I don't know how to tell this story. I'm still in shock.
Some years ago a new family moved into our neighborhood. They moved into the home of a beloved couple we all knew. It was the home of who my children called "The Candy Lady", a sweet older woman who would give a small candy to the kids who would come up and greet her at church. She moved away to be with her family when her dear husband died. It was quite a change with this new family with several small children moved in.
Their eldest child, at the time about 8 years old, had just completed a surgery and was going through Chemo. His name is Adam. I was assigned by the Church to visit this family and I did on a monthly basis and got to know them for a little while as Adam was finishing his treatment. As time passed Adam got better and I marveled as he returned to full health, a full head of hair and a life full of the vitality of youth. My second youngest daughter has him in her 6th grade class at school this year.
About a year or so ago Adam's grandparents moved in right across the street from us. They are humble, country folks who have lived the bulk of their lives in a rural Utah town. Adam's grandfather, Ray, reminded my wife of her father with his humble and friendly demeanor. They become quite close, as neighbors do, while working in the yard and sharing tools. Ray was well into his 70s and loved to work. His age wouldn't stop him from tacking a tree stump or rebuilding a mower or whatever. Ray wore thick glasses that made his eyes appear huge to folks looking at him but he had a twinkle in his eye that endeared him to those who took the time to get to know him.
Last fall, just before Thanksgiving, Ray caught a cold and for several weeks we didn't see him as he stayed in his house fighting it off. After weeks of getting worse, he went into the hospital shortly after Christmas. And within days after the New Year, Ray passed away as his mighty heart gave out.
Sandy (my wife) was devastated because we didn't know he was that sick. She didn't get a chance to even say goodbye to him.
But worse yet Ray's passing was just a heart breaker for Adam and his family. Ray was quite the grandfather, as you can imagine. Ray funeral was as tough an event as I've ever been to because he was so very cherish by his family and his absence would be so keenly felt.
This morning I learned why God took Ray when he did. Last night, with the temperatures dropping into the 40s I noticed Adam's father hitching up Ray's trailer to their SUV. I thought it was a little odd because it is so very cold and it was late -- nearly dark when I saw them trying to get this done. I ran an errand and when I returned they were still there, in the dark and using flashlights now, trying to hook this trailer to a vehicle different than Ray's truck that I had seen haul it in the past. Finally they got it done and I saw Adam and his family head on out of town.
Today a neighbor told me something that put all this pieces together for me.
Adam's cancer has returned with a vengeance. He has developed a tumor on his spine the size of a grapefruit. Yesterday they were told that he will be gone within six months.
No wonder God took Ray first. I can recall a conversation I had with Adam years ago -- oh, he was so little -- and he was so frank. "I don't know why I got cancer," he told me. "But I'm not afraid to die."
That memory haunts me and knowing his parents and siblings as I do my heart is breaking for them today.
What do you say?
What can you do?
This is a season of trial like I've seen at no other time in my life. We're personally going through a crisis as a family, though nowhere near as serious as this. I understand so much better now what the Savior meant when he said "mourn with those who mourn". There is little to be done to comfort in a situation like this. You can only cry with them.
Since Sandy's grandma passed just before Christmas 2010 we have attend 19 funerals. This one may be the hardest yet to get through.
I just thank God, in His mercy, for giving Adam his Grandpa to greet him on the other side when that moment comes. The pain of these upcoming months -- not just for him or for his Mom and Dad or sibling -- is sweetly tempered by that knowledge, knowing Ray and his calming humor and clearly deep abiding love for his grandchildren.
I want to do something. And at this moment I am at a loss as what could possibly be done to be of help.
oh my, I am so sorry to read this and will be praying for Adam and his family....also for You guys, to give You strenght for the next few months as well...hard to say anything at all....it is that horrible......and yes....Adam will be greeted by his grandpa when he finally goes home and maybe one day, that will kinda console his family as well.....
Merry Christmas to All and God bless You
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Thank you for sharing this story. As for someone who works with patients and families with loss, there is never the right thing to say or the right thing to do, which is the unfortunate part I have found. Sometimes, the best part, I think, it just knowing that a person is there and offering their condolences and prayer, even if just a hug or a hand on the shoulder saying, "I'm sorry for your loss." Whatever you say or do for Adam and his family, will be the right choice, I'm sure of it.
I'll be thinking and praying for Adam and his family, that Adam isn't suffering and in pain. I will also be praying for you and your family. God Bless.
__________________ The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. - Burton Hillis
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There is something similar going on with a nearby family, although I'm not as close to them as you are to this family. I'm often disappointed with myself when situations like this happen, and I can't think of a way to help.
I'm willing to bet this family knows of your respect and love for Adam and Ray, and that the knowledge gives them some comfort.
Bless their hearts. I'll pray for this family, and yours.
__________________ (((Seawaters))) - We're rooting for you!!___***Remembering Louann***
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Gosh Jeff.. that is awful. Heartbreaking. I hate to see a child suffer but God bless that little boy for living fearlessly. And he will have his beloved grandfather waiting for him, like you said. Praying for Adam's family and yours... I hope you can find the strength you need to get through this difficult situation with this family.
I wish it could be Christmas forever...