March 18, 2008
What do these two pictures have in common?
This is Harrison Nichols. This is his birthday cupcake.
Why are these images on Erin's website?
Harrison and Erin were diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma weeks apart (Harrison in May 2002; Erin a few weeks later in early July) and a thousand miles apart. We never met, but I have cybervisited him almost every day for half a decade. When I first tuned in to Harrison's website, the first thing I noticed was his incredible strength and vivaciousness. I also felt an intensely compassionate and intelligent voice speaking for him through his website. Many times the entries began with an apropos quote that captured the essence of the journal entry or set the reader's eyes on something inspirational or uplifting.
Later I noticed a certain theme in the path that Harrison was following. Every three months or so, his mother, Gina, would write "still stable" and "disease remains stable" and at the time (before Erin relapsed), I had no clue about why she would be so happy about her child still having measurable disease. Eventually, I figured it out and am now the one trying to explain to others why it makes me happy to report when Erin has a stable scan.
You may remember that I reported dropping some stitches in February (losing the check book among other things). On the whole I was just "off." Part of it was because of Harrison. You see, he died on February 17, a month shy of his ninth birthday, after surviving neuroblastoma and its various treatments for almost six years. The club of children diagnosed in Erin's cohort lost another member. In fact, it's getting to be quite an exclusive and small club (perhaps a topic for another day).
I was reminded of Harrison's passing this week by two separate things. The obvious one is his birthday today, and Gina's admonition "Harrison would have celebrated his 9th Birthday, this Tuesday, March 18th. I will not have the strength for an update on that day but please think of him and that beautiful sweet face and maybe eat a green cupcake or two!" I bought green cupcakes yesterday for the Mystic soccer practice tonight, in honor and memory of Harrison.
I also thought deeply about Harrison when I read Pat Lacey's blog Abyss last week. He wrote:
Eventually this disease drags the child it has in its grip to the edge of the abyss. It pulls along the child and their family kicking and screaming with it. . . .
Knowing that eventually we will have to take a final stand against impossible odds has always been a reality. However, now that I know who will be standing there with me gives me such extraordinary strength, resolve, and peace.
He has found a peace that I hope the Nichols found, and I hope the Buengers will find, as well.