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Three Chances. Two Donors. One Hope

If you don't fight the fights you may not win, how can you call yourself a champion. AJF April 15, 1994 - March 11, 2012

December 4th. Today is the third anniversary of your first bone marrow transplant. Did I actually say “first transplant”? Who in the hell has another one? It is still hard for me to imagine that you did. What parent walks around carrying those things in their memories?

You had such an amazing donor. He gave you six months of good health and a year of life. He must have been so brave and selfless to give you such a gift. I wish that I could thank him in person. But that would never happen because he would be crushed that things didn’t work. I know the feeling. I’m sure he is very sorry that he couldn’t save you. So am I.

I remember that day in the isolation unit. We scrubbed everything we brought in with us for bacteria – books, computer, blankets, your clothes. Even your body. It was terrifying to think that any germ could potentially kill you. Then they brought in the fresh marrow. I was so full of hope that we were finally going to rid your body of this monster. I cried because there was this miracle happening right before my eyes. I cried because it was surreal to think this was actually happening. I cried because I was terrified of what you were about to endure. You had endured enough already. I wanted to scream that it was enough. No more torture, please. This is my son.

I remember as they were giving you the sleepy meds that you were sending out a message to everyone from your Blackberry. You could barely keep your eyes open. You thanked everyone for their kindness and their support. You told them you would see them on the other side. Someone had to pull their car off the road just to gain their composure. I sat and watched the new marrow dripping into your body for nine hours.
I couldn't sleep again tonight. I sat in your bedroom. I go there a lot. Nothing has moved since you left. One thing that I noticed was that ridiculous novel they made you read for your online English course. “A Lesson Before Dying” by Earnest J. Gaines. I can remember being completely stunned that you had to read such a thing. But of course you didn’t mind. What was I to say? That I believed in my heart that things are getting worse and I was worried about your mental state reading such a horrible book? Then I noticed your notebook and the assignments that you had to do for the course. There, before my very eyes, your words:
“Most important lesson to learn before dying:
Die with dignity
To be thoughtful and brave
Be admirable
Create admiration and honour even
within death
Show admiration, honour and dignity
even when faced with death.”

Adam, you did all of those things. You did even beyond that, because of everything that you had to face every single day. It was so hard to watch you go through everything you did, let alone write down how to face it. It will haunt me forever that these things were going through your mind. I’m so sorry that I didn’t stop you from reading that horrid book. I’m so sorry that you are gone and I’m still here. This will never make sense.

Christmas is approaching quickly. It is brutal to see things that once had me excited. They mean nothing to me now. Nothing. I would have been braving the malls to find that perfect gift, baking cookies, engaging in parties, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and trimming the tree. There is simply no desire and no point without you here, Adam. I’m not the same person.

This year, I will choose the perfect floral arrangement for your cabinet and bury my head in the sand in some southern island in an attempt to forget this even happened. It won’t work, but I don’t know what else I can do to get through this life in hell without you. I’m so sorry we are leaving you behind.

Today I received a Christmas card, a photo of a happy family and a standard letter of everything they have achieved this past year. I really don’t know how I’m supposed to handle that one. I wanted to write back and describe to them what we’ve been up to this year. Please, I beg of you, save your cards. I wish you all nothing but happiness. I’m just not ready to go through this holiday without the love of my life. Be thankful for every little thing you have. Do not be boastful to others. What really matters is your happiness. Adam was robbed of his. And I was robbed of mine.

Today I will raise a glass in honour of our donor that gave Adam some time with us and with you. I’m thankful for that.

http://vimeo.com/m/83971424

Backstory

Adam was 13 years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. A talented musician and hockey player, he discovered cycling and rode his way to health while undergoing chemotherapy. During times of health, he became a crusader for childhood cancer charities riding his bike throughout Ontario and Alberta. Adam relapsed one year post transplant and underwent a heroic second, which came with many complications and difficult days. A beautiful story of bravery, hope and courage in the fight for life and facing death. An inspiration to many that life is a gift.

http://vimeo.com/m/83971424

https://vimeo.com/m/46660686

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