honoring Liam the brave

I want to tell you a story about my friend Liam…

I woke up this past Sunday and spent the morning soaking up my kids, talking at length about our friend.

Liam would have been 16 had cancer not ripped him away, too early, exactly 10 years ago. This photo hung in our beloved apple seeds indoor playground for years…he was like our little mayor.

In a kind of prayer for him, my daughters Maddie and Sydney shared stories of his scooter in preschool, his contagious smile, his fireman costume and what they remembered about visiting him in the hospital when things got worse.

We talked about how much he honored and loved to play, squeezing the joy out of every second of his short life, even skateboarding around the hospital, despite how he battled a horrific disease that would ultimately take his life.

My son Jack, who was barely 1-year-old when Liam died, was listening intently as if to remember Liam clearly, likely from the stories, photos, and love that keep his memory within our family very much alive.

Gratitude and perspective… these are only some of the lessons we continue to cherish, lessons we gained from our angel.

He also taught us that play is not frivolous and that joy is choice. It was in fact necessary to help him get through the hardest battles a person has to face.

Every year on that anniversary morning, I write at length about Liam and I’m continually blown away by the amount of synchronicity that occurs in my life around this boy, as if the universe is reminding me there are indeed angels.

Cases in point:

The night Liam died, after returning from the hospital, I had a massive flood in my apartment but was so focused on my kids being okay and right there in front of me, I’m not sure I ever really got upset about the damage that forced us out of our home for weeks. PERSPECTIVE.

Weeks later, early in the morning of his deeply meaningful memorial service, Jack pulled himself to stand…on an exposed hot water pipe. He severely burned his little hands, landing us in the burn unit, only to kiss and hug him, grateful simply for the fact that he was alive and going to be okay. GRATITUDE.

In the year before Covid, at the last minute (read: 11pm the night before) I decided to run the Tunnel to Tower 5k race in NYC with my sister Jill and some friends. A moving tribute to the firemen, women, and first responders who gave their lives as heroes on 9/11, the run includes hundreds of servicemen men and women running in their full, heavy uniforms.

Most ran in groups with their firehouses, and the energy was positive and powerful.

Somewhere in the middle of the tunnel, I ran up to a fully suited fireman running alone, and we began to talk. I learned he was from Califon, NJ, the tiny town where Liam’s family has a home and the HQ for Cookies for Kids Cancer, the remarkable nonprofit that has raised MILLIONS of dollars for pediatric cancer thanks to the tireless work of Liam’s parents and my friends, Gretchen and Larry.

The fireman’s station? Califon.

His name? Liam.

His number? 44, the street they live on in NYC.

His smile? Calm, singular and knowing.

We happily spoke for a while, but I decided to leave him be to run at his pace, in peace. I ran ahead and found a faster pace, thought of Brave Liam, and finished the race.

It’s hard to understand why, as my foot crossed the finish line, I looked up to see fireman Liam crossing at the very same second, even though I never saw him once in the 2 miles after I raced ahead, a race that included thousands of runners.

As he kind of vanished in the crowd, my faith strengthened, renewing my trust in the universe that there is indeed something greater guiding us—if and when we look for it.

Thank you Liam for continuing to remind my children and me the lessons you embodied.

Love Like Liam LLL.

With fierce love,

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