Monday, April 06, 2009

Manda's Memorial Service

Service: Beautiful
Adrian: Epic Fail

I had prepared the following to read, and managed to get through all of about 5 words when my voice switched from unsteady to full-on cry (fortunately Evelyn stepped up and read it in my stead):

One year ago today, our hopes and dreams flew out the window, to be replaced with one hope—one dream: survival. That day began with Amanda’s fierce determination that NOTHING SERIOUS WAS WRONG. Then she nearly collapsed in the shower, and began losing her vision.
One year ago today, I took my wife—very much against her will—to the hospital, where blood tests revealed severe anemia. Late that night a hemotologist gave the first whispery notions of what might be wrong, that nothing simple and mundane lay in her future.
One year ago today, our lives were shattered. How fitting, then, that today we begin to pick up the pieces.
Amanda would not want us to mourn her death, but to celebrate her life. If she saw any of us crying, she’d tell us to stop being so maudlin. She carried a print of the scripture that graces the cover of your programs with her everywhere, and never gave up hope that with the right doctors, the right treatment, and God’s grace, she might yet overcome her disease, and soar on eagle’s wings.
And because of His grace, she has overcome her disease, and is soaring higher than ever eagles dared. And we, her friends, family, and loved-ones, got 354 gifts: days of borrowed time, filled with hugs, rich discussions, insight into what it means to be a mother with terminal disease, and through it all a faithful servant of God.
Her forthright nature and determination to share every element of her treatment have inspired hundreds to donate blood, sign up for bone-marrow donations, become organ donors, and contribute financially to ending this horrible disease.
Amanda did not lay down and let go of her dreams to be with her son. She fought, often against her own sense of prudence, for more time, for new treatments, for life. She wanted Alastair to grow up knowing that she never gave up.
She never abandoned her hobbies, devoting hundreds of hours to a reading competition, to keeping abreast of movies and entertainment news, and making her environs, both in and out of the hospitals, as welcoming and comforting to a little boy as possible. Never did she say, “Woe is me”.
I leave you with a couple of quotes from her blog, ones that I think capture her spirit and grace.
Five days into her first round of chemo, she posted “Yesterday morning was a little rough on this girlie. That nagging, biting fear set in, the one I've managed to keep relatively at bay since being transported to LeukemiaTown. Something compelled me to devour all this printed information on AML that the doctors gave me when I first came, and subsequently I frightened the living bazoobas out of myself.
So I wandered around my room for some time in a weepy daze, contemplating my own mortality. We all gotta go sometime, but it's some hard funky stuff to actually have the possibility that you might very well kick the bucket soon laid out before you like some sort of gruesome buffet. Then I got over myself.”*
Later, in reference to a surprising number of leukemia diagnoses in medical dramas and movies last Spring, she had this to say: “I'm telling you folks; leukemia is the new black. It's the hot disease for the season. What can I say; I've always been ahead of the trend.”

Everyone else spoke very well, and the whole thing lasted just under an hour. I am sorry to everyone I didn't get to speak to, and want to re-iterate my thanks to all who came, all who came back to the house afterward, and all who helped put this beautiful tribute together.

*Ok, so that one was heavily redacted for reading at church.


Nevada said...

Touching & heartfelt words that serve as a testament of your love for Amanda... there is no failure in your inability to read them aloud. Thank you for sharing them with us here.

I started reading Amanda's blog a year ago when I had some abnormal blood test results & leukemia was on the table as a possible cause. Amanda's blog came up when I did a Google blog search for leukemia.

Reading Amanda's blog and witnessing her amazing ability to keep her sense of humor through her epic difficulties helped me in ways I cannot express. Even when I was given the news that I did not have leukemia, I kept coming back to Amanda's blog because I had been so inspired by her and genuinely cared about what was happening with her.

Your family has been in my thoughts & prayers for the past year or so, and I thought it was time I introduced myself. I am so very sorry for your unimaginable loss.

lordhelmet said...

I was watching online and thought the statement was beautifully worded and brilliantly written. I was impressed with how quickly you were covered for, and was frankly impressed you even tried taking the stage. The service was awesome and I'm glad I was able to join in, albeit from such a distance. Thanks and God Bless.

Lori said...

Don't know if you'll evenn get this, as I am not very blog savvy.
But, I am soo glad you are continuing Amanda's blog - it will feel like she is still with us. I was impressed that you even attempted to go up before the crowd. The service was wonderful,very uplifting and I think your words and Ed's and others put us at ease. I know you must be an extremely busy and incredibly challenged daddy right now. I know all of us "hens" as my husband Moe refers to us - friends of Leigh's would like to help in any way we can and I hope you will feel like you can call on us. You all are on my mind and in my prayers constantly. I'd like to call soon and see if there is anything you need. I wish you strngth, peace and love,

Anonymous said...

It was a beautiful service. I was luck enough to be in the second room. The number of people there definitely showed how much Amanda touched so many people's lives.


Rebeccah (Replica) said...

Yes - it was a beautiful service. Thank you for letting those 'internet strangers' into your life at such a painful time. We will remember her, and more - we'll take action on her behalf to help those who find themselves in the same circumstances. She was, and is, inspiring. And so are you. Take care, and find peace and comfort wherever you may.

Evelyn said...

I was so worried about you which was why I came to talk to you right before the Celebration got started. You did NOT fail by not being able to read it. I was surprised when you asked to speak, but totally understood. Kim had figured out it was the one-year anniversary of the E.R. visit a couple weeks ago (because of the 10K date). If Houston had sent Manda home I was going to offer up a Chipotle double-date that day since that is what we brought y'all to eat in the E.R.

I've been reading and not posting so here are a couple other things on my mind that you touched on. (1) yes to the time capsule/old trunk of memories idea. I think Manda would like the trunk. (2) I love the idea of a t-shirt quilt and/or a quilt made from the materials of some of her fave stuff (t-shirts for Little A, other for you) and finally (3) planting a tree. She would've been 34 on Earth Day. If you and L.A. plant a tree that will grow at least 10-20 feet we could put a bench there for you to sit and talk to her. I think she'd like that. So there's my 3 cents.

And, I was more than happy to assist in your reading. I thank you for not using words I can't pronounce or do not know the meanings of. I was a little afraid. I think I surprised myself how collected I was. It has hit me more this week.

You know how I feel about you & your boy. Please let me know how/if I can help you. You are doing a great job. I am praying for you very hard and a lot!