Today’s post is going to start with a story about a very special mother.
Lorraine Kerz lost her son Silas to lung cancer when he was only 29. That was almost three years ago. In the time since, Lorraine has created a non profit for young adults with cancer, Sy’s Fund, lobbied for compassionate use of medical marijuana, organized benefit golf tournaments and live music events in his honor, created a short documentary, and most recently, an exhibit of Sy’s photos.
What follows is a brief description Lorraine wrote to accompany the exhibit:
After his cancer diagnosis, Silas continued his journalistic work; first bravely documenting his life on video, and then turning to photojournalism shortly thereafter.
Through his photographs, Silas documented everything from the raw emotions of family members to the beauty of spring blossoms flowering as his young life waned.
No mother should lose a child to lung cancer. Lorraine, who I had the privilege of meeting at the Lung Cancer Alliance advocacy meeting in DC, is beyond amazing. Her incredible strength, courage, passion, love and devotion to the memory of her son Silas seemingly show no bounds. As does her determination to make a difference; exactly as Silas would have done if lung cancer hadn’t cut short his life. You are one of my heroes, Lorraine.
And now another perspective. At the close of the National Lung Cancer Partnership advocacy summit in Denver, a group of us were discussing tactics to engage the media in our fight against lung cancer. One dynamic young woman, Sarah, proposed that we all submit letters to the editors of our local papers about the personal impact of lung cancer on Mothers Day.
I realized I would never make the deadline for such a project, but instead asked my 14 year old son Peter to write a ‘letter to the editor’ which I would then publish in my blog. Here is his heartfelt correspondence:
I have always had a lot of denial about cancer. As a little kid, I just wanted to close my eyes and have it disappear. But it wouldn’t, and consequently, it really changed my way of living.
To say that cancer ruined my early life is a stretch, but certainly not a big one.
As a little kid, I was sad and confused a lot of the the time, and my mum was the one who helped me through it. SHE was the one with cancer! Be that as it may, she was always there to listen, to talk, and to hug.
That’s why I’m writing this. Happy Mothers Day mum; you were always there, and you always will be. You and me are gonna stomp this cancer into the the ground like the horse shit it is.
P.S. Are expletives okay?
Linnea, thank you for this. Mother’s Day is changed for both of us I am sure, as it has for our children. The reality of how fragile life actually is in many ways is brought to us live. Still, the determination of spirit and gratitude for life are some of the precious gifts I received from Silas first hand, and one I will always carry with me. In meeting you, I witnessed such fierce determination and gratitude once again. Happy Mother’s Day my friend. xo
Lorraine, thank you. You inspire me and I only wish we hadn’t met under the circumstances which we did. My heart aches for you even as it swells with admiration. Stay strong and fierce and I hope to see you soon.
Linnea, your son Pete’s letter brought tears to my eyes. I wonder if my sons were/are feeling the same way.
Yuki–as difficult as this is for us (having cancer), I can only imagine what it is like for our children. We are both so very fortunate to have done as well as we have.
Hi Linnea, Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for this intimate post. I’m really happy that we get to hear both your voice and Peter’s today. And thank you for sharing the stories of Silas and Lorraine, who seem to share one huge, humanity-improving heart. We have so much to fight for. Enjoy the day! Sarah
Sarah, I read your blog about your mom as well–incredible. You are an inspiration in a movement where we really need one (or many!). And yes, Lorraine is something, as was her son Silas in whose name she now does so much good work. Take good care.
Peter, I’m so proud of you. Great letter. Hopefully you already know I agree with you—how great your mom is!
Love to you all!
Carolyn, thanks, mama!