It’s been one of those weeks when I need to remind myself that most kids are perfectly healthy and never need to visit the hospital except for the odd fever, gash or broken limb. Sometimes it just feels as if everyone we know has a sick child. And the past few days the news has been terrible. Regular Global BC viewers may recall the story of Lindsey Lourenco, a beautiful and courageous young woman who has been battling cancer for a third of her 18 years. Her twin sister Sadie and parents Tony and Darlene are amazing and warm, a truly wonderful family. I really felt a connection with them – there’s a bond that you can only form with those who have also been on a tough medical journey. When we went to visit the Lourencos at their home at Christmas for that story, Lindsey was in remission after beating cancer for the fourth time.
Well, that damn cancer has come back…for a fifth time. Now Lindsey is at Canuck Place, struggling for every breath.
Reading her mother’s updates has been heart breaking. And it also reminds me yet again just how precious and fleeting life can be. We all know death is inevitable, but unless you have confronted death with your child, it still seems so far removed from everyday life. And I bet parents of healthy kids rarely consider the possibility of outliving them. But as we know, and as all those other families with sick kids know, we are just walking a fine line hoping not to slip. There is a very real chance we could outlive our next generation. I’m sure some of you think that sounds awfully morbid. Rest assured, it’s not like I am moping around the house everyday, depressed and maudlin. Addison brings so much laughter and joy into our lives. We giggle and laugh, do silly things together and enjoy lots of hugs and cuddles. But it’s always tucked away at the back of my mind. Always.
I was talking to my sister a few weeks ago, telling her how it gives me such great perspective to have met so many BC Children’s Hospital families through work and through Addison because I often felt thankful “all” we had to deal with was a heart transplant. I made some joke about how parents of healthy kids would be horrified to hear such a thing, but then she said, “Some people would say you are very lucky.” And you know what? She is right. I am so grateful for every day I get to see Addison’s beautiful, cheeky smile. Though I have thought about it way more than any parent should, I can’t imagine not having her here, so full of life.
So I am sharing some of Darlene Lourenco’s words with you below. I ask you to please send the Lourencos all your love, positive energy and prayers. They need our collective comfort and strength to help them get through this.
And spend a few extra moments with your children tonight. Hold them tight. Cherish every day. Keep dancing.
Elaine, Aaron and Addison
Lindsey has been in a coma for several days now, maybe 4 or 5. I’ve actually lost track of the days and the nights and I’ve shed enough tears that sometimes… I’m actually empty. I wake up with swollen eyes. We pray, we beg, we cry and we cover her with hundreds of kisses and hold onto her hand until our own hands have fallen asleep.
I whisper in her ear, tell her how much love her and how proud she has made me. I beg her forgiveness for all that I could not be, could not deliver, could not fix; for every time she was scared or sad or hurting and my butterfly kisses just didn’t work anymore. I tell her she doesn’t have to fight anymore, that she has done more than anyone could, that she will not disappoint anyone, that she has more than earned her wings and paradise is her reward.
But still she fights. They say she will not wake up, that her eyes will never open and her fingers will not curl around mine. But still she breathes….little, frightening, uneven breaths. Her transplanted immune system is actually showing physical signs of trying to destroy the leukaemia, though too little, too late.
But still her heart beats, races. I imagine she must be dancing. In her dreams, she must be climbing trees, rolling around with her sister, chasing the dog, playing Twister, in a passionate embrace, hiking up a mountain trail…. but mostly… she’s dancing. Keep dreaming, my love ♥
– Darlene, Lindsey’s mom, March 12