Avalon's Army of Angels
|September 22, 2008
Fire flowers and Fireworks!
There is something I have often said to people
about Avalon's journey with cancer. It never fails
to get a bewildered, and sometimes even
horrified look, but I still can't help but mean it.
I've often said that although I would certainly
never, ever want Avalon (or any of my children)
to experience one second of pain or discomfort -
that I can't say the experience has been wholly
awful. Before you start dialing children's services
to report me as one of those Munchaousen (sp?)
moms - let me explain.
Yes, the experience of having a sick child has
been HORRIFYING. I am in no way saying it
hasn't. But...what I am saying, is that the
experiences we've lived through, the people
we've met, and the lessons we've learned - have
not been awful. They've very often been
extremely life-affirming and wonderful. Even in
death, cancer children have reached out,
grabbed my heart, and reminded me how
precious and amazing life is. Its a lesson we all
should appreciate. We shouldn't need a dying
child to remind us of the depth of the Wonder
that life really is.
By far the greatest gift of Avalon's cancer has
been the people we've met along the path. The
people have sometimes been a direct part of our
walk with fire, shielding us from getting burned.
(our medical team) Often, they've taken the form
of Earth-Angels, who swoop into our lives, to lift a
burden from our souls, or answer a prayer we
didn't know we'd asked. Sometimes, they've
been cheerleaders, people who have stepped up
to cheer for Avalon at the times we desperately
needed the encouragement to face going
forward. And sometimes... they've been beautiful
flowers, waiting along the path for us to find.
Flowers that were always out there in the world -
but we might never have had the pleasure of
knowing of their beauty - unless we'd walked
through fire to find them. This post is about a few
of our "fire flowers".
Some of you may know/remember that we have
been involved the last few years in a local
organization called "Hats for Heroes". HFH is part
of our local professional hockey team's charitable
foundation. The NHL has a league wide initiative
called "Hockey Fights Cancer". Each team is
welcome to pick a cause near and dear to its
heart to raise money for. The Columbus Blue
Jackets chose to make pediatric cancer, and
children with life threatening illnesses, the focus
of their efforts, and we're unbelievably grateful.
We've done a few fun events with the HFH
program, and met some wonderful people during
them. Two of our most beloved "gifts" of the
Foundation, are Lori and Doug - the most
amazing Fire Flowers you could ever dream up.
We met Doug and Lori when they hosted a group
of children and their families at the local harness
racing track. Doug and Lori sponsored a charity
race to raise money for the HFH program. They
are the kind of people that you instantly like and
immediately are in awe of. Anam was still quite
small, so I was rather tethered to him. That
didn't slow Doug or Lori down. Doug took the
kids to hug on horses, and Lori could be found
sitting as close to the track as was humanly
possible - right in the middle of my girls, chatting
like she'd known them for years. By the end of
the evening, we felt like they were old friends -
and hoped we'd see them again. Luckily, we did.
Over the past year, our Fire Flowers have
definitely joined our list of "Family". I've trusted
them enough to cry on them one moment, and
laugh with reckless abandon with them the next.
They have taken my children to heart in a way
that can only be described as breathtaking.
We have been incredibly blessed. Through the
years, we've made wonderful friends. Marnita
and Kevin, Jeannie and Travis have far
transcended "friends" to hold places of honor,
love, and family in our hearts. They've come to
the hospital, cleaned our home when we needed
it, even invited us to come on vacation with them.
They have become such a part of who we are as
a family - I cannot remember a time they weren't
a part of us. I never thought we'd get so lucky
Doug and Lori have, once again, enlarged our
circle. I've come to trust and value these
people, as unique gifts the universe knew we
needed. They are so much like our beloved
Marnita and Kevin, its amusing. Lori has the
same wit and wisdom as Marnita, and Doug has
the same quiet mirth as Kevin. What on earth
can we ever have done to deserve such Gifts?
On those days I wonder, "Where is mine? When
do we get to call in the cards on all the good
Karma things we've done?" It usually takes about
half a second for me to smack myself and
chastise my ridiculous selfishness. After all,
we've received Love in such huge volumes its
immeasurable. Some people count themselves
blessed to find one or two soul-friends in a
lifetime. We've gathered several through the
years, and have, again, been blessed with these
new ones. How can we ever feel anything but
terribly, abundantly blessed?!
As we got to know Doug and Lori better this past
Summer, they were gracious enough to not only
share their family with us, they shared a friend of
Lori's too. We met her co-worker, Coleen, and
her darling girls, Yasmin and Melika. Doug's
grandchildren, Douglas and Sarah, Yasmin,
Melika, and my 4 - were thick as thieves in a
matter of minutes. They spent time giggling,
pestering, chasing, and living. Although Avalon's
surgeries limited our chances to play - the few we
had were glorious! Imagine, meeting new friends,
and when you meet their family - you like them
just as much as your friends! It doesn't get much
better than that.
These pictures are from today, September 22.
Lori called this morning, to see if we could come
for an impromptu end-of-Summer party. The girls
and I couldn't say, "Yes!" fast enough, even
though Daddy didn't get to join us. We were
thrilled to get to Doug and Lori's and find that
Coleen and her girls were there also. It made for
a fun afternoon for all involved, even if it was
bittersweet. No matter how much we've come to
love Coleen and the girls, we're being forced to
say, "Goodbye" as they head home to England. I
think the only thing worse than not having a
friend - is finding one and losing them to time and
space... Such is the curse of the modern age.
For tonight, we were all together, and we were
blissfully happy. Medical woes, job stresses,
life...melted into the background as three women
enjoyed laughing, teasing, and being...together.
Five little girls fully embraced each other, and
one little boy, and one big man enjoyed being
doted on by their merry band of "women". It was
sheer, unadulterated fun.
Doug chose to end the evening in true,
"Doug-style" - with a Bang! Doug has apparently
discovered his pyro-side in recent years. He's
become a devotee of a local fireworks store, and
delights in putting on private fireworks
extravaganzas. Doug and Lori have the perfect
set up to be able to do it. They live on several
dozen acres and have a paved area between two
metal barns, that are surrounded by pastures.
The neighbors enjoy his antics as much as he
does, and there's really nothing around to harm.
Its honestly every little boy's dream come true.
At the July 5th picnic at their house, Nick helped
Doug and his son-in-law with the lighting o' the
fireworks. The absence of the pyro-daddies,
meant Doug needed a new helper. Aurora was
all too thrilled to step up! Aurora held the
flashlight to illuminate the packages, and followed
Doug's commands to the letter. We couldn't help
but laugh at the repeated, "I need light, I need
light......Back up, back up, back up!....I need
light, I need light, I need light....Back up, back up,
back up!" It was an absolutely hysterical dance -
but they timed it perfectly - and Aurora's
confidence and pride swelled considerably
Although my pictures don't do it justice, Doug's
displays rival any I've seen at our local high
school or amusement park. The man is amazing!
As fun as the fireworks are, its still his grin we
prefer above all else. Oh, and those big bear
hugs remind me of my Grandpa's....they're
Yeah, I can definitely call this one a banner,
explosive, one-of-a-kind day!