Wednesday, February 9, 2011

There but for the grace of God go I

What an emotional day. It started when I attended a memorial service for a friend's father this afternoon. By all accounts, he was a kind and generous man, known for his great personal integrity, love of story-telling and commitment to family. What a wonderful way to be remembered!  As I joined his family and friends in singing "Tell Me the Old, Old Story" and "Amazing Grace", it was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears.

Then, this afternoon, a friend sent me a link to this blog, written by Steven Eddy, a 39 year old man fighting colorectal cancer. Clicking on the link, I intended to scan only a few of his most recent posts but quickly found myself drawn in by his wry humour, compassion for others and amazing courage. Today's post - "Why I'm Glad I Got Cancer" - was especially moving and thought-provoking.

Finally, tonight I attended the kickoff event for the Halifax chapter of Team in Training where I spent the entire evening talking with and encouraging team members training to run or walk half or full marathons - all to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. Their commitment and enthusiasm were moving and infectious. I wanted to laugh, cry, sing, dance, and sign myself up for another race. (In fact, I think I will do later this year.)

Most moving of all was the special guest speaker, Melanie Gillis, mother of Gregor Gillis, in whose honour TNT Halifax members will be training and fundraising this season. Physically exhausted after another long night at the hospital with her son, she still found energy to speak passionately and articulately about his illnesses, stoicism and good humour, her gratitude for what TNT members are doing, the generous support her family has received, and the inspiration they draw from all the children they have come to know during Gregor's time in the oncology unit of the IWK Children's Hospital. It's hard to understand where parents like Melanie find the strength, courage and compassion to do what they do, but it's a powerful thing to witness, so it was an honour to spend a little time talking with her tonight.

So - yes - there but for the grace of God go I. How can my little problems appear at all significant in the face of the sadness, fear, pain, love, compassion, determination and courage I saw around me today?


  1. Such positive thoughts after an exhausting but obviously inspiring day. Good for you!

  2. Thanks, Mum. But - really - good for all of them. I don't know how they do it - but I'd sure like to figure it out. Love you!

  3. Awesome courage and endurance they have, but I think you said it all! "The grace of God"! So keep at it.

  4. It was a pleasure meeting you as well Janice. Thanks so much for your kind and flattering words. Thanks for you concern and understanding.
    Melanie Gillis