We have an 8th grader! I love a new school year with its fresh starts and new beginnings but it always feels so bittersweet. Each year during back-to-school shopping I find my mind drifting back to the day the doctor crossed “riding the school bus” off of my bucket list for Peter’s life. It’s interesting how the memory works, the sights, sounds and smells of the day are all right there with the painful words. Then the first day of school arrives and I’m so excited. I hug and kiss him and whisper, “I can’t believe you get to live” I remind him to live well to honor his friends that have lost that the privilege. Now, as a teenager, he rolls his eyes and says, “I know”. Truthfully he doesn’t need to be reminded.
It’s always the day that he and dad grab the football for a little game of catch and some conversation before the bus arrives. I’m usually the only one interested in the First Day photos but each year we’re glad we have them. As we celebrate this milestone in Peter's life we are, at the same time, mourning the loss of so many children that we have loved on this journey. I can’t imagine the families that stand at the bus stop short one precious child, the ones that put on the brave smile until the bus pulls away. The loss isn’t simply for the parents but for the siblings too many of which will face the bus stop alone, my heartaches for that injustice. Cancer is such a miserable disease it takes so much from our child. Today many we love are crying over the simple joy of a bus ride to school.
September starts Childhood Cancer awareness month. There are many ways to be involved all year long though monetary donations, blood donations, attending fundraisers, volunteering at events, driving a meal to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or cooking dinner for one of our cancer families. Simply reach out and find a way to be part of something that will help on some level and know that less than 4% of research dollars go to fund a cure for childhood cancer. Don’t our children deserve more?