I was checking out some of the auction items when I noticed a wheel chair stroll into the room.
“Chance is here!” I whispered as I picked up the train of my skirt and scurried over to him as fast as I could.
“Chance you look like such a gentleman, so incredibly handsome for the Hunter’s Hope Ball tonight.”
And he did. I checked him out from head to toe and he looked great. Despite whatever Krabbe disease was trying to do on the inside of this precious boy’s body…he was radiant. I immediately started running my fingers through Chance’s thick auburn hair. He reminds me so much of Hunter, I can hardly stand it. His big boy teeth, beautiful fair, Irish skin…and that hair, all so similar to my boy. Whenever I get the pleasure of spending time with Chance, which is usually just once a year during the summer months at our Hunter’s Hope Family and Medical Symposium, I look forward to running my fingers through that hair.
So this night was no different.
“I’m so thankful you’re here Chance. I love you so much—I could just squeeze you all night,” I said smiling. Scooting my skirt up enough to get right on the floor next to Chance, I maneuvered myself as close as I could to that strikingly handsome boy.
While I continued to love on my dear friend, Chance, my daughter Erin came over to say hello. Like me, she couldn’t resist running her fingers through his gorgeous hair.
“Oh my goodness,” I said looking into his deep greenish, bluish hazel eyes, “Chance, I’m so busy talking to you that I completely forgot about your mother!” As Erin bent down to get closer to her little buddy, I hugged Anne, Chance’s mother. I told her how healthy I thought Chance looked —so radiant and strong.
I was so thankful that they had come and made sure to let her know how much I appreciated it. This was the first time they had ever been to the Hunter’s Hope Candlelight Ball, and you could tell they were thrilled to be with us. Anne looked absolutely beautiful! Beneath her elegance you’d never know the severe toll taken by the countless hours of caring for Chance, day in and day out. Oddly, though I had spent many moments with Anne, tonight she had a glow about her I will never forget. And though I could have spent the evening caressing his hair and searching through his eyes, I reluctantly had to let Chance mingle with the rest of our guests. It’s hard letting go, even if only for a short time.
As the evening progressed, I found that all I could think about was my buddy Chance. I just wanted to sit and talk to him, hold his hand, and yes, run my fingers through his hair. But I couldn’t. We were in the middle of a black tie event and Jim and I had announcements to share, money to raise, and people to greet. So we carried on…
Towards the end of the event, it was time for the special necklace drawing. Every year a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry is graciously donated to the auction. This year, in order to participate in the drawing, you had to purchase a copy of Without A Word or donate a copy of the book back to the Foundation to be given to a Krabbe family. The necklace was stunning and I’m not even a big jewelry fan. My daughter, Camryn, was chosen to pick the winner of the evening. The suspense was electric as she stirred the tickets and reached for the winner. When she finished reading off the numbers, there was a holler from the back of the room and a woman in black stood to her feet.
It was Anne!
I fought back the tears as Anne walked to the front of the sprawling ballroom to claim her prize. And as Jim reached toward her holding the shimmering necklace in its modest black box, the room erupted with cheers.
Chance’s mom had won the one-of-a-kind necklace. Of all the tickets that fought their way to the top of the bag hoping to get picked, it was Chance’s mom’s number that Camryn selected. Unbelievable! What are the odds?
As I hugged her like I never have before, I could sense Anne’s joy. It was a good night—a very good night.
Soon after the drawing, Jim did what he does every year at the Ball. With the Buffalo Bills “Shout” song as a loud backdrop Jim hurled autographed footballs into the crowded room. It’s fun and our sponsors love it. The football goes soaring through the air and if you drop it—it’s $100 donation to Hunter’s Hope. What’s even more fun for most is catching a football from a Hall of Fame quarterback—my husband!
Amidst the high-voltage excitement and the “Shout” song, Jim roared out “My buddy Chance,” above the noise. Again, the crowd erupted as Jim tucked the football under his arm and wove his way threw the tables to hand deliver a football to Chance. Every eye in the place was on the boy in the wheelchair. And for those who knew and loved that boy—our hearts were so full.
What a night!
Eventually the Hunter’s Hope Ball ended, much to our dismay. It was a night to remember. And far too soon became a night we would never forget…
Before Anne and Chance drove off I was able to snag a little more snuggle-love time. I’ll say this; I can’t get enough of Chance. Any amount of time I get to spend with him is a treasure.
As we drove home, we talked about what a great time we all had.
The last thing I remember saying that night was this: “Chance made tonight extra special.”
Four days later as I was doing the early drive to school, my phone rang. I looked at the number and didn’t recognize it so I didn’t answer the call. I figured if the person really needed to get a hold of me, they’d leave a message.
And she did.
It was Anne.
Chance had passed away.
I continued to drive as tears poured down my cheeks.
The only words I could muster at the time, I said over and over again. “I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it…”
And as I write this, the day after finding out about our buddy Chance, I still can’t believe it.
By faith, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will see Chance again. Yes, and I can only imagine what he and Hunter are doing even now.
I still can’t believe it.
I can’t believe that God would be so gracious to allow us to see Chance one more time…
to snuggle and love on him one more time…
To run my fingers through his thick auburn hair…
One more time…
I can’t believe that the last time I saw him he was radiant…
The star of the show…
So full of life…
Was this just a glimpse of what was to come for Chance now dressed in Heaven’s finest?
I can’t believe Anne won the necklace. Of all the guests in attendance that evening—HE picked her.
And while my heart is broken all over again, with pain so real and raw it makes breathing difficult…
This one thing I can believe…
God is good.
God is so good.
Please pray for Anne…
Pray as she grieves.
…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).