The Power of Love When Tragedy Strikes

I heard three things this past weekend that unnerved me, yet again made me understand the power of love in families.

The 38-year-old son of a former colleague died after fighting metastasized colon cancer for almost three years. I never met the young man, Chris Budd, but I worked closely with his father, Mike, who was an executive at Norelco, the company where I was public relations director when I was 26 to 33. I remember Mike as a man of great integrity, patience and understanding. I had lost contact with him but his wife, Linda, and I started playing Words With Friends earlier this year. Although we IM’d a number of times during games, Linda never once brought up her sick son. I didn’t know Linda well, but I remember meeting her when she was pregnant with Chris, and thinking she was a beautiful and classy woman.

It wasn’t until Linda’s posts recently started appearing on my Facebook newsfeed that I learned about the extent of her son’s illness and about the depth of love that surrounded him during his grueling treatment. “Mike and I were very fortunate to have been able to spend the last 10 days with Chris.

“There were many tears, but as many of you know Chris, there was laughter, too. Oh, how we will miss him! Thank you for all your prayers.” Linda touchingly wrote.

Based on the outpouring of comments on Facebook, Chris enjoyed a wealth of beautiful friendships, no doubt the result of his warmth and generosity. “I am glad you and Mike got to be with Chris. He was a strong person and an inspiration to many people who are having to deal with their own personal situation,” wrote one of Chris’s friends.

My heart goes out to Linda and Mike and to Chris’s wife and children.

I also learned that a 35-year-old man I know may not live to see his soon-to-be-born daughter grow up. He and his wife consciously decided to have a baby when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. A doctor, the young man wrote an article last year about what it felt like to be on the receiving end of this horrific news. It is such a difficult idea for me to grasp: A new father knowing that he probably has a limited time with his child, and his wife, witnessing her husband’s ordeal, not to mention living with the idea of losing him. Only two people deeply in love could make the decision they did.

Fortunately, the young woman and her husband have close-knit families who undoubtedly will help support her, emotionally and physically, as she raises her infant daughter.

The third piece of terrible news I heard, from a close college friend, is that her sister’s ovarian cancer has returned, after three years in remission. The good news is that the doctors caught it early. One of the warmest people I know, this woman is an exceptional aunt to her nephews; she took care of her ailing mother for many years, and she would do anything for her sister, as her sister would for her. She will not have to go to a single chemo session alone, and my friend and her sons will be at her side to see her through each day.

May you embrace those you love who surround you this holiday weekend. Celebrations are wonderful. What’s important is who stays by you when the parties are over.

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