In Latin, the root word “re” means “back again” or “backwards.” In the English language, we use this root quite frequently in a variety of contexts. During these uncertain times, we often use the word “remember.” We look back on when times were different, hard, good, joyful, what challenged us, and what changed us. For me, July 10th was a big day for remembrance. The anniversary of Connor’s passing is never easy, but it is a time to “reflect” on all of the memories I have of him and our time together.
Connor and I were born one day apart – and I “remember” our joint birthdays fondly, and “relive” those memories each year. I “reminisce” about my favorite joint birthday party, where we celebrate with a boot camp theme. We donned our most rugged camo (mine, of course, was pink), and ran around his backyard with all of our friends as a personal trainer shouted instructions to a wild bunch of 7 year-olds. If any parents are looking for a great excuse to tire out their kids, this is it! I cherish this memory for many reasons, but it is particularly special to me because it is one of my last memories of seeing Connor running out without a worry. At that time, Connor had been in “remission” for three years. We “rejoiced,” filling these years with so many fun trips and amazing birthdays, like the boot camp party! In all my memories of Connor, during those times, I can’t “recall” a single moment where he didn’t live life to the fullest. He lived fearlessly and unapologetically.
Sadly, those great years ended when we heard another form of the Latin root: “relapse.” As a child, I didn’t know how to respond, but chose to be optimistic for my friend and always give him a hand to hold. In retrospect, I “realize” it was him holding my hand, literally. One day I had to get some blood drawn while Connor was in the same hospital for chemotherapy treatment. I visited him first, then headed back for my own appointment, expecting to see him again later for purple milkshakes at the Purple Cow. However, right before my blood draw was about to begin, Connor arrived to hold my hand. I never shared my own fear of getting poked with a needle with him, as of course that fear and pain was nothing compared to his medical condition. Without ever hearing my worries, however, he knew I was nervous and didn’t think twice about showing me support. Underneath his loud vivacious personality, Connor was a compassionate friend who let others “rely” on his strength.
Instead of dwelling on the hard times, Connor chose to be “resilient.” He taught me that recovering from the difficulties in life doesn’t require physical strength, but spiritual strength. Even though his body was weak, his heart for others and for the Lord was unbelievably strong. He encouraged everyone to have courage and believe in Jesus, and I hold firmly to that charge. I miss him every day, and continue to share his legacy and keep his strength in my heart. When I tell people about my time with Connor, I often get apologies and polite comforting words, but truly all I feel about my time with Connor is deep gratitude. His resilience and faith altered the way I see everyone around me and I have since lived each day looking for people who need a hand to hold.”
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