The Olivia Lynch Family
Throughout Olivia’s journey with cancer, we grew as a family in a way that we didn’t know at the time, but now know looking back. While we were in the storm, we had little choice but to persevere again and again, day after day. Our patience was tested along with our strength and even our faith. To endure a child’s cancer journey is like walking through a storm with occasional peaks of sunshine only for clouds to cover that blue sky once again. Then add to it my own cancer journey at the same time as Olivia’s, and we could have easily crumbled time and time again.
Yet thanks to the amazing team around us, we learned how to navigate through the depth of grief as we walked through each storm, and especially when we had no choice but to learn how to take each next step forward following Olivia’s passing at the age of 5.
Olivia’s free spirit was especially evident during a quiet dinner time at St. Jude's during the time we explored the option of a clinical trial. Paul introduced her to a Juke Box where he selected the song Rainbow Connection, which was a nostalgic song that my own dad loved. The song played throughout the entire cafeteria. And next thing Paul knew, Olivia was gracefully "dancing like no one was watching". It didn't matter to her who was around. She followed her own rhythm. How many of us can say we would have done that? Not many I'd imagine.
We've learned so much from Olivia's short journey here on earth. This was one example of how she lived life with little fear. Just simply living fully.
With her authentic spirit, she paved the way to show us just how kindness matters. She showed us unconsciously through her own journey as we watched how others responded to her. And she was naturally kind. Her spirit was glowing even as she walked this difficult path. Normalcy was our way of living in between the medical arena.
During her battle, Olivia had no problem naming how she felt. This taught us too how to ask for what we need at every given moment. If it hurt, she cried. If she didn't want to do it, she let us know. And when she felt well enough, she was in the playroom making friends, connecting with other kiddos walking a similar path, and all with a smile.
Olivia was a big soul in a small body.
Through Olivia’s journey with cancer we witnessed a community come together with open hearts. Together we learned the importance of kindness. Not just when you see a child with a bald head when compassion can flow easily, but also when you get cut off on the highway or interact with a grumpy cashier. We don’t know what they’re enduring the same way no one could see the scars underneath my clothes or the ones carried in our hearts.
If you met us today, you would have no idea all that we’ve endured as the journey doesn’t define us. But it sure did shape us and show us a different way to navigate this thing called life.
Kindness became the thing to strive for with no exceptions. And that’s not always an easy task. But if it can become a conscious thought…a goal…to be kind no matter what…we can change this world the way Olivia has changed ours.