“I don’t want to go to sleep, because I am afraid I won’t wake up.” Tyler was only fourteen years old when this was his fear.
When Tyler was younger he needed a light on in his room and the door partly open when he went to bed. I remember changing the bulb in his basketball night light on a regular basis. We kept a supply in a cabinet in the laundry room. It didn’t provide an overwhelming amount of light, just enough to keep his fears at bay. That soft glow of dim yellow light made him stronger – it made him more confident. Without it, fear would creep in through the partly open door and lie down next to him. I was much the same way as a little boy.
It is natural to have fear, we each carry some level of fear our entire lives, but for each of our fears there is the soft glow of a dim yellow light that provides just enough strength and confidence to overcome that fear. We each have a supply of bulbs to keep that dim light burning, and as adults we have the responsibility to keep that dim light burning for our children. One of my greatest fears as a parent is that my kids will fear at all.
It broke my heart to see Tyler afraid. It broke my heart to hear him whisper to his mother through tear filled eyes, “I don’t want to go to sleep because I am afraid I won’t wake up.” Tyler was afraid he would die and while he woke up 520 times after his diagnosis, he did not wake up 521 times. His partly open door was closed and his dim yellow light extinguished.
My mind is drawn to children that carry the same fear and parents that work tireless to keep that fear at bay. Unfortunately, too many fears will be realized. Too many dim yellow lights will be extinguished. Each day our world becomes a little darker because we let them fade. Yes, we let them.
For far too many years we have kept a casual watch over an empty cabinet. A cabinet that should hold a vast supply of bulbs for children fighting cancer sits empty. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the color is GOLD – for me it is symbolic of the dim yellow light of hope in Tyler’s room.
Only 4% of the National Cancer Institute Research budget is used for childhood cancer. For every 100 bulbs in the cabinet 96 are kept for adults. Yes, we are letting them down.
I did not choose GOLD – GOLD chose me, however, nothing great has ever been achieved without the support of those not forced to fight. Nothing. Please help spread the light - help us keep enough bulbs in the cabinet to spread the dim yellow light of hope to all of our children.
Cherish every moment.
Tyler’s Dad Whatever It Takes