Today is the second time in a month I have had to read about a child losing their life to cancer. Over this past year, I began supporting two local families and their fight against cancer. Both families have very precious and very young children from my home town in Oregon and have been fighting for their lives and both have seen the end. Sadly these families have seen more pain than I can imagine. My heart breaks for them and my prayers go out for them.
The first loss was a month ago when a sweet boy named Ethan lost his battle. In August 2009, Ethan Jostad (7 yrs old at the time) was diagnosed with Stage IV Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), which is a cancerous tumor that originates in the soft tissues of the body. RMS is extremely rare and occurs in approximately 40 children each year in the United States. Ethan was found to have a few small tumors in his abdomen and one large one in his chest. Ethan and his family fought this cancer aggressively, doing everything they could to rid his little body of this disease. But even with clear scans in April of this year, the cancer returned and this time took his life.
Although I was so grateful to know he was not in pain and his family did not have to watch him suffer any longer, I was so torn with why this even had to happen to such an innocent child. Although I could not relate to this kind of loss, I could imagine it because my youngest is so close in age and a boy as well. The thought of losing him to a disease or anything I could not control is completely unbearable. I cannot imagine the pain and grief Ethan’s family must feel and I hope I never have to.
Then this evening, at just 7 years old, Faith, another sweet, innocent baby was taken from this earth and given her angel wings. She too had battled cancer and was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer this past spring. Her family has spent these last months and days cherishing her and making her life as great as possible, while trying to hold back their own pain, grief and sorrow. But as any parent would, you just want your sweet baby to be so happy and healthy and to have everything they deserve in life. I cannot imagine sitting in front of one of my children and needing to stay strong for them and not scare them with my own fears and sorrow. Only God can get a parent through that moment. I generally don’t pull out the church talk, but there is no other way that any person could bear this kind of tragedy without God. There is no way a mom could sit by her dying child and be happy and show the strength her child needs to see without Him.
Even though I was brought to tears again barely a month after Ethan passe, and again because of the loss of a child whom I never knew yet I read about daily, this time it was different. Like last time, I was deeply saddened for her family and the loss they are suffering. However, this time I began to reflect on my life and how even with all of the difficulties with divorce and sharing children with extremely difficult people, my children and my husband’s children are all healthy, happy and able to live their lives.
How incredibly selfish of me to think that my problems with ex-spouses are in the slightest all that bad. Yes, there have been and continue to be battles and huge differences of opinions and beliefs in how children should be raised. And yes, all four children learn things and have behaviors because of their other parents that we do not like or approve of, but NONE of this compares to the loss of a child.
I may not like the attitudes they come home with or the lack of manners they show the first night back at my table, but they are sitting at my table. They are telling me about their days. They are laughing and playing and even amongst the hard moments for them, they continue to show great joy. What on earth do I have to complain about?
Now I am not saying that divorce and living with parallel parenting or co-parenting is not hard. Actually it is quite the opposite. But when I look at my life and I look at the hard moments and compare them to the good and to what I could be dealing with, it absolutely pales in comparison the death of one of my children. The constant watching and worrying and wondering when one of them could be taken from me is when I realize how great my life is.
I have a husband who I love and adore and who cherishes and loves me. I have four children who I would not have if it weren’t for the dreaded “D” word–the word that everyone loves to say is so horrid. I have two homes, a dog, a cat, a career in freelance writing and web design and a life that I only dreamed of in the past.
No, I am not bragging–I am just pointing out how even in the bad moments, how great most of our lives really are. The point I am trying to make tonight is don’t take your lives for granted. Don’t waste time complaining, whining, moaning, ranting, bitching–be so happy that you are alive and those around you are too. Be grateful, not resentful.
Rest in Peace sweet angel Faith–Ethan was there to meet and play with you in heaven tonight. You have no more pain and you were and are so loved by others. And neither of you will ever be forgotten.
Author Bio: Carrie Dahle has spent her life doing the right thing, rather than pursuing her dreams. That is until now. Four years ago, she threw caution to the wind, divorced her then husband of ten years, and began reaching for the stars. She began writing professionally, and has been published numerous times. She is the founder and creator or Day to Day Woman and hopes that her experiences in life will inspire others