Farewell – A Message to the Children
January 15th, 2012 by Stephen Chance
This is our final update. Thank your for walking with us.
Fondly, Stephen and Erin
Thank you to everyone who has supported us through these last five and a half years and especially now. We are very, very grateful. We love you.
When thinking about what I wanted to say today it became clear to me that I wanted to speak directly to all of the children here today who loved Patrick.
When Patrick was only three he became very ill, and we later learned that he had cancer. He did nothing wrong to get cancer. It was a random event. Importantly, neither he nor Erin nor I ever stewed over the question “why him?” We asked God the question of course, but we as a family never stopped to dwell upon the unfairness of it all. Instead, very early on we made the decision to transform this terrible event in our lives into something meaningful and positive. We were able to do this for two reasons.
First, we fought. He fought. We all fought through the expected things like side effects from all of the medicines Patrick had to take; we fought through bad news; we fought through the fear that good news would only last a little while. But we also fought unexpected battles. Things would pop up and we had to refocus on new challenges continually. We fought day-to-day tactical battles, and we also fought strategic wars at the scientific and political levels. We brought together all of the available resources we had to take good care of Patrick. We always maintained hope that Patrick would survive, but we came to understand that the quality and meaning of human life are not measured in years – they are measured in moments.
Patrick did such a wonderful job of grouping his days into work days and play days. Usually he would receive treatment over a week, suffer side effects for a week, then he would have a good week or two before he had to endure another course of treatment. When it was time to play, Patrick played and played hard. He loved a good time.
When its time for you to take care of your duties – whether they be homework, chores, routine medical care, or the fight for your own life – please tend to your duties without complaint, but also keep an eye on the fun stuff just ahead. The fun things always come back, and when they do, please savor every good moment. Be aware of them and be grateful for them. Take time to experience nature, and sappreciate the beauty of God’s creation. Get on the water and in the woods. That’s where Patrick is. Go visit him. We could even go together.
You will have your challenges in life, too. Some of you might get sick one day. Some of you might be leaders in your communities. Some of you might be performers or athletes or doctors. I know you will all have enriching educational challenges. Whatever the source of your challenges in life, you must meet them head on with a determined will. You will need to focus, prioritize, sacrifice, and rely upon your support systems like your parents, friends, teachers, counselors, pastors, rabbis, and coaches to do what you need to do. Then just do it.
I hope that Patrick’s bravery will empower you to fight when you need to fight. And I don’t mean fight like a boxer. I mean you must press on when you are faced with meaningful challenges in your lives. Always believe you will succeed. Always focus on the ultimate goal you are trying to reach and press on until you get there. If Patrick can stare down cancer, then I know in my heart that you can stare down your challengers too.
The other reason we were able to transform Patrick’s disease into something meaningful and positive is the love that he inspired throughout our community of friends and family. To say that he inspired this amazing outpouring of support appears to attribute the credit for that phenomenon to him. Not so. The credit goes to everyone in this church, everyone who could not be here today but who wishes they were. The credit goes to everyone in this neighborhood and throughout the country and throughout the world who showed us love. The credit goes to YOU. When we needed love and support – big doses of it – you came through. You saved us all.
You have played for Patrick, pedaled for Patrick, and prayed for Patrick. A lot of you did this on your own. All of you had the support of your parents and teachers. We as parents know that when children are raised in a certain environment they tend to replicate that environment going forward in their lives.
With that in mind, Patrick’s family asks only one thing of you, but it’s a big and important request. You have witnessed so many members of our community love us. As you go forward in life and this day fades from your memories, please do not forget that you have been challenged to love. Please continue to behave as your parents have taught you through their examples. Do what they have done. Keep doing what you have done. Love each other.
As you continue to pay love forward, please know and trust that everyone in this church and many, many more people love you, too. If something happens to you or your family, you will not be alone. As you have seen, love is not just a feeling. It is a way of life. It is something that we all do. Please take from this experience in your life that actively loving each other will turn even the worst things into beautiful things.
Finally, don’t be sad. It’s OK to miss Patrick and to cry. But be proud. Be proud of him for being so brave and be proud of yourselves for being a wonderful friend to him.
If Patrick’s mommy and I can ever help you in any way, please come talk to us. If you want to talk about Patrick or if you want to talk about your own challenges in life, just talk to us. We will always have time for you. You are always welcome in our home. You see, we love you all the way to Patrick’s Lego castle in heaven and back.
Fondly, Stephen and Erin