It is human nature for us to feel sorry for ourselves when things are slightly less than perfect. Then somehow, some way you find something that reminds you of the truest meaning of life.
Early Wednesday morning my dog woke me up at an obscene time between 4 and 5 a.m. I took her outside. When I came back in I saw some students from Penn State’s Berks County Campus had asked me to re-tweet something encouraging people to pray for Laney—a Four Diamonds Child fighting for her life.
I re-tweeted it immediately. It is a small thing to do. That morning as I said some prayers I added some for Laney and her family, but I still did not know her story.
About two hours later I got an e-mail from my wife that was a post Laney’s mother had put on facebook. It was a story that struck her heart, and I dare say would strike a chord in every mother's soul.
It was heartbreaking, terrifying yet in an instant some of what Laney’s mother said were among the most beautiful things I have ever read:
Today we were told the worst news of our lives. Laney has 70% cancer cells in her blood. If they would treat the cancer the virus that she has would kill her. And if they treat the virus the cancer will kill her.
They gave her a couple days to a couple weeks to live.
My heart is breaking. I sit here looking at her face trying to remember every contour of it, I breathe deeply ...against her skin trying to always remember her smell. Every time she speaks I try to listen for the different way she says certain words so that I never forget. I keep putting my lips against her warm skin because I never want to forget how that feels. I'm devastated and I'm hoping that I will wake up from this nightmare.
We told Laney and she said she wanted to be the one to tell Kylee and Jacob. She told Jacob that when she's gone he is to be a good big brother to Kylee. And she thanked Kylee for being a great sister and her best friend. They all cried in each other's arms. I have never felt this type of pain in my life.
We will be taking her home on hospice tomorrow and will be trying to let her have as much fun as she can handle. We will watch her blow out her eighth birthday candles knowing that she won't have a ninth. We will also ask Santa to come early this year because Laney has been such a good girl. Please pray for Laney and our family. Please pray for a miracle. We will be spending every second with her till God decides he needs another beautiful angel up in heaven.
Her words are a testament, bearing witness to what a mother’s love can and should be for her child. If you are a parent you cannot read what she wrote and not be moved and not feel the warmth of tears rolling down your face. If you’ve ever sat in a hospital and watched a loved one knowing what is most likely inevitable you know some of what the Browns are feeling.
Laney is part of The Penn State IFC Dance Marathon family and that makes her part of the Penn State family. Penn State’s finest hour every year is THON—easily eclipsing all other triumphs. That is what WE ARE all about. The entire Penn State community pulling together raising millions of dollars so that the miracles we pray for today become routine cures tomorrow.
It is Laney’s story and the words of a mother facing heart-rending pain yet holding hope for faith in what is yet unseen that remind us all what THON is truly about. Laney’s mother Jenn and her whole family hold onto faith in a miracle that many people she will never know and never meet are praying for even now.
That is why our students dance, that is why they stand on corners asking for change, that is why they spend an entire year so they can hold up a fund-raising total yet again that blows us all away.
It is all For The Kids—but also for the families as well. Jenn’s words about her daughter remind us of that.
But the words remain as a call to arms, as a challenge to push every day to raise money, to find cures, to ease the burden of the children and their families and to save lives.
That call is being answered every day by students at Penn State through THON and that is what WE ARE.
When you next pray please keep in mind a young girl and her family. Pray for a miracle that only the gentle hand of God can grant. But also pray for the students at Penn State and their yearly mission fighting for the children and families—people like Laney and her family.