|Happy 1st Birthday!|
We are most excited about meeting his donor. The bone marrow registry doesn't release any information on the donors until one year after the transplant. We have contacted the registry and are anxiously awaiting any news about the woman who selflessly donated her marrow that will provide us with a cancer free future. There are no words powerful enough in the English language to adequately thank her.
On January 10th we received sad news that Casey had passed away. Casey received a transplant the same day as Willie and we grew close with him and his family during the months we spent together at Stanford. We were saddened by the loss of a vibrant life taken too soon.
Last Thursday Willie and I drove down to Southern California to attend his memorial service. The family had requested that nobody wear black, but instead suggested bright colors to honor Casey's memory. Willie fulfilled the request and purchased a new pair of orange pants and a neon green shirt. The church was filled with every color in the rainbow and it was awe inspiring to look across the brightly clad crowd of people whose lives Casey had touched. His zest and enthusiasm for life was in inspiration to all of us and he will truly be missed.
Casey's pastor from his youth group gave a wonderful sermon in which he recounted one of my favorite stories from the bible. It is the story of Jesus and Lazarus found in John chapter 11. The story begins with the sisters of Lazarus coming to Jesus to inform Him that their brother is sick. Jesus waits for two days before going to the city where Lazarus lives and by that time the man had died. The sisters were dismayed and said if He had come sooner, their brother would not have died. Jesus informed them that their brother would live again according to their faith.
Then He wept with them.
Verse 35 is the shortest in all of scripture and simply reads "Jesus Wept." However, these two words tell us more about the character of Jesus than anything else. He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but He didn't deny the sisters the opportunity to mourn their loss.
Instead, He mourned with them.
He didn't tell them to stop crying.
He didn't imply that things could be worse.
He didn't suggest that it would get easier with time.
He didn't try and talk them out of their pain.
No, He wept with them.
Then He went to the place Lazarus was buried and called him from the grave. To me, the significance in this story is not that Jesus raised a man from the dead, but what He taught us about mourning. We learn from Him that it is OK to weep.
The truth in this story goes far beyond death. It applies to any hurt, pain, loss or sadness any of us have ever experienced. It applies to our hopes that are dashed, plans that must be revised due to unexpected life circumstances, dreams that are unfulfilled, and faith that is shaken.
In all of these circumstances Jesus weeps with us.
Then, when He has shared our pain He reaches out His hands to comfort us. The miracle He provides may not be as dramatic as raising a man from the dead, but the healing is just as real. I know this because there have been times when He has wept with me. Those were the times when I felt there was no road ahead of me and the darkness was far too scary to venture into. It was during these times that He cried with me, then took me by the hand and showed me the way.
There is no greater comfort than knowing this peace is available to ALL those who seek it.
We have wept along with Casey's family at his passing and have prayed for their peace in the coming days, weeks and months. They will always be a part of our journey and we will think of him with each passing birthday and live a better life in honor of him. The trials the Clem family has faced have been astounding, yet they have endured them with grace and inspiring faith. I am honored to know men of such valor and know that Casey and Melissa are smiling down on them from above.
We just got back from Stanford where Willie had his one year bone marrow biopsy. It was performed by Lenny, who was one of our favorite doctors when we were frequenting the hospital a year ago. The biopsy was fast and Willie handled it like a rock star. He will get annual biopsies for the next few years to ensure that he is still cancer free and that his new cells are behaving appropriately.
This past year has been a wild ride, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. We have had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and through it all we have become better people. Cancer has taught us how to laugh often, live in the moment, hope beyond anything that makes sense and love unconditionally. Most of all it has taught us the value of people and we have been continually blessed by the hands of others.
To anyone who has helped us along the way we shout a genuine "THANK YOU!" as merely speaking the words would not be enough. Your care and concern gives us comfort and hope for a fabulous future!