Joy. Hope. Faith. Paige personified all of these--and more. No matter what came her way, no matter what roadblock she faced, she did it with grace. With the hope of good things to come. With faith that God would never, ever leave her side. Not a day goes by I don't think of things she said (or might have said). What she would have thought about the various happenings in our lives. How she would react to the way the guys and I are tackling this new way of doing life.
Today was a day of sharing memories--heartbreakingly beautiful memories. Doctors, nurses, child life specialists, and other amazing TCH staff members joined families in a packed conference room to honor the incredible legacies left by some of the bravest children to ever set foot on this planet.
Our hosts worked to make the morning truly special for everyone involved. Beautiful music. A slideshow of smiling, joyful children and sweet thoughts about them--from the viewpoints of the wonderful people who served them at TCH. One of today's many tear-filled moments for me was reading those words that described Paige so very well. As tears rolled down my face, her oncologist took my hand and told me to never, ever think that our sweet girl wasn't dearly loved by all who knew her. That resulted in more tears, but I know those people loved my girl. Their words, their actions, their passion for what they do. All done in love for these kiddos.
At one point in the ceremony, families were given the opportunity to share a few words about their loved ones. There was no obligation to do so; it was simply an option to share if we felt led. As I appeared to be experiencing my first anxiety attack since Paige left us, I had no plans to speak today. And then my plans changed. As I listened to a mom telling about her little boy--how he loved Jesus, how he loved to say his favorite Bible verse--I felt a gentle nudge. When she played the audio of her little one reciting that verse, the nudge turned into a mighty shove. All of a sudden, I found myself at the front of the room sharing some of our sweet girl's story. Of how Paige lived out our family verse of Romans 12:12 from diagnosis to relapse to transplant to relapse again--and even in those final days. Of how our family is now doing our part in living out those words. Of how incredibly grateful we are for the love and care she received over the course of this journey.
The ceremony concluded with a compilation of the kids' work through Purple Songs Can Fly, a program offering those served by the Cancer and Hematology Centers the opportunity to write and record original songs. We listened to the sweet voices of little ones singing about butterflies or how food was their favorite thing in the world. We heard a guitar instrumental dedicated to a young patient's mother. We listened to a young man singing about his strong faith. Each of these stirred a variety of emotions for everyone in attendance. And then I heard it. I heard a voice I hadn't heard in almost 4 months. I heard my daughter's song, my daughter's voice:
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12.
He's the light on my darkest days;
no matter where I am I will always sing praise.
For He is my one and only way,
And from Him I will never stray."
I made a quick dash for the lobby as tears turned to sobbing. Feeling like I was beginning to hyperventilate, I tried to get my breathing under control. So many thoughts and memories flooded my mind, it was hard to think straight. Thankfully, my incredible husband came to my rescue. Boyce had me focus on him, breathe with him, listen to him. This man talked me out of an almost debilitating panic attack by focusing my thoughts on how Paige sounded in that clip. She wasn't feeling sick. She didn't have any pain. It's as if somehow she knew some kind of change was on the horizon. It's as if she wanted us to know she would be okay. I know that I know that I know my baby girl is more than okay today. Paige is with Jesus--there is nothing more beautiful than that.
Like I said earlier, I often wonder what Paige would think about how we are handling this curveball life has thrown our family. I know how she would do it. I only hope we are doing it in a way that would make her proud. We will see you in a little bit, my love. Until then, we will find the joy in each day. We will hold on to the hope of God's promises. We will keep shining your light.