"Are you as brave as a four-year old?" was the question posed by a friend’s email yesterday. I had just come off an exhausting trip to New York and New Jersey with my family. Manhattan is not fun with a three year old. My wife and I stayed in Times Square thinking my three year old son would like the lights– he did. And although it was much more difficult navigating the city with our children rather than alone with my wife, there were moments I will recall in my mind’s eye with pleasure: Him looking out the our hotel window onto the lights of Times Square looking for Yankees. "Where are the Yankees?!?," was his constant refrain. Seeing him on the dance floor (at a party after a bar mitzvah– not a Manhattan club) with his cousins’ 23 year old girlfriends, yelling at me over his shoulder that "that’s my song!," when the DJ played the next one; this three year old already embarrassed by his parents, consistently pushing us off the dance floor.
But after the trip, we returned exhausted and beat up, vowing to not take our children back to New York City– one of our favorite places to go.
Yesterday I received this email from a good friend, telling the story of another very different trip a family was on. She told of a very special four year old bravely fighting for his life. The email reminded me to never take those little moments with my children for granted– even the exhausting ones.
Having been a child with a chronic– albeit treatable– disease, my heart and prayers go out to Liam and his family. The following is my friend’s email, along with a link to Liam’s blog detailing his journey.
[A boy named Liam] was diagnosed with cancer just after his 2nd birthday. It was already in advanced stages when they caught it and he went immediately under intensive treatments and chemo. By last summer he was cancer free! We met them at the zoo the day before his last treatment and his mom and I were discussing how Liam was starting preschool in the Fall. They were just starting to be able to start a somewhat normal routine.
Every 3 months Liam has to go back for an all body scan to confirm that nothing has returned. His parents made a vow to always do something fun before these scans because you just never know. 3 months ago Make a Wish Foundation sent them to Disneyworld. His scans were due mid-Feb again so they planned a quick trip to Hawaii. Luke was just at Liam's birthday party the weekend before and Liam looked great. No signs of anything being wrong.
They left for Hawaii that week and while they were there, Liam started getting sick. Long story short... they ended up in the Childrens hospital in Honolulu where it was confirmed after an MRI that his cancer was back and in the form of a ruptured brain tumor. The attending ER doctor wouldn't release them at first and told them that if they tried to fly that Liam could die. BUT... they did not have the pediatric surgeon they needed anywhere in the state of Hawaii. So what do you do? They went back and forth with their doctors in Chicago and eventually were released to fly home. They landed and immediately went to Childrens. He underwent an all day 6 hour brain surgery [Tuesday]. It was extremely scary b/c his little body still wasn't strong and recovered from his previous treatments.
So here's the 2 parts of the story that I found incredible.
First... when they boarded the plane to fly home, they alerted the crew of American Airlines of their situation and they said they will now be lifetime business clients of American Airlines for the way they were treated. They were sitting in first class and the cabin doors shut and started to pressurize. Liam held his head and began to scream. Keep in mind the ER just told his parents hours before that he could die if they try to fly. So to hear him scream would be beyond alarming. They were just about to stop the plane so they could get off when Liam stops them and says in a strong voice "No. It's ok. I'm going to be ok." Keep in mind this boy just turned 4. I think he is probably the bravest person I know.
Second... [Tuesday night], his father posted that after an all day brain surgery (which the tumor was safely removed), an hour after he wakes up in recovery, he popped his eyes open and with that same strong voice requested pancakes! So sure enough... an hour and half after surgery he's eating pancakes. Even the nurses were amazed.
Makes you just stop and think... you really can learn something about life from a 4 year old. A little faith and strong will can lift you higher than you may think possible.
It's just like that quote by Angela Schwindt says "While we try to teach our children all about life.... our children teach us what life is all about."
Thanks to everyone for their prayers/thoughts yesterday. They are not out of the woods yet. A long road of continued chemo and they are temporarily moving to NYC for some other form of treatment. So please continue to prayer for the strength for this family.
If anyone is interested to learn more there's a blog that's created just for Liam. It's liamsgang.com
In the meantime.... keep those prayers afloat and never take simple precious moments with your kids for granted.