Leonard Christmas 2017 & Holiday Perspective
I was going to initially write this post to tell how Meyers and I spread Christmas cheer through our charitable events. But with the loss of our dog, Bella, on Christmas, I wanted to change the direction of this article. Instead, this post is my way of describing how Bella impacted our holiday events and how perspective helped us cope.
Every Christmas season, Meyers and I make a point to find a way to share the holiday spirit with families in the Portland area. This year, we decided to give back in two ways. Our first event was hosting 35 Children's Cancer Association youth and family members for a holiday themed party. This included games, dinner and cookie decorating. For our second event, we adopted a family of 9 to purchase, wrap and deliver presents to. Below, I will describe how we decided to work with Children's Cancer Association, why these events are very important to us and how Bella's situation was actually a gift.
CCA FAMILY HOLIDAY EVENT
In 2016, Bastian found out that he had Grade IV Glioblastoma in his spinal cord just below his brainstem. After 20 rounds of chemo, he found out THE DAY BEFORE our holiday event that the doctors found NO evidence of cancer in his spine!
[FOLLOW HIS AMAZING STORY HERE]
Experiencing a dog going through numerous chemo treatments, countless pills and non-stop fatigue, Meyers and I couldn't imagine what it would be like if our (human) child was having to battle these same things. Having connections to Children's Cancer Association, we decided to partner with them and give back to families that do have to deal with this during the holidays.
From our personal experience -- When you have special people in your life that are severely ill, your holidays, birthdays or special events aren't just celebrations.
They are huge milestones.
And, meeting these milestones can feel like a giant momentary relief. For us, these "relief days" haven't been just about the destination, it's been about every day in-between. How we rode the highs and lows but somehow still managed to find sanity and strength through it all. For Meyers and me, we wanted to give back to people who have this same feeling around Christmas. So, our goal was to host an event that would allow these particular families to JUST CELEBRATE.
Looking back, this CCA holiday event was pure magic. The children were like beams of light that fill you with so much joy. Hearing how they have been fighting FOR YEARS and surpassing all odds/timelines was an incredible reminder that there's always hope. Personally, I couldn't help but think about how these kids have gone through the hardest childhoods one can imagine. Yet, they live with so much more life than you can fathom.
It really got me to thinking... If the end is inevitable and timelines aren't in our control. Then, how do we consciously practice LIVING in the meantime? For our situation, that meant focusing on appreciating gifts (Bella's life) instead of time's misfortunes.
Bella passed 4 days after this holiday event. And, it might be weird to say. But, this evening provided me with so much closure on our situation. The week following up to Christmas, Bella wasn't well. Meyers and I both knew that the end was near and swallowing that fact was hard. When you know time has run its course, you feel at a loss because you question if you have done everything that you can. So being able to see kids be HAPPY even with a sad situations, it showed us that it was going to be okay. And, it told us that we needed to refocus our emotions onto celebrating our Bella and not fuel our energy into her inevitable passing.
Growing up, Meyers had many hardships. Losing his dad at an early age, there was a point in time that he was sleeping on the floor with no water and electricity.
One of the most amazing parts about Meyers is that although his past may not have been picture perfect, he remembers the best times and not the worst.
Growing up with struggles makes him want to give back so much because he remembers how it felt when people gave back to him.
With his busy schedule, it makes it nearly impossible for him to dedicate the total amount of time needed to give back on his own. So, that's where I come in! Think of me like his main elf. I assist in organizing, prepping and executing our charitable endeavors. And, I love seeing him light up just as much as the families that we help do.
For the privacy of the family that we adopted, I am not going to go into too much detail about their situation. I will say that I owe them a lot of goosebumps and smiles. Dropping off their presents, seeing the children, hearing their story, it was absolutely incredible that they allowed us to be a part of their holiday. We were so lucky to be able to share our blessings with them.
Here is a video from our CCA Family Event and a very special moment during that evening:
Thank you to Bruce Ely for capturing these AMAZING photos!