Remembering Prince Liam the Brave
Here it is….the day. The day that is unlike any other day of the year. It was also a Monday the day we kissed Liam goodbye, just like it is today. Maybe that’s why it hurts a little more today. It has been an eternity since I felt his body next to mine as I held him in my arms, and yet it feels like it was literally seconds ago. It always feels far away. It always feels close. It’s the day you don’t know what to do or what to feel. It’s literally the day you muddle through with the memories which normally lay dormant awakening to sucker punch you in the gut.
At the time, we knew it was coming and yet it was a surprise. Liam helped Larry make tacos on Friday night. By Monday afternoon he was gone. The last words he spoke were to Ella telling her to have a nice day at school and that he loved her as she left in the morning.
After Liam was diagnosed, we started a blog Larry named Prince Liam the Brave. It seemed a completely fitting name for the little boy with golden hair, the cutest button nose and magnanimous personality. The blog was our way of keeping family and friends up to speed without them having to ask questions. Over the years, the blog was passed along to others who became invested in Liam’s fight. There were people around the world who were storming whoever answered their prayers for Liam’s fight to have a happy ending. We received cards, letter, drawings, holy water, prayer beads, good luck charms and other talismans from around the world. It was humbling to see how many people were inspired by Liam. It had to be a sign of his luck. And all the lucky coincidences that happened around him too often to be called coincidence led my heart to believe that despite the odds, he was going to make it. After all, how couldn’t he? But, as we know, the story didn’t end the way we wanted it to end. To be honest, I still can’t quite believe it. Did it really happen? Every morning a version of groundhog day plays out for me when, for a split second after I first awake, I forget that Liam isn't here before reality sets in.
Larry and I stopped writing in the blog soon after Liam died. It was too hard and now that Liam’s story was written, would anyone care? But here we are today with more than 115 research projects funded, $20 million granted in sight and stories to share that Liam would want us to share. Stories about the 14,000+ grassroot event organizers, pediatric cancer researchers who have dedicated their lives to helping kids, and other kids who are travelling the same path as Liam and benefitting from treatments that you helped us to fund.
You know what Liam’s oncologist told me days after he was diagnosed when I asked him why more people didn’t know that pediatric cancer is the number one disease killer of kids in the U.S.? He said it’s because kids don’t have the same voice as adults. You know what I saw over his shoulder as he was telling me this? A news conference on TV announcing the departure of a key White House staff member because of a cancer diagnosis. When was the last time you saw a news conference to announce the cancer diagnosis of a kid? And yet kids are our future. Kids are the next generation and it’s our collective responsibility to do everything we can to help protect them, especially when battling the numbers one disease killer.
So maybe in a way Liam’s story didn’t end. Maybe his story is beginning….beginning through others. His story lives because of you.
If you have a moment, send Liam a hello. And if you have children, give them an extra dose of love today. As the African proverb goes, "If you want to go somewhere quick, go alone. If you want to go somewhere far, go together."
Let’s go far places, together.