It’s not the first of the month, but it doesn’t matter. Today is a very special day for our family.
Our daughter, Lila, was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was only 3 1/2 months old. That was one of the most terrifying days of our lives. But today is different. Today is one of the happiest.
On December 4, 2008, Lila went into remission. Her doctor’s said she’ll never be classified as cured, just living in remission. But if she could make it past five years of remission, it will most likely never come back.
Five years is today.
Today we celebrate Lila, her journey, and our eternal family.
When she was diagnosed, my wife and I said to each other that this is going to be a trial that either brings us closer together or tears us apart. We refused to let it do the latter. And the main reason it didn’t was because even though we didn’t know how long she would be with us in this life, we knew we were an eternal family.
Today, I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for my wife. I’d like to say that I was the rock through this, but I wasn’t. It was her. I saw the woman that Heavenly Father entrusted as Lila’s mother. I think there are trials that Heavenly Father gives us because we need them, but there are also trials he gives us because he knows we can handle them. He knew Annie could handle this. And she did. She’ll never fully understand how great a wife and mother she is and how much she means to me and our family.
Today, I’m grateful for the Doctors and staff at Duke Hospital – Dr. Gururangan, her oncologist – Dr. Grant, her surgeon – Melody Watral, her primary nurse – Pamela Smith McDonald, her PICU nurse – the entire staff in the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant center – and many others. They are the most talented and kind-hearted people we could have ever hoped for.
Today, I’m grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful for the love of my Heavenly Father. Watching your child suffer is beyond painful. If nothing else, this trial has given me a greater love for my Heavenly Father for letting his son suffer for my sins. It’s humbling that He loves us that much.
As for the arrangement…
I’ve always been able to express my feelings better with music than with words. I started this arrangement in secret over a month ago. I knew I had wanted to do it for a long time. Not even my wife knew about it. I finally told her about it last night to prepare her for watching it. I felt I needed to keep this under wraps so nothing else would influence it except my own emotions. So there wasn’t a lot of thought behind the arrangement. I just picked up the guitar and played. Whatever came out I ran with.
But the one deliberate thing I did was the end. There is none. There is no resolving chord. I wanted it that way because our family doesn’t end. We will be together forever. And no disease or cancer will ever change that.
If you want to know more about our experience, Annie did an interview about it a while back. You can read it here.