A Thanksgiving message from Matt Schueler and his family:
I have written frequently about Thanksgiving and it’s prominence in my memories of our last Thanksgivings with Henry. No need to again recall the sad moments other than to note that even in those difficult Thanksgiving holidays right after his diagnosis in 2006 and then just weeks before his passing in 2007, we were always hopeful. It wasn’t blind hope or hope without reason. We just had hope that no matter how bleak his diagnosis, everything would turn out ok. I’m sure some of it had to do with Hank’s attitude towards living which made it easier to try and imagine better days ahead.
But, I truly think that our hopefulness, and perhaps Hank’s too, was driven in large part by a deep gratitude for the blessings that we experienced both before and after his diagnosis which allowed us to look forward, not back. To be thankful for the doctors and nurses and family and friends who were with us in the good days and the tough ones, on the football and baseball fields just months removed, and then with us at our home and in the hospital.
Anne Frank wrote: “I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that remains.” Not to put Hank in such august company as Anne Frank, but I think he agreed.
So again we celebrate this Thanksgiving in 2018 as we always have, remembering those whose presence no longer graces our tables, mindful of the many blessings we do have in our lives and thankful for the love and support we have experienced as a family, as individuals and as a Foundation that was formed to always remember Hank and to help others in his honor.
I am thankful:
For Susan who exhibits grace, love and strength in abundance. Who has risen each day for the last 11 years with a heart that will never completely heal but who presses on to be the best mother, wife and friend anyone could be lucky enough to have.
For Anna and Joe who have made us smile and laugh and have made our hearts swell with pride and who will never forget Henry’s influence on their lives.
For our family and friends who join us each year as we remember Hank’s life and his influence in their own families.
For Hank’s many classmates and teammates who still stop by to celebrate his life, who wear his “Stay Strong” wristbands and shirts and tell their new friends about their old friend too.
For the men and women and supporters of the Chicago Fire Department and Ignite the Spirit who have rallied around our Foundation as if Hank and his family were one of their own. They have always been there when we needed them.
For the supporters of our Foundation and our family and friends who have allowed us to make great strides in its mission to find out how to treat Hank’s leukemia and to prevent, diagnose and treat the fungal infection which claimed his life. And for the time and talents of Dr. Walsh and Dr. Mullighan whose work carries out Hank’s wish to find out why this happened to him so we can prevent it from happening to other kids.
For Michael Strohm and all blood and organ donors whose selfless acts give life and hope to others.
For Hank who taught me so much about love, about facing illness and death and facing the life which continues. For inspiring many with his courage and his will to live. Who reminded his father and others to “Stay Strong” even in the face of insurmountable odds and whose admonishment that “we are going to beat this thing” remains our motivation to help others similarly afflicted.
For our friends and family members, especially those in our communities, who also will not gather at their family’s Thanksgiving table this year. For Bo, Dan and Brian and all those we lost this year. We remember their lives and the love and courage shown by their families and by them in the face of adversity and struggle.
And we share with the parents who have also lost a child a bond forged by a pain that can never really be understood by anyone who has never had a child taken away. And we are thankful that as we continue to feel hope, we can imagine our children’s Thanksgiving table in a place where there is no suffering or pain or worry. We look forward to the day when we will once again be reunited as the family we were blessed to be.
For a God that we will never understand, but who teaches us that even in the midst and aftermath of pain and suffering and death that life can still be lived with a purpose for those that are left behind and that friendship, laughter and love can still exist despite our loss and pain. And who blesses us this Thanksgiving and always with a hope born of the knowledge that we are never alone.
Happy Thanksgiving. Love, The Schuelers