Keep em' Close

This isn't my usual political rant, or memoir of life as a veteran. We've had a bit of a rough spell in the family recently and it really helps to be able to write about it.

This last year my nephew  Evan, at only 14 months old, was diagnosed with both cancer of the brain and kidney. It was horrible news (obviously) and the prognosis wasn't great. Even with the cards stacked against him, we all remained hopeful and optimistic; the family was prepared to do whatever it takes to make him better.

The first step was surgery. They had to get out as much of the tumor as possible and then start pelting the remaining with as much chemo as they could throw at it. It was hard on my brother and sister-in-law seeing their baby boy go through this. Within a week's time both surgery's were completed and were both fairly successful. The kidney cancer was removed entirely, but because of the advanced stage of the brain cancer and it's location, not all of it could be removed. We now had to hope that chemo could take take care of the rest.

The next few months were spent in and out of the hospital while little Evan continued with his treatment. Things were going about as well as it could and the treatment seemed to be working. However, the tumor started to become resistant to the drug treatment.

By this time mom and dad had brought Evan to see just about every specialist in the region and ended up getting referred to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis Tennessee for treatment. Again, we were still optimistic. Surely the best children's hospital in the nation and arguably the world could help. They spent a few weeks down there doing more treatments and testing doing all they could to give Evan that fighting chance. Unfortunately, the tumor was still not showing any signs of regression and had now grown well beyond it's original size. The doctors gave him at best, two months to live if something couldn't be done. Since the tumor had became resistant to all available forms of chemo at this point, mom and dad were left with two horrible choices. One, do an aggressive brain surgery to try to remove the cancer and all but guarantee Evan would be in severe loss of mental state for the rest of his life (if he survived the surgery), or bring him home and enjoy the little time they had left with him.

After some thought and prayer, they decided on the latter. They would bring little Evan home to be around family and to live out the rest of his days surrounded by those he loved and loved him.

What a horrible thing for a parent to have to decide. Could you imagine? Who could even begin to fathom the despair and pain that they went through while making that decision?

We were invited to their home to participate in a Blessing of little Evan shortly after their return from Tennessee. This Blessing is a Mormon ritual used to heal and comfort the afflicted and is something I had never witnessed and let alone heard of before.

There were three senior members of the church there, two were introduced as bishops. The first one that spoke explained the ceremony and that its purpose was to not only give strength, but to literally reserve a place in God's kingdom when the time came. It was incredibly moving and heart wrenching to watch and listen as each bishop took turns speaking while they laid their hands on his little head. Even though the room was filled with those of different faiths or denominations, we all prayed together and fervently, as one.

Through the priests (and in our own hearts) we spoke to the heavens hoping for a miracle or at best, comfort for little Evan and his family during these next few months.The tears flowed freely around the room filled with roughly 30 of their closest friends and family, each taking solace that Evan would soon enough be free of pain and in a better place.

There's nothing more difficult in life than to confront death. And nothing more agonizing than watching it happen slowly before your very eyes and being helpless to stop it.

If you have children, or family you don't see often. Take the time to be with them, make amends if need be, and most of all never, ever, take them for granted. We only have limited time on this earth and within a split second the things we most cherish can disappear right before our very eyes. And you can never get that time back.

Evan John Procter, I pray for you. I pray that the God of God's and the Lord of all creation gives you comfort in the coming weeks, gives you strength when you need it most, and that when the time comes that you may find comfort and peace as you sit in Heaven at the right hand of God, watching over us. We pray that you are able to give your mom and dad the peace and comfort they need in this trying time. We love you and will all miss you dearly sweet little Evan, but are comforted knowing that you will be free of pain in this life. When you get there have patience little one; we will all be back together soon enough. In Jesus name... Amen. 

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