Yesterday, I had to attend my 11-year-old great-nephew, JJ’s funeral. It was such a hard and emotional event. I have an 11-year-old daughter and the realization of just how fragile life is, weighted on me heavily. My family is far from perfect. In fact, lately, we’ve been going through a lot and I’ll admit we were slowly untangling. It’s crazy how death tend to make you see how trivial some things are. My nephew’s death, although it is such a tragedy, taught me an important lesson: ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS!
My nephew, JJ fought his battle with brain cancer for years and he never complained. He was strong! What should have broken him or his spirit made him stronger and he endured until God told him his journey was over. I long for the day that we live in a cancer-free world, but until that happens, all I can do is take the lessons my nephew left behind and use them in my life. I have no doubt that God had a plan for JJ. Although he was only here for a short time, his presence was felt and he will greatly be missed by all who ever met him. As an adult I find myself complaining about a headache or menstrual cramps, never realizing that I should be thankful that it’s just a headache or cramp instead of a tumor or cancer. God’s grace is upon us even when we don’t realize it. Small blessings are overlooked and unappreciated until something happens. We don’t appreciate our eyes until we are in the dark and cannot see. We don’t appreciate our legs until they lock up on us or our knees goes out. We don’t appreciate the ability to talk, hear, touch, drive, eat, sleep, etc. until we can no longer do those things. When I say we, I mean me too. I’m guilty as well.
My youngest daughter, my 11-year-old is ADHD and we struggle a lot with it and some days are bad, very bad, but I could never imagine losing my baby. The funeral yesterday made me appreciative of all the moments good and bad with my daughter, because here was a mother wishing for another moment, good or bad with her son. A grandmother longing to hear her grandson’s voice once more. A father wishing to right the wrongs he made. As I looked around that church, I couldn’t help but thing of my children, my youngest in particular. I thought about how much I complain about her ADHD diagnosis and how much it affect our lives and how that is nothing, nothing, compared to dealing with a child being diagnosed with Cancer. So that was my moment of clarity, my epiphany, I guess you would say. We left on a family vacation right after the funeral and I was so exhausted, I just wanted to sleep, but my youngest was rived up, of course and I found myself yelling at her. The rest of the afternoon was a struggle keeping her on task and things like that. And just like that my moment of clarity was out the window until I was awaken and everyone else was asleep and the need to blog fell heavily on my heart. I owe my daughter an apology. I want to wake her up now and apologize to her. I realize that this is our first family vacation in a long time and she was really just excited. I’m determined to be a better mother and to complain less. Life is too short to sweat the little things, to complain or get angry about every little thing. JJ taught me that. Perhaps, I already knew that but through his life and his story, I’m reminded that sometimes, we all need to have that moment of clarity and I’m just so thankful I realize my moment. JJ is gone, but he will never be forgotten. I am working on a scholarship program that I plan to do yearly in his honor! I don’t want his death to be in vain and I want to find a way to bring awareness to childhood cancers. St. Jude played a big part in JJ’s lives and no amount of words will ever be enough to thank them, but for an organization that helps so many people, I can do my part and try to help them, help others.
As I listen to my children snore and toss in their sleep, I’m thankful. Thankful for another chance to get it right. I’m not perfect, but I’ll willing to do better and that’s all I can do!