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It’s March 20th. The first day of spring. A time that for most of us marks a beginning. A sense of relief (phew, we made it!) and excitement for all that’s to come (it is coming, you know). New growth, lengthening days, all the signs of life returning.

It is not so for the Meyer family. This day, one year ago, marked the beginning of the end. There was new growth alright, but not the kind that anyone wanted. The discovery of a new tumor in Rebecca’s brain and the stark reality — that her parents already knew but had hoped they’d never have to truly experience — that there were no more options. There was nothing to be done.

It wasn’t the end of hope. The family kept fighting, kept searching, kept grasping desperately for any possible way to extend her life. But they knew. One year ago today, on the first day of spring, they knew what was coming. And they knew they couldn’t stop it.

I still have hope. I hope that they Meyers will heal. That each day, they’ll feel a little more joy and a little more peace. That one day, they’ll laugh til tears run down their cheeks and they forget, even if just for a moment, that they’re sad.

And I hope that this is the beginning of the end of childhood cancers that kill. I’m not convinced that we can actually end childhood cancer, though that certainly is the goal. But I do truly believe that we can end childhood cancers that kill. I think with the right combination of funding and technology, brilliant minds and steadfast determination, doctors can achieve that much.

And I also truly believe that we took one step in that direction on Sunday. That the brave acts of the youngest among us will, in a real tangible way, move us closer to that goal.

I’ll repeat some of the things I said on Sunday, variations of which I shared twice, once with the Feldman family in the beginning of the event and again with the Meyer family in the middle.

The children of Fernway School and those of Fairfax School have had to learn some hard lessons in the past week and in the past year. They’ve had to see, up close and personal, how sad and cruel and deeply unfair the world can be. But they’ve also had the opportunity to see how good the world can be. How much kindness and selflessness there is out there. How many people are willing to come to your side in a time of need, to stand by you, hold your hand and bolster you up. How many are willing to do what’s right even when it’s terrifying.

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They’ve seen that there is a time for laughter and lightness, a time to honor and celebrate what we’ve lost while still looking forward. They know what it means to sacrifice, to give when you know that you won’t get anything back from it. Every person in that room could have shaved their heads on Sunday and it wouldn’t bring Dan or Rebecca back. But they were still willing to do it. Because they embody hope.

Because they still believe in new beginnings.

 

I’ve always loved the beginning of a new school year. The cooling down of summer signaling the start of my favorite season (which seems to have started a month ago in these parts), the excitement of the first day back to school — finding out who your teacher is (I don’t remember ever receiving that information in advance like our kids do now), seeing old friends, making new friends. My next door neighbor Jenny and I would plan our matching first day outfits well in advance of Labor Day, making sure we looked perfectly twin-like in an effort to further confuse our schoolmates.

And then as I got older, it was field hockey season and Friday night football games, when schoolwork still seemed fresh and classes still interesting. There was a what’s-gonna-happen-this-year sense in the air, a hint of possibility pervading everything you did.

And now tomorrow, my big boy Braedan will finally head off to second grade (his district has managed to schedule the latest start date of any in the city, dragging on the endless fighting between two unnamed brothers who have spent waaaaaayyyyy too much time together lately). I am super excited, Braedan slightly more subdued about the whole thing. He has a fantastic teacher and I think this will prove to be an exciting and engaging year for him.

While Braedan heads off to school, Austin and I will kick off Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by going to the hospital for a day full of labs (blood counts and renal function), abdominal ultrasound (to check his kidney and liver), chest CT (to look for possible metastasis to the lungs), ECHO (to check 1) the size of a heart already enlarged due to years of high blood pressure and 2) possible damage caused to said heart by chemo) and a visit to the oncologist. I plan to have all that completed in time to pick up Braedan at 3:15 (luckily, my mom is on standby to relieve me at the hospital if things take longer than expected, which we really should expect by now).

We’ve packed it in over the past two weeks with a last minute mid-week visit to Chautauqua, where we hiked through the stunning Panama Rocks:

A trip to the zoo yesterday (post-crowds since most schools were alreday back in session):

Wait, what’s this? An actual image of the two boys not hurling
insults or toys or punches at one another?
Thank god I captured it for posterity!

And today, we had our requisite end-of-summer trip downtown for lunch with Daddy, which always requires dressing “like a lawyer” (the ties didn’t last through lunch like last year):

Now the backpack is packed, lunch is ready, clothes are clean. Time for a bath and early to bed. And a new year begins ….

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