Last weekend Camp Quality invited us to one of their family events. We feel lucky that there are organisations out there such as them, who continually find ways to make kids and their parents who have been through tough times, smile. They totally get the healing power of having everything organised – we just turn up, they add laughter and shared experiences.
The best part is connecting with other families who have been through the cancer journey. Sharing part of that journey, no matter what stage you are at (even wordlessly at times) is pretty special. One of the families who was at the event with us was a mum and her 3 kids, similar ages to ours. When we meet with other families we often wonder which child went through treatment. Their dad wasn’t there and I thought maybe he was working that night and couldn’t get away.
We had a good laugh and it turns out the event tickets were donated by someone who had cancer as a child. There always seems a desire to give back when one has been through a near death experience.
Anyway, while chatting I discovered that this family was an ‘offspring’ family. A family that the charity supports where one of the parents has died of cancer. An offspring family. Those words hit me hard.
It never occurred to me earlier that this family had lost their dad, and husband. As a dad myself, sitting with my family around me, I don’t know how I felt. Lucky? Blessed? Grateful? Yet also very insignificant. A whole host of emotions really. I looked at Marnie and felt incredibly empathetic to the other mum. How could she get through a night like this…a lifetime…without her husband. Without being able to share moments like this, not just with her kids, but with the person that helped bring them into the world. We often joke about it but the ladies really are mentally stronger than us blokes. As a dad I felt incredibly sad for the dad that wasn’t there himself. The seat next to his wife looked really empty. I felt sad for the kids growing up without their father. I felt sad for him (wherever he was now – hopefully watching from somewhere), missing out on seeing them grow up. For a while I just felt pretty sh*t really.
Perspective. That word again. Another brutal ‘in your face’ reality check.
What inspired me that night (as always) were the children, all between about 12 and 8. They had lost their dad to a horrible debilitating disease less than a year prior yet they were laughing and giggling at what was going on around them. Kids are incredibly resilient. I’ve said it time and time again. They have their moments, and like any human being of course need to grieve, but how do they move on without being angry and pissed off at the world? How do they not feel sorry for themselves – make excuses when they are having a bad day? I guess because they are not adults. No baggage. It’s pretty simple really I think.
Calvin’s mum in the caption sums it up well. ‘There are many things we do not understand, and we just have to do the best we can with the knowledge we have’. What scares me is we really still don’t know what causes cancer. We know that our bodies actually produce lots of cancerous cells each and every day, and for the most part our immune system fights these cells and defeats them. It’s just very sad when one person’s system can’t fight back as well as the next. Camp Quality’s motto is ‘laughter is the best medicine’. Their particular medicine can’t fight cancer cells but it’s a bloody good substitute – and happy hormones can only contribute to a healthier immune system.
Death and taxes they say. The only certainties in life? Absolutely not. Add inspirational & resilient children to the list.