Aimee & Family: Ignite Your Lights!

family standing on dock for a picture

We have never been on a big family trip. Our boys, Hugo and Sam, have been going to camp for years, since we lost Stella, our oldest, to cancer. This was the first time that all of us, including our youngest, Adele, born after Stella died, was included. When we got the call, the boys were over the moon that we would all be there together. I can’t begin to tell you how much this weekend meant. Games, arts and crafts, campfires, canoeing, fishing … we did it all, together, and loved every single moment!

Hugo was very worried about the swim test. But he nailed it! No lifejacket in the deep end! Yeah! Soon after that, Hugo took his brother Sam on their first ever solo canoe, and we could see their big, bright smiles from the dock.

On our last night, all the families gathered around the campfire to share our stories and reflect on the camp theme: Ignite Your Light. Sam, who is such a shy guy, got up and said, “I ignited my light by canoeing with just my brother for the first time.” My heart!

When we were packing up to go home, we found Hugo sitting on the windowsill in our cabin, looking out at the lake, soaking in his memories. Adele insisted that she wanted to collect a memory before we left. She toddled to the beach and picked up 3 little rocks. Those 3 little rocks have been on her bedside table since we got home. Every night, she touches them and remembers: this one reminds me of kayaking, this one reminds me of our cabin, and this one reminds me of all my favourite games.

Camp breathes life back into families. When you have a sick child, or you lose a child, you never imagine that you’ll be truly happy again. And that sadness never really goes away. But camp gives you flashes … moments … and you never forget or move past your loss, but camp is a spark of light, of joy. And you realize you’re not alone. I can, and will always, look into the eyes of another bereaved parent and see right into their soul, and they into mine. No one wants this experience. It’s so lonely and so unfair. But when you’re with other families, when our kids are with other kids, there is this spark. A spark of recognition, of familiarity. A light of comfort.

From the very bottom of my heart, I’m so grateful. To the staff and volunteers, to the other families. And to the donors. People like you, reading this right now. You ignite my light! All too often, there is not enough light in your world when you are dealing with childhood cancer. Thank you for being that light.

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