Grab the Moment. Be Brave


Father and son at the start of the cancer journey.

Father and son at the start of the cancer journey.




Part I – Grab the Moment. Be Brave
Just before Christina hugged me goodbye, her eyes sought mine. My horrified gaze stared right back, her question hanging in the air between us, “What? You didn’t bring your camera?”
“No!” I shuddered, chills running down my back.
“Carol, you know you’ll want pictures…you always want pictures.” My scrapbooking buddy had driven me to the hospital after we found someone to care for my little girls. Around 3:00 a.m. we had tiptoed into Andrew’s room, shocked to find him already hooked up to machines in the cancer ward, both Andrew and daddy already asleep. The reality of the 12-hour-old diagnosis of “an advanced case of leukemia” was settling, but not completely.

“Pictures! No, I don’t want to take pictures.” My gaze darted back to the bed where my boy lay sleeping. My fear pushed forward,

“What if…what if he doesn’t make it through this?”

“You’ll want pictures.”

“No…I can’t…I can’t have his last pictures be in the hospital!”

“But he’ll make it,” she insisted, “and you’ll want pictures.”

I shook my head stupidly. I couldn’t fathom taking pictures right now. She hugged me and set out to drive the four hours back home.

A few moments later, she returned, slipped a disposable Kodak camera (bought from the hospital gift shop) into my slack hands, squeezed tight and left again.

Siblings snuggle on the hospital bed.

Siblings snuggle on the hospital bed.

And here I sit, almost 10 years later, so very thankful. My fears made me hesitate to grab that camera, but grab it I did.
I’m so grateful to have a picture of my girls as they cuddled one on either side of Andrew the first time they got to come see him after having that horrible “cancer” word come into our lives.

I’m happy I have a snap shot of Uncle Joe sitting on the edge of the parent cot, holding one end of a racetrack, while Andrew sat up in bed on the other end, sending Hot Wheels down the track as fast as he could.

I’m glad to own a shot of cousin Marianne whipping up and down the hospital corridors with Andrew giggling in the wheelchair, IV pole rattling above them both, their matching red hair a blur, just days before his began falling out in clumps.
It’s awesome to look at the photo of the social worker bending over a doll, showing Andrew and the girls the different medical procedures and letting them give the doll “pokes” like Andrew got. Was that the moment Larissa became interested in medicine?

Another precious memory captured on film acts as a signpost in remembering the journey from cancer to health in Andrew's life.

Another precious memory captured on film acts as a signpost in remembering the journey from cancer to health in Andrew’s life.

The picture of cousins Stacy and Trevor reading to Andrew makes me smile, and I love the one of daddy walking with Andrew down the hospital hallways.

Someone brought me a journal, and I wrote while Andrew was sleeping. I am so thankful. Andrew is almost 13 years old, and sometimes when I tell him stories of a miracle moment, he looks at me in doubt. “Did that really happen? I don’t remember that!” I smile, and tell him I wrote it down for us both. I wrote it down for the girls. I wrote it down, because I didn’t know what memories I would need to cling to over the years.

I didn’t take as many pictures as I could have and some of the quality is bad, but I find joy in encountering a captured moment in time. I didn’t write as much as I should have, but I wrote enough phrases to trigger memories now. I am still writing, everything I can remember – and it’s amazing that once I started writing, the memories came flooding back. And really? That is when I began to appreciate the beauty in this journey!

My intense fear of losing my boy almost made me miss out on documenting the miracle. But Andrew and I, our girls and my husband – we shared a journey and now I know that I would cherish those memories whatever the outcome. There are beautiful moments on this path that I will never want to forget.

In this digital camera age, maybe I don’t even have to hint that you should take pictures. Whether it’s an advanced professional photo shoot or a snap of a cell phone camera, chronicle this journey! Keep a blog, write in a diary, or Facebook often. Whatever your method, count those moments and grab hold of a memory. You and the one you love are in this together. However it ends, the journey IS worth remembering, because you are taking it with someone you love!

Micah 6:5: “… Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.”

Make sure you check back next week for ‘the rest of the story‘!