Where most have funerals, we have celebrations.
After awhile, attending funerals with tiny caskets gets depressing.
When you’re surrounded by childhood cancer you begin to lose count of how many funerals you’ve been to for a CHILD.
I personally have been to more funerals for someone under the age of 18 than I have adults. It’s sickening.
I remember the first celebration I felt completely connected to, my close friend Leah won her fight with cancer and was sent up to heaven.
Her mom put on the most beautiful celebration of life, filled with all the things our Leah loved.
I remember sitting at the church thinking, I’m so happy Cooper has 95% chance of living and I will NEVER have to sit in the front row of a church as the “family” of the person who passed away.
Oh how naive I was.
Years later, I would find myself in the same church in the front row.
How ironic it is that most of the time, our worst fears become reality.
Shortly after Cooper passed my parents decided we would wait a couple weeks to celebrate him. Cooper was very popular, EVERY ONE loved him. We knew it would not be a small affair and wanted to make sure we were ready for the overwhelming amount of people that would attend the ceremony.
Eventually the day came, the guests arrived, and as I stared at myself in my bathroom mirror it dawned on me… here I was curling my hair, putting on water-proof mascara, to celebrate the fact my brother died.
Let that sink in, to CELEBRATE the fact my brother had DIED.
Nothing about this process is normal.
We got in the car eyes full of tears, us five, all wearing Coopers jerseys.
Cooper loved sports and collected sports jersey’s so we encouraged all out guests to wear sports gear as we were wearing his jersey’s.
We pulled out of the drive way and I remember saying aloud, “Were going to celebrate.”
Although none of my direct family was able to speak at the ceremony, I was honored to have been asked by my parents to write a letter on behalf of us five.
It is still the most beautiful piece I’ve ever written, it is also the first time I ever sat down to write.
Cooper is the reason I write, he is the person who showed me a talent I never knew I had, he is the reason I write.
Although I do not remember much of the day we celebrated Cooper’s life, I do remember the moment Nate, a childhood pastor of ours, got up and read my letter. It was slightly surreal as he read my words and tears ran down every face in the audience. The moment that service ended, was the moment our new lives began, without Cooper.
Below is a portion of my first piece of writing, dedicated to Cooper and his celebration of life:
“18 years with my Cooper was not enough.
But like David who trusted that God would provide what he needed to beat Goliath, I will trust God, because he promises me I will see my Cooper again.
Paul says, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever”
1 Thessalonians 4:17
God used David, an average kid, to rescue his people.
God used my Cooper, to rescue his people too, by showing them that they are redeemed.
God used Cooper to bring together Gods people under one name, Jesus.
I am forever proud of Cooper for the Jesus love he showed every single day of his life.
I am proud to be his sister, to have been able to know him since the day he entered this world has been nothing short of spectacular.
Bubba, I miss you more than any words can explain, more than any tears can express. I miss you yelling at me for singing in the car, I miss you begging me to buy you McDonalds or asking me to pick you up snacks from Target. I miss driving you to your friend’s house; I miss watching you play basketball.
I miss you. That will never change.
Neither will my love for you; my love for you is continuous, Bubba.
Cooper has changed the world and continues too.
My prayer is that you take Coopers legacy and go make a difference in the world, be kind, have grace, and be brave. Be brave to stick up for your beliefs while helping those around you. Cooper left a mighty legacy and it is my mission to continue to live it on, because Cooper would of wanted it that way.
So tomorrow be a David, be a Cooper, in your schools, work places, and homes.
And change the world. “Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 22:43
I love you Bubba, Forever Together”
If one thing has come from Cooper’s death it is that my purpose is to live a full life. I am meant to do astounding things, I meant for more, and I have to live my life as such.
If you learn one thing from my writing, I hope it is that life is short.
You are not promised tomorrow. Please don’t waste your days doing things you hate, live a life that you LOVE, with people that you love.
Go out and change the world.
Because let me tell you, even if you only help one person, you’ve changed the world.
I often wonder if Cooper knew what kind of an impact he was making on this world.
I like to believe that in his final days he was sharing with friends and family how to continue his legacy.
I don’t think he directly told me I would be the one to share bits and pieces of his story, I think he is continually nudging me to go out and do the impossible. To share the hard things.
To be vulnerable when it’s uncomfortable for every one else.
To be the one that changes the world by sharing not only his story, but sharing MY story.
Friends, THIS is just the beginning…