Debby and I have seven kids. Shayne, Amanda, Johnny, Ashton, Dennis, Logan, and Kyle. Whew! Although most people's initial reaction is "Oh my God! How do you stand it?", life has been an adventure, a good one at that. Having all of these kids I have found out that each one has a different and unique personality. In general we are blessed to have so many different characters running around. They are all great kids.
Amanda was the oldest girl. Amanda was one of life's free spirits and a very creative thinker. One Thanksgiving Day 2005 her husband brought her to our house and told us that she was ill and they could not figure out exactly what was wrong. My wife and I took her to the Emergency Room and lab tests showed an abnormality. By the end of the weekend we were at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. The diagnosis was Myelodysplasia, a form of leukemia. A bone marrow transplant was the treatment of choice to solve the problem. Amanda's transplant physician was Dr. Robert Nelson. Dr. Nelson has to be one of the most compassionate and caring physicians God ever put on this earth. Amanda and Dr. Nelson had a very special relationship. Despite the bone marrow transplant and receiving arguably the best care in the world at IUMC, Amanda slipped from us on April 26th 2007.
Throughout the entire treatment process Amanda remained strong and very positive. Even when her mother and I both knew she was terribly ill or hurting, if someone would ask her how she was doing she would use her best chipper-sounding voice and reply, "Oh, I am OK." Amanda underwent some treatments that I question myself if I could do. Oh, and she did it with a smile. Despite her diminutive size (5' 1"/100lbs) she proved to be a Giant. I have dealt with some rather large foreboding people throughout my life and Amanda proved herself to be bigger, badder, and tougher than all of them put together. As far as I am concerned her courage and bravery will remain unequaled. Amanda was just 21 years old.
The loss of a child is a completely heartbreaking experience and the most tragic event of a parent's life.When my father passed away I saw a look on my Grandmother's face that I could not describe. It was a terrible lost and hollow look. I saw the same look on some friends of ours when they lost a child. I now know what is behind that look. I know how it feels. Time stops, the world is crashing down on you and there is nothing that can comfort you.
Amanda did give us a small gift, specifically her mother, that final Thursday night at IU Medical Center. A gift that I and hopefully everyone present in that room will remember. When the oxygen mask was removed from her face the last words she said were to her mom. She stated in her most pleasant voice, "Mom, don't fight it." Amanda left us just a few minutes later with dignity and grace. Her words that night still loom in my head. The words were meant to comfort her mother who had been doing double-duty as Nurse at home and Nurse as a profession. That night her mother was there at her side just being mom. The words comfort me because I know Amanda had fought a long hard battle . I knew she was exhausted and I knew she was ready for peace. I accepted the fact that the battle was over when I heard those words. I will not ever accept the fact that Amanda is gone.
So little Miss Moo-Moo you may be gone but your memories live on. You taught me and everyone around you how to fight the best possible fight, what dignity and grace are, and that size is not an issue if you have determination. You are in the truest sense of the word, a warrior. I will always miss you and be grateful for the lesson you taught me. Rest in Peace Amanda, you fought the good fight.