“Life has never been easy. Nor is it meant to be. It is a matter of being joyous in the face of sorrow.”
Let’s face it; we’ve all grown up hearing the mantra “Life is unfair,” over and over again. It likely began with our parents telling us this when we were very small children complaining about the gross unfairness of a playground game that didn’t quite go our way. And, it wouldn’t be so annoying if it wasn’t so true.
Most people can point out those unfair moments in life where they did everything right and things didn’t turn out the way they planned on a grand scale. For me, these moments string together with the birth of our older son who was severely handicapped through the end of his short life. It wasn’t fair that he had to deal with multiple physical challenges; yet, that was the hand dealt to him and us as his parents. It was our joy to help him navigate life around those challenges and now to pass along the things we learned during our time with him. Through him, I learned a very valuable lesson that I will carry with me and share as often as possible for the rest of my life.
What I learned is that there is joy in our journey even when we’re headed into unfamiliar, unanticipated and undesirable territory. As we took our first steps down the parenthood path, we had no inclination that our time with him would be so short. What became abundantly clear was that we were being given the privilege of parenting a very special young man who was an advocate for his community, a loyal and loving older brother and a bright light in the world. He would guide us, teach us and give us more than we did him.
Lance could have watched his younger brother Ben and been frustrated that he couldn’t walk and run like him. I’ll admit this would have been my unfortunate attitude. But, he didn’t. He chose to participate as a spokesperson for the United Way of Greater Dayton annual giving campaign in 2005. He was featured in videos, television commercials and newspaper ads. He chose to appear on the United Rehabilitation Services (URS) of Greater Dayton that same year in their annual fundraising telethon.
Lance was a giver and change maker. He gave unconditional love and happiness everywhere he went and to the lives he touched. Through memorial and equipment donations, a sensory therapy room was created at URS to help children and adults in the tri-state area improve their abilities.
To this day, he is used as an example in caregiver training to never assume that those with disabilities cannot do and to give everyone an opportunity to try. He did remarkable things in his time. When I think of my oldest child, I miss him dearly but I find great happiness in the lessons he taught me, the things he accomplished and the way his life has mattered even in his absence. He was remarkable and he didn’t even realize it. He simply did what came naturally to him. He cared and he gave. We can all do remarkable things when we face obstacles in our life with perseverance, determination and a positive attitude.
Your Time Matters More than You Know
Our time matters and not just to us, our families and our employers, but to our communities. There will always be more cleaning to do, another report to submit, bills to pay and things to be done in the yard. Be an agent for positive change in the areas that touch your life and find the joy and happiness that comes with giving with a pure heart your talents and energy. You are an amazing resource with lessons to learn from the paths you’ve chosen and those upon which you never intended to travel.
About the Author
Amy Fenning is a dedicated mom, wife, and marketing professional and is a self-professed reading and dachshund enthusiast. Currently living in Beavercreek, OH, she has been married to husband, Mike, for 20 years. They are the proud parents of the late Lance Fenning (2000-2006), Ben (11), Bonnie (6) and Sam (7). Amy has spent the last 20 years in the marketing profession and has served as a brand marketing manager with LexisNexis in Dayton for four years.