by W.E. "Bill" Smith
We never understood when our son, Wes, would rebuff efforts to take golf lessons or piano lessons. He loved both and had natural talent with each. He simply said "I don't have time". Then when he went to the doctor to be treated for a case of the sniffles, the blood test revealed he very possibly had leukemia. It was a Friday. Friday the 13th, February, 2004. Less than a year later, despite the doctor's best efforts and Wes' amazing strength and courage, we lost him.It was February the 2nd, Groundhog's Day. Just like the movie by the same name starring Bill Murray, the day plays over and over, but for entirely different reasons. Wes just didn't have the time.
So, how does one cope with such a tragic and senseless loss? In the early days, we didn't do very well. We just went through the motions. Tried hard to get from one day to the next. Then, one night at dinner, I looked at my wife and said "Funny. For a minute I felt normal". It wasn't a pre-loss of Wes "normal" but a new normal. Then the grief set in again. Days went by and the "new" normal was more apparent. In time (lots of time), it got to where the new normal was more prevalent and the grief only attacked us periodically. Now, 6 years later, it still crashes into us occasionally and takes us to our knees. Now, I'm just more prepared. I think I can handle it better. We've learned to deal with the new normal.
I wrote a book entitled "Later". It was released in October of 2009 on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. It's a story about our journey, people we met along the way, parallel stories and humor where we could find it.It covers the year we spent with Wes and the year following and how we coped with the loss and the new world where we found ourselves. Hopefully, it is a story of hope and inspiration.
We also set up a foundation for leukemia research www.wheneveryonesurvives.org and have in four funding cycles donated $500,000 to leukemia research initiatives worldwide. We will fund another $150,000 on July 1. It is our prayer that we can somehow be instrumental in finding a cure and the day when everyone survives. All the proceeds from the sale of the book go to the foundation.
We believe there is a time to come when we will all be reunited. We pray for you that this is true as well and that we will all rejoice with those we lost -later.