6 Apr

Sammy’s birthday is on Friday, April 10; it would be his 6th birthday.  It’s difficult to believe that this is the second birthday we have celebrated since Sammy went to heaven.  Last year, we went out to lunch with family members and the nurses who cared for Sammy in our home.  After lunch, we all gathered at Sammy’s preschool as his teachers and classmates joined us in releasing balloons in memory of Sammy.  A few days after his birthday, we also attended a concert by Chris Rice, one of Sammy’s favorite singers/songwriters.

Over the past few weeks, Steve and I have been trying to determine how we might honor Sammy’s birthday this year.  We finally decided to take a road trip to West Virginia to make a special delivery to David, a little boy with HPE.  We will begin our trip on Friday, Sammy’s birthday.  For the past year, Sammy’s wheelchair has sat empty, and we have decided that it’s time to give the wheelchair a new home.  David needs a wheelchair, and we think Sammy would be happy if he knew that his “Cadillac” will be going to another little boy.

It hasn’t been easy to let go of Sammy’s things.  We don’t hold onto these things because of their material worth, but so many of Sammy’s things hold such memories for us.  Many sweet memories surround Sammy’s wheelchair.  Sammy’s wheelchair allowed him to roll down Main Street at Disney World.  At preschool, all of Sammy’s classmates would gather behind his wheelchair, and they would give Sammy a group escort to his awaiting school bus.  Because Sammy never traveled lightly, it wasn’t uncommon to lift Sammy out of his chair, and then see the the entire wheelchair tip backward without his weight in the chair to counter balance it.  Before we give it to David, I may even have to let someone push the wheel of the chair over my foot one last time for old-times sake!

On the night that Sammy passed away, it was so very strange for us to drive home in the van with an empty wheelchair sitting in the spot where Sammy should have been sitting.  Sammy’s wheelchair sat untouched for nearly 10 months as I just couldn’t bring myself to go through the storage pockets and remove the supplies and items that we had stored there.  Even a year later, I still haven’t gotten comfortable in walking through the front door of church without pushing that wheelchair, so Steve and I have found that if we enter and exit through a side door, it doesn’t feel as unnatural to us.  Some of my identity was wrapped up into that chair because everyone just automatically knew it was Sammy Harley rolling through those doors on Sunday morning.

But now, it’s time to let go, and the wheelchair is our first step.  Sammy’s journey has ended, but the journey for David is just beginning.  We’re excited that David’s family will be able to use our gift to make special memories with their son.  Maybe it will even make a return trip to Disney World one day!

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