In 2008, a few years before we moved to Chesapeake and met the Gorney family, Walker, their youngest son died after a rigorous five months of treatment fighting childhood cancer. Since his passing, every year on this day, family and friends send balloons of blue, his favorite color up to heaven. I've known him only in pictures and stories, but he is not a child I will soon forget.
February 20, 2004-April 11, 2008
I have heard other stories of families experiencing various degrees of loss, including of their children, but never known any of them quite as closely as we have the Gorneys. Perhaps it was this, or that Christian was born just a few months before Walker. Whatever the reason, I have always been deeply affected by their loss. This year, however, it has been made more real to me than ever before- as much as it can be for anyone who has never lost a child.
At dinner this past Monday, I was telling Carlos that Walker's birthday was coming up and that Laura was participating for the second time with the 46 Mommas in their Shave for the Brave event to be held in Boston this July. Our boys asked about Walker. As the youngest, Adrian, of course had the most questions. We explained as best we could, but when I told them Walker was only four when he died, Adrian immediately shouted, "He's my age!"
I hadn't even realized.
It took everything I had to hold back the tears. To look into the face of Adrian and know Laura was forced to say goodbye to her son at his age is heart breaking. And then to look at Christian and Julian and know she has missed seeing him grow through the ages of 7 and 10 is completely unfathomable. I've watched the Gorneys make their journey along the never-ending path of healing and life on earth without Walker. I've seen Laura struggle with feelings of life and loss that I can't possibly understand, nor could anyone who hasn't buried a child, and even in those struggles with anger and the deepest hurt imaginable, she wakes up every morning and presses on. More than that, Laura and her entire family are in a constant and passionate pursuit to honor Walker by participating in organizations that support research and funding for childhood cancer.
There are many, many types of childhood cancer and the statistics are staggering. These cancers claim the lives of more children than any other childhood disease, and worldwide, every three minutes another kid is diagnosed. Most of the time, the cancer has already spread to other areas of the body by the time of diagnosis. These are just a few of the facts that organizations like St. Baldrick's and Alex's Lemonade Stand are raising funds to fight, alongside the families, like the Gorneys, affected by all forms of childhood cancer.
Our family has chosen to support Charlie and Laura in their pursuit both financially and in prayer. I hope you will consider doing the same in any capacity of which you are capable. This week, in honor of their son, the Gorneys are matching all $10 donations to Laura's participation in Shave for the Brave. I have included links below for further information about childhood cancer, a few of the organizations that support research efforts, and, of course the web pages that share the story of our dear friends, the Gorneys in their own words.
Today and always, we send our love to Walker in heaven and to Charlie, Laura, Mason, and Aliya in Chesapeake.
Support Laura Gorney's participation in the 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave
Walker Gorney's story through CaringBridge
46 Mommas Shave for the Brave
Statistics from St. Baldrick's
Statistics from Alex's Lemonade Stand
|Blue Balloons for Walker ~ Feb 20, 2014|