Archive for November, 2010

November 17, 2010

One More Time…

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.

Even so,

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.

Thank you.

…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

November 11, 2010

Without A Word – Book Club Question #4

Question for Jim – Most fathers want to protect their families…my husband is struggling with the fact that he can’t “fix” our son – he has stage IV brain cancer.  He doesn’t like not knowing what is going to happen. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom on how to deal with such tragedies to your only son? (This is our only son too) (Susan)

Jim was away hunting but I finally got him to stay put so I could ask him this question.  Jim is not one for going deep unless you tie him down and threaten to take away all his hunting time…just kidding.

What I’ve come to learn (the hard way most of the time) is this…men and women deal with deep brokenness and heartache completely different.

When Hunter was diagnosed I heaped expectations on Jim that he was unable and never meant to fulfill.  It was dreadfully hard for us in so many ways.  We were both so desperate.  We were completely crushed in spirit.  Our hearts were ruined.  Our one and only son was dying.

How does anyone deal with this news?  Is there a right or wrong way to navigate through such a life shattering circumstance?

Jim dealt with everything in the only way he knew how at the time (and he’s still working through it all).  The pain of losing a child never goes away.  Jim is a different man now as a result of Hunter’s life and death.  We’re all different.  We’ve been changed in ways we never would have been had Hunter not been diagnosed with a fatal disease.

Sorry I got carried away, as usual.

Here’s Jim’s answer to this very real and poignant question.

This is hard to answer.  I still wish that Hunter was here and healthy.  We’d be getting ready for deer camp right now and it would be incredible.  But, he’s not here.

As much as I wanted to help my son, I couldn’t and that killed me.  I did the best that I could to be there for Hunter but to be honest with you it never seemed like it was enough.  I never had a peace in my heart about all of this until I finally trusted God.  Sometimes it’s hard to explain what it feels like when you do give God all of your struggles.

I’ve stopped trying to make sense of everything that happened to Hunter.  I don’t understand God’s ways but through all of this I’ve come to learn that more than anything, I need God.  The pain hurts sometimes so much that if I didn’t believe God was real…it would be worse than I can explain.

I know there are a lot of families out there going through what Jill and I went through.  It’s horrible, there’s no doubt about it.  But, there really is hope.  It wasn’t until we found hope that we were really able to live.  And even though Hunter was suffering – he was able to live too.  He never gave up and he taught all of us to never ever give up… no matter how bad your circumstances are – God is there.”

I want you to know that Jim and I hurt with you.  We know the pain of what it’s like to walk through life not knowing what each day – what each moment might hold.

But the truth is  – no matter what your circumstances are right now; HE holds time and eternity in His hands…and He holds you. Every single breath we take comes from God.  We did everything we possibly could for Hunter – and yet God determined his last breath.  This brings me incredible comfort.

Rather than try and figure it all out I choose to run to Him because He knows, He cares and He radiates light in the midst of my deep darkness.  I will never fully understand His ways but I know Him more today than I did yesterday…and knowing Him is greater than questions answered.

Susan, thank you for the question.  We’ll be praying for your family.

One day at a time…one prayer at a time!

Press on with HOPE!

November 1, 2010

Without A Word – Book Club Question #3…Why did you write Without A Word?

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In almost every interview Jim & I have done, this question inevitably gets asked…”Why did you write the book?”

Some of you may have already watched this video that answers this very question.  If you have yet to see this, I hope it gives you some insight into why we chose to share our story through Without A Word.  But, in addition to the answer that I give in this short clip, I’d like to add what I said in a previous facebook post…I wrote Without A Word – How a Boy’s Unspoken Love Changed Everything because Hunter’s couldn’t and his story needed to be told.

One last comment – We all have a story.

When all is said and done, your life…my life, will tell a story.

What kind of story are you telling right now?