too many”. That reply expressed the guilt and regrets that come from a terrible loss like this. They need to go back to work on Monday as if this never happened because another family needs them to be focused. I do not envy this job, but respect it and am thankful for the doctors we have protecting Christian during this journey.

Sarah’s brave fight taught me and others to live every day like it is your last, to love life and love others. I love her and her family and greave terribly for their loss. I am trying to take solace in the fact that Sarah is in Heaven. She has no more pain and will be united with all of us once we complete our journey of life. In the meantime, I ask you all to pray for the Crowley family. Please pray that God give them the strength to take a day at a time and spend their remaining days on Earth honoring the spirit of their Sassy, Beautiful girl. Sarah, we love you and your memory will be eternal.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.You believein God[a];believe also in me.2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going thereto prepare a place for you?3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come backand take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14: 1-4

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death’ [a]or mourning or crying or pain,for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

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