I really went back and forth on whether or not to write a blog in honor of your birthday. I have done it for the last two years, and have several other blogs about you. I thought -eh- my readers know about Laurence. They know I miss him. They know how special he was.
And then I woke up.
Because your life, your mission, is always new to someone. Maybe someone will stumble on this blog and want to know more about you, so they'll ask and do some research and once again someone will be inspired by your story. Maybe it will change another life. Maybe it will motivate someone to get out and help somebody else.
Because, if a 15 year old with Stage 4 brain cancer can make a difference, anyone can.
Sometime last year, your name started to make local news headlines again. Your guitar was put on display at the UofM hospital and people were talking about you, and all the money you raised for the One Campaign. Some of my coworkers even heard about it, and we'd have lengthy discussions at lunch. Once one of them called me from her car because she heard them talking about you on NPR. That was pretty cool, you know? To have a reminder that your legacy and inspiration live on.
In some ways, I feel like I have failed you and your family, because I still haven't finished that book I started writing about you. I have a lot written, but I always get frustrated with myself, thinking it's not good enough, and then I quit. I should keep going. I don't think it will ever be too late. Even if one other person besides me reads it, it won't be too late. Right? I should keep writing. For you. My beautiful cousin who's spirit lives on.
You know, last summer your beautiful Grandma Mary Ann gave me this picture she found:
It's so perfect, the two of us playing in the sand at Ft. Walton. We have some years in between us in age, but that didn't matter. I loved spending time with you. Even back then, you were a little ray of sunshine in my life. I probably didn't fully appreciate it then, and you probably never knew, but my moments with you were my favorites of the Florida trip. You would look at me with that adorable face and ask me a million questions. You loved to learn. And I loved to teach you. But later, when you were sick, I learned more from you than I ever would have possibly imagined. You were the greatest teacher I ever had, and I never sat in your classroom.
I spent about 15-20 minutes staring at this picture this morning. In fact, I was late to the gym because of it. But I couldn't help it. Part of me was reflecting on the memories, part of me was praying, and part of me was desperately seeking something in the picture to comfort me, to remind me that you are still here somehow.
I found it.
First of all, your hand, although I know it is holding a shovel, is positioned close to my chest- my heart. My head is down and I am kneeling. While I was staring at the picture, I couldn't help but to think- it looks like you are praying for me, or with me. You are looking at me intently. I know to others this may seem odd, and they may even roll their eyes and think "Megan. They simply captured a moment of you two building a sandcastle". But today, that's not how I see it. Today, I see it as two people praying together, you comforting me.
Do you know that I usually don't like building sandcastles/playing in the sand? I would avoid it all costs. I much preferred to be in the water. Bonny, my Godmother, used to call me "The Fish" on our family vacations because I never left the water. So the simple fact that you got me to build a sandcastle with you says a heck of a lot about your influence on me, kiddo.
Happy Birthday, Laurence. Know that you continue to live on with me in my heart. I promise to finish the book. I promise to keep building sandcastles.
FOR MY READERS:
I am doing a short walk in honor of Laurence on September 21st. You can get more details here if you are interested in walking. If you want to donate in honor of him, let me know. I will send you to the right place.
If you have not read about Laurence before in my blog, and want to learn more, check out this post.
Or, do a simple Google search for "Laurence Carolin".