It has been a long month. One filled with more loss than most people experience in a lifetime. I don't even know where to begin.
After a 22 month battle with cancer, "Poppa Enzo" passed away on Tuesday, August, 16th. During the final days, there was plenty of time for the family and friends to come and say good-bye. CJ stood over his bed two days before he passed and said, "I love you poppa." I hated that he had to see up close and personal what cancer can do physically to a body and know he came close to experiencing that.
I won't go into detail about those final days because if I said they were beautiful and peaceful and there was no pain or suffering or questions I would be lying. That's not to say there were not some very precious moments. There were! But if I described it with any honestly at all it would only serve to leave you heartbroken and confused. All in all, it all boils down to this.... regardless of our circumstances and what appears before us, we walk by faith and not by sight!
If I walked by sight I can tell you right now I would be devastated.
Unbelievably, the week that Enzo passed we lost three cancer kids. THREE! Ethan Jostad, Bo Story, and Abby Smith. All were very young children. I felt so heartbroken and yet so incredibly selfish because I was so thankful that CJ was healthy and playing outside as death hovered over this house and the house of so many precious children. Childhood cancer is beyond devastating. The facts alone would crush you. The reality of it is even worse. Many ask me how we stay so immersed in it? We walk by faith and not by sight.
As I sat and held Enzo's hand watching him take his final breaths, I could not help but think of Mackenzie whose little hand I held just 6 months before as she took her final breaths. I could not believe it was only 6 months prior. I felt like I had lived a lifetime in between. I honestly began to wonder if my kids were ready to handle this again.
We had Enzo's funeral the following day and I sat there looking at my little 8 year old Brett as he walked over to the coffin, stopped, and began to cry. I remember thinking, Lord, please work all things for good....even this. Even an 8 year old boy standing at his second grandfathers coffin in less than two years. Did I really bury my dad less than two years ago? And now I am burying my step father. I felt like I had lived a lifetime in between.
CJ was in the car with his grandma Paula (my mom) the other day just before Enzo passed and they were chatting. My mom told him that when she was his age she had never even known of anyone who died. He just looked at her trying to make sense of that reality and said, "I can't even imagine a life not knowing of cancer and death." He knows so much of it. He's 12.
Unfortunately, as much as I would have liked to have shielded him from further loss and say I thought this would be the last for a while, I knew he was about to know more of it. Our sweet friend Nick Patrick, age 15, who was battling cancer was not doing well at the time. I kept praying selfishly that the Lord would wait. We were not ready for another blow. But the Lord's time is set and Nick went to be with Him yesterday morning. I dreaded telling CJ and the rest of the kids. We had just spent a wonderful weekend with Nick and his amazing family a little over a month ago. Was that really only a month ago? I felt like I had lived a lifetime in between.
I hate to end this blog here. I know there should be some big lesson in it. But I don't have one other than to say, "we walk by faith and not by sight." So instead of any words of wisdom which I certainly don't have, I am going to leave you with what I honestly believe 15 year old Nick would tell you if he could say one last thing.......First, I think he would really be tempted to crack a joke and leave you laughing as his final farewell. But based on what I know of him and of what he believed and experienced, and based on where he is now, I think if Nick could say one thing it would be this.....
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Phil 1:21)
And I leave my fellow blinded sojourners with this....
"We walk by faith, not by sight" (2Cor5:7)
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."(Hebrews 11:1)
Thank you to everyone who made donations to CBC in memory of Enzo Alibrandi in lieu of sending flowers. It will be a blessing to many families in great need and honors his memory greatly.