Henry's Blog

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Someone Like You

Time somehow manages to crawl by interminably, and yet we turn around to find that almost three months have disappeared like the spring flora. After the Relay for Life in May, we barely had time to reflect on the Day of Remembrance at St. Jude in June.

The Relay For Life can be a somber experience, but it was so heartening to see, judging by all the luminaires, that Henry is still remembered by so many.

For the Day of Remembrance we spent two days in Memphis. Along with dozens of other families, we set up a display board in the Danny Thomas-ALSAC Pavilion with photos and keepsakes, including some of Henry's drawings and writings.

The room was filled with display boards of children no longer with us. It created a grave and piercing panorama within the otherwise gentle pavilion. We met with several staff members who had vivid, fun, and fond memories of Henry.

We spent several hours attending a group meeting comprised of bereaving parents. It was a difficult time. The meeting was led by a panel of parents who, while offering helpful advice and solace, mostly took the opportunity to tell their personal stories of grief. Our stories are all we have and it helps to tell them to someone who might understand. The families were all so different but we were bound by our loss and were buoyed by each other.

That evening we went back to McKewen's, our favorite Memphis restaurant. We greeted the waitress who befriended Henry on our last visit: it was two years earlier to the day that Henry, Mama, and Dad sat in that restaurant and got the call from Dr. Merchant at St. Jude that Henry's first MRI following treatment showed no signs of tumor.

That day, June 5, 2007, was perhaps our most optimistic day since Henry's diagnosis.

And it was Mama's birthday.

The next day we attended a lovely and heartrending memorial service during which all the attending families submitted flowers as part of a massive bouquet, and watched a slide show where we could see Henry's beautiful face along with all the many other angels.

The ceremony ended outside the pavilion where we all participated in a balloon release. The day was overcast but the clouds were high and we could clearly watch the balloons gracefully fly away until they were too small to see.

Upon returning home, we learned that St. Jude is expanding its "Pathway to Hope" walkway near the main entrance of the hospital. Donors may purchase inscribed bricks to honor loved ones and we decided to purchase one for Henry. When we return to St. Jude in the future, and we probably will, it will mean so much to see his name memorialized in a place so dedicated to treating kids like him.

Now, facing the summer's last hot breath, we turn towards September. In another example of grim symmetry, the anniversary of Henry's passing falls in Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. We learned that the Atlanta-based organization, the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, is hosting their annual William's Walk & Run on September 11 in Alpharetta, which is Cousin Penton's home town. The BTFC helped us out financially when we were in treatment in Savannah, so we eagerly signed up to walk in the race. After we registered, we received a call from the Family Coordinator who, noting that we are from South Carolina, told us about a new partnership between the BTFC and a South Carolina family that has started a foundation in honor of their daughter who died of ependymoma shortly after Henry. Their foundation, Carly's Rays of Hope, provides assistance and support for South Carolina families facing pediatric brain cancer. They are having a fundraiser this weekend in their hometown of Aiken, about three hours from us, and will be including Henry in their story as an example of the families they can help, and we will be meeting them this Sunday.

Come September, we hope anyone willing and able will honor Henry during this noteworthy month by sponsoring our team during William's Walk and Run. You can sign up at http://www.firstgiving.com/henrycermak.

Remember The Lorax:

"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."


Anonymous Wendy said...

Rest in Peace sweet boy!!

11:20 AM  
Blogger A Blonde Decided to Write One Day... said...

I am very touched by your story. Henry is a darling boy. I am very sorry for your loss, and I hope that all is well with your family. I know that families can be together forever. What is heaven without your family?

3:26 PM  
Blogger heart rumbles said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your son,Henry. I enjoyed reading about him. God bless you and your family.

5:39 PM  

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