The Worst Club Ever

“Welcome to the club that no one wants to be a member of.”  These were the words spoken on Saturday at the Annual Bereavement Weekend sponsored by the CURE Childhood Cancer research organization  http://www.curechildhoodcancer.org/.  The members of this club, The Worst Club Ever, are parents like myself that have lost a child to any form or type of cancer.  It’s a time for these parents to gather together and meet other’s that have experienced the same type of loss, pain and grief.  This was a day where we can be somewhere with others and not feel alone. The room was filled with broken hearts and tears.  Each parent had a story to share.  And, I know every single parent in that room would have given anything to have had their child back if only for a minute.

I received my invitation for this event about a month ago.  When I read the words, “You are invited to the Annual Bereavement Weekend,” my heart sunk.  I thought, “I cannot believe this is happening.  I shouldn’t be receiving an invitation like this.  Kayla should be alive, happy and healthy.  We should be celebrating the fact that she is in remission and cancer free!”  I put the invitation down and thought long and hard about attending.  I decided to go when I realized that there would be other parents there that could understand and had been exactly where I’ve been.  What did I have to lose?

Saturday arrived and I woke up feeling anxious and apprehensive about going to the event.  But, I got in my car and drove straight there.  Each parent was asked to bring a framed picture of their child to put on a display table.  As I carried my picture of Kayla into the meeting room, I noticed many other parents carrying their child’s pictures.  Everyone had the same look of sadness on their faces.  There may have been 50 or more pictures…..that’s 50 or more children…….And, to see all of them displayed together was heartbreaking……I sat with Kathi and Bud (Jessi’s parents) and Christina and Casey (Ava’s parents).  Kayla died in September, Ava in October and Jessi in November 2010; I, especially, share a special bond with these mothers and I am so thankful for them.

There was a guest speaker that lost her son due to bone cancer 15 years ago.  I enjoyed listening to her experience and admired how she was able to find the blessings in life since her son’s death.  I met several families and listened to them as they lovingly described their children to us and, at the same time, I felt the love for the child they had lost.  There were many times when I felt as if each child that had passed away was right there in the room standing next to their parents.  I know that I did feel Kayla’s presence there with me.  She gave me the strength that I needed to make it through that sad day.  And, just when I didn’t think it could get any sadder, it was time for a candle lighting ceremony…..At the front of the room, there was a large screen.  Also, there was a long table lined with unlit candles.  Our children’s names were printed individually on each unlit candle.  Soft music began playing.  In alphabetical order, each child’s name was read aloud as their pictures were viewed on the screen for everyone to see.  I watched each and every parent tearfully rise up from their chairs as their child’s name was read.  Each one took that very long walk to the front of the room and lit a candle with their child’s name on it.  Upon returning to their seats, I saw the sadness and grief on their faces and the tears flowed heavily by every person in that room.  And, then they said, “Kayla Jones.”  It was like I had been kicked in the stomach or had the wind knocked out of me.  As tears ran down my face, I proudly walked to her candle and lit it.  However, I could not bare to look at her pictures on the screen.  It was just too painful.  I continued to cry as I took that long walk back to my seat.  The tears kept coming and it was almost hard to breathe.  I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked over and saw that it was Kathi.  We hugged and we cried…………Why God?  Why did it have to be our children?

I left that day feeling emotionally drained.  It was like I relived Kayla’s death and funeral all over again.  And, when I got home, all I wanted to do was to hug my kids.

Will I go back again next year?  I don’t know.  There were many parents that had been attending every year for the last 10 years.  I just don’t know if this is something that I can make myself do every year.  I guess I’ll make that decision when I get the next invitation…….If it was up to me, I would do this event in a different way…..a fun way…..manicures, pedicures, massages, gift baskets, door prizes, games, comedians, carnival rides……Why would I do this?  Because parents that have lost a child are continuously hurting and always missing their children.  Instead of having another day to grieve, why not have a weekend where they can escape the sadness for a while?  Some people might think that having fun like that would be disrespectful to our children that have died.  I am pretty sure that I know what Kayla would say, “Mom!  I am fine and I am no longer in pain and guess what….I am cancer free!  So, please don’t cry.  Go have some fun.”

The parents of The Worst Club Ever have a lifetime membership that cannot be terminated or cancelled.  This club was dropped into our laps on the day our children died and we can’t do anything to change it.  However, I can try to make something positive out of something negative.  Like the guest speaker, I can, also, begin looking for the blessings in life throughout my journey with grief.  I have two beautiful blessings right here; Allison and Ashley.  They are my life…my world…my everything…….And, even though I have experienced this tragedy of losing Kayla, if I continue to look hard enough I believe I will find more blessings in my life.



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About MomMinus1

Welcome to my blog, momminus1 (mom minus one). I am a mother of three beautiful girls, Kayla 17, Allison 13 and Ashley 5. One of my daughters recently became an angel; Kayla passed away on September 22, 2010 due to complications from AML leukemia. She was diagnosed on July 3, 2010. She endured harsh chemotherapy treatments, hair loss, rare and painful skin disorders, horrible stomach infections, weakness, loss of appetite, depression, anxiety and fear. From the time she was diagnosed until the day she died it was just 81 days..... A short, but, horrific battle with cancer. I am always asked, "How are you doing? What can I do for you? How are your two girls doing?" At times, these are tough questions to answer. And, I express myself best when I write. Writing is so helpful and therapeutic for me. Maybe I can answer these questions for those that are concerned about us. Maybe I can help another mom that might wake up tomorrow and find out that their child is diagnosed with cancer. Maybe there is a mom somewhere, like me, that just lost a child to cancer and is searching the web for answers. She might be thinking, "Is there anyone out there that understands what I'm going through?" I understand. I am grieving. I am in pain. I have a big piece of my heart that is now gone.....I would love your feedback about my blog, too. Thanks for reading!
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3 Responses to The Worst Club Ever

  1. Teresa says:

    I’ll be here to help you escape any time you are ready. AND I’ll be here for you to lean on any time you need me. Love you!

  2. judy says:

    amber, that was beautiful. i know it is hard but do try to find the blessings in your life. i know you have a family that loves you very much and especially 2 beautiful daughters that love and need you. god will bless you and love you and so will i ……

  3. Sharon Jones says:

    Dear Amber,
    I totally agree with your idea. As I was reading your article, I thought to myself, WOW, how depressing, why would one put themselves through such deep despair intentionally. I’m not degrading those who choose that I’m just more in line with your approach. There’s a place and time to let it all out and it will flow and there’s a time to escape it. I guess it has it’s place but it seems so hard to intentionally prime the pump of something already so easy to flow. Maybe their mission has its proper place over time. Who knows. Bottom Line- I’m with you. Let your hair down and have some fun. I know it’s only my doggy I lost last week but I’ve had moments where I didn’t want to talk about it; I just wanted to escape it. I’ve also had moments where I almost felt guilty about the relief of not being under the duress of her uncertainty and suffering that it was all over with and I could at least move on. It was weird and I wondered about the mix of emotions people go through over loss of loved ones, the human variety. Anyhow, I love you and am continually praying. I’m proud of you for going and experiencing it anyway, as painful as it was. Many Blessings to YOU. I Love YOU! Love, Sharon

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