Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Learn Something, Make Something, Love Someone

I am unspeakably sad. I've been trying to decide whether or not to write this post for several days now.

I have a very good friend who is going through great sorrow this holiday season. Sandy and I have been friends for a very long time. We're about the same age. Her son, Matt, and my daughter, Katy, are the same age. And her daughter, Abby, and my son, Nick, are also the same age. Sandy and I worked together for many years at our local United Way. We actually tried to get our kids to date, but they were friends who hung out together while their moms worked together. When Matt and Katy graduated, our friends had a celebration for Sandy and me, complete with cake and tissues, because we were pretty emotional about our firstborn children graduating.

Sandy and I have a lot in common. We both love coffee and books. We're both still married to our original husbands. And we both love our children and grandchildren to the point of distraction. We can go for months without seeing each other and then just pick up like it was only yesterday. I love her like a sister.

Matt was the first of our children to marry and he and his lovely wife, Amy, had children right away. So Sandy was a grandmother before me. Yes, I was very jealous! You can read about Sandy on her Grilled Grandma feature over at Grandma's Briefs.

Just over a year ago, Sandy's eldest grandchild, Liam, was diagnosed with leukemia. He received a bone marrow transplant from his little sister Mary which put him in remission for a while. When he relapsed last summer, he was moved to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis where he received another transplant. Last week, Liam and his family returned home to Abilene where Liam began hospice care. Liam's parents have taken their six year old home for the last time. They are spending this holiday season making a different kind of preparations. No one should ever have to endure what this lovely and caring family is enduring.

They've asked for friends to respect their privacy and their need to be together as a family. They've been keeping us up to date with a Caring Bridge site since he was first diagnosed. I marvel at their ability to communicate at all during this time. And I know that their friends in Abilene are taking good care of them. I wish I could be there to help.

Liam is a remarkable child who is full of life and love for the whole world. His parents, Matt and Amy, have done such an amazing job with their family. When Liam relapsed several months ago, they decided that every day in the hospital they should "learn something, make something, and love someone."

As part of loving someone, Liam learned about how many people around the world don't have access to clean water. As a result, he launched a project to build wells in Africa. The project is known as Liam's Wells. Liam's friends and family have funded two wells that have already been built in Kenya. But more people want to help, so Liam's Wells is a continuing project.

If you can make a charitable donation during this holiday season, please consider donating to Liam's Wells. Grams and her family have already contributed. We invite you to help Liam "learn something, make something, and love someone," by joining us. Click here to go to the donation page.

And please remember this family in your prayers. Then give your children an extra big hug and remember what is really important. We all need a little help with perspective at this time of year.

Hold your children a little tighter this Christmas and be a little more patient and tolerant. Be gentle with them when they're cranky and overtired or overstimulated. Remember what is important and what is not. So what if you can't get them everything they've asked Santa for. Take a break from wrapping presents and wrap your arms around your children. That's what really matters.

Celebrate everything! Messes and mistakes and good grades and bad grades are part of life and life should be celebrated. Slow down and spend time with them. In the grand scheme of things, it won't matter if you bake one more batch of Christmas cookies or not. Sometimes let go of the chores and read a book with them. Your housework will wait, but your children won't.

Make a commitment to follow in Liam's footsteps this holiday season ... learn something, make something, and love someone ... every day!


  1. This is so heartbreaking. Having a boy with the same name and almost the same age makes it so real. I can't even begin to imagine what they are going through. We will absolutely make a donation in honor of this little boy. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

    Now I need to go and hold on to my little ones.

  2. What a wonderful post. I'm so glad you decided to write it. We all need to take a moment and hug the ones we love -- thank you for the reminder. Really made me stop and think about just how lucky I am.

    Merry Christmas!

  3. just beautiful Vicki-could finally stop crying enough to comment- janna

  4. Somehow I didn't realize you and Sandy were so close. So heartbreaking. I found out about Liam just after publishing her Grilled Grandma feature and have been following on Caring Bridge and praying ever since. Such a sweet, vibrant boy and such pain for that family. So, so sad. I understand your conflict about posting about it but I think you did the very right thing in spreading the word about lovely Liam, his wells, and the incredible example he is and the difference he's made. God bless him and his family.

  5. WOW! You are right, it must've been a difficult post to write but you did it so well. This is just not the natural order of things, to bury a child but they are going thru these last days with dignity it sounds like and relishing every second they have together. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I can't even imagine what they must be going through. I will certainly remember them in my prayers. It's quite amazing what a difference such a little one can make in the world, isn't it? A heartbreaking yet inspiring post indeed.