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A Lesson From Geese

As parents who have lost a child that was treated at Riley Hospital, we were included in their bereavement program. As well as many other things, we were sent poems and other articles on grief to help us cope and make sense of our situation. I rarely read what was offered. I had so many bad days this past year as it is, making myself sit down, read the articles, and feel sad usually felt too emotionally difficult for me. We recieved our last packet this week and this time I really wanted to read it. I feel like I need help this week. I am reliving every last painful memory from this time last year and it brings me to my knees. I miss Wayland more than ever. Inside I feel like I am a fish floundering around out of water. I don't know how to deal with the fact that its been a year. So, I sat down on the couch and read every last paper in the packet. One of the articles was nothing short of amazing to me and I cried and cried when I read it. The complete article was by a mother who lost her 2 year old son to cancer and a little about her journey. But the part that struck me is that in her grief, she came across an article called, "A Lesson From the Geese." It really helped her to make sense of their loss and I want to share it with you, because I think it can help you as the reader to maybe understand a little of what life is like for us.

A Lesson From the Geese

"As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird following. By flying in the V-formation the whole flock adds seventy-one percent more flying range than if each bird flew alone.

People who share a common direction and sense of community direction can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go. The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up with their speed. We need to make sure our honking from behind is encourageing and not something less helpful. When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly again or dies. Then they launch out on their own with another formation or to catch up with their flock. If we have as much sense as the geese, we'll stand by each other like that." (By Milton Olson)

The part that hit me the most is that 2 will geese drop out formation to help the wounded one. That is what we had to do as a family. When Wayland was diagnosed with DIPG and heard the words, "12 months to live." We dropped out of formation and protected Wayland and helped him to have the best life he could when he was here. That was our priority, not our jobs, not our friendships, not household chores and projects, not even the rest of our family. We stayed with Wayland until he left us. Then we felt the drag of trying to fly again, of trying to get back to all those things that are important, but we had been distanced from for so long. Its hard and its lonely. We still feel that resistance in learning to fly. Some days we stop altogether because its just too hard. I guess the point is we just keep trying. Our V formation will never feel quite the same, becuase Wayland isn't physically present, but we can learn to fly again. We can stand by each other and see Wayland as being the head of the V, our leader. We can keep trying to love and learn and grow to see what life is like with out him. It doesn't mean that we like it, I know we never will. I read someone describe her pain and lonliness of her lost child as the "monument" to his life. So, I guess our struggles can someday give us peace because they attest to Wayland's life.

These next few days will be tough and then life will have to just keep moving on like it did after Wayland passed. Although, our pain will not be gone. We will feel the resistance of getting back to flight and so we will learn to fly all over again. As much as we may not like it, I know that is the best way to honor our amazing little boy, Wayland.

We appreciate the thoughts and prayers that so many of you have passed on to us. We love you and thank you for the support. It means a lot that Wayland's memory is alive in your hearts. That is the best way you can help us. Show us how Wayland is still alive. Encouraging words and knowing you care are so important and we accept them with open arms. But, if you are struggling to find a way to show your support, simply share how you keep Wayland's memory alive. Is it a favorite memory, a favorite characteristic of his, is it that Wayland has helped you through a tough time this year, whatever. Let us know! Email, share on Facebook, snail mail! We'd love to see them. Thank you!

Love from Indy,

Amber (always Wayland's Mommy)

Wayland Michael Villars: October 24, 2008 - August 9, 2013.

Wayland, we love you so much. We are so proud of you. You are the strongest person we know. We will keep you in our hearts forever.

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My original endeavor was to share our story of losing a child to a brain tumor and our journey to help find a cure for pediatric brain cancer. That is not changing, but our journey is. Let me take you along. 

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