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

29 Responses to “Farewell – A Message to the Children”

  1. January 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm, Bambi Batchelor Crook said:

    That was beautiful as was your precious child. Thank you for sharing these past 5.5 years with the world so that we all could learn to love a little more. God bless your family Stephen. You will be in prayers.

    Reply

  2. January 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm, Kim said:

    AMAZING!! Life and love to you and your family. You have inspired us ALL to live better lives. XO

    Reply

  3. January 15, 2012 at 4:02 pm, Margaret Dunstan said:

    That was a painfully beautiful letter, and what it must have taken to write it. Challenges, hope, faith, God, and opportunities.
    The walk that your family has been on has presented a loving design for living for all of us, especially those of us dealing with disease and illness.
    God bless you all, and thank you for showing us how to always Press On.

    Reply

  4. January 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm, Catherine Stuckey said:

    Thank you for this. May God’s peace which passes all understanding be with you and remain with you always.
    Love to you all,
    Catherine Clayton Stuckey
    (“Tayut”)

    Reply

  5. January 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm, Tricia Sheehan Beck said:

    It was such a beautiful celebration of Patrick’s life yesterday! And a glorious, special day and night all around with you all. Amazing friends, who continue to teach me so much! Love you.

    Reply

  6. January 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm, Betty Wilson said:

    What a beautiful message you have shared with so many people. I wish I had known him,but you were able to tell his story so well . I was able to buy a flower over the holidays for the Press On campaign and I think of all the brave children and their family’s every time I look at it. My prayers will be with you and your family.

    Reply

  7. January 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm, David Steele said:

    Stephen and Erin,
    Thank you for sharing your life and your beautiful son with us. Your family has been in my prayers and will continue to be in my prayers. As you grieve know that you do not grieve alone. When your pain overwhelms, He will comfort you.

    Reply

  8. January 15, 2012 at 6:41 pm, Kriston Chandler said:

    Your family has been such an inspiration to us. I have marveled at your positive outlook in every carepage . Thank you for helping us get through Williams’s treatment and giving us some guidelines to follow. Your family is amazing and although we did not know Patrick personally, he will forever be part of our lives.
    Xoxo,
    Kriston, John T, Jack, Julia and William Chandler

    Reply

  9. January 15, 2012 at 7:30 pm, MD Reynolds said:

    You all of shown such grace during Patrick’s fight & after. It’s no wonder you are so loved. God bless you!

    Reply

  10. January 15, 2012 at 8:49 pm, John Jones said:

    Erin and Stephen, I couldn’t hope to add to your own eloquent words or those of others who have commented. I just wanted to say that while you captioned your post as “Farewell,” I do suspect that, strong though you are, you will continue to need your support system of friends in the weeks and months to come. Therefore, I hope the “Farewell” doesn’t signify that you feel you need to go it alone from this point. Of course, with your steadfast faith and what I assume is a nurturing church community, you would never really be going it alone, but I think you know what I mean. That is what I was trying to express, in a perhaps not very articulate way, when I told Erin after the service that “we [who have been walking with you in spirit the last several years] aren’t going anywhere.” Take care.

    Reply

  11. January 15, 2012 at 8:53 pm, Rev Kitty Newton said:

    A BEAUTIFUL TRIBUTE TO PATRICK AS YOUR WORDS HELP HEAL THE HEARTS OF HIS YOUNG FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

    WITH CONTINUED PRAYERS FOR ALL OF YOU

    KITTY NEWTON
    PASTOR, BRICK UMC

    Reply

  12. January 15, 2012 at 9:23 pm, Jack Adamson said:

    The only words I could say at my Father’s funeral were Love and Forgiveness. That’s what we all die for.

    Reply

  13. January 16, 2012 at 4:40 am, John Power said:

    You are extrordinary people and it has been a hugely enriching experience to witness the love, bravery and example. May God bless you all forever – you have blessed us.

    John Power (Ireland)

    Reply

  14. January 16, 2012 at 6:31 am, Amanda from Ontario Canada said:

    Until we meet again, sweet Chance family. I will never forget your son or the lessons learned from all of you. God Bless you and keep you and allow you to still feel your beautiful son’s presence in your hearts.

    Reply

  15. January 16, 2012 at 7:52 am, Sandra Timmerman said:

    This is such a wonderful tribute to Patrick and an inspiration for other children. Thank you for sharing Patrick’s journey with so many people. I have learned to love a little boy that I never met. I heard from Judy Albert that the service was beautiful and uplifting. Take care and God bless all of you.

    Reply

  16. January 16, 2012 at 7:55 am, Susan Todd said:

    Thank you for such wonderful thoughts and challenges. So many people get angry with God at a time such as this. I pray should I ever have to go through anything similar to what you are going through, I will remember how bravely and lovingly you fought your battle for Patrick. I am continuing to pray for comfort and strength for you during the days ahead.

    Reply

  17. January 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm, Donna said:

    I am printing this letter for myself and to read to my children to help them live life and love. Much love to your family.

    Reply

  18. January 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm, Cameron Bentley said:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to send such a powerful and beautiful letter. We are grateful for the strength and love your family has shared. You are always in our hearts.

    Reply

  19. January 17, 2012 at 8:31 am, Judith McCarthy said:

    I have been on the sidelines cheering for Patrick vicariously through Press On and updates from my sister, Laura Phinizy. You have blessed me so much with your message. I hope that my children will have the opportunity to learn from your journey.

    Reply

  20. January 17, 2012 at 11:00 am, Nellie said:

    Dear Family,
    Thank you for sharing. Remember way deep that our little antalope is still with us in spirit. This is the time we will countinue to learn from him. Each day his spirit will send you all love and happiness. Always keep him close and our creator above will let you know he is okay.
    Pleasent journey Little Antalope

    N

    Reply

  21. January 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm, Helen said:

    Patrick and your family have been and will continue to be in my prayers. I pray for an army of angels with arms interlocking to surround your family and your home. Thank you for sharing Patrick’s story with the world.

    Reply

  22. January 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm, Tara said:

    This letter is moving and beautiful, and I am finding myself all choked up as I write. I did not know Patrick, nor do I know you all, but I am connected to Press On thru the Turner Simkins family and their journey with Brennan’s illnesses. I saw this link on Turner’s wall. And I am so glad I read it. I am sorry you lost your son, but I am so moved at the strength that flows through this letter. May love and peace surround you. Now, I am going to go give my daughters an extra hug. thank you for sharing. With Love-Tara Chokshi

    Reply

  23. January 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm, Christy B. Jones said:

    Although you don’t know me, I have been praying for your son. I now
    pray for your family daily. My husband, Lark and I are friends of the
    Simpkins Famaily and learned of Patrick through them. I bought an
    amaryllis from Gayle Foster to help support Press On. My flower had
    more blooms on it than I have ever experienced on an amaryllis. It was so beautiful! I am so moved my your strength and faith.

    Reply

  24. January 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm, Coy Watkins said:

    I did not have the opportunity to know Patrick or your family but saw this letter and thought I would read it. I just want you to know how much it affected me and encouraged me. We all face difficulties in our lives and how we handle them makes all the difference. Thank you for sharing this and I hope others will read it and realize that God, family and friends are here for all of us we just need to look for them. Very well said! Thank you again! Paying love forward….wonderful!

    Reply

  25. January 19, 2012 at 2:13 am, Linda Pilcher said:

    When I think of someone whom I consider a “True Hero”, your beloved son Patrick will definitely be at the top of my list. I stand in absolute awe of a young man who showed a deep faith in GOD, strength, bravery, courage and a love for life inspite of all the trials he had to endure. Not only do I consider Patrick a “True Hero,” I also feel he is and should be to all an “Inspiration.” The brightest star in the Heavens above will shine for Patrick. GOD BLESS!

    Reply

  26. January 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm, Sam Tyson said:

    Stephen and Erin,
    I got to know about Patrick and your family through the Simpkins. My wife has had three operations and a long therapy requiring hospitalization last year. She is in the hospital, too weak to walk, and can barely speak, but is improving every day. When I feel like I want to crawl in a hole and wallow in self pity, I remember Patrick and Brannen and how they show us how to have courage and grace when things are bad. These boys have inspired Margaret and me to be strong when we didn’t want to be. Thank you, Patrick.

    Reply

    • February 08, 2012 at 5:18 pm, Kay Diles said:

      It has taken me a while to respond to your letter to the children, Stephen. As the remaining Grandmother to Ian and Grayson Philleps, I cannot express in words how we all feel at Patricks life and the love that has exuded from you and your family to others in the community. I to, have copied your letter and will cherish it. God bless you all and thanks you for sharing.

      Reply

  27. March 30, 2012 at 11:35 am, Kelly Myers said:

    Hi Chance family,
    When we were members at DHGC I never got to meet you but I heard and continue to hear wonderful things about Patrick and all of you! I am now a full-time school nurse. I get to work with elementary kids every day. I am touched and so saddened for your loss. What a lovely tribute you wrote and I just now read it. I’m bawling here in the clinic thinking, “yes, kids, press on!” I love that you addressed them! Thanks for all of the hard work that you’ve done to fight childhood cancer. You are pillars of the community. I celebrate you today!
    God bless you all,
    Kelly Myers

    Reply

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