Last week we returned from a trip we never expected to make.
When we arrived in Kenya last year, just before midnight on Friday, October the 13th, we came expecting challenges.
Moving across the world with a newly-ambulatory 15-month-old. Navigating a new language and culture. Working at a hospital with limited resources to treat people with limited resources.
We prepared our hearts.
But we were not prepared for the message we received from my sister November 29th, just after 1:00 AM.
“Bruce is in the ED. His speech is altered. Ataxia was so bad I had to carry him into the ED as he could hardly walk and was falling over…They found a mass on the CT in the cerebellar area. Peds oncology is admitting him…”
When we had left, our nephew Bruce was a perfect 5-year-old boy with a head full of red curls. The last thing he had done before we left Kentucky was lure Clark down into our basement to search for treasure in my dad’s old Ukranian cigar chest.
Within 24 hours of that text, Bruce was diagnosed with DIPG–an aggressive brain tumor that is uniformly fatal. It usually takes the lives of affected children 6-9 months after diagnosis. In the US, less than 300 people a year are found to have DIPG. It is a one in a million diagnosis.
In December our family returned to Kentucky for two months. During this time Bruce completed palliative radiation and most symptoms disappeared.
Last month we returned again.
I again felt Bruce’s warm hand on my arm as he sipped some juice. He told us he loved us. Over the course of a week he became unresponsive. He died in his parents’ arms 8 months and 7 days after diagnosis.
Last week we returned home to Kenya.
My heart aches.
There is so much to say, but I can’t find the words.
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”