This is probably the 20th time I've started this post....I keep deleting and re starting...so many emotions (mad, sad, horrified and shocked to name a few) and I'm afraid I won't do it justice. However, there's too much to say and I can't let it go without a rant, so forgive me if I ramble as I'm using this post to get some stuff off my chest....
I'm no stranger to tragedy....I've lost loved ones to sickness and accidents way too early in their (and my) lives, witnessed Sept 11th first hand, and have followed stories of devistation across the world whether it be from war or weather or bad luck and I've somehow come to understand that "this is part of life". I have come to terms with all of it, tried to see the silver lining and have moved on hoping that each experience has made me a better, stronger person.
Five months ago a co-worker of mine received the horrifying news that his 6 month old baby boy, Declan, was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer. Upon getting the news, their family and friends mobilized into action with support, whether it was helping out with their other children, cooking, organizing fundraisers, or whatever else was needed to get the job done and focus on the best outcome for the baby. Declan's parents even started a blog to document the journey they were about to embark on and to keep family and friends aware of Declan's progress. In the aptly named http://www.declansjourney.com/ we learned about the form of cancer Declan was diagnosed with (AT/RT or Atypical Teratoid Rhabtoid Tumor), the treatment options available, the surgeries he endured and the feelings his parents, brothers and other family and friends were dealing with. I have been an avid follower of Declan's Journey. I have been inspired by his fight. I am in awe of his parents Stan and Sherri, for their strength, energy, compassion, generosity, selflessness and faith. As a parent I can't possibly imagine how it feels to hear the words "cancer" and "baby" in the same sentence. I can't fathom the magnitude of the decisions they had to make on their son's behalf out of sheer desperation and undying love. I'm mad that an innocent child was affected by such a disgusting disease. And I loathe the idea that they had to go through all of it for the absolute worst possible outcome....losing a child has to be the single worst experience anyone should have to endure. They did all of it with grace and poise and I am forever touched that they shared their story with us. In reading some of the thousands and thousands of comments on their blog and Facebook pages one message reigns superior....Declan's Journey touched every single person following his story. It's amazing to me that this baby reached so many lives in such a short amount of time.
Declan has reinforced my belief in living my life to the fullest, without regret, to always look forward and to be continually grateful for all of my blessings. There's a paragraph in the book "Eat, Pray, Love" that touched me from the moment I read it. I think it can be used in different contexts for different people, and I think it's appropriate in this setting. "People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it."
Declan....you were a soul mate for so many. Thank you for coming into my life and reminding me how important it is to have many soul mates, whether they're friends, family or people I didn't even personally know, like you. You will live on through the people you touched and most of all through your parents and your brothers. Rest in peace sweet angel.
Declan Black Carmical Aug 26, 2009 - Aug 18, 2010.