Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Losing a Hero

Yesterday was a busy day.  The kids came back to school in full force - and I think it was the first time since the beginning of school that all 20 of my kids were present.  Coming back from a long weekend is usually pretty hard - for both students and teachers - but everyone buckled down yesterday and got right back in to the swing of things.

The day seemed to fly by, and it seemed like no time before I had to head over to the county offices for my first new teacher meeting.  I'll have one of those once a month, this year.  And it's a support type meeting that helps new teachers get some great advice, tips, learn new things, and keep on top of the stuff that new teachers have to do their first year.

After the meeting, I was off again to drive 45 minutes to Peanut's first volleyball game.  The game was supposed to start at 6pm, but when I got there at 5:45 the first game was already over...and they were in the middle of the second game.   Thankfully, I got there just in time to watch Peanut play for a little while.  Despite not getting to play much, she did a fantastic job - and I know that I'm going to enjoy watching her and cheering her on.

Everything was just fine and dandy on our way home.  We stopped for a bite to eat.  We chatted about the game and her day.  And then we were home.  Even though it was 8:45pm when we got home - I decided to jump on Facebook for a few minutes before dragging myself to bed.  And that's when I discovered the news that broke my heart.

Several months ago, I stumbled across a Facebook page that I just couldn't help but click on.  I started reading through some of the posts and quickly discovered that the page was for an adorable baby named Liam Lyon, who was born with half a heart.  His family are from Oklahoma - not far from where my parents live.  I "borrowed" this photo from his Facebook page so that I could share it with you.  This was the face I saw that day and he melted my heart...

At five months old, Liam had a heart transplant.  That surgery was the fifth surgery he had received. 
For the full story, please visit the About Me section of Liam's Facebook page and read it.  I wish I could do it justice explaining it here, but I can't. 

Even though I didn't know the family, or this precious little one, he somehow touched me.  It became a part of my daily Facebook routine to check his page and see how he was doing.  His family are all amazing at updating his status - and sending out prayer requests for other babies with life threatening conditions.  Regardless of never meeting his family, or seeing this angel outside of the world of Facebook, I felt like I knew him - and was emotionally involved in all of the ups and downs he went through.

Despite having the transplant, Liam went through many setbacks but also through many triumphs.  Some days were scarier than others, and I found myself sending out thoughts that he would continue to pull through and overcome the obstacles that were in his way.

A couple of weeks ago, the family found out that a hospital in Cincinnati wanted to help do what they could to repair some of the issues Liam was having with his heart... after many hospitals just weren't able or willing to help.  That's probably not fair to make that assumption or make it sound so accusing.  I just know that the family reached out to many hospitals for help - because things just weren't working like they were supposed to - but the surgery that Liam needed was considered very risky.  And finally after many requests, the Cincinnati hospital took on the challenge.

He arrived in Cincinnati and the team got to work on fixing some of the issues Liam was having.  Some of which were a severely swollen abdomen, skin lesions, and issues with his heart fistula valve.  Despite the great work the hospital did, Liam started to decline in his health.

Last night, while doing my regular Facebook check, I discovered that Liam had passed away late Monday night.  It was a swift and hard blow to my system.  As I sat reading through the posts to discover what had happened, I felt a lump appear in my throat and tears sting my eyes.  I just couldn't believe it.

This little boy took on more challenges and fights in his short eighteen months of this earth than many - including me - will see in a lifetime.  His fight was courageous.  And I know he is not a boy that I will ever forget.  To be able to feel this kind of loss for a complete stranger shows me how much I had invested in this little trooper.

He has taught me so much.  He has taught me to care and feel for complete strangers.  To love in a deeper way than I ever imagined.  To discard my struggles as nothing more as inconveniences.  To understand that life has ups and downs, but to never give up the fight.  To never run away from my fears, but to face them head on.  And to never take my children for granted, to send out daily thanks that my kids are strong and healthy, and to forever take his story with remind my own children and all of the children that walk through my classroom doors that even the smallest of children can be heroes and warriors.

So, I say to Liam... Rest now, angel.  You have touched the lives of so many people.  Your life will continue to touch us all.  You will be deeply missed, but never forgotten.

The world lost a hero when we lost you.

RIP - Liam Lyon.  Feb. 18th, 2011 - Sept. 3rd, 2012


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