Christmas has always been a time of joy and celebration for me. Just like many young kids growing up , the anticipation and heart-beat skipping excitement was a part of my childhood innocence. I was totally absorbed in my own world, oblivious to any suffering outside of my protected bubble. Oh, I knew that people were less fortunate than I was. I learned at home, and in Sunday school about families that were struggling during the holiday season, due to the loss of a job, an illness, or a dozen other reasons. But if any of those distasteful things entered into my young world for a brief second, I quickly dismissed them, because they didn’t relate to me.
As I began to have children of my own, I wanted to re-create that same sense of excitement, that same innocence. For the most part, I think I succeeded. I didn’t always have a lot of money to spend, but each child always had something to open under the tree on Christmas. We were surrounded by family, and surrounded by love. We were living under the Blue sky of innocence. Until last September when Jillian was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. Suddenly our world was turned upside down. Last Christmas we were forced out of the Blue, and into the Black. For me, I only went through the motions of Christmas. The innocence and joy were shattered. I tried to make it as normal as I could for my kids. But my heart was broken.
Looking back on last Christmas, and all the Christmas’s before melanoma, I can see that I was already living in the Black. I took so many things for granted, and I’m ashamed that I was so short sighted in my thinking. This Christmas however, as I look back over the last year, I’m grateful that I’ve been given the gift of sight. I can see so many blessings, and I am thankful that I can recognize God’s hand all over this thing. I have been given the opportunity to share and to raise melanoma awareness. I have been given the opportunity to share Jillian’s story. I’ve been touched by so many wonderful, beautiful people that have been effected by melanoma in one way or another. My heart is full with love and gratitude to those people who have reached out to me and my family in support and prayer.
This past summer new neighbors moved in next door. The couple has four kids. Three boys, and one girl. Little 4 year old Abby and I have bonded. She loves coming here to spend time and to just “hang out”. Last week she stopped over with an ornament she had made in Sunday school. I felt so humbled that she made it just for me. In return, I made a bracelet for her with her birthstones. Right before we left for Jillian’s appointment, and infusion, I brought the bracelet to Abby’s house. I included in the package a brochure that describes Jillian’s battle with melanoma, along with a picture of Jillian and her dog. I knelt down on one knee and explained the meaning of the bracelet to her. “This is your birthstone, this is Jillian’s birthstone, and here is a little heart. When you touch this heart, remember how much Jesus loves Jillian, and how much He loves you”. This little girl is another blessing. She is learning at a very young age that melanoma has a face.
Out of the Black and into the Blue.
Love and blessings to you and yours,