The Why Behind Love Like Liam - Pediatric Cancer Charity
If you haven’t seen, we have a collection of cookies called “In Honor Cookies” that are dedicated to kids who, like my son Liam, are currently battling or have battled cancer. These cookies are in a child’s favorite flavor, come with a card that includes a photo of the child and their story and are wrapped in a bow in their favorite color. If you look at the In Honor Cookies, you see a rainbow of colors and so many faces of beautiful children. Too many faces, to be honest. What I see when I look at that page of faces are kids who don’t look any different than any other child. And that’s the thing about the cancers that pick on kids – they choose any child regardless of where they live, who they are and who their parents are. It’s the part about childhood cancers that’s so unnerving – any child can be diagnosed which means every child is vulnerable. When you stop to think about it, the implications are a bit unsettling. It’s the reason I realized early on that this is a battle where we all have a collective responsibility. You hope you’re not the one who hears the words, “Your child has cancer” but the reality is you might just be. No one is “safe.” In a million years, I never thought it was going to be me. I still can’t believe it was.
When Cookies for Kids’ Cancer launched, it was important to me that this be a space and place to welcome every child and their family. One of the ways we do this is by supporting the strongest research into every kind of childhood cancer, not just the one my son battled. After all, the heartache my family feels is no different than the heartache a parent who lost their child to another kind of cancer feels. It was our theory that if we work together to fund the strongest science that has the best chance of moving from a lab to a child’s bedside in the shortest period of time possible, it would be for the greater good. We also wanted every child and their family to have an opportunity to tell their personal story and share whatever message they wanted to share with the world. After all, every child has a story and every story should be heard. That desire was the genesis behind our In Honor Cookies.
The Love Like Liam Cookies are Liam’s special cookies. After Liam passed away, I spent about two weeks writing his eulogy. It was a daunting task that had to be perfect. It had to paint a rich picture in words what a very, very, very special little boy meant not only to our family but to everyone whose lives he touched. I wanted everyone who heard the eulogy to be taken on a journey and get inside what made Liam, well, Liam. I had the eulogy written and it was long, 15 pages, but I struggled to find the words to close it. My goal was to leave people with a message they would remember that captured the essence of a little boy who touched so many and the essence of the day those words were being delivered: Valentine’s Day. The ending was blank for days. It just wasn’t coming to me. Some things just take time and sometimes all you wish you had was time. And then like a rush the words popped into my head and I instantly knew they were the words: Love Like Liam.
Those words were the last three words of the eulogy I delivered on February 14th to a cathedral filled with people wearing “Liam orange” whose lives were impacted by a little boy who lived more in his too short time here than most people live in a lifetime. Those three words were the the message I wanted to impart as we closed one chapter and started a new one. It was a chapter I couldn’t imagine. I have to share something with you, it doesn’t get any easier. I miss him today as much as I missed him on January 24th when he left this world. But, for me at least, knowing that the work we are doing by funding research to help other kids is the one thing I can do to honor him. As many people who know me have heard me say, I am quite confident I will see him again. And oh, I can’t wait for that day. And I know we are going to spend so much time hugging each other, rubbing noses and kissing every inch of that sweet face. But I also know that Liam will have one question on his mind and only one question: Did we make it better for others? I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that would be his expectation…that if we could do something to help, we did…one Good Cookie at a time.