Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Love conquers all

Last month, we let some friends borrow our RV. They were on a whirlwind trip to Florida and they wanted to camp at Fort Wilderness and go to Disney World. The family of five used our RV for half a week, maybe not even that. I can't remember right now and those details don't matter. We never gave it a second thought. We wished we could do more. The mom, a girl that I grew up with- starting with girl scouts and ending with graduation from high school- was dying of cancer. She died this past Saturday.

I hadn't seen Shannon in over 20 years. We'd reconnected on Facebook and commented on pictures from time to time. When I saw her at the campground, I was struck by her strength. Physically, she didn't have much strength left. The medication she was on left her in such a state that she would start to fall asleep mid sentence. But her words were strong. She spoke of her family and her love and it was all strength. She was knew what was coming and she told me she wanted the trip for her family. She wanted to be everything she could for them. She wanted to be strong as possible so they wouldn't remember her sadness.

When I found out she died on Saturday, I was sad. We knew it was likely, but her death was hard to realize. It was hard to grasp, even though it was expected. She was young! I mean, she is my age. She has 3 children. It just isn't fair. So much in life isn't fair. I tell my kids that. But this, this unfairness hurts my soul.

And yet, when I think of her, I think about how she decided to be strong. Strong in the face of death.

Months ago, my pastor made a point one Sunday that resonated with me. We are all dying. Every one of us. Right now. We are dying. No one will escape death. And somehow hearing that absolved me from fear. Death is inevitable. In the end, our earthly decisions determine what death means. How we approach death impacts those we know and love. Shannon approached death with strength. She did not want to die. When I was with her, she talked about one more possible, but unlikely, treatment possibility. She was unsure the treatment was possible for her. She was certain about what she wanted. She wanted to be with her family and for her family to feel love. She seemed so strong, even with her body failing. I did not see fear. I saw love. I saw how much she loved her husband, her kids, her siblings. That will continue to impact me for years to come.

Love conquers death. And while I know she died, I know she lives.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Dear Siblings of Allergy Kids

It is National Siblings Day, according to Facebook, anyway. It got me to thinking about my kids and their relationships. I am thankful for my kids. I am thankful for how they all deal with having food allergies in our family. I spent a few minutes writing a letter to siblings of food allergy kids.

To all of the siblings of food allergy kids,

I know it isn't easy.
I know it isn't fun. I know it is frustrating. You can't go places with the family to eat that you would really enjoy. You can't have food that is down right tasty. It's not fun. It out right sucks sometimes. I know.

I know. I also know you care. I know you worry. I see that you care, even when you wish it was different. I know you care because you don't complain (much). I know you care even when you make jokes.
Those joke are a release of sorts. I get it. I don't always allow it. I get frustrated with it but I get it. I know.

I know that you avoid foods because it isn't safe for your sibling- even sometimes when you aren't with your sibling- just because.

I also know that sometime you jump at the chance to have something that you can't normally have, when you food allergy sibling isn't around. That's okay. It's also okay to feel weird about it. It's okay to love those moments, too. You need to know, I'm right there with you.

I've seen you give a safe treat to your sibling, when you didn't have to. I've seen you really appreciate your food allergy sibling sharing his unsafe dessert from a sports event. You know he didn't have to take one but he got it for you. You know there are ups and downs. I know you feel good and bad about things. I know.

You've told people time and time again that your sibling can't have an item because of food allergies. I know that you hate it. I do, too. But I know you get it. I know you sacrifice. You understand. I know that despite how much you wish it wasn't real, you know it is.

You've shown time and time again that you understand and that your heart is bigger than your appetite. I wish everyone could think and act the way food allergy siblings do.

Thank you for your love, understanding and respect for your food allergy sibling. It means the world. It really does.