Thursday, July 19, 2012

Crossing paths

I have shared many times in the course of this journey how amazed I am at how God has placed countless others in our lives the past 4 years that have played an integral roll in our family and found a special place in our hearts. I wish things were different for Nate...I really do. But seeing all of the positive aspects encircling his and our lives as a direct result of the trials he has faced has given us a true thankfulness for the aspects of these trials. This is the grace that God has given us all to continue through all of this joyfully. If we would have never gone through the aspects of this difficult journey, we would have missed out on some incredible blessings.
One of these blessings took the form of a beautiful, witty woman and her 3 precious blonde-headed boys. Beth and I first made contact a little over 2 years ago due to that fact that we had quite a bit in common. She was a photographer whose work I had admired and studied, and she had a son who was just a few months older than Nate who was battling his own medical struggles: leukemia. I found it even more incredible that after writing back and forth a bit, we found out that we lived in the same city and our boys were frequent fixtures at the same children's hospital, sometimes at the same time but in different departments. Talks of "meeting" were put on the backburner while we both fought the front lines of the medical world head on for our sons.
On one of the first days of school last year, I recognized an adorable little toe-headed boy walking with his class at the end of the day. From the pictures I had come to admire, I immediately remembered that he was her oldest son. And just a few weeks later, Beth and I "met" for the first time at pick-up. Her family had moved over the summer and her oldest was now attending school with my girls.
Throughout the school year, we would talk for the few minutes we waited at pick-up...sharing the news and sympathy of what our boys were experiencing, along with different everyday stuff. Nate and Ezra, who shared so much in common and didn't really know it, chased each other around the same tree day in and day out. With Nathan not having much experience with kids his own age, Ezra was quite instrumental in silently teaching him how to interact. Nate has a tendency to scare any kid his age with his unusual appearance coupled with his social awkwardness in learning how to be friends, but Ezra soon became accustomed to his oddities and the two created a bond over Mario Brothers, Angry Birds and whatever else they found entertaining while chasing each other around that big oak tree.
Through our encounters with each other, Beth and I experienced and underlying unspoken bond. A bond created from fear and stress and sleepless nights...from concern for the future, lonely walks through hospital walls, and difficult talks with medical personnel...from heartache and exhaustion and intense hope. The two of us have always carried that unspoken, unbroken bond shared by mothers of ill children...its a friendship that can not be replicated in the "real world" and one that most don't understand. But those of us that carry it understand that feeling to its core.
After an incredibly courageous 3+ year battle with leukemia, Ezra's last dose of chemo through his port was today. He will continue to take chemo by mouth for a while longer, but this ending of intravenous chemo means that he will be able to have his port removed next week by a surgeon both our boys share. And shortly thereafter, this precious family will move to Minnesota, where they will embark on a new chapter in their journey closer to their immediate family. We will miss them all greatly.
At the beginning of the summer, Beth (who I believe is one of the most talented photographers in this area) so graciously took pictures of our family through the organization Inspiration through Art, an organization that gives pictures to families with children who are battling life threatening diseases. Since I always take pictures of our kids, we do not have any family pictures. Beth changed that, and the gift of family portraits that she has left with us is one I could never repay. They are simply priceless. Memories of our family love captured in a split second by such a talented photographer...moments that we will all cherish forever. Irreplaceable memories caught on film...absolutely priceless.
Its continually amazes me to think of the relationships we have been blessed to create through this journey. We will miss the Mancuso family.


Wanda on July 19, 2012 at 9:48 PM said...

All the pictures are beautiful!

Unknown on July 20, 2012 at 8:10 AM said...

This is so sweet Amber, you made me tear up! Thank goodness for Facebook so we can stay connected. :)

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