Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

So Much Bigger Than Us

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank thee.

For the song of bird and hum of bee,
Father, we thank thee.

For all things fair we hear or see,
Father, we thank thee.

For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank thee.

For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank thee.

For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For the beauty of the blooming trees,
Father, we thank thee.

For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank thee.

For the rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank thee.

For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything thy goodness sends,
Father, we thank thee.

This last year has brought incredible blessings to our family, mostly in the form of amazing kindnesses shown to us by family, friends, and complete strangers.

We've lost some of our best friends this last year, probably things are too painful for them to try and share them with us.

But we can honestly say that the number of new friends we've made far exceeds the number of friends that have fallen away.

When it comes to family, we are blessed beyond measure. You all "get it", every single one of you, and even though there are times you drive us crazy, you have come forward and helped us immeasurably, each in your own way.

Thank you to all those who came to visit Steven in the hospital, for my nephews and nieces and their wonderful babies who brought the first smile to Steven's face after his surgery.

Thank you in particular to Kyra's mom Deb who drove 500 miles all night to be with Steven for his surgery, for the beautiful scrapbook, and for way too many other things to list here.

Thank you to our wonderful family in Oregon who lost their son, brother, and uncle to testicular cancer in 2003, who (among many other things) made a special quilt for Steven.

Thank you to our friends and neighbors in San Diego, for sending cards and bringing meals and treats and gifts, for the handmade cards from your kids, for making sure Sean always had somewhere to go when we weren't home before and after school, for watching our house while we were away, for picking up our mail and taking our trash out, for throwing us a welcome home party.

Thank you to the wonderful people at St. Therese of Carmel church in San Diego who came to the hospital when Steven had surgery, who held a huge welcome back party for Steven after radiation, who barely let a week go by without sending us a package with photos, notes, hats for Steven, books on tape, toiletries, games, videos, handmade items from Steven's classmates, who took care of my husband and Sean when they were home alone, sending dozens of coupons for free meals from takeout places, movie tickets, videos, and who arranged housecleaning for them.

Thank you to the Indian Guides who found a way to include both of our boys in all their activities even while we were 2000 miles away in Memphis.

Thank you to the neighbor we barely knew who took Steven and Sean's bearded dragons into her home while we were in Memphis for six months and who continues to watch them any time we go out of town. She made DVD movies of their life at her house and sent it to us in Memphis. She made a photo transfer of Steven's dragon and made a soft pillow with the dragon photo on the pillow cover for Steven to keep with him and comfort him during chemo.

Thank you to a wonderful man we've never met who works for our internet service provider, who parked our email accounts under his own personal account, so we wouldn't have to pay for internet service in our absence in order to keep our email addresses.

Thank you to the staff from Steven's preschool, who haven't forgotten him and who made a prayer quilt for him shortly after his diagnosis. He spent the every night during radiation while his hair was falling out wrapped in that quilt whenever we were at Ronald McDonald House.

Thank you to Steven's third grade teacher, who who took extra time and care with him the last 5 weeks of school and who encouraged him to believe he could go on to fourth grade even though he missed almost all of third grade.

Thank you to Steven's fourth grade teacher who is spending extra time with him and is making every effort to ensure that his school experience is enjoyable for him.

Thank you to Steven's wonderful classmates who are making sure he doesn't feel excluded.

Thank you to Dr. Levy at Children's Hospital San Diego for removing all of Steven's tumor with minimal side effects.

Thank you to the staff at St. Jude for trying to save Steven's life while maintaining his quality of life.

Thank you to all those who have made donations to St. Jude, and for the very existence of such an institution where we never have to worry about how to pay for Steven's medical care.

Thank you to children's book author Todd Parr who made a special effort to see Steven when he visited Target House in Memphis and Steven was hospitalized for neutropenic fever.

Thank you to the great people at St. Mary's Church in Memphis who adopted us into their church family, who invited us into their homes, who found us a school for Sean and discounted his tuition, who picked Sean up from school when we couldn't, who bought groceries for us, who brought dinners to Target House, who babysat our kids so we could have an evening out, who drove us places when we needed it, who shipped our stuff back to California when it was time to go home, who pressed little gifts and money into my hand at church and ran off before I could inquire their name, who sat with Steven in the hospital when he was sick so I could go take a shower, whose kids and their classes came to visit us at Target House and who showered us with cards and notes, who continue to make us feel welcome each time we return to Memphis by picking us up at the airport and taking us out to dinner.

Thank you to Father Pugh at the Catholic school we sent Sean to in Memphis who drove across town on a busy day to visit Steven in the hospital.

Thank you to the families at St. Anne's school in Memphis where Sean attended, who offered their support and love, who taught Sean and invited him to their homes and their birthday parties and who made it possible for Sean to retain some sense of normalcy in a world gone crazy.

Thank you to the anonymous couple who paid for our dinner at a restaurant in Memphis and left before we found out.

Thank you to all who made sure that a day never went by in Memphis where we didn't get both big and little things in the mail, some packages and gifts were from people we don't even know.

Thank you to every one of you who send us little notes, who call to offer support, who think of us and pray for us even when we don't hear from you-- we know you're there and we love you.

Thank you very specially to the fellow parents that I've met, online and in person, who are travelling the same road we are with seriously ill children, the advice and support from you who have "been there" is invaluable, you provide a level of understanding that no one else can, thank you so much to those of you who have reached out to us, we pray we have been able to help you in some small way also.

Thank you to Regina's family for sharing your journey with us and for the small opportunities we've had to share our experiences with you, it's a healing experience for us to be able to support you in whatever small ways we can, and we are thankful that she is tolerating her treatment so well.

Thank you most specially to those of you who have lost children and have put aside your pain to reach out to us, to those with empty arms and empty chairs at the table this year. We know far too many of you, our hearts ache with your loss, we've wept and laughed with you, you've shown us how grief and happiness are all mixed up together and how it is possible to walk an impossible road if you are forced to. We love you and we honor your angels this Tnanksgiving, especially:

Peter Dendrinos (age 12, hepatitis)
Kyra Megan Pillsbury (age 4, brain tumor)
Jason (age 33, testicular cancer)
Morgan (age 3, leukemia)
Stacia (age 27, brain tumor)
Jennifer (age 24, brain tumor)
Alannah (age 5, brain tumor)
Nikki (age 10, brain tumor)
Jose (age 9, brain tumor)
Byron (age 12, brain tumor)
Garrett (age 15, brain tumor)
Tess (age 9, brain tumor)
Mo (age 11, brain tumor)

This is a woefully incomplete list, I'm only scratching the surface. I never in my entire life imagined the outpouring of love and support we've experienced.

This is all so much bigger than us, we are humbled by the magnitude of our blessings.

Thank you, we love you all, we miss our family in California this holiday, and we wish you a blessed Thanksgiving.

- Kathleen


Blogger Sleeping Beauty said...

That was such a beautiful entry. I feel like crying now. :)

First of all- I want to thank you Kathy. In a way , you pointed your finger this way( St Jude way), and we followed the route you opened to us. Thank you for all your support and very much needed information.W
You truly are amazing mom and friend and I am sure your kids and husband will agree with me. :)

Happy Thanksgiving for you and for your family :D

November 24, 2004 2:22 PM  

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